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Yankees in Michigan

Brian C. Wilson

Publication Year: 2008

As Brian C. Wilson describes them in this highly readable and entertaining book, Yankees — defined by their shared culture and sense of identity — had a number of distinctive traits and sought to impose their ideas across the state of Michigan.
     After the ethnic label of "Yankee" fell out of use, the off spring of Yankees appropriated the term "Midwesterner." So fused did the identities of Yankee and Midwesterner become that understanding the larger story of America's Midwestern regional identity begins with the Yankees in Michigan.


Published by: Michigan State University Press


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p. 1-1

Title Page, Copyright, Acknowledgments

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pp. 2-7


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pp. vii-viii

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pp. 1-6

In the summer of 1822, a stout young man with a broad forehead, deep-set eyes, and a determined expression stepped ashore and wandered into the raw streets of frontier Detroit. His name was Lucius Lyon, and if ever there was a man who epitomized the “spunky” Yankee, it was he.1 Born at the turn of the nineteenth century in Shelburne, Vermont, Lyon came from a middling...

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Yankees in New England and Beyond

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pp. 7-22

Today when we think of the word “Yankee," we often think of it simply as a synonym for "American," or, more specifically, as the nickname for Union Army soldiers during the Civil War, or perhaps even a baseball team based in New York. During the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, however...

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Yankees Come to Michigan

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pp. 23-40

Yankee immigration to Michigan was slow at first. The few that did migrate came in pursuit of commercial opportunities fueled by the fur trade, and all settled in one of Michigan’s only two population centers, Detroit or Mackinac Island. Before the War of 1812, two Yankees, Solomon Sibley of Massachusetts and Stephen Mack of Connecticut, had established shops in...

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Yankees on the Michigan Frontier

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pp. 41-54

Everything about the life and career of William Nowlin marks him as a typical Michigan Yankee pioneer farmer—except for the fact that near the end of his life he sat down and wrote a book about it. The Bark Covered House (1876) is one of the finest firsthand accounts of Yankee pioneer life in Michigan and is still a lively read even today. Nowlin relates...

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The Flowering of Yankee Michigan

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pp. 55-74

By the late 1840s and 1850s, the Detroit Courier’s predictions were beginning to become a reality, at least in the Yankee-settled counties of southern Michigan. The worst effects of the economic depression of 1837 had faded, and many of Michigan’s pioneers were feeling prosperous and secure. Log cabins were quickly being replaced with Yankee versions of Greek Revival...

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The Industrialization of Yankee Michigan

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pp. 75-88

The Civil War stimulated Michigan’s economic growth, catalyzing its transformation from an agricultural to an industrial economy.216 During the war, extractive industries in Michigan such as mining and logging grew by leaps and bounds, and manufacturing exploded. Acute labor shortages caused by the war created markets for new labor-saving machines and more efficient...

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The Decline of Yankee Michigan

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pp. 89-96

Despite financial success and the continuing promise of Michigan’s growing economy, many of the state’s Yankees began to feel a nagging sense that their social position was becoming precarious by the end of the nineteenth century. They were not alone. All of Yankeedom, it seems, was gripped by an acute anxiety that Yankees were ineluctably losing...

Appendix 1: Three Favorite Yankee Recipes

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pp. 97-100

Appendix 2: Museums, Libraries, and Archives

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pp. 101-102


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pp. 103-118

For Further Reference

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pp. 119-128


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pp. 129-140

E-ISBN-13: 9780870139703
E-ISBN-10: 0870139703
Print-ISBN-13: 9780870138256
Print-ISBN-10: 0870138251

Page Count: 140
Publication Year: 2008

Edition: 1st