The Capital – Moving from Detroit to Lansing
Detroit is known for many things, but the title it once held as the capital of the state of Michigan has begun to fade from memory. In 1835 the state constitution decreed that “the seat of government for this state shall be at Detroit…” What then could have made the people of Michigan decide that Detroit was no longer a suitable location for their government? How did Lansing, MI become the best location for the capital?
While there are many opinions as to why the capital of Michigan was reassigned to Lansing, experts can generally agree on four main points that best explain the move:
- The first reason is that Lansing is more accessible to people throughout the state because it is almost perfectly located in the center of the mitten, while Detroit is almost as far east as you can get and still be in Michigan.
- The location of Detroit is another notable argument for the move – at the time of the transition many agreed that the proximity of Detroit to the Canadian border could make defending the capital more difficult. As a new state it was important to promote expansion throughout the rest of the land within the Michigan borders. Detroit was already a bustling city at the time, and by appointing Lansing as the capital, more business opportunities would arise there.
- Running parallel with the idea that more businesses would pop up in Lansing if it became the capital, concerns about boosting the economy of interior cities – those farther away from the important waterways – would be calmed a little if a city in the center of the state became the seat of the government. Despite the compelling reasons for the move, residents of Michigan – especially those living in Detroit – were very much opposed to the move. It took bickering, compromise, and debate to finally agree on establishing Lansing as the new state capital.
- Finally, in 1847 Michigan built its second Capitol building in Lansing. Years later in 1879, the third and final rendition of the Capitol was completed.
Lansing residents have the unique opportunity to experience everything that living in the capital of a state offers. More political awareness and chances to volunteer for a party are available, caucuses and debates among politicians are common and open to the public, and tours of the Capitol are always going on. Learning the history of your state is never as easy and interesting as it is when you live in the heart of it all.
Take advantage of living in the capital and immerse yourself in the history of your capitol building. Tours are held daily Monday through Friday, or you can explore the structure on your own. Find out more at the Michigan Legislative Council website.