Northern Michigan Secession

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I remember this book from my high school days, when secession in Michigan had once again become a popular topic, partly due to Detroit’s fall from grace. This morning I came across a heroic 2nd edition (2011) of Superior: A State for the North Country in a quaint and very northern-ish Upper Peninsula coffee shop that sits across from the mighty Lake Superior in Munising, Michigan. I became engrossed in the historical aspects of this secession effort after flipping through the pages.

For those who have never been to northern Michigan, and the Upper Peninsula in particular, there is a culture here all its own, with no special love for the politics of Lansing and Detroit. As Tim Murphy wrote in Mother Jones in 2010:

My first impression upon driving into Michigan’s Upper Peninsula was that this is what Alaska must feel like. Quite a statement, to be sure, coming from someone who’s never set foot in Alaska. But there’s something undeniably different about the place.

But there’s a cultural element, too. For most of its existence, the UP has been isolated from the rest of the state, bordered by three of the Great Lakes plus Wisconsin, and accessible to the rest of Michigan only by boat until the late 1950s when someone finally built a bridge (and Yoopers, as natives of the UP are known, immediately began talking about blowing it up).

…The Upper Peninsula has about as much in common with Detroit as Manhattan does to Manhattan, Kansas. And that’s why, for the last 150 or so years, Yoopers have talked about blowing up the bridge, breaking away, and starting a state of their own called “Superior.”

As with Vermont, the effort to secede in northern Michigan still has passion and traction. And with American secession efforts receiving more visibility and thus being taken more seriously, we will hear much more about it in the coming years.


9:45 am on August 10, 2013