Michigan’s history is full of fascinating events, ordeals and celebrations. You can look at almost any individual month in the state’s history and find something of note, which is especially true in the month of May. Read on for some interesting facts that took place in Michigan during May, courtesy of the Historical Society of Michigan.
- May 5, 1831: The Democratic Free Press and Michigan Intelligencer, now the Detroit Free Press, published its first issue. The paper became a daily in 1835 after starting as a four-page weekly edition. The Detroit Free Press has been publishing top-notch news in the Motor City ever since.
- May 13, 1857: The nation’s first state land grant college for farmers, the Michigan Agricultural College, opened in East Lansing. The school name was changed to Michigan State College and is now Michigan State University. Go Green!
- May 13, 1913: President Theodore Roosevelt traveled to Marquette in the Upper Peninsula for the libel trial of Ishpeming Editor, George Hewitt, who had publicly called the former president a ‘drunk and a liar.’ When Hewitt admitted his stories were false, Roosevelt settled for 6 cents in damages, or “the price of a good newspaper.”
- May 1, 1918: On this date, Michigan became “dry” before national prohibition became effective. Michigan voters approved a prohibition amendment to the state constitution, and while voters approved the change, many did not follow this law. Homebrew and “Speakeasies” were popular and many Michiganders made frequent trips to Canada where alcohol was still sold legally. Today, Michigan is a mecca for craft beer, boasting the fifth-most breweries in the nation.
- May 18, 1929: The first Tulip Festival opened in Holland. Today, Tulip Time (May 6-14) is a celebrated, iconic festival along the beautiful coast of Lake Michigan. Visitors can experience traditional Dutch food, dancing and clothing in addition to enjoying the thousands of tulips found blooming across the city.
- May 10, 1933: Julius Stroh of the Stroh Brewing Company poured the first glass of ‘legal’ beer after the repeal of prohibition at an American Legion convention in Detroit.
- May 2, 1939: New York Yankee legend Lou Gehrig, one of the most iconic figures to ever play the game, removed himself from the lineup at a game at Briggs Stadium (later Tiger Stadium) after 2,130 consecutive games. Gehrig suffered from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, an incurable degenerative disease of the nervous system later to be known as “Lou Gehrig’s Disease.”
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