The United States celebrates its 243rd birthday today…but several Michigan communities pre-date the historic signing of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776:
- The City of Sault Sainte Marie, founded by the French in 1668, is the oldest city in Michigan and the third oldest city in the United States.
- Ignace was founded by Father Marquette in 1671, and was named for St. Ignatius of Loyola.
- Father Marquette also established a mission for the Indians in Marquette in 1675.
- July 24,1701, French officer Antoine de la Mothe Cadillac founded Fort Pontchartrain du Détroit, the future city of Detroit on the west bank of the Detroit River.
- Fort Michilimackinac was an 18th-century French, and later British, fort and trading post at the Straits of Mackinac; it was built in 1715 on the northern tip of Michigan’s lower peninsula. The fort was moved by the British to Mackinac Island in 1780 and American’s took control of Fort Mackinac in 1796 (twenty years after the signing of the Declaration of Independence).
It would be 61 years after that historic signing before Michigan would join the union as the 26th state on January 26, 1837.