The (nearly) Fifty-First State.

First of all, sorry for being a bit late. We’ve had a rash of below-zero temperatures up here in Marquette, and Northern closed the campus these past two days due to dangerous conditions–can you believe the windchill was -30 degrees on Tuesday morning? Anyways, it may be late, but we’ve got a good one for you today!

Those of us who have visited or lived in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan would probably agree that our isolated piece of paradise is nothing short of unique. The breathtaking landscape and spirited residents give it a pasty-eating, snow-loving, nature-protecting atmosphere unlike that of the urbanized counterpart on the other side of the bridge. While many enjoy the playful Yooper/Troll rivalry, people of the past tried to sever the ties between these two peninsulas.

Portrait of Dominic Jacobetti In 1975, Michigan State Representative Dominic Jacobetti, of Negaunee, led a movement for the Upper Peninsula to break away Lower Michigan and become its own state.  His call for separate statehood was fuelled by the notion that “downstate interests” were a hindrance to the progression and growth of the Upper Peninsula. Some of Jacobetti’s arguments included the idea that the U.P. could support itself with its abundance of natural resources, and he bristled at the tradition of shipping them to downstate communities. He also argued that due to its geographic location and sparse population, the U.P. is subject to a very different set of political issues which do not correlate with the urbanized areas of Lower Michigan. The overall feeling of disconnect between the Lansing agenda and the needs of the Upper Peninsula pushed Jacobetti to call for statehood.

The idea to legalize gambling was suggested during debates about how to run “Superior”, the 51st State. Jacobetti suggested creating a sort of “mini Las Vegas” to attract tourist to bring in revenue and lower the need for local taxes. Remember, this was before Indian Casinos began to pop up all across the state!

Jacobetti was not the first to suggest U.P. statehood. A similar bill was proposed in 1962, but it was not taken seriously by the State Legislature. Dominic Jacobetti’s call for the creation of “Superior” was given much more publicity due to his political reputation, however the bill still did not pass.

Even before that, back in 1916, the first issue of Clover-Land Magazine argued for the creation of a new state. Roger Andrews, the magazine’s creator, was quoted as saying

I am not the leader of any chosen people, nor the arch prophet of the Upper Peninsula.
I am not a candidate for any political office of any sort.
I want to work in the ranks of the loyal company who believe in Clover-Land, who love it and want the world to know it as it is.
I see in the campaign for separate statehood a great opportunity to call the attention of the country to our rich and growing section, endowed in a score of was beyond many of the older states of the Union.

Exciting stuff, right? As with the later efforts, however, Andrews’ proposal never gained enough momentum.

A map illustrating the "Superior" State

If you’d like to know more about State Representative Dominic Jacobetti and his call for U.P. Statehood, come down to the NMU Archives in room 126 of the Learning Resource Center on campus and check out the full collection of Dominic Jacobetti papers. Before you do, you might want to check out the finding aid here. Alternatively, you could check out James Carter’s book on the subject, Superior, A State for the North CountryWe hope to see you soon!

Prepared by Savannah Mallo and Olivia Ernst.


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