Michigan Women’s Spotlight: Eva McCall Hamilton

Did you know that the first woman to become a state elected official in Michigan was Eva McCall Hamilton in 1920? During the first election in which women were allowed to vote, Hamilton was elected as Michigan state senator for the 16th District — by a two-to-one margin.

This month marks the 96th anniversary of the 19th Amendment — which guarantees American women the right to vote.

Eva HamiltonThe amendment was approved by the U.S. House of Representatives on May 21, 1919 and by the Senate two weeks later — sending it to the states to be ratified. Less than a week later, on June 10, Michigan was one of the first states to ratify the amendment.  However, it would take more than a year for three-fourths of the states to approve the measure. That historic moment came when Tennessee passed it by a single vote on Aug. 18, 1920. Having met the final hurdle, Secretary of State Bainbridge Colby certified the ratification of the 19th Amendment on Aug. 26.

Sen. Eva McCall Hamilton was born on Dec. 13, 1871 in Memphis, Michigan and would become a teacher.

Throughout her life, Hamilton also served on local, state and national committees focused on encouraging women to partake in civic affairs. However, it would not be until 1910, when she held the reins of a large horse-drawn “Float for Suffragists” followed by 75 local suffragists in decorated cars in the Grand Rapids Annual Homecoming Parade, that she would become widely known throughout the state.

By 1912, Hamilton would earn the recognition of being just one of three Grand Rapids women who had mailed out an astonishing six tons of “votes for women” literature. Exemplary achievements such as these would eventually help Hamilton become the leader of the Grand Rapid’s women’s suffrage movement.

As a Republican senator in 1921-22, Hamilton successfully proposed and passed bills to fund pay raises for teachers and worked to reform the Michigan Mother’s Pension Act.

As a result of Sen. Hamilton’s dedication to the betterment of both the state and women’s rights, she was inducted into the Michigan Women’s Hall of Fame in 2012. A portrait of Hamilton is on display in the Senate Chamber.

National Lighthouse Day: Michigan Lighthouses

Michigan’s lighthouses helped guide our state’s history and growth. Today, they stand as beacons of our rich maritime heritage.

Our state is home to abundant parks and yearlong recreational opportunities, yet few people know that Michigan is home to the most lighthouses in the nation.

These coastal icons offer residents and visitors a rare chance to experience history firsthand, have fun with the family and enjoy amazing wildlife and coastal habitats – all at the same time.

Michigan’s history of lighthouses began prior to statehood, when the Fort Gratiot Light was built in 1825. The first lighthouse in this area was located approximately where the first Blue Water Bridge stands today. However, due to poor design and location choice, it collapsed into the river during a bad storm only three years later. In 1829, a new lighthouse was built north of the military fort.

After renovations in 2012, visitors can now see this oldest operating lighthouse in the state and take in a view of Lake Huron from its balcony.

Many Michigan lighthouses are now hotels, bed and breakfasts and museums. Visitors can enjoy bed and breakfast services at six different lighthouses, and 12 lighthouses offer programs that allow you to assume the role of a keeper for a night.

Sunday is National Lighthouse Day, and we encourage you to check out one of the 120 lighthouses along our state’s spectacular coastline. You can climb the 130 stairs of the tallest lighthouse in the Great Lakes by visiting the New Presque Isle lighthouse, which was built in 1870, or take your time trekking 112 feet into the sky at the Big Sable Point Lighthouse in Ludington.

While the advent of advanced navigational systems have greatly reduced the working role of our lighthouses, they stand strong today as reminders of the heights we reached to help ships avoid crashing in the darkness.

For more information our spectacular lighthouses, visit www.Michigan.org/lighthouses.

Inside the Senate Chamber: Part 2 – The Architecture

The Michigan Capitol has a rich architectural history. In the second part of the “Inside the Senate Chamber” series, we take an exclusive look at the architecture of the Michigan Senate chamber and the state Capitol with the Capitol Historian Valerie Martin.

Learn about the history of the building designed by Elijah Myers, the story behind the “chicken coop” carpet, and the tricks used to make the building seem taller than it is.

Our Capitol building has a rich architectural history and continues to be a source of pride for all Michigan residents. Don’t miss this exclusive look behind the scenes of the architectural history of the Michigan Capitol!

Click here to see the first “Inside the Senate Chamber” video on the portraits that hang in the Michigan Senate.

Michigan Women’s Spotlight: Harriet Quimby

Did you know that the first licensed female pilot in the United States, Harriet Quimby, was born in Michigan?

Born to William and Ursula Quimby on May 11, 1875 “somewhere in Michigan” near Arcadia, Harriet Quimby was a modern woman during a not-so modern era. In an age before women’s suffrage, Harriet was a pioneer in challenging the social status quo by stepping outside of traditional societal roles.

A romanticist and an adventure seeker, Harriet moved to California during her teenage years. She tried her hand in acting, journalism and eventually piloting — once her writing career gave her the freedom, financial backing and exposure to pursue her desires of travel and adventure.

While writing for Leslie’s Illustrated in New York, Harriet would go on to meet and befriend American pilot John Moisant, who she covered during New York’s Belmont Air Meet in October of 1910. Moisant, who owned a school for aviation, began teaching Harriet the finer points of flying until his tragic death only a few short months later in December 1910.

By May 1911, Harriet — who enthusiastically believed flying “looked quite easy” — had convinced her editor that Leslie’s should pay for her flying lessons and in return she would chronicle her experience for the magazine’s readers.

As a result of this agreement, Harriet would become the first American woman to earn a pilot’s license: License #37 on Aug. 1, 1911 — sanctioned by the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale and administered by the Aero Club of America.

In addition to becoming the first woman pilot to be licensed, Harriet also become the first woman to fly over the English Channel and today a historical marker can be found in her honor near the now-abandoned farmhouse in Arcadia Township where Quimby was born.

Anniversary of the Mighty Mac

The Mackinac Bridge is Michigan’s most iconic landmark, and on June 25 we will celebrate the 58th anniversary of its dedication.

The Mighty Mac holds a special place in the hearts of Michiganders as the literal and symbolic connection between our state’s wonderful peninsulas. The bridge began construction in 1954 and opened on Nov. 1, 1957 — although it was not formally dedicated until the next summer.

The Mackinac Bridge Dedication Festival was held over four days in Mackinaw City and St. Ignace, with surrounding communities also celebrating the dedication of the Western Hemisphere’s longest suspension bridge between anchorages. In addition to a large parade, other events marked the dedication — including fireworks displays, a formal ribbon-cutting ceremony and even the release of a special U.S. postage stamp.

The Mackinac Bridge took decades from its inception to completion, but it has become a defining monument to both human innovation and to Michigan’s landscape.

What started as an idea now welcomes about 11,600 residents, tourists and industries each day to cross the Straits of Mackinac.

Inside the Senate Chamber: The Portraits

The Michigan Senate is surrounded by many wonderful portraits of people who made important contributions to our state. However, did you know that the oldest portrait in the Senate’s collection is of a Frenchman who never stepped foot in Michigan?

In the first part of the “Inside the Senate Chamber” series, we take an exclusive look at the portraits that hang in the Michigan Senate chamber.

Among the featured portraits are ones of Gov. Austin Blair and Gov. Henry Crapo.

Blair is known as Michigan’s wartime governor, serving during the Civil War, and is honored with a statue in front of the Capitol. Crapo followed Blair, but his greatest legacy might be that his grandson founded the General Motors Corporation.

Michigan’s State Symbols: A Pure Identity

From the state wildflower (Dwarf Lake Iris) to the state motto, Michigan is rich with symbolic history dating back to the state’s beginning.

These include well-known symbols, like the state stone (Petoskey Stone), and the less-commonly known state song, My Michigan. They each serve as reminders to us all of our heritage and the common roots that helped shape our economy and define a unique way of life.

At the end of the day, we’re all Michiganders — with an innate ability to come together to meet challenges and persevere.

We recently celebrated the legislative anniversaries of both the American Robin and Apple Blossom as state symbols. The Michigan Senate Republicans encourage all residents to learn about our state symbols, their meanings and their importance.

For starters, here are a few of our favorite state symbols:

American Robin
Officially designated on April 3, 1931, the Robin Redbreast was chosen as the state bird for being “the best known and best loved of all the birds in the state of Michigan.”

Apple Blossom
In April of 1897, the Apple Blossom became the state flower. It’s native to Michigan, and legislative sponsors called it “one of the most fragrant and beautiful species of apple.”

Isle Royale Greenstone
Known as the Isle Royale Greenstone, chlorastrolite has been Michigan’s official state gem since 1973. Found mainly in the western Upper Peninsula, it is a bluish-green gemstone with a color pattern reminiscent of a turtleback. Once polished, the greenstone is often are used in rings, earrings, pendants and more.

Brook Trout
In 1965, “the trout” was designated at the state fish. More than two decade later, lawmakers specified the Brook Trout as the state fish. The native fish can only live in cool, clean water and is found in lakes, rivers and streams throughout the state.

White Pine
A symbol of Michigan’s rich logging history, the white pine was named the official state tree in 1955. The white pine was the focal point of Michigan’s lumber industry in the 19th Century. It helped Michigan lead the nation in lumber production from the 1860s to the late 1890s. Many of our state’s vibrant cities owe their start to the logging of white pine.