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Lansing — Michigan’s highest officials gathered in the capitol rotunda Thursday to commemorate the state’s 180th anniversary after it first joined the Union on Jan. 26, 1837.

Gov. Rick Snyder, Secretary of State Ruth Johnson, Attorney General Bill Schuette and others had kind words for Michigan on its 180th birthday, a state that converted its coveted minerals, ore and lumber in the Upper Peninsula into wealth and prominence after Thomas Jefferson, the third U.S. president, declared it a U.S. territory in 1805.

Snyder and others took the opportunity Thursday to note some of the same themes that Snyder impressed upon listeners at the 2017 State of the State address, including Michigan’s declining unemployment rate, more private sector jobs and an increasing population as more college-educated adults and others move to the state.

“The exciting thing is our kids are staying,” Snyder said Thursday, a theme he also touched on during his State of the State address.

Snyder also noted that the state’s rivalry with Ohio goes back 180 years, when officials relinquished the territory containing Toledo during a boundary dispute known as the “Toledo War,” which took place from 1835 to 1836.

“It’s a fun rivalry,” Snyder said.

At the time, Robert Lucas was the governor of Ohio and Michigan’s youngest “Boy Governor,” Stevens T. Mason, 24, commanded the territory.

The State Historian Sandra Clark noted that state officials did not know at the time how much wealth would be accumulated from the vast reserves of lumber, iron and copper in the Upper Peninsula.

Michigan Supreme Court Chief Justice Robert Young also humorously noted during his address that the body of Michigan’s first Michigan Supreme Court Justice William Fletcher was once lost for years before it was found.

And then it was lost again. And found. And lost again. And found again, and even once confused with another person’s body, Young said, comparing the struggle for a just judicial system to the fight to find Fletcher’s body once and for all, which purportedly lies in the Forest Hill Cemetery in Ann Arbor.

mgerstein@detroitnews.com

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