Marshall is a city located in the U.S. state of Michigan. It is part of the Battle Creek, Michigan Metropolitan Statistical Area. The population was 7,088 at the 2010 census. It is the county seat of Calhoun County. The town operates a student exchange program with its sister city, Kōka, Japan.
Marshall is best known for its cross-section of 19th- and early 20th-century architecture. It has been referred to by the keeper of the National Register of Historic Places as a "virtual textbook of 19th-Century American architecture". It is home to one of the nation's largest National Historic Landmark Districts. There are over 850 buildings included in the Landmark.
Established in 1830, town founders Sidney and George Ketchum named the community in honor of Chief Justice of the United States John Marshall from Virginia—whom they greatly admired. This occurred five years before Marshall's death and thus was the first of dozens of communities and counties named for him.
Marshall was thought to be the front runner for state capitol, so much so that a Governor's Mansion was built, but lost by one vote to Lansing. In the years after Marshall became known for its patent medicines industry until the Pure Drug Act of 1906. Marshall was involved in the Underground Railroad. When escaped slave Adam Crosswhite fled Kentucky and settled in Marshall with his wife and three children, the people of the town hid him from the posse sent to retrieve him. Those involved were tried in Federal Court and found guilty of denying a man of his rightful property. This case and others like it caused the Slave Recovery Act to be pushed through Congress.
Two Marshall citizens, Rev. John D. Pierce and lawyer Isaac E. Crary, innovated the Michigan school system and established it as part of the state constitution. Their method and format were later adopted by all the states in the old Northwest Territory and became the foundation for the U.S. Land Grant Act in 1861, which established schools like Michigan State University all over the country. Pierce became the country's first state superintendent of public instruction and Crary Michigan's first member of the U.S. House.
The first railroad labor union in the U.S., The Brotherhood of the Footboard (later renamed the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers), was formed in Marshall, Michigan, back in 1863. Marshall was one of the only stops between Chicago and Detroit and became known as the Chicken Pie city because the only thing one could get to eat in the time it took to cool and switch engines was a chicken pie. Parts of the original Roundhouse can be seen at Greenfield Village.
Stand against slavery
In 1843, Adam Crosswhite and his family ran away from Francis Giltner's plantation near Carrollton, Kentucky because Crosswhite learned that his four children were to be sold. The Crosswhites made the tough journey north and finally settled in Marshall. In response, Giltner organized a group of men led by his son David Giltner to capture what they believed to be their true property.
On the morning of January 26, 1847, the slave catchers and a local deputy sheriff were pounding on Adam's door. His neighbors heard the noise and came running. The cry of "slave catchers!" was yelled through the streets of Marshall. Soon over 100 people surrounded the Crosswhite home.
Threats were shouted back and forth. One of the slave catchers began to demand that people in the crowd give him their names. They were proud to tell him and even told him the correct spelling. Each name was written down in a little book. Finally, the deputy sheriff, swayed by the crowd's opinion, decided he should arrest the men from Kentucky instead. By the time the slave catchers would post bond and get out of jail, the Crosswhites were on their way to Canada.
Next the Giltners went to the federal court in Detroit. They sued the crowd from Marshall for damages. Since they had many of their names it was easy to decide whom to sue. After two trials in federal court in Detroit, the sole remaining defendant in the case, local banker Charles T. Gorham, was ordered to pay the value of the slaves plus court costs. To curry political favor, Detroit entrepreneur Zachariah Chandler stepped in to pay these costs on Gorham's behalf.
Because of the Crosswhite case and many others like it, Sen. Henry Clay from Kentucky pushed a new law through Congress in 1850 known as the Fugitive Slave Law, which made it very risky for anyone to help an escaped slave.