The Boy Governor
In 1834, Jackson promoted Mason to territorial governor--only to remove him in 1835 for insisting that Toledo belonged to Michigan, not Ohio. That fall, though, Michigan voters approved a state constitution and returned him to office as the first elected governor--though Congress refused to admit the new state until the Toledo situation was resolved.
Though Mason had led the fight to keep the "Toledo strip," he eventually accepted a compromise in which Ohio kept the city and Michigan got a greatly expanded swath of the Upper Peninsula. "He knew it would pay for itself because he listened to [geographer Henry] Schoolcraft and Lewis Cass, who told him about the copper and other minerals there," explains Faber.
Mason helped to write the first state constitution and as governor tried to implement its ideals. He worked to create an infrastructure, including railroads and canals, to encourage economic development. He appointed Douglass Houghton as state geologist to discover what other riches the state offered. A proponent of education, he approved the U-M's move to Ann Arbor from Detroit and was the first president of its board of regents.
Unfortunately, the economic panic of 1837 doomed most of the costly building projects, and Mason was blamed for the state's subsequent economic woes. He decided not to run for reelection in 1840 and left the state feeling that he was a failure. But in the following years, much of what he had championed came into being, including the Soo Locks.