History of American Towns: Madison, Wisconsin
The City of Madison, Wisconsin may be most recognizable to many people during the 2011 and 2012 time period for the controversies over the policies of Governor Scott Walker. There were protests by his opposition, which centered on Madison because it is the state capitol. At the time I am writing this there is an attempt to recall the governor. Polls seem to slightly favor the governor at this time.
Madison is the Capitol of Wisconsin, the county seat of Dane County, Home of the University of Wisconsin and also the Episcopal see for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Madison. It also has ”the worlds largest congregation of Unitarian Universalists, First Unitarian Society of Madison makes its home in the historic Unitarian Meeting House.” According to Wikipedia. Famous architect Frank Lloyd Wright designed the meetinghouse in Madison,
- The French explorer Jean Nicolet first discovered the area, which contained what is now the State of Wisconsin, in 1634
- What is now Wisconsin was ceded to the Americans by the British after the American Revolution.
- Most of what was north of Kentucky was the Indiana territory but in 1816 Indiana became a state.
- After that the part that is Wisconsin became part of Illinois.
- In 1818 Illinois became a state and Wisconsin was incorporated into Michigan Territory
- Wisconsin became a separate territory in 1836 and included present day Iowa and Minnesota.
- Wisconsin achieved statehood May 29,1848.
- Settlers moved into the area at a greater rate.
The name Wisconsin evolved from the time that some Algonquin speaking American Indians gave the name Wisconsin to the Wisconsin River. In 1673 Jacques Marquette, the French explorer called the river Meskousing in his journal, according to Wikipedia. While it was under the French government the area was named Ouisconsing, which later the English translated to Wisconsin, according to the Book How We Named our States by Pauline Arnold & Percival White.
Madison as Capitol
There was much rivalry to become capitol of the state. Among those trying for the privilege were Fond du Lac, Milwaukee, Racine, Green Bay, and Portage. Former Federal District Judge Duane Doty wanted the capitol to be located in the Four Lakes region. Apparently with this purpose in mind he had “...bought over a thousand acres ...of swamp and forest on the Isthmus between Lakes Mendota within the Four Lakes region, with the intention of building a city on the site,” according to Wikipedia. Doty lobbied legislatures to pick Madison as capitol and offered Buffalo robes to the legislatures. For those who were reluctant he offered a choice of lots at discount prices.
- Madison was named for James Madison, the fourth president of the United States. The streets were named for the 38 signers of the United States Constitution.
- Madison was voted to be the capitol before it was even built.
- The cornerstone was laid in 1837
- Madison was the center for the Union army in Wisconsin during the American Civil War.
Wisconsin’s history has gone from French occupation to British to American. It’s name started with American Indians, French and the English. Madison was named for a president. Because it is the capitol and the home of the University of Wisconsin it is a cultural center of the state.
How We Named Our States by Pauline Arnold & Percival White
Copyright 2012 Don Hoglund
© 2012 Don A. Hoglund