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History of American Towns: Madison, Wisconsin

Updated on March 29, 2015

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.

Sources:

Wikipedia

How We Named Our States by Pauline Arnold & Percival White

Copyright 2012 Don Hoglund

Madison, Wisconsin

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© 2012 Don A. Hoglund

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    • dahoglund profile image
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      Don A. Hoglund 4 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      Doodlehead, I never went to school there but I went to University of Minnesota which is farther north. But I don't really like the cold either. Thanks for commenting.

    • Doodlehead profile image

      Doodlehead 4 years ago from Northern California

      I went to the University there but staying there would have been too cold for me. They do have good hot green chile for the cold days though.

    • dahoglund profile image
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      Don A. Hoglund 4 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      Rebeccamealey,

      The weather doesn't agree with me in the winter either. The only reason I stay in the mid-west is most of my family is in Minnesota. Thanks for commenting.

    • dahoglund profile image
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      Don A. Hoglund 4 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      Hi Paul,

      I moved to Wisconsin after I retired and I am trying to get to know the state. One way to do that is to write about it. It is good when some readers find it beneficial to read about it. Thanks for commenting, voting, sharing, pinning and Tweeting this hub about Madison, Wisconsin.

    • rebeccamealey profile image

      Rebecca Mealey 4 years ago from Northeastern Georgia, USA

      Lovely looking city, but I don't thinks the weather would agree with me there in winter. A great retreat for summer, I'll bet, though.

    • Paul Kuehn profile image

      Paul Richard Kuehn 4 years ago from Udorn City, Thailand

      Don,

      This is a very interesting and well-researched hub. I lived in Madison on the University of Wisconsin campus for six years during the 60s and 70s. Madison is a very beautiful city with its lakes. I'll always remember Lake Mendota because my college dorms were right next to it. While a student we often walked to Picnic Point on the lake for dorm parties and picnics. Voted up and sharing. Also Pinning and Tweeting

    • dahoglund profile image
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      Don A. Hoglund 5 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      Freeway Flyer, thanks for reading and commenting.I am not Unitarian but I went to the church in Madison once because it was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. Interesting bit of architecture and interesting service.

    • Freeway Flyer profile image

      Paul Swendson 5 years ago

      I attend a Unitarian Universalist congregation. I was not aware that the largest congregation was in Wisconsin. I guess it makes sense, given that the state is filled with those darn "liberals" that have been a thorn in the side of Scott Walker.

      It's interesting that people were "bribed" into making Madison the capitol. I wonder if there would be a city of any significant size there without the vision of Judge Doty and those Buffalo robes.

    • dahoglund profile image
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      Don A. Hoglund 5 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      Hi Peggy,I should get to Madison and visit the Historical society there.We should spend some time in Milwaukee as well.Thanks for the comment and votes.

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 5 years ago from Houston, Texas

      They also have some beautiful lakes there. I was born and spent my early childhood in Wisconsin and had relatives living in Madison and also Milwaukee. Haven't been back to Madison since I was a kid but still have some cousins living there. Enjoyed reading about it via your informative hub. Up, useful and interesting votes.

    • dahoglund profile image
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      Don A. Hoglund 5 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      Thanks James, your comments are appreciated.

    • James A Watkins profile image

      James A Watkins 5 years ago from Chicago

      Madison is a beautiful city. I enjoyed your report very much. I love history. You did well. Thank you.

    • dahoglund profile image
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      Don A. Hoglund 5 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      Thanks prasetio. It is good that you find it of interest. I am sort of trying to show that all towns and cities have interesting histories.

    • prasetio30 profile image

      prasetio30 5 years ago from malang-indonesia

      Great job, brother. I learn many things about the history of The City of Madison. I should visit this city one day. Thank you very much. Rated up and take care!

      Blessing and hugs,

    • dahoglund profile image
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      Don A. Hoglund 5 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      Hi Dexter, thanks for visiting and commenting.I agree it is a great city.

    • Dexter Yarbrough profile image

      Dexter Yarbrough 5 years ago from United States

      Hi Dahoglund! Great history lesson on Madison and Wisconsin. It is a great city! Thanks for sharing the info!

    • dahoglund profile image
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      Don A. Hoglund 5 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      Thanks for commenting and reading.

    • LoriSoard profile image

      LoriSoard 5 years ago from Henryville, Indiana

      Interesting info. I love learning about new places.

    • dahoglund profile image
      Author

      Don A. Hoglund 5 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      Hi michiganman.Thanks for your comment.I hadn't thought about football.

    • michiganman567 profile image

      michiganman567 5 years ago from Michigan

      It is a tough place to play a football game. Nice information, thanks.

    • dahoglund profile image
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      Don A. Hoglund 5 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      MP50 thanks for your comment.I think you will enjoy Madison.

    • profile image

      MP50 5 years ago

      I have been invited to Madison Wisconsin many times in my life. I met a wonderful lady from there, while working in another state. I have never found the time to actually go and visit, although Madison is on my list of places as must see. Thank You for reminding me, interesting Hub and voted up.