The first Europeans to reach Wisconsin were French. Jean Nicolet arrived on the shores of Green Bay in 1634, on an unsuccessful quest for a passage to China. The first mission was established in 1660 and thereafter, French trappers and missionaries explored the region. The French maintained good relations with the Indians until 1712, when war broke out between the French and the Fox Indians. The French prevailed but at a cost to their reputation with the Indians.
Following the French and Indian War, the Treaty of Paris obliged to France to cede most of its claims in North America, including Wisconsin, to Britain. British trappers and traders replaced the French and Wisconsin was appended to the province of Quebec. Following the War of Independence, Britain relinquished control to the United States.
Wisconsin was organized successively in the territories if Indiana, Illinois, and Michigan. When Michigan desired to become a state, it was obliged to settle a territorial dispute with Ohio. The issue was resolved by giving the contested land on Lake Erie to Ohio, with Michigan being compensated with land from the Upper Peninsula that was taken from Wisconsin.
Wisconsin's territory was organized in 1836, including some of what is now Minnesota. In 1848, Wisconsin became the 30th state with boundaries as they are today.
Anti-slavery sentiment was strong in Wisconsin. In early 1854, a protest meeting was held in Ripon that is considered to be the starting point of the Republican Party.
Opposition to the Fugitive Slave Act was particularly strong in Wisconsin. When Sherman Booth, editor of the Wisconsin Free Democrat was arrested and charged with violating that act in 1854, a judge released him on a writ of habeas corpus on the grounds that the federal law was unconstitutional. When he was tried and convicted in federal court, the state supreme court released him again.
This provoked the United States Supreme Court to get involved. Chief Justice Roger B. Taney obtained jurisdiction and in 1859, the U.S. Supreme Court reversed the Wisconsin court. Booth was rearrested and finally pardoned in 1861 by Buchanan.
Republicans dominated Wisconsin politics for most of the next century, but there was a progressive bent. In 1924, Robert La Follette, a U.S. Senator from Wisconsin, ran for the presidency. He received the electoral votes of only one state, Wisconsin.
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Door County Tales Shipwrecks, Cherries and Goats on the Roof by Gayle Soucek.
Befitting its role as Wisconsin’s thumb, Door County has its own unique pulse. It is the idyllic paradise “north of the tension line,” that sends many...
Stalin Over Wisconsin: The Making and Unmaking of Militant Unionism, 1900-1950 by Stephen Meyer.
During the first half of this century, Allis-Chalmers was Wisconsin's largest employer. The firm hired a variety of workers, including the native-bor...