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Wisconsin,river, c.430 mi (690 km) long, rising in the lake district, NE Wis., and flowing generally SW across central Wis. to the Mississippi River near Prairie du Chien. At Portage it is connected by a short canal with the Fox River, and thus with Lake Michigan. There are many hydroelectric power facilities on the river. The scenic Dells of the Wisconsin are a famous gorge.
See also: National Parks and Monuments (table)National Parks and Monuments
Name Type1 Location Year authorized Size
Acadia NP SE Maine 1919 49,075 (19,868) Mountain and coast scenery.
..... Click the link for more information.
Wisconsin(wĭskŏn`sən, –sĭn), upper midwestern state of the United States. It is bounded by Lake Superior and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, from which it is divided in part by the Menominee River (N); Lake Michigan (E); Illinois (S); and Iowa and Minnesota (W), with the Mississippi River forming much of that border.
Facts and Figures
Area, 56,154 sq mi (145,439 sq km). Pop. (2010) 5,686,986, a 6% increase since the 2000 census. Capital, Madison. Largest city, Milwaukee. Statehood, May 29, 1848 (30th state). Highest pt., Timms Hill, 1,952 ft (595 m); lowest pt., Lake Michigan, 581 ft (177 m). Nickname, Badger State. Motto, Forward. State bird, robin. State flower, wood violet. State tree, sugar maple. Abbr., Wis.; WI
The most notable physiographic feature of the state is its profusion of lakes, over 8,500, ranging in size from Lake WinnebagoWinnebago, Lake,
215 sq mi (557 sq km), E Wis.; largest lake in Wisconsin. Fed and drained by the Fox River, the lake is part of an all-water route between the Great Lakes and the Mississippi River. Oshkosh and Fond du Lac are on the lake, which is a major recreation area.
..... Click the link for more information. (215 sq mi/557 sq km) to tiny glacial lakes of surprising beauty. The Wisconsin River, with its extensive dam system, runs generally southward through the middle of the state until it turns west (just NW of Madison) to flow into the Mississippi, dividing the state into eastern and western sectors. Running a parallel course just to the east, Wisconsin's major watershed extends in a broad arc from north to south; to the east the Menominee, the Peshtigo, the Wolf, and the Fox rivers flow E and NE into Lake Michigan, while to the west the Chippewa, the Flambeau, and the Black rivers make their way to the Mississippi.
Wisconsin's frontage on lakes Superior and Michigan as well as its many beautiful lakes and streams and its northern woodlands have made it a haven for hunters, fishermen, and water and winter sports enthusiasts. There are numerous state parks, forests, and two national forests. Apostle Islands National Lakeshore and Saint Croix and Lower Saint Croix national scenic rivers (see National Parks and MonumentsNational Parks and Monuments
Name Type1 Location Year authorized Size
Acadia NP SE Maine 1919 49,075 (19,868) Mountain and coast scenery.
..... Click the link for more information. , table) are also here. MadisonMadison.
1 City (1990 pop. 12,006), seat of Jefferson co., SE Ind., on the Ohio River; settled c.1806, inc. 1838. It is a port of entry and a tobacco marketing center. Among its manufactures are transportation and industrial equipment, shoes, and chemicals.
..... Click the link for more information. is the capital and the second largest city; MilwaukeeMilwaukee
, city (1990 pop. 628,088), seat of Milwaukee co., SE Wis., at the point where the Milwaukee, Menominee, and Kinnickinnic rivers enter Lake Michigan; inc. 1846.
..... Click the link for more information. is the largest city. Green BayGreen Bay,
city (1990 pop. 96,466), seat of Brown co., NE Wis., at the mouth of the Fox River on Green Bay; inc. 1854. An important Great Lakes harbor, Green Bay is a port of entry, with heavy shipping and a large wholesale and jobbing trade.
..... Click the link for more information. and RacineRacine
, industrial city (1990 pop. 84,298), seat of Racine co., SE Wis., on Lake Michigan, at the mouth of the Root River; inc. 1848. It is a port of entry, and its manufactures include farm machinery, automobile parts, stitching machines, tools, corrugated containers, waxes
..... Click the link for more information. are other major cities.
The rough isolation of Wisconsin's North Woods region is cut by part of the Gogebic range, from which much iron ore was extracted before 1965. Iron mining was resumed briefly in 1969 but has since stopped altogether. Sand and gravel, stone, and lime are other valuable mineral resources; zinc (as well as lead) is mined in the Driftless AreaDriftless Area,
c.13,000 sq mi (33,670 sq km), largely in SW Wis. but extending into SE Minn., NE Iowa, and NW Ill. The continental glacier which covered most surrounding regions did not touch this area, which abounds in caves and sinkholes and has residual, well-drained soil.
..... Click the link for more information. in the southwest. Important copper deposits were discovered in the north in the 1970s.
The state's greatest natural resource since its earliest days has been lumber. Dense forests (white pines in the north, hardwoods elsewhere) once covered all except the southern prairie. While reckless exploitation in the late 19th cent. drastically reduced the magnificent stands, extensive conservation and reforestation measures have saved the valuable lumber industry, and today c.40% of Wisconsin's land area is forested. The pulp, paper, and paper-products industrial complex in Green Bay and Appleton is one of the largest in the nation.
The state's accent, however, is chiefly pastoral. One of the nation's largest dairy herds grazes here, and Wisconsin is the leading state in the production of cheese as well as the second largest milk producer (after California). After dairy products and cattle, the state's most valuable farm commodities are corn and soybeans. Other important crops are hay, oats, potatoes, alfalfa, and a great variety of fruits and vegetables. Food processing, predictably, is one of the state's foremost industries, along with the manufacture of machinery, which is centered in Milwaukee, Madison, and Racine.
Other important manufactures are vehicles and transportation equipment, metal products, medical instruments and equipment, farm implements, and lumber. Almost all Wisconsin's major industries are to be found within metropolitan Milwaukee, where the traditional brewing and meatpacking are rivaled by the manufacture of heavy machinery and diesel and gasoline engines. Wisconsin has numerous ports on the Great Lakes capable of accommodating oceangoing vessels. The superb harbor at Superior (shared with Duluth, Minn.) has sizable shipyards and coal and ore docks that are among the nation's largest. Tourism and outdoor recreation are burgeoning, and several Native American groups operate gambling casinos in the state; through casino enterprises the Winnebago tribe has become one of the state's larger employers.
Government and Higher Education
Wisconsin still operates under its first constitution, adopted in 1848. Its executive branch is headed by a governor elected for a four-year term. Tommy G. Thompson, a Republican, was elected governor in 1986 and reelected in 1990, 1994, and 1998. Lt. Gov. Scott McCallum succeeded Thompson as governor in 2001 when the latter became U.S. secretary of health and human services. In 2002, Jim Doyle, a Democrat, was elected to the office; he was reelected in 2006. Republican Scott Walker was elected governor in 2010, survived a recall vote in 2012, and was reelected in 2014, but he lost to Democrat Tony Evers in 2018. Wisconsin's legislature has a senate with 33 members and an assembly with 99 members. The state elects two senators and eight representatives to the U.S. Congress and has ten electoral votes.
The extensive Univ. of Wisconsin has campuses at Madison (the main campus), Eau Claire, Green Bay, Kenosha, La Crosse, Menomonie, Milwaukee, Oshkosh, Platteville, River Falls, Stevens Point, Superior, and Whitewater. Other notable institutions of higher learning are Beloit College, at Beloit; Lawrence Univ., at Appleton; Marquette Univ., at Milwaukee; and Ripon College, at Ripon.
French Fur Trading and the Influx of Eastern Tribes
The Great Lakes offered an easy access from Canada to the region that is now Wisconsin, and the Frenchman Jean Nicolet arrived at the site of Green Bay in 1634 in search of fur pelts and the Northwest Passage. He was followed by other traders and missionaries, among them Radisson and Groseilliers; Marquette and Joliet, who discovered the upper Mississippi; and Aco and Hennepin, from the party of La Salle.
Meanwhile the spread of settlers in the East was bringing the Ottawa, the Huron, and other Native American tribes into Wisconsin, where they in turn displaced the older inhabitants, the Winnebago, the Kickapoo, and others. Similarly, the Ojibwa drove their kinsmen the Sioux westward from Wisconsin. Only the Menominee remained relatively settled.
Nicolas Perrot helped (1667) establish Green Bay as the center of the Wisconsin fur trade, and in 1686 he formally claimed all the region for France. The fur trade flourished despite the 50-year war between the Fox and the French, and the historic Fox-Wisconsin portage was used by generations of traders from Green Bay and Prairie du Chien in their search for beaver and other furs.
Like all of New France, Wisconsin fell to the British with the end of the French and Indian WarsFrench and Indian Wars,
1689–1763, the name given by American historians to the North American colonial wars between Great Britain and France in the late 17th and the 18th cent.
..... Click the link for more information. (1763). British traders mingled with the French and eventually gained the bulk of the fur trade. The British hold continued even after the end of the American Revolution, when the Old Northwest formally passed (1783) to the United States and was made (1787) a part of the Northwest Territory. After Jay's TreatyJay's Treaty,
concluded in 1794 between the United States and Great Britain to settle difficulties arising mainly out of violations of the Treaty of Paris of 1783 and to regulate commerce and navigation.
..... Click the link for more information. (1794), northwestern strongholds were turned over to the Americans, but the British continued to dominate the fur trade from the Canadian border. In the War of 1812 Wisconsin again fell into British hands. It was only with the Treaty of Ghent (see Ghent, Treaty ofGhent, Treaty of,
1814, agreement ending the War of 1812 between the United States and Great Britain. It was signed at Ghent, Belgium, on Dec. 24, 1814, and ratified by the U.S. Senate in Feb., 1815. The American commissioners were John Q. Adams, James A.
..... Click the link for more information. ) that effective U.S. territorial control began and that the American Fur Company gained control of much of the fur trade.
Settlement and Native American Resistance
Present-day Wisconsin was transferred from Illinois Territory to Michigan Territory in 1818. By then the fur trade was diminishing, but the lead mines in SW Wisconsin had long been active, and booming lead prices in the 1820s brought the first large rush of settlers. The region's great agricultural potential was also apparent, and after 1825 a considerable number of easterners began arriving via the new Erie Canal and the Great Lakes. They settled in the Milwaukee area and along the waterways. The U.S. army preserved order from key forts established at Green Bay (1816), Prairie du Chien (1816), and Portage (1828) and built bridges, trails, and roads throughout the region. The hostility of the Native Americans toward the incursions of aggressive settlers culminated in the Black Hawk WarBlack Hawk War,
conflict between the Sac and Fox and the United States in 1832. After the War of 1812, whites settling the Illinois country exerted pressure on the Native Americans.
..... Click the link for more information. (1832). This revolt, brutally crushed, was the last Native American resistance of serious consequence in the area.
Territorial Status and Early Statehood
In 1836, Wisconsin was made a territory, and the legislators chose a compromise site for the capital, midway between the Milwaukee and western centers of population; thus the city of Madison was founded. By 1840 population in the territory had risen above 130,000, but the people, fearing higher taxes and stronger government, rejected propositions for statehood four times. In addition, politicians were at first unwilling to yield Wisconsin claims to a strip of land around Chicago and to what is now the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. However, hopes that statehood would bring improved communications and prosperity became dominant; the claims were yielded, and Wisconsin achieved statehood in 1848. The state constitution provided protection for indebted farmers, limited the establishment of banks, and granted liberal suffrage. These measures and the state's rich soil attracted immigrants from Europe.
The influx of Germans to Wisconsin was especially heavy, and some parts of the state assumed the tidy semi-German look that has persisted along with an astonishing survival of the German language. Liberal leaders, like Carl Schurz, came after the failure of the Revolution of 1848 in Germany and added to the intellectual development of the state. Contributions were also made, then and later, by Irish, Scandinavians, Germans who had previously emigrated to the Volga region of Russia, and Poles.
The state's development was not always smooth. Although the state constitution provided for a system of free public schools, the principle was implemented only slowly. Similarly, the Univ. of Wisconsin (chartered 1848) was slow to assume importance. After a referendum (1852) ended the state constitutional ban on banking, farmers and many others mortgaged their property to buy railroad stocks, only to suffer distress when the state's railways went bankrupt in the Panic of 1857.
Late-Nineteenth-Century Political and Economic Developments
Wisconsin was steadily antislavery; the Free-Soil partyFree-Soil party,
in U.S. history, political party that came into existence in 1847–48 chiefly because of rising opposition to the extension of slavery into any of the territories newly acquired from Mexico.
..... Click the link for more information. gained a large following in the state (although the party's homestead plank and economic program were the major attractions). Wisconsin abolitionists played an important part in the formation of the Republican party. In the Civil War Wisconsin quickly rallied to the Union. Copperheads were few, but many War Democrats opposed the abridgment of civil liberties and other aspects of the war effort, and some of the German immigrants, who had left Germany because they opposed compulsory military service, opposed even voluntary war service.
The boom times brought by the war mitigated discontent, and economic and social growth was rapid during the 1860s and after. Railroads and other means of communication linked Wisconsin closely to the East. The meatpacking and brewing industries of Milwaukee began to assume importance in the 1860s. Wheat was briefly dominant especially in S Wisconsin, but was superseded in the 1870s as states further west became wheat producers and Wisconsin shifted to more diversified farming. Its great dairy industry developed, spurred by an influx of skilled dairy farmers from New York and Scandinavia and by the efforts of the Wisconsin Dairymen's Association (est. 1872). In these years the great pine forests of N Wisconsin began to be greatly exploited, and in the 1870s lumbering became the state's most important industry. Oshkosh and La Crosse flourished. With lumbering came large paper and wood products industries, and the opening of iron mines in Minnesota and Michigan promoted the N Great Lake ports and increased industrial opportunities.
Although hard-hit in the panics of 1873 and 1898, Wisconsin was generally prosperous in the late 19th cent., and the reform-minded Granger movement and Populist party received less support than in other Midwestern states. A trend toward liberal political views was stimulated in Wisconsin by socialist thought, which was introduced early. Socialism, in a pragmatic and reformist rather than a doctrinaire form, dominated Milwaukee politics for many years and gave the city efficient government, particularly under the leadership of Victor BergerBerger, Victor Louis,
1860–1929, American Socialist leader and congressman, b. Austria-Hungary. After studying at the universities of Budapest and Vienna, he emigrated (1878) to the United States and settled in Milwaukee.
..... Click the link for more information. and Daniel Hoan. Stemming from a different source was the reform spirit of specialized and advanced Wisconsin farmers, who recognized the need for a more viable political and economic framework.
Robert La Follette and the Progressive Movement
In the early 20th cent., reform sentiment blossomed in the Progressive movement, under the tutelage of the Republican leader, Robert M. La FolletteLa Follette, Robert Marion
, 1855–1925, American political leader, U.S. Senator from Wisconsin (1906–25), b. Primrose, Wis. Early Career
Admitted (1880) to the Wisconsin bar, he practiced in Madison, Wis.
..... Click the link for more information. . This pragmatic attempt to achieve good effective government for all and to limit the excessive power of the few resulted in a direct primary law (1903), in legislation to regulate railroads and industry, in pure food acts, in high civil service standards, and in efforts toward cooperative nonpartisan action to solve labor problems. An important adjunct of progressivism was the "Wisconsin idea"—that of linking the facilities and brainpower of the Univ. of Wisconsin to progressive experiments and legislation. The plan owed much to Charles McCarthyMcCarthy, Charles,
1873–1921, American political scientist and author, b. Brockton, Mass. He organized and directed (1901–21) at Madison, Wis., the first official legislative reference library in the country.
..... Click the link for more information. and to the support of university president Charles Van Hise, and it brought such diverse benefits as the spread of scientific agricultural methods and the many labor and other bills drafted by Professor John R. CommonsCommons, John Rogers,
1862–1945, American economist, b. Hollansburg, Ohio, grad. Oberlin, 1888. Influenced by the other social sciences, Commons tried to broaden the scope of economics, especially in his noted Legal Foundations of Capitalism (1924) and
..... Click the link for more information. .
The progressive movement was temporarily halted by World War I. La Follette, some Socialists, and many German-Americans were critical of U.S. involvement in that war, but they were a distinct minority. Wisconsin was generally prosperous in the 1920s; industrialization made rapid strides, reforestation of the once great but now exhausted timberland was stimulated by state legislation, and the dairying industry continued to grow.
Wisconsin was alone in voting for its native son, La Follette, when he ran for president on the Progressive party ticket in 1924, and in the state his policies continued to be carried forward by his sons Robert M. La Follette, Jr., and Philip La Follette. Wisconsin's pioneer old-age pension act (1925) and its unemployment compensation act (1931) served as models for national social security a few years later. The Great Depression of the 1930s struck particularly hard in industrialized Milwaukee, but some relief was provided by the New Deal, and in addition Gov. Philip La Follette attempted, in his "little new deal," to improve agricultural marketing, promote electrification, and enforce fair labor practices.
World War II to the Present
During World War II, Wisconsin's shipbuilding industry flourished, and in the prosperous postwar era, urbanization and industrial growth continued; even in the nationwide slump of the late 1980s, the state's manufacturing sector proved resilient. Wisconsin politics continued to resonate on the national scene. U.S. Sen. Joseph McCarthy aroused controversy with his unsubstantiated anti-Communist campaign of the 1950s, but "McCarthyism" was balanced by other political strains in the state; thus Milwaukee, in the same period, again elected a Socialist mayor, and the Democratic party, long no match for Republican or Progressive forces, has gained strength in state elections since the late 1950s. In the 1990s the state was a pioneer in welfare reform.
See C. W. Rowe, The Effigy Mound Culture of Wisconsin (1956, repr. 1970); A. H. Robinson and J. B. Culver, ed., The Atlas of Wisconsin (1974); C. N. Current, Wisconsin: A History (1977); I. Vogeler, Wisconsin: A Geography (1986); R. C. Nesbit, Wisconsin: A History (rev. ed. 1989); R. F. Fries, The History of Lumbering in Wisconsin (1989).
Wisconsin State Information
Area (sq mi):: 65497.82 (land 54310.10; water 11187.72) Population per square mile: 101.90
Population 2005: 5,536,201 State rank: 0 Population change: 2000-20005 3.20%; 1990-2000 9.60% Population 2000: 5,363,675 (White 87.30%; Black or African American 5.70%; Hispanic or Latino 3.60%; Asian 1.70%; Other 3.70%). Foreign born: 3.60%. Median age: 36.00
Income 2000: per capita $21,271; median household $43,791; Population below poverty level: 8.70% Personal per capita income (2000-2003): $28,570-$30,685
Unemployment (2004): 5.00% Unemployment change (from 2000): 1.60% Median travel time to work: 20.80 minutes Working outside county of residence: 26.10%
List of Wisconsin counties:
- US National Parks
- Urban Parks
- State Parks
- Parks and Conservation-Related Organizations - US
- National Wildlife Refuges
- National Trails
- National Scenic Byways
- National Forests
a state in the northern United States. Area, 145,400 km2. Population, 4.4 million (1970), 64 percent of which is urban (1960). Its capital is Madison, and its largest city is Milwaukee. Wisconsin occupies a plain between Lakes Michigan and Superior. In the north the soil is podzol; in the south it is brown forest soil. Coniferous and broad-leaved forests cover 42 percent of the state, and there is much meadowland and arable land.
Wisconsin is an industrial agricultural state. Processing industries employ 510,000 people (1968); about 3,000 are employed in mining. Zinc ore is mined on a small scale. Electropower plants produce 5.3 million kV (1968). The most highly developed processing industries are metalworking and machine building (manufacture of agricultural and road-building machinery, tractors, boilers, turbines, and motors). The paper, furniture, woodworking, and food industries are also important. Animal husbandry, especially dairy animals, accounts for about two-thirds of the state’s commercial agricultural production.
Wisconsin is one of the United States’ major producers of cheese and butter and supplies much fresh milk to the country. There are 4.1 million head of cattle, including 2.1 million milch cows (1968). The main crops are fodder grasses, wheat, barley, and silage corn. The state also has horticulture and market gardening. Ship traffic on the Great Lakes is also important.
V. M. GOKHMAN
The first settlement of Europeans in what is today Wisconsin was founded in 1634 by Frenchmen. In 1763, Wisconsin was taken over by Great Britain, and in 1783 it became part of the United States, but until 1816 it remained independent from the British trading company in the area. In 1848 the territory of Wisconsin became a state.
Thirtieth state; admitted on May 29, 1848
State capital: Madison Nicknames: Badger State; America’s Dairyland; Copper
State State motto: Forward State animal: Badger (Taxidea taxus); wildlife animal:
White-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) domestic ani
mal: Dairy cow (Bos taurus)
State ballad: “Oh Wisconsin, Land of My Dreams”
State beverage: Milk
State bird: Robin (Turdus migratorius)
State dance: Polka
State dog: American water spaniel
State fish: Muskellunge (muskie, Esox masquinongy
State flower: Wood violet (Viola papilionacea)
State fossil: Trilobite (Calymene celebra)
State fruit: Cranberry (vaccinium macrocarpon)
State grain: Corn (Zea mays)
State insect: Honeybee (Apis mellifera)
State mineral: Galena
State rock: Red granite
State soil: Antigo silt loam
State song: “On, Wisconsin!”
State symbol of peace: Mourning dove (Zenaidura macroura
State tree: Sugar maple (Acer saccharum)
State waltz: “The Wisconsin Waltz”
More about state symbols at:
More about the state at:
AmerBkDays-2000, p. 400
AnnivHol-2000, p. 89
State web site:
Office of the Governor
PO Box 7863
Madison, WI 53707
Secretary of State PO Box 7848 Madison, WI 53707 608-266-8888 fax: 608-266-3159 www.sos.state.wi.us
Wisconsin Dept of Public Instruction Library Services Div 125 S Webster St PO Box 7841 Madison, WI 53707 608-266-3390 fax: 608-267-1052 www.dpi.state.wi.us/
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