History of Wisconsin
In 1783, Wisconsin (WI) became a territorial possession of the United States following the American Revolutionary War. However, the British remained in control until after the War of 1812, the outcome of which finally established an American presence in the area. Wisconsin became the 30th state of the US on May 29, 1848.
The completion of the Erie Canal provided an easy way for Yankee settlers and European immigrants to find their way to the Wisconsin Territory. Yankees speculated in real estate and started towns such as Racine, Beloit, Burlington, and Janesville. They established schools, government, and other civic institutions, as well as Congregationalist churches. At the same time, immigrant groups originating from Germany, Ireland, Norway, and other areas across the territory, established Catholic and Lutheran institutions.
Since its foundation, Wisconsin was a free state and was the center of northern abolitionism. However, the issue became incredibly intense in 1854 after the capture of Joshua Glover, a runaway slave from Missouri, in Racine. A mob of abolitionists stormed the prison where Glover was held, freeing him and helping him escape to Canada.
Wisconsin’s economy diversified during the early years of its statehood. The lead mining industry diminished, making agriculture the main occupation in the southern half of the state. The advent of railroads helped bring grains to market, and Wisconsin became one of the nation’s leading producers of wheat during the 1860s for a time. However, during this same time, the lumber industry dominated in the northern sections of Wisconsin, devastating the rich and plentiful forests of the area. Sawmills sprang up in cities like La Crosse, Eau Claire, and Wausau. Lumber and agriculture were booming but had dire environmental consequences. Intensive agriculture devastated soil fertility by the end of the nineteenth century, and lumbering had destroyed Wisconsin’s forests. This sent the wheat agriculture and lumber industries into a precipitous decline.
This decline forced farmers in Wisconsin to move from wheat to dairy production as more sustainable and profitable use of their land. In addition, many immigrants carried cheese-making traditions that helped the state build a reputation as America’s Dairyland. Meanwhile, conservationists such as Aldo Leopold helped to reestablish Wisconsin’s forests during the early 20th century, paving the way for a resurgence of the lumber and paper milling industry, which they deem as renewable, as well as promoting recreational tourism in the northern woodlands.
Sports and Tourism
Wisconsin is home to the one and only Green Bay Packers, whose home is the iconic Lambeau Field. Part of the National Football League since the league’s second season in 1921, the Packers hold the record for the most NFL titles, winning an impressive 13 championships, including the first two AFL-NFL Championship games (Super Bowls I and II), Super Bowl XXXI and Super Bowl XLV. The Packers are the smallest city franchise in the National Football League and the only one owned by shareholders statewide. There is currently an estimated 81,000-person waiting list for season tickets to watch the Packers play at Lambeau Field.