John Hayward, Gazetteer of the United States of America… (Philadelphia: James L. Gihon, 1854), 160-162.
WISCONSIN (or OUISCONSIN) was admitted by act of Congress, February 9,3847, as an independent state of the American Union. Portions of its original territory were settled by the French as early as 1670. It passed from French to British jurisdiction in 1763, and so remained until 1794. After being connected with, and successively disconnected from, the respective States of Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, and Michigan, it was organized as a distinct territory of the United States in 1836. In 1838, it was further diminished in size by the separation from its present south-western border of what now forms the State of Iowa; and, in 1849, still further lessened, by setting off the remainder of the region lying west of the Mississippi, now known as Minesota Territory.
Boundaries and Extent. — The state, as now established, extends from the Illinois line, in latitude 42° 30' north, to latitude 45° 20', and reaches from Lake Michigan on the east to the Mississippi River on the west. Its extreme length, measured angularly, from north-east to south-west, is about 380 miles; its breadth, from east to west, varies from 150 to 200 miles; and its estimated area, as officially returned, is 53,924 square miles.
Government. — Wisconsin is at present subdivided into 29 counties. The state government is vested in a governor, lieutenant governor, Senate, and House of Representatives, the latter to consist of not less than 60, nor more than 120 members; the number of senators not to exceed one third, nor be less than one fourth, of the number of representatives. The latter are elected by the people, annually; the senators and executive officers biennially. The annual sessions of the legislature commence on the second Thursday of January. All white male citizens, Indians recognized as citizens by any United States law, and civilized persons of Indian blood, not members of any tribe, are legal voters after a residence of one year within the state.
Judiciary. — The judiciary power is vested in a Supreme Court, Circuit Court, County Courts, and justices of the peace. The Supreme Court is composed of at least four of the six judges of the Circuit Courts. Prior to the formation of the state government, the Supreme Court consisted of a chief justice and two associate justices. There are now five of the latter. During the continuance of the territorial organization, (some fourteen years,) Charles Dunn, of Elk Grove, held the office of chief justice: under the present state government, this office is held by Alexander H. Stow, of Taycheedah. The judges are elected by the people, each for the term of six years.
Education. — The subject of education has received, as might be expected from the character and origin of the settlers, a due measure of attention. Ample provision has been made by law for the establishment of a college; and corresponding means have been set aside in every township for the support of common schools, all by dint of bountiful grants of land. The value of the school fund thus created is estimated at $2,780,912. Annual proceeds $60,000.
Finances. — The state has as yet incurred no public debt.
Surface, Soil, &tc. — In its external features, this state exhibits considerable variety. The northern part having never been fully explored, excepting by traders and trappers, is consequently but little known. It is, however, represented as a rugged and mountainous wilderness, though frequently presenting large tracts of extraordinary fertility, and watered by numerous broad and rapid streams. The surface, in the southern part, consists mostly of prairie land, well timbered along the river sides; in the central part of the state, the face of the country is more diversified. The rough and hilly tracts at the north produce the white pine in great abundance. The entire region is bountifully supplied with navigable streams, by which it is penetrated in all directions; and although on its eastern border it has a lake coast of some 200 miles, very few safe or commodious harbors exist in that quarter. The soil is generally of an excellent quality, and varies from one to ten feet in depth. It is especially productive on the margins of the Mississippi and Wisconsin Rivers, where also are found extensive forests of ponderous timber; and the land throughout the state, so far as it has been surveyed, proves to be admirably adapted to agricultural purposes, particularly to the growth of corn and wheat. Indeed, every species of vegetable suited to the climate can be cultivated with perfect success; and multitudes of cattle may find ample pasturage upon the rich and almost boundless prairies.
Rivers.—Its principal rivers, besides the great Mississippi, which flows along the western limits of the state, are the Wisconsin, a branch of the former, 500 miles in length; the Chippeway, a noble stream, emptying into the Mississippi north of the Wisconsin: Rock River, taking its rise within, and running partly through, the state; and Fox River, the proximity of which to the Wisconsin often causes an inundation of the intervening lands. There are likewise numerous lakes and ponds, some of great magnitude, in the northern section. Lake Winnebago, which connects with Green Bay, a branch of Lake Michigan, is 24 miles in length by 10 in width.
Internal Improvements. — Numerous internal improvements are in progress. The most important yet undertaken is that for improving the navigation of Wisconsin and Fox Rivers. This work is prosecuted by authority of Congress, half a million acres of the public lands having been appropriated for the purpose. Steamboat navigation between Lake Michigan, via Green Bay and the Mississippi, is secured by the improvement of Fox River, and the completion of a canal to Lake Winnebago. A railroad connects Milwaukie with the Mississippi; and convenient plank roads run into the interior from many places on the lake.
By reason of its contact with Lake Michigan and the waters thereto adjacent, together with its extensive means of inland navigation, Wisconsin enjoys great commercial facilities. On the margin of the above lake lies Milwaukie, the most thriving and populous town in the state, which has sprung into being and importance, almost magically, within a very few years, and has rapidly become the centre of a vast amount of trade. Possessing the best harbor between Green Bay and Chicago, it is the chosen resort of most of the steamers from Buffalo and other ports on Lake Erie, thus commanding a controlling interest in the entire business of the state. Madison, the capital, is situated on a beautiful elevation, midway between Lake Michigan and the Mississippi, with both of which it has direct communication by means of a series of streams on either side.
Minerals. — In mineral resources Wisconsin is peculiarly opulent The south-western portion abounds with lead and copper ores. The lead mines, in particular, are noted for being the most productive in the United States; and many millions of pounds of this metal are annually extracted, wrought into proper form, and exported. Vast quantities of copper, also, are being constantly exhumed and sent to market; and in iron ore the country is not less prolific. Much interest in the mineral products of this state has for some time been manifested, and is still actively exercised among enterprising capitalists in the neighboring states.
Manufactures. — Besides the smelting of ores, the business of manufacturing, in Wisconsin, is as yet inconsiderable; the greatest amount of capital invested in any one branch of public industry has been employed in the mining of lead, and preparing it for exportation.
Climate. — In the upper or northern part of the state, the winters are frequently severe, occasioned probably by the proximity of Lake Superior, which lies on the north and northwest. The summers, however, are temperate and pleasant. The winter is much more mild in the southern quarter, where the climate throughout the year is salubrious, and not unlike that of the northern portion of Missouri.
Indians. — A large portion of the northern section of the state te still peopled by various Indian tribes, several of which are in a state of semi-civilization. Some of the tribes, especially the Winnebagoes, have long refused to recognize the treaty ceding their lands to the United States, and continue to resist all attempts to remove them to their allotted country beyond the Mississippi.
Population. — The population of Wisconsin has multiplied prodigiously since the year 1830, when it numbered but about 4000. In 1847, it had reached over 200,000; and the census of 1850 states it at 305,191, including 626 free colored persons.