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Conflicts with native Americans


Bad Axe River
Bad Axe River

The movement of white settlers into the Midwest caused severe friction as the federal government and settlers attempted to displace the Native Americans from their lands. Federal policy under President Andrew Jackson (1829-1837) included uprooting entire tribes and forcing them to resettle west of the Mississippi. In 1832 about 1,000 Sac people, who had been forced to move to a reservation in Iowa, tried to return to their lands east of the Mississippi in northwestern Illinois. But Illinois settlers shot a peace emissary sent by their leader, Black Hawk, setting off the Black Hawk War. As Black Hawk and his followers retreated through Wisconsin, trying to return to Iowa, they were pursued by U.S. troops and local militiamen and fought a series of battles.

The Native Americans reached the Mississippi near a stream called the Bad Axe River, but before they could flee back to Iowa, almost all of them were killed by the army on August 3 in the Bad Axe Massacre. Only 150 of Black Hawk’s people survived. Over the next few years other Wisconsin tribes, realizing that resistance would bring a similar fate, gave up title to their lands east of the Mississippi. Some, however, negotiated for reservation lands in central and northern Wisconsin as well as other rights.

With Native American resistance eliminated, a second great wave of settlers came to Wisconsin. These new arrivals came mainly from New England and the Middle Atlantic states, particularly New York. Most of them traveled through the newly built Erie Canal, completed in 1825, and the Great Lakes and settled along the shores of Lake Michigan.

Milwaukee served as the chief port of entry for settlers and became the center of commerce for southeastern Wisconsin. These settlers were interested in farming, trading, and building cities.

Wisconsin Territory


The population grew rapidly in this period, from around 3,000 in 1830 to 11,683 in 1836. Residents of Wisconsin, which was still part of the Michigan Territory, began to call for their own territory. In 1836 the Wisconsin Territory was organized, including the Wisconsin area, all of the present states of Iowa and Minnesota, and parts of North and South Dakota. Two years later the Wisconsin Territory was reduced when the region west of the Mississippi River was reorganized as the Iowa Territory.

The capital of the Wisconsin Territory was first located at Belmont in the heart of the lead district, where almost half the settlers lived. In succeeding years the southeastern counties along the shore of Lake Michigan grew more rapidly than the lead region, and by 1838 the legislature had moved to the new capital of Madison, which lay between the two areas. The first governor of the territory was Henry Dodge, one of the region’s most prosperous miners. Until the 1850s settlement in the territory was confined to the area south of the Fox and Wisconsin rivers.

A third wave of settlers, including a large number of European immigrants, came to Wisconsin during the territorial period. The first important group included highly skilled miners from Cornwall, England, who arrived in Wisconsin’s lead district after 1835. In the next 15 years they were followed by large numbers of Germans, Scots, Irish, Welsh, Swiss, and Norwegians. By 1850 Wisconsin’s population was 305,391, and more than one-third of the residents were foreign-born. "Wisconsin" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia.

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