The explorers had found the Wisconsin region rich in fur-bearing animals, particularly beaver, whose pelts were in great demand in Europe. Soon trappers and traders from Québec and Montréal entered the Wisconsin wilderness. The first trading post was established at La Baye (now Green Bay) in 1684, and soon after others were built—Fort Saint Nicolas, near Prairie du Chien, and Fort Saint Antoine, on Lake Pepin. In 1689 Nicolas Perrot, French commandant of the Green Bay region, claimed the Upper Mississippi Valley, including what is now Wisconsin, for France. The profitable fur trade of the region soon attracted English trappers, and competition between France and England for the trade with the Native Americans was intense.
The French soon came into conflict with the Fox people, who controlled a strategic trade route along the Fox and Wisconsin rivers. From about 1700 to 1740 the French and the Fox fought a series of battles, until the Fox were nearly wiped out. The surviving Fox were taken in by the Sac. The long struggle weakened French defenses in the region and turned many of France’s former Native American allies against it, at the same time France was fighting Britain for domination of the continent. Under the Treaty of Paris that ended the French and Indian War (1754-1763), France ceded all its territories east of the Mississippi River, including Wisconsin, to Britain. Under British rule the fur trade continued as the basis of Wisconsin’s economy.
British possession of Wisconsin officially ended in 1783, when Britain signed the Treaty of Paris that ended the American Revolution (1775-1783). Under the treaty, Britain ceded to the United States all its territory east of the Mississippi River. The region was included in the Northwest Territory that the U.S. government organized with the Northwest Ordinance of 1787, but the government exercised no effective control over the Wisconsin area. It remained under the unofficial control of the British, who continued to monopolize the fur trade. There was no great influx of American settlers after the war, and the area’s few white inhabitants remained predominantly French-speaking. In 1800 there were only about 200 settlers in the region. "Wisconsin" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia.
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