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Wisconsin in the 1800s


Galena River
Galena River

In 1800 the Wisconsin area became part of the Indiana Territory, which included all the Northwest Territory except the present state of Ohio. In 1809 Wisconsin was included in the new Illinois Territory, which was separated from the Indiana Territory.

The British still exercised control, however, and encouraged Native Americans to oppose American expansion. Some Wisconsin tribes, particularly the Winnebago, joined the Shawnee chief Tecumseh, who tried to form an alliance to drive the Americans out of the Midwest. Tecumseh urged native peoples to return to their traditions and to reject the white concept that individual tribes could sell land shared by all. Tecumseh’s forces were defeated in 1811 at the Battle of Tippecanoe in Indiana, but many native peoples in Wisconsin remained hostile to the Americans.

In 1812 war again broke out between the United States and Britain, caused by disputes over the rights of neutral American shipping. During the War of 1812 (1812-1815), most of Wisconsin’s Native Americans sided with the British. Only after the war ended did American settlement begin, and the Wisconsin fur trade also came under American control. The U.S. Army governed the vast territory from Fort Howard, at Green Bay, and Fort Crawford, at Prairie du Chien. A future president of the United States, General Zachary Taylor, was in command of the post at Prairie du Chien. While the fur trade continued to be the chief economic activity in the region, small settlements around the forts grew steadily.

In 1818 the Wisconsin region became part of the Michigan Territory, which also included all of what is now Minnesota. The first great rush of American settlers into Wisconsin occurred in the 1820s, as a result of a mining boom around the Fever River (now the Galena River), in northwestern Illinois. By 1823 mining had spread north into southwestern Wisconsin, where more extensive lead deposits were found. The population of Wisconsin’s lead-mining region increased from a few hundred to several thousand in a few years, with most of the early miners coming from Tennessee, Kentucky, and other states in the South. In about 1840 the Wisconsin lead region produced almost one-half the total U.S. output of lead ore. The region established close trade relations with the South, since most of the ore was transported down the Mississippi by flatboat or steamboat to markets at St. Louis or New Orleans. "Wisconsin" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia.

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