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questions to the fore so successfully that private citizens could not avoid giving them some attention, and thus the foundations were laid for a society which in more recent times has been characterized as intensely political. Relations with the national government, and with our neighbors, Michigan and Illinois, land grants, internal improvements, the location of the capital, the fixing of the southern boundary, the numerous referendums on the question of a state government, the two constitutional conventions of 1846 and 1847—these were some of the concrete problems agitating the minds of voters during the period. When, on May 29, 1848, the bill granting statehood to Wisconsin was approved by President Polk, a complete state government, elected the same month, was ready to take up the reins laid down by territorial officials,
Expansion, Trade, War-1848-1865
Wisconsin began her career as a state in the Union with a population of nearly a quarter of a million. By 1850 that number had increased to 305,391, and by 1860 to 775,881. In spite of the losses and the general retardation of immigration, due to the Civil War, the census of 1870 shows 1,054,670. The period was characterized by agricultural expansion. This was favored by the building of railroads through new regions and by the economic advantage (or necessity, it might be called) of pushing wheat culture into ever fresh portions of the virgin soil of the state as the older lands responded more and more grudgingly to primitive modes of cultivation. The business of lumbering, in the great “pineries" of the north, came in this epoch into full development; and in the years immediately following the war, often called "the golden age of lumbering," Wisconsin was ready to dispute with Michigan for the cream of the trade. Milwaukee flourished more and more as a wheat shipping port, her population rising from 31,077 in 1850 to 89,936 in 1870. Farming (which meant wheat growing), lumbering, and general commerce, together with mining, constituted the industrial basis of Wisconsin's prosperity.
Politically, the state of Wisconsin began with the Democratic party in control, and it was not till 1856 that a change came. In that year the state senate, elected in 1855, was Republican; and it was judicially decided, after a fierce and vindictive struggle, that Governor Barstow, Democrat, who resumed office on a certificate of election being issued to him, had not been rightfully elected, whereupon Coles Bashford, Republican, became governor March 24, 1856. That ended the control of state politics by the old, pro-slavery democracy. In 1860 Wisconsin gave the Lincoln electors a plurality of 21,089. The war came with a shock, but it found the spirit of Wisconsin ready. “Wisconsin promptly and efficiently met every demand made upon her during the gigantic struggle; her quota of troops was always more than full; and although at times the fiscal situation seemed desperate, no question arose as to the wisdom of making liberal provision for the military chest.
This period was also noted for the building up of public institutions—the state university, the normal school, the system of free elementary schools, and the beginnings of our high school system. The management of the university and school lands, and the loaning of the funds, constituted an important and not altogether creditable feature of the state activities of the time. These things had much to do with the antiBarstow agitation of 1853 to 1856,8
Progress and Readjustment-1865-1890
Wisconsin furnished to the nation's armies a total of 91,379 men. Out of this number she lost, by death, 10,752. During the progress of the war, general immigration and especially immigration from Germany, formerly so heavy, was largely cut off. So, the total gain in population between 1860 and 1865 was only 12 per cent. In the next period of five years it was 21 per cent. This showed that with the close of the war all the elements of prosperity became once more fully operative, and now both European and eastern emigration were resumed on a grand scale. During the same time Wisconsin was sending thousands of ex-soldiers and others into the prairie states of Kansas, Nebraska, Iowa, and Minnesota, which enjoyed such a phenomenal growth. By 1890 a quarter of a million natives of Wisconsin were living in these and other western states. It was these new settlements which were
* For the history of the school lands management, see Schafer, Joseph, "Wisconsin's Farm Loan Law, 1849-1863," in Wis. Hist. Soc., Proc., 1920.
largely responsible for ushering in the golden era of lumbering, through the rapid expansion of the market for lumber, and it was these same new states, with their limitless expanse of fertile, unspoiled wheat land, which gave the coup de grace to wheat growing as a profitable branch of farming in the older Wisconsin. Consequently, the period under review was for Wisconsin a time of economic and social readjustment. It involved a change in agriculture from wheat growing to dairying and other forms of permanent (fertility renewing) agriculture; a gigantic progress in lumbering, under the stimulus of ample markets and good prices, and the rise of the lumber kings as a power in the state, sometimes in alliance with the railway kings; the rapid slaughtering of the forests and the necessity, in many lumbering centers, of organizing industries and building up agriculture as a support for communities left stranded by the ebbing tide of lumbering; the diversification of general manufactories, induced partly by the later decline of lumbering, partly by favoring conditions like water power and wood for pulp and paper making, and iron ore for the manifold forms of iron manufacturing. The capitalist and labor classes in industry as distinguished from that earlier society when not only did everyone work, but almost everyone worked with his hands and almost everyone worked for himself,'9 developed with manufacturing. It was a new and different Wisconsin in 1890, with problems even more complex, stubborn, and difficult than those of Civil War days, but fortunately with a public spirit among its people just as earnest in seeking solutions for those problems and with a public intelligence no less adequate to the new tasks than it had been to the old.
Thus far we have discussed, agriculturally, that portion of Wisconsin which lies mainly south of the line from Hudson to Green Bay, or southern and central Wisconsin. One might consider everything north of the Fox-Wisconsin line as part of northern Wisconsin. However, it has became customary in recent times to apply that geographic description only to
J. F. A. Pyre, Wisconsin, 19.
the region north of the Hudson-Green Bay line already mentioned. At least, that region is the New North. It comprises twenty-nine counties or major fractions of counties. It has been built up almost entirely since the year 1870, and so far as agriculture is concerned, mainly since 1890. Lumbering created towns and cities in the heart of the pineries, and these attracted railroads, which began about 1870 to build through northern Wisconsin. Farmers, attracted by the good markets for agricultural produce which mill towns and lumber camps created, followed the sound of the steam whistle and occupied the open, lightly wooded, or burnt-over lands. With the progress of railway building and the exhaustion of the supply of fertile prairie lands in the west, the influx of farmers increased until northern Wisconsin became a new "land of promise" not only to emigrating Wisconsin people, but to people from other states and from foreign countries. According to the census of 1920, the twenty-nine counties of the New North contained more than one-third of the rural population of the state, and the rural population of those counties has been steadily increasing while that of other portions of the state has been stationary. Marathon, one of the northern counties, had in 1920 a larger rural population than any other county.
The Age of Science
To different onlookers the history of the last thirty years will mean different things. One can but guess how the future historian will characterize it. Whatever else he may say of Wisconsin society in this generation, he will not deny its tendency toward a scientific control of public as well as private business. This is, to be sure, a deep-running tendency of the age. Yet, among other democracies the people of Wisconsin-in their government, in their agricultural and other industries, in their conservation policies respecting human life, intelligence, and happiness, as also natural resources; in their educational systems and the functions these are permitted to exercise in relation to practical concerns; even in their reasoned if not always reasonable and sweet-tempered politics, afford one of the best illustrations of a society which is swayed by the scientific motive. The dominant note in Wisconsin
politics has been the attainment of social justice; and while we have by no means banished selfishness, greed, and corruption from our public and our private life as a people, yet on the whole it may be doubted if an equal number of voters anywhere will deal more disinterestedly or discriminatingly with public questions, employing in their solution not the unaided reason merely, but the best knowledge that science, in its appropriate forms, can afford.
Best of all, the people have gained a definite conviction that the future depends upon themselves. So they go forward, in the spirit of their state song, On Wisconsin, planning, coöperating, and if need be, battling, for the things which are contributory to the highest social welfare.