Wisconsin History Politics & Government

The books and articles below are about the political and legal history of Wisconsin. See the right column for more info about this website.

“What is the Matter with Milwaukee?”

The Independent Vol 68, 1910, 840-843

Berger, Victor L.Go to Article

Newspaper editor and Socialist alderman of Milwaukee describes the 1910 victory by Socialists in city elections and answers the critics of socialism.

The Germans in Wisconsin Politics

Milwaukee: Parkman Club 1896
Bruncken, ErnestGo to Paper

Reprint of a 13-page paper.

“Milwaukee’s Socialist Government”

The American Review of Reviews Vol 42, 1910, 445-455

New York
England, George AllanGo to Article

The author briefly covers the recent election of America’s first socialist city government, then describes the many social and political issues in Milwaukee that the new government will attempt to address.

Wisconsin and the Nation

Chicago: Flanagan 1897
Haven, SpencerGo to Book

County Government in Wisconsin

Madison: Wisconsin Historical Records Survey 1942
Historical Records Survey, Public Works Administration Go to Vol 1|Go to Vol 2|Go to Vol 3

“”County Government in Wisconsin” fulfills the long-recognized need for a comprehensive statement of the general law regulating county government in Wisconsin. It is expected that it will serve as a handbook on the organization, structure, and evolution of county government and on laws relating to county records in Wisconsin”. From the Preface

First Constitutional Convention in Wisconsin, 1846

Madison: State Historical Society 1905
Holmes, Fred L.Go to Book

This is a 25-page journal article, republished by the State Historical Society as a booklet.

The author describes the strong opposition to seeking statehood among voters in Wisconsin Territory in the 1830s and 1840s, and how sentiment changed in the mid-1840s. In his account of the Convention’s work on the Constitution, there is discussion of some of the more controversial proposals. For example, there was a determined attempt by northern delegates to redraw the northern boundary line to exclude about one-third of the current area of the State, which would have then been formed into a separate State called “Superior”. There was also heated discussion over a proposal to give negroes the same privileges, including voting, as white persons. It lost by a vote of 51 to 47, although a second proposal was approved to allow Wisconsin voters to decide the question.

See related historical documents at: Wisconsin History: Documents & Collections of Records

history of Wisconsin, constitutional convention, statehood, political history, free online library

Wisconsin: An Experiment in Democracy

NY: Scribner’s Sons 1912
Howe, Frederic C.Go to Book

The Local Governments of Wisconsin

Whitewater, WI: Register 1913
Kinsman, Delos Oscar Go to Book

This small book was intended to provide essential information for civics teachers.

Catechism of Wisconsin Institutions

Madison: State Board of Control 1904
Kustermann, Gustav, comp.Go to Book

Brief synopses of information about State institutions, including schools for the deaf, blind and orphans; hospitals for the insane, a home for the feeble minded, industrial schools, a reformatory and the state prison. There are illustrations of each.

The Alleviation of Unemployment in Wisconsin

Madison: Industrial Commission of Wisconsin 1931
Lescohier, Don Divance and Peterson, Florence Go to Book

This report, published during the Depression, lays out the development and scope of the unemployment crisis of 1930-31, details unemployment relief efforts in 15 populous cities and counties, describes existing public works projects, and proposes some additional actions.

The Wisconsin Idea

NY: Macmillan 1912
McCarthy, Charles Go to Book

Chapter headings are:

-The Reason for It
-The Soil
-The Regulation of Business affected by a Public Interest
-Electoral and Governmental Changes
-Educational Legislation
-Labor, Health, and Public Welfare
-The Legislature
-The Law and Economic Progress

Wisconsin Idea, education history, Wisconsin public education, higher education, Wisconsin constitution, ebooks online

“A Constitution of Democracy – Wisconsin, 1847”

Mississippi Valley Historical Review Vol II, 1915-16, 3-24

Cedar Rapids, Iowa: Mississippi Valley Historical Association
Paxson, Frederic L.Go to Article

The author’s contention is that Jacksonian democrats, who saw their movement as a “revolt of the people against autocracy and aristocracy”, and represented “.. an uprising of the frontier against the older communities”, put their views on government into new state constitutions throughout the Mississippi valley in the years from 1837 to 1851. He supports his argument by examining the personal experiences and political positions of various Wisconsin men who were influential in shaping Wisconsin’s 1847 state constitution.

The Movement for Statehood 1845-46

Madison: State Historical Society 1918
Quaife, Milo M., ed.Go to Book

Volume 1 of the Society’s 3-volume Constitutional Series. This volume contains, according to the editor, “…available documentary records of official proceedings and popular discussion attendant upon the assembling of the first Wisconsin constitutional convention in the autumn of 1846.”

history of Wisconsin, statehood, constitutional convention, political history, state government, ebooks free

Wisconsin History Politics & Government

The Convention of 1846

Madison: State Historical Society 1919
Quaife, Milo M., ed.Go to Book

Volume 2 of the Society’s 3-volume Constitutional Series. This volume contains, according to the editor, “…the official journal of proceedings of the Wisconsin constitutional convention, together with the debate, in so far as the latter can now be reconstructed from existing sources of information.”

history of Wisconsin, statehood, constitutional convention, political history, state government, free ebooks

The Struggle over Ratification, 1846-1847

Madison: State Historical Society 1920
Quaife, Milo, ed.Go to Book

Volume 3 of the Society’s 3-volume Constitutional Series. This volume contains, according to the editor, “…the story of the doings of the convention of 1846 as contemporaneously reported for certain newspapers of the state [followed by] a presentation of the discussion over ratification which ended in the decisive rejection of the constitution by the voters at the election of April 6, 1847.”

See related historical documents at: Wisconsin History: Documents & Collections of Records

history of Wisconsin, statehood, constitutional convention, political history, state government, public domain

The Bench and Bar of Wisconsin. History and Biography, with portrait illustrations

Milwaukee: Reed 1882
Reed, Parker McCobb Go to Book

The author explains in the Preface the significance of the volume in this way: “It cannot be denied that members of the bar have been more prominent actors in public affairs than any other class of the community.” “Fully impressed with the prominent part that members of the bar have taken in public affairs, the weight of influence they have, as a class, exerted in the community, and the dignity they have imparted to the profession, it is the purpose of this volume to place on permanent record the lives of those men who have been chiefly instrumental in making the history of the bench and bar of Wisconsin. Their history is largely the history of the state.” [my emphasis]

history of Wisconsin, legal history, judicial system, biography, books online, American history

Wisconsin History Politics & Government

History of the Territory of Wisconsin, from 1836 to 1848…

Madison: Democrat Printing 1885
Strong, Moses McCure Go to Book

(title continued) “Preceded by an account of some events during the period in which it was under the dominion of kings, states or other territories, previous to the year 1836”

An 1885 act by the state legislature authorized the purchase of up to 2,000 copies of this book for schools, public libraries, other state societies, public officers, and members and employees of the legislature.

The author stated in the Preface that, “…the principal design of the work is to present a history of Territorial Legislation…, the design has been departed from so far as to incorporate into each chapter the most important of the contemporaneous events of the period to which it relates, although they may have no direct connection with legislation.” He also maintained that this is a compilation rather than an original history, because he relied so heavily on the written works of others.

Chapter headings are:

-Early Explorations of ‘Florida’ and ‘Louisiana’ – 1512 to 1719
-Wars with Fox Indians – 1712 to 1746
-The Langlade Family – 1745 to 1800
-Jonathan Carver’s Explorations – 1766 and 1767
-Progress of Settlements in the Northwest, and Transfer to British Jurisdiction – 1705 to 1775
-Under American Jurisdiction – 1787 to 1820
-Green Bay – 1634 to 1836
-Prairie du Chien – 1680 to 1830
-Chequamegon – Portage – Milwaukee
-New York Indians – 1820 to 1839
-The Lead Mines and Winnebago War – 1822 to 1828
-The Black Hawk War – 1831 and 1832
-Civil Government – 1512 to 1834
-Legislation previous to 1835
-Wisconsin in a Transition State – 1835-6
-Organization of Wisconsin Territory
-Territory of Wisconsin – 1836 [followed by chapters of the same title for each year through 1848]
-Milwaukee and Rock River Canal

Wisconsin Territory, Territorial legislation, Northwest Territory, Wisconsin history, books free

The Government of Wisconsin

NY: Macmillan 1929
Thomas, S. M.Go to Book

A short civics book for students.

“The Boundaries of Wisconsin: with a general historical survey of the division of the Northwest Territory into States”

Wisconsin Historical Collections Vol XI 1888

Madison: Wisconsin Historical Society
Thwaites, Reuben GoldGo to Article

This was a 50-page article that was republished by the Historical Society as a booklet. It explains every change in the boundaries of the Northwest Territory from 1783, when the territory was transferred to the U.S. by Great Britain in the treaty that followed the Revolutionary War. Beginning about 1834, the author focuses on efforts by residents of Wisconsin territory to attain statehood, and explains the various boundary issues that arose for Wisconsin from the mid- 1830s through the second constitutional convention of 1847-48 and beyond.

Wisconsin borders, history of Wisconsin, Northwest Territory, Michigan Territory, statehood, books online, public domain

A Political History of Wisconsin

Milwaukee, Williams 1900
Thomson, Alexander McDonaldGo to Book

The author moved to Wisconsin in 1849 to farm, and in the 1860s and 1870s was a State legislator and newspaperman. About half of this history covers the period from when Wisconsin was part of the Northwest Territory to the beginning of the Civil War. Chapter headings for that period are:

-The Ordinance of 1787
-Drawing Party Lines
-Politics in the Territory
-The Territorial Delegates and the Defeated Candidates
-Steps Toward Statehood
-The First Governor
-Farwell and his Contemporaries
-The Hubbell Impeachment Trial
-The Glover Rescue and Sherman M. Booth
-Organization of the Republican Party
-Barstow and the Balance
-Maneuvering for the German Vote
-The Stormy Time before the Civil War

For biographies and memoirs of early 19th century governors in the Great Lakes states, see:
– Edwards, Ninian Wirt, History of Illinois, from 1778 to 1833; and Life and Times of Ninian Edwards in Illinois History Politics & Government
St Clair, Arthur and Smith, William H., ed., St. Clair Papers: The Life and Public Services of Arthur St. Clair in Biographies & Memoirs in Ohio History;
Esarey, Logan, ed., Messages and Letters of William Henry Harrison in Biographies & Memoirs in Indiana History;
Alvord, Clarence W. ed., Governor Edward Coles in Biographies & Memoirs in Illinois History;
Reynolds, John, My Own Times, Embracing also the History of my Life in Biographies & Memoirs in Illinois History;
Hemans, Lawton Thomas, Life and Times of Stevens Thomson Mason in Biographies & Memoirs in Michigan History;
McLauglin, Andrew C., Lewis Cass in Biographies & Memoirs in Michigan History

history of Wisconsin, political history, Ordinance of 1787, statehood, Republican party, Wisconsin governor, U.S. history

The Government of the People of the State of Wisconsin

Philadelphia: Eldredge & Brother 1897
Wilgus, James Alva Go to Book

Wisconsin State Parks

Madison: Wisconsin Conservation Department 1933
Wisconsin Conservation DepartmentGo to Book

A small booklet with a couple of pages and a photo on each of Wisconsin’s state parks.

General Relief in Wisconsin 1848-1935

Madison: State of Wisconsin 1939
Wisconsin Public Welfare DepartmentGo to Book

A history of the work of welfare and relief agencies in the state.

An Airport System Plan for Wisconsin

Wisconsin State Planning Board 1940
Wisconsin State Planning Board, preparedGo to Book

A typed report laying out a detailed plan for airport facilities around the state, including a chapter on how the Wisconsin plan would fit into a National Airport plan.

An Exposition of the Constitution of the State of Wisconsin

Madison: Midland 1897
Wright, Albert Orville Go to Book

To receive links to free history articles and resources every day in your Twitter or Facebook feeds, follow:

Century Past History (Twitter)

History of the Great Lakes States (Facebook)

Your comments and feedback are welcome!