History of Madison, WI

Early inhabitants of Madison settled in the area for about 12,000 years before the Europeans set foot in the region. The city of Madison was called the Ho-Chunk Country in 1800. The place was named Taychopera by the Native Americans, which means land of the four lakes. The lakes were surrounded by effigy mounds that were built for burial purposes.


Madison WI History

James Duane Doty began the European origins of Madison in 1829. He purchased forest land between Lakes Mendota and Monona to build a city within the region of Four Lakes. He bought the property for $1,500. The Wisconsin Territory was established in 1836, and one of the first tasks of the legislature was to look for official and permanent capital for the territory. Doty aggressively fought for Madison to be the new capital. He offered discounts for voters who haven’t made up their minds and robes to the legislators.

The city of Madison was named after the fourth President of the United States, James Madison. Other streets in the city were named for the other signers of the U.S. Constitution. The territorial legislature voted for Madison to become the capital mainly because of its strategic location in 1836.

In 1837, the foundation for state capitol was placed in position. Kintzing Prichett registered Madison at the registrar’s office of Dane County. Madison’s incorporation as a city took place in 1856. During that time, it had a population of more than 600 residents. Madison remained the capital in 1848 after Wisconsin became a state. After a year, the University of Wisconsin chose Madison to be its home. In 1854, the Milwaukee and Mississippi Railroad connected to the city. With a total population of over 6,000, Madison incorporated as a city in 1856. The remaining unincorporated became an independent Town of Madison. The second capitol was set on fire in 1904. The new capital was established sometime between 1906 and 1917.

Madison was the base of the Union Army in Wisconsin at the time of the Civil War. The Union Corners, comprised of East Washington, Milwaukee, Winnebago, and North Streets. Camp Randall was established to become a training site as well as a prison camp for those who were seized during the war. It also functioned as a military hospital. When the war came to an end, the Camp Randall Stadium was built in 1917 when the site of Camp Randall became part of the University of Wisconsin. The last few portions of the military training site were removed after the renovation of the stadium. It was replaced by a firing range which the students used for ROTC training.

More than a thousand students and other civilians participated in the anti-Vietnam War marches in the 1960s through the early 1970s. Several violent incidents put the University of Wisconsin under the spotlight.

Madison became the venue for massive protests fighting against the proposed bill of Governor Scott Walker. The law states the abolishment of collective bargaining for public unions. The strikes lasted for many months at the capitol. The protests had different a different number of participants each time. The maximum number of participants recorded reached almost 100,000 protesters.

Learn more about Madison and Vanderbilt Tree Service here.