May 29

This Day in History

General Interest

May 29, 1848:

Wisconsin enters the Union

Following approval of statehood by the territory's citizens, Wisconsin enters the Union as the 30th state.

In 1634, French explorer Jean Nicolet landed at Green Bay, becoming the first European to visit the lake-heavy northern region that would later become Wisconsin. In 1763, at the conclusion of the French and Indian Wars, the region, a major center of the American fur trade, passed into British control. Two decades later, at the end of the American Revolution, the region came under U.S. rule and was governed as part of the Northwest Territory. However, British fur traders continued to dominate Wisconsin from across the Canadian border, and it was not until the end of the War of 1812 that the region fell firmly under American control.

In the first decades of the 19th century, settlers began arriving via the Erie Canal and the Great Lakes to exploit Wisconsin's agricultural potential, and in 1832 the Black Hawk War ended Native American resistance to white settlement. In 1836, after several decades of governance as part of other territories, Wisconsin was made a separate entity, with Madison, located midway between Milwaukee and the western centers of population, marked as the territorial capital. By 1840, population in Wisconsin had risen above 130,000, but the people voted against statehood four times, fearing the higher taxes that would come with a stronger central government. Finally, in 1848, Wisconsin citizens, envious of the prosperity that federal programs brought to neighboring Midwestern states, voted to approve statehood. Wisconsin entered the Union the next May.

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