Wisconsin — History and Culture
Wisconsin has a noticeable Germanic presence thanks to the large numbers of Germans who migrated to the state in the late 1800s. They essentially built the place, and still contribute the most to the local cuisine, beer, and overall personality. The pride of their state is evident in most Wisconsin residents, from their choice of beer to their love of the outdoors. They epitomize Midwest American friendliness, ensuring most travelers have a positive experience during their visit.
Native American tribes such as the Fox, Kickapoo, Sauk, and Ojibwa were living harmoniously together in the land of Wisconsin when the first European, a French explorer named Jean Nicolet, arrived in 1634. He was traveling the Great Lakes by canoe and landed near today’s Green Bay, opening trading relations with the local Indians.
Though the fur trade was the sole reason French explorers and trappers visited Wisconsin during the 17th and 18th centuries, the French never bothered to establish any permanent settlements. After the 1763 French and Indian War, the French lost control of the area to the British. But they, too, did not have the time or resources to build forts in Wisconsin so the territory remained unsettled until the Americans won the land after the American Revolution and then the War of 1812. The Americans shifted the local economy from fur to lead mining.
Many miners made their shelters from the mine tunnels they dug, thus leading to their nickname ‘badgers’, which in turn became Wisconsin’s identity as the Badger State. An influx of white settlers in the early 1800s led to conflicts with the natives. After the 1827 Winnebago War and 1832 Black Hawk War nearly all the Native Americans were forcibly removed from the area.
The Wisconsin Territory was finally organized in 1836, leading to full statehood in 1848. Wisconsin was a free state from the beginning, emerging as an important center for the abolition of slavery and firm supporter of the Union north during the Civil War. America’s Republican Party was founded in the town of Ripon in 1854.
Eventually, agriculture became the main industry in Wisconsin. Wheat farmers switched to dairy farming in the 1890s, leading to the state’s role as America’s Dairyland that continues today. Cities like Milwaukee focused on heavy industry, food processing, and beer production. Modern Wisconsin has a diverse economy, ranging from dairy to tourism, and diverse population thanks to its strong immigrant roots.
The residents of Wisconsin are largely considered by the rest of America to be some of the nicest folks in the country. There is a sizeable German and Polish population throughout the state thanks to an early influx of immigrants from these ethnic groups. Most people here are very down to earth and welcoming of visitors.
The wealth of outdoor recreation and state parks in this state plays a major role in most Wisconsin residents’ lives. Add to that a genuine interest to consume locally made products and it’s obvious that this is a state that takes great pride in itself. The dairy industry and countless beer breweries are integral components to the daily diet. This quiet unassuming personality makes Wisconsin a real treat to travel around.