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Bible Encyclopedias

1911 Encyclopedia Britannica

Madison, Wisconsin

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The capital of Wisconsin, U.S.A., and the countyseat of Dane County, situated between Lakes Mendota and Monona in the south central part of the state, about 82 m. W. of Milwaukee and about 131 m. N.W. of Chicago. Pop. (1890), 13,426; (1900) 19,164, of whom 3362 were foreign-born and 69 were negroes; (1910 census) 25,531. Madison is served by the Chicago & North-Western, the Chicago, Milwaukee & St Paul, and the Illinois Central railways (being the northern terminus of the last), and by interurban electric lines, connecting with Janesville, Beloit and Chicago. It has a picturesque situation in what is known as "the Four-Lakes region"; this region takes its name from a chain of lakes, Kegonsa, Waubesa, Monona and Mendota, which, lying in the order named and connected with one another by the Yahara or Catfish River, form the head-waters of Rock river flowing southward through Illinois into the Mississippi. The city occupies a hilly isthmus about a mile wide between Lakes Mendota and Monona, bodies of water of great clearness and beauty, with bottoms of white sand and granite.

The state capitol is in a wooded park at the summit of a hill 85 ft. high in the centre of the city. From this park the streets and avenues radiate in all directions. The capitol, built in1860-1867(with an addition in 1883) on the site of the original capitol building (1837-1838), was partially destroyed by fire in 1904, and in1909-1910was replaced by a larger edifice. The principal business portion of the city is built about the capitol park and the university. Among the public buildings on or near the park are the federal building, housing the post office and the United States courts, the city hall, the Dane county court-house, the public library, the Fuller opera-house, the county gaol, and the high school. Running directly west from the capitol is State Street, at the western end of which lie the grounds of the university of Wisconsin, occupying a hilly wooded tract of 300 acres, and extending for a mile along the south shore of Lake Mendota. University Hill, on which the main building of the university stands, is 125 ft. above the lake; at its foot stands the magnificent library building of the State Historical Society. In it, in addition to the interesting and valuable historical museum and art gallery, are the Society's library of more than 3 50,000 books and pamphlets, the university library of 150,000 volumes, and the library of the Wisconsin academy of arts and sciences, S000 volumes. Other libraries in the city include the state law library (45,0eo volumes) in the capitol, the Madison public library (22,500 volumes), and the Woodman astronomical library (7500 volumes). The Madison public library houses also the state library school maintained by the Wisconsin library commission. Connected with the university is the Washburn observatory. On the margin of the city lies the extensive experimental farm of the state college of agriculture. In addition to the state university, Madison is the seat of several Roman Catholic and Lutheran parochial schools, two business schools, and the Wisconsin academy, a non-sectarian preparatory school of high grade. On the banks of Lake Monona are the beautiful grounds of the Monona Lake assembly, a summer assembly on the Chautauqua model. Near the city is one of the five fish-hatcheries maintained by the state; it is largely devoted to the propagation of trout and other small fish. North of the city, occupying a tract of 500 acres, on Lake Mendota, are the buildings and grounds of the state hospital for the insane, opened in 1860.

The city's streets are broad and heavily shaded with a profusion of elm, oak and maple trees. There are many fine stone residences dating from the middle of the 19th century. There are several parks of great beauty, and along the shores of Lake Mendota there is a broad boulevarded drive of 12 m. The municipality owns its waterworks, the water being obtained from eleven artesian wells, and being chemically similar to that of Waukesha Springs. The city and surrounding region are a summer resort, the lakes affording opportunities for fishing and for yachting and boating.

Madison is an important jobbing centre for central and south-western Wisconsin; it has an extensive trade in farm, garden and dairy products, poultry and tobacco; and there are various manufactures. In 1905 the value of the total factory product was $3,291,143, an increase of 22.4% over that in 1900.

At the time of the settlement by the whites the aboriginal inhabitants of the Four-Lakes region were the Winnebago. Prehistoric earthworks are to be seen in the neighbourhood, several animal-shaped mounds upon the shores of Lakes Mendota, Monona and Waubesa being among the best examples. A regular trading post is known to have been established on Lake Mendota as early as 1820. The title to the Indian lands was acquired by the United States by treaty in 1825. Colonel Ebenezer Brigham established himself at Blue Mounds, in the western part of Dane county, in 1827. In 1832 the "FourLakes" country was in the theatre of hostilities during the Black Hawk War; Colonel Henry Dodge held a conference with Winnebago chiefs on Lake Mendota, and there were several skirmishes in the neighbourhood between his troops and the followers of Black Hawk, one of which took place on the site of Madison. After Black Hawk's defeat on the Bad Axe he fled to the Wisconsin river Dalles, near the present Kilbourn, where he was betrayed by the Winnebago. In 1836 Stevens T. Mason, governor of Michigan, and James Duane Doty, then U.S. district judge, who had visited the region as early as 1829, recorded a tract of land, including most of the present site of Madison. Here they surveyed a "paper" city which they named in honour of James Madison. On the 3rd of December 1836 the territorial legislature in session at Belmont, after a protracted and acrimonious debate, determined, largely through Doty's influence, to make Madison the permanent capital. The construction of houses began in the early spring of 1837. The first constitutional convention met here in 1846, the second in 1847. Madison was chartered as a city in 1856. In 1862 a large number of Confederate prisoners were confined in Camp Randall, at Madison, and many of them died in hospital.

See D. S. Durrie, History of Madison, Wisconsin (Madison, 1874); Lyman C. Draper, Madison the Capital of Wisconsin (Madison, 18 57); J. D. Butler, "The Four Lakes Country" in Wisconsin Historical Society Collections, vol. 10 (1888), and R. G. Thwaites, "Madison" in Historic Towns of the Western States (New York, 1900), and his "Story of Madison" in The University of Wisconsin (Madison, 1900).

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These files are public domain.

Bibliography Information
Chisholm, Hugh, General Editor. Entry for 'Madison, Wisconsin'. 1911 Encyclopedia Britanica. 1910.

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