30 Star Flag Wisconsin Statehood, 1848

Guckenberger Farm Racine Co., WI 

39 “ x 23 “

 

This becomes the official flag of the United States on July 4, 1848 when Wisconsin joins the Union. The first Europeans to arrive in what is now Wisconsin were French fur traders. The native people they met were the Siouan tribes -- the Ojibwa, Ho-Chucnk, Menominee, Sac and Fox. The traders had no need of the Indians so they captured them and sold them into slavery in the West Indies. It is also under the French that the first black men arrive in Wisconsin, slaves brought by fur traders and military personnel.

 

 

During the French and Indian War the British take control of what will become the Wisconsin territory. When the Treaty of Paris is signed (ending the Revolutionary War) America owns the territory but the British maintain control of the fur trade and keep their alliances with the Indians. As the new country begins its westward expansion control of these lands becomes one of several unresolved and intolerable issues that will lead us to the War of 1812. When the Treaty of Ghent is signed to end the war, the United States finally takes full control of the area. American settlement of the territory is delayed by wars with the Native Americans most notable the Winnebago War and the Black Hawk War. After these wars are lost by Native Americans the government begins a series of treaties with the Indians that will largely remove them

from Wisconsin and relocate them to Iowa. 

 

Two-thirds of the immigrants who come to Wisconsin are from New England. They bring radical ideas with them--many are abolitionists who form numerous stops along the Underground Railroad for black slaves escaping to Canada. When the first State constitution is proposed it includes such progressive ideas including as a ban on commercial banking, recognition of the right of married women to own property and determination of suffrage rights of African Americans by popular vote. The proposals are considered too radical and a second, more moderate constitution is proposed that is accepted. As with virtually every mention of suffrage in the development of the United States there is no discussion of the constitutional rights of Native Americans. The remaining third of immigrants to Wisconsin are European. Most are German but there are also significant numbers of people coming from Ireland and Sweden. They come to Wisconsin because of the similarity of climate and geography and also because of Wisconsin's liberal constitution of human rights including the unusual recognition of the right of immigrants to vote and to become citizens.

 

Statehood is granted by an Act of Congress on May 29, 1848. There is subsequent frenzy to develop railroads that cross all of Wisconsin and connect the new State to the rest of the country allowing their logging, brewing, mining and other industries to experience tremendous growth. There is a second period of growth following the Great Chicago Fire when virtually all industry in that city is destroyed temporarily.

 

This flag will be our official flag for only 3 years but 3 Presidents serve under it --James Polk, Zachary Taylor and Millard Fillmore.

 

In southwestern Wisconsin Indians are mining lead and as they are relocated the white population begins to move in, many of them miners from Cornwall, England. By the 1840's these mines are producing 1/2 of all the lead mined in the US. The "Badger State" nickname will come from these miners who, in the 1820's and 30's had no shelter during the winter and had to "live like badgers" burrowing into hillside tunnels.

 

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