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Madison History, Wisconsin

Madison was developed in 1836 with the purchase of more than 1,000 acres of forest and swamp land by James Duane Doty, a former federal judge, on the isthmus between Lake Monona and Lake Mendota, having the intention to build a city.  Earlier that year, the Wisconsin Territory was created, and the legislature of the territory convened in Belmont.  One of the tasks of the legislature was to decide on a permanent capital location.  Doty aggressively lobbied for Madison to be the capital, offering robes from buffalo to the legislators during the cold and promising choice land in Madison at discounted prices in order to sway the voters who were undecided.

Even though Madison was only a city at the time, the legislature of the territory voted for Madison to be the capital on 28th November, mostly due to its location being a halfway point between the growing and new cities of Milwaukee to the east and the western strategic post of the Prairie du Chien.  Plus, it was a central location to the lead mining regions of the southwest, as well as to Green Bay, the oldest city of Wisconsin, to the northeast.  Votes were also attracted by the city being named after James Madison, a highly admirable founding father, and the fact that its streets were named after all of the 39 people who signed the Constitution.

In 1846, Madison was incorporated to be a village, having 626 residents.  In 1848, when Wisconsin was made into a state, Madison continued on as the state capital.  During the next year, the University of Wisconsin-Madison was built in the city.  In 1854, the Milwaukee and Mississippi Railroad connected the city, and two years later Madison turned into a city, having a 6,863 population, leaving the remainder of the unincorporated city separated as the Town of Madison.  In 1863, the capitol was replaced, but then rebuilt from 1906 to 1917 due to a fire in 1904.

During the Civil War of the United States, Madison became a center for the Union Army.  On the western side of the city, Camp Randall was constructed and used for a training camp, prison camp for the Confederate soldiers who were captured, and military hospital during the war.  After the end of the war, the site of Camp Randall became part of the University of Wisconsin, with the Camp Randall Stadium being built on top of the site during 1917.  The last of the active military training was removed from the site in 2004 with the renovation of the stadium replacing the firing range that the ROTC used.

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