September 2008 Odd Wisconsin
The past week has brought the most alarming economic news of our generation, as one pillar of the banking industry after another crumbled. Something similar happened 170 years ago when nearly half the banks in the country collapsed, business ground to a halt, and unemployment reached record levels. Here's what happened, and how it affected Wisconsin, during the so-called Panic...
Posted in Curiosities on September 27, 2008
That's what the Wisconsin Library Heritage Center recently called the antique bookcase in the Society's library lobby -- "the 'Holy Grail' of Wisconsin library artifacts. The WHS Library has grown from this small beginning to be one of the world's greatest historical libraries." Whether this 1840s bookcase is, in fact, the Holy Grail of Wisconsin library history is a matter...
Posted in Curiosities on September 23, 2008
170 years ago this week, James Duane Doty (1799-1865) was elected by Wisconsin voters to represent them in Washington. Doty had already served in the Michigan territorial legislature (1833-35) and finagled having Madison chosen the territorial capital. He went to Washington in 1838 to represent not only the voters but also absentee landowners, Eastern speculators, and capitalists trying to exploit...
Posted in Odd Lives on September 8, 2008
We're deluged at the moment by media coverage of the major parties' national conventions. Like everything else, these rituals possess a rich and colorful heritage. For an example, let's go back almost a century and half to the convention that nominated Abraham Lincoln – a meeting whose political chicanery we don't usually associate with "Honest Abe." Lincoln was a dark...
Posted in Curiosities on September 3, 2008