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Wisconsin Stories Interactive Timeline

American History

Year

Wisconsin History

Leif Eriksson establishes Vinland in Newfoundland

1000 A.D.

Oneota Indian villages established around Green Bay, Lake Winnebago, Lake Koshkonong, and La Crosse

 

1200s

Indians abandon major community at Aztalan.

Ancestral Pueblo people abandon Mesa Verde community in present-day Colorado

1300s

 

Columbus reaches America

1492

 

Cortes conquers Aztecs

1521

 

Virginia Company establishes Jamestown

1607

 

Champlain establishes New France

1615

 

Pilgrims land at Plymouth

1620

 

French establish New Orleans

1634

Jean Nicolet makes expedition to western Great Lakes

 

1666

Nicolas Perrot opens fur trade with Wisconsin Indians

 

1673

Marquette and Jolliet explore a water route from lake Michigan to the Mississippi

Salem witchcraft trials

1692

 
 

1716

French bombard Fox Indian village at Lake Buttes des Morts to control region's fur trade.

French and Indian War

1754-1763

Wisconsin Indians, led by French trader Charles Langlade, fight in several battles against British and British-American colonists

Treaty of Paris

1763

Wisconsin becomes part of British colonial territory

 

1764

Charles Langlade establishes first permanent Euro-American settlement

 

1766

Jonathan Carver visits region, mapping it for the British government

American Revolution

1775-1783

 

Second Treaty of Paris

1783

Wisconsin becomes territory of the United States; British remain in the region

Lewis and Clark expedition

1804-1806

 

Tecumseh, organizer of Pan-Indian movement, killed in battle

1813

 

Conclusion of War of 1812 with British

1815

British abandon Prairie du Chien

 

1818

Solomon Juneau purchases Jacques Vieau trading post at Milwaukee

U.S. population = 9.6 million

1820

Henry Schoolcraft, James Doty, and Lewis Cass explore Wisconsin

 

1822

Oneida, Stockbridge Munsee, and Brothertown Indians moved to Wisconsin from eastern U.S.

Erie Canal completed

1825

 
 

1829

Treaty of Prairie du Chien

Total U.S. railroads = 13 miles

1830

 
 

1831

Lucius Lyon begins public land survey in Wisconsin

 

1832

Black Hawk War

Cyrus McCormick patents reaper

1834

Land offices established at Green Bay and Prairie du Chien

Texas Republic established

1836

Territory of Wisconsin created by Congress

Immigration from Europe increases

1840s

Wisconsin's population increases from 30,945 (1840) to 305,391 (1850)

Norwegians begin settling in large numbers in Koshkonong area

 

1845

Mormon settlement at Voree (now Burlington)

Mormons begin journey to Utah

1847

 

Seneca Falls Convention for women's rights; gold discovered in California

1848

Wisconsin joins the Union as the thirtieth state; large-scale German immigration begins

Total U.S. railroads = 8900 miles

1850

 
 

1851

First railroad opens, linking Milwaukee and Waukesha; Janesville hosts the first state fair

Harriet Beecher Stowe publishes Uncle Tom's Cabin.

1852

 

Kansas-Nebraska Act

1854

Wisconsin abolitionists defy the Fugitive Slave Act; Republican Party created at Ripon meeting.

 

1857

Railroad completed from Milwaukee to Prairie du Chien

U.S. population = 23.1 million

1860

Wisconsin population = 775,881

Civil War begins

1861

Governor calls for volunteers; Camp Randall opens in Madison

Civil War results in the loss of 359,000 Union and 258,000 Confederate soldiers

1865

96,000 Wisconsin soldiers serve in Civil War; 12,216 die in conflict

The U.S. purchases Alaska from Russia for $47.2 million

1867

Increase Lapham publishes report on the destruction of state's forests

 

1868

C. L. Sholes patents typewriter

Chicago fire results in three hundred deaths, with property damage of $200 million

1871

Peshtigo fire results in more than a thousand deaths

Edison perfects telegraph

1872

Wisconsin Dairyman's Association founded in Watertown

Haymarket Square protest; bomb thrown by striking workers kills seven policemen and injures many others

1886

Workers strike for eight-hour work day in Bay View--confrontation with militia results in five deaths

 

1889

Bennett Law passed, requiring classroom instruction in English

Farmer and labor groups propose organization of Populist Party

1891

Bennett Law repealed, following intense opposition by German Protestants and Catholics

Gold discovered in the Klondike

1896

 
 

1899

Height of lumber boom northern Wisconsin , 3.4 billion board feet harvested in one year

 

1900-1915

Peak years of settlement in the northern cutover region

U.S. population = 75.9 million; average U. S. life expectancy = 47.3 years

1900

Wisconsin population = 2,069,042; U.S. Census Bureau reports that seven of ten Wisconsin residents were born in a foreign country or had parents born abroad

Theodore Roosevelt becomes president following William McKinley's assassination

1901

Robert M. LaFollette, Sr. begins first of two terms as governor

 

1904

Direct primary for party elections instituted

Upton Sinclair publishes The Jungle ; Pure Food and Drug Act signed into law

1906

 
 

1907

Voters in Milwaukee elect Socialist administration

Ford Motor Company introduces the Model T for $850

1908

 

Fire at Triangle Shirtwaist Company in New York kills 145, leads to significant changes in industrial codes

1911

Peak year for Progressive reforms, including creation of Highway and Industrial Commissions, Vocational School program, state income tax

Woodrow Wilson inaugurated; outlines philosophy of "New Freedom"

1913

Workmen's Compensation Act enacted

Congress declares war on Central Powers

1917

Large numbers of African Americans from the rural South begin moving to Wisconsin communities, including Racine, Beloit and Milwaukee; Wisconsin becomes first state to meet draft requirements; 120,000 soldiers serve in the military, almost 4,000 die

"Red Scare" paranoia sweeps the nation

1919

Milwaukee socialist Victor L. Berger battles to claim his seat in the U.S. House of Representatives

 

1919

Wisconsin legislature ratifies the nineteenth amendment (woman suffrage), then becomes first state to deliver ratification to Congress

 

1920s

Resort industry becomes increasingly important to the economy in northern Wisconsin

Passage of the Emergency Quota Act, effectively ending wave of immigration from southern and central Europe

1921

 

Calvin Coolidge reelected, receiving 382 electoral votes to 136 for John Davis and 13 for Robert M. LaFollette Sr.

1924

Robert M. LaFollette Sr. runs for president, receiving nearly five million votes and winning Wisconsin

 

1932

Wisconsin enacts first unemployment-compensation law in the nation

Low point of the Great Depression; one-third of U.S. workers unemployed

1933

Dairy farmers conduct milk strike to protest low prices

 

1934

Wisconsin Progressive Party organized

Social Security Act passed

1935

 

8.3 million Americans serve in military

1941-1945

332,000 Wisconsin residents serve in U.S. military, including 9,000 women

 

1946

Wisconsin Progressive Party dissolves, rejoins Republican Party

Jackie Robinson breaks baseball's color barrier, begins playing for the Brooklyn Dodgers

1947

 
 

1948

State centennial celebration

U.S. population =150 million; life expectancy = 68.2 years

1950

Wisconsin population = 3.4 million

 

1953

Hank Aaron signs contract with the Milwaukee Braves

Dr. Jonas E. Salk begins testing antipolio vaccine

1954

 
 

1958

UW scientist Joshua Lederberg awarded Nobel Prize for medicine

President Lyndon B. Johnson signs Civil Rights Act of 1964

1964

 
 

1965

Legislation bans discrimination in housing

Nearly 500,000 American troops stationed in Southeast Asia

1967

Antiwar protests at UW-Madison result in confrontations with police and injuries

  1972 Comprehensive consumer-protection legislation signed into law
Oil producing nations institute embargo, igniting energy crisis 1973  

U.S. celebrates bicentennial

1976

Shirley S. Abrahamson appointed first woman on the Wisconsin Supreme Court

U.S. and China establish full diplomatic relations 1978 Vel Phillips elected secretary of state, first African American constitutional officer
U.S. boycotts Summer Olympics in Moscow following Soviet invasion of Afghanistan 1980 Eric Heiden of Madison wins five gold medals in speed skating at Winter Olympics
U.S. experiences severe economic recession

1982-1983

State unemployment percentage reaches highest levels since Great Depression

U.S. population = 248 million

1990

Wisconsin population = 4,891,769

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