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On This Day: February 8

1795 - Nathaniel Potter Tallmadge Born

On this date Nathaniel Potter Tallmadge, third territorial governor of Wisconsin, was born in Chatham, New York. Nathaniel Tallmadge was a U.S. Senator from New York at the time President John Tyler appointed him to be territorial governor of Wisconsin. Although he only served in this position from September 1844 to May 1845, he purchased property and made his home in Empire Township near Fond du Lac. Nathaniel Potter Tallmadge died on November 2, 1864 in Battle Creek, Michigan, and is buried in Rienzi Cemetery, in Fond du Lac County. [Source: First Ladies of Wisconsin-The Governors' Wives, by Nancy G. Williams, p. 252]

1858 - Wisconsin Congressman Starts Fight in Legislature

Just before the Civil War, the issue of slavery tore apart the U.S. Congress. On February 8, 1858, Wisconsin Rep. John Potter (considered a backwoods hooligan by Southern aristocrats) leaped into a fight on the House floor. When Potter embarrassed a pro-slavery brawler by pulling off his wig, the gallery shouted that he'd taken a Southern scalp. Potter emerged from the melee covered in blood and marked by slave owners as an enemy. Two years later, on April 5, 1860, he accused Virginia Rep. Roger Pryor of falsifying the Congressional record. Pryor, feeling his character impugned, challenged Potter to a duel. According to Southern custom, a person challenged had the right to choose weapons. Potter replied that he would only fight with "Bowie knives in a closed room," and his Southern challenger beat a hasty retreat. Republican supporters around the nation sent Potter Bowie knives as a tribute, including this six-foot-long one. [Source: Badger Saints and Sinners by Fred L. Holmes]

1864 - (Civil War) Skirmish at Donaldsonville, Louisiana

The 4th Wisconsin Cavalry participated in a minor skirmish at Donaldsonville, Louisiana. On this day in 1865, the 10th Wisconsin Light Artillery fought in a skirmish in Williston, South Carolina.