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On This Day: August 17

1864 - (Civil War) Wisconsin soldiers bury Confederate dead at Cedar Mountain, Virginia

A soldier in the 2nd Wisconsin Infantry wrote home this day describing the aftermath of the Battle of Cedar Mountain, Virginia. He criticizes Confederate officers for withdrawing under cover of darkness and forcing Union soldiers to inter their enemies: "Instead of burying his dead, we found the plains, the hills, the villages strewn with dead and dying rebels. Oh! the sight was sickening, and beggars description. Here an arm, there a leg, yonder half of what was once a man..."

1925 - Wisconsin Activist Lloyd Barbee Born

On this date Lloyd Augustus Barbee was born in Memphis, Tennessee. Barbee first came to the University of Wisconsin in 1949 to attend law school on a scholarship, but dropped out after his first year, due to racism he encountered from both professors and students. Barbee later returned to school and earned a law certificate in 1955 and an LL.B. in 1956 from the University of Wisconsin Law School. Barbee began private law practice in Madison, Wisconsin. While working with the Commission on Human Rights, Barbee began his campaign for fair housing legislation, which included the memorable 13 day sit-in on the ground floor of the Capitol in support of fair housing legislation in 1961. It was in Milwaukee while working at his own law firm that Barbee became involved in the school segregation dispute. As the assembly person for the 18th District in the Wisconsin State Assembly, Barbee often supported legislation that protected and represented blacks, women, gays and other minority groups. Barbee was also founder and long-time chairman of MUSIC, organized specifically to combat discrimination in the Milwaukee public schools. [Source: University of Milwaukee, Archives]

1936 - Wisconsin Issues First Unemployment Check

On this date the state of Wisconsin issued the first Unemployment Compensation Check in the United States for the amount of $15. The recipient was Neils N, Ruud who then sold it to Paul Raushenbush for $25 for its historical value. The check is now at the Wisconsin Historical Society. Wisconsin was the first state to establish an Unemployment Compensation program. [Source: Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development]