Madison in 1837

This painting from 1837 shows Peck cabin, Madison's first residence, business and post office, located where the state Department of Public Instruction office building now stands on South Webster Street near the Capitol Square. 

This Madison Express editorial ran on Dec. 7, 1839. The weekly Madison Express became the daily Wisconsin State Journal in 1852:

The path of the governor of this Territory, at the present time, is unembarrassed by party lines. The difficulties created by warring politicians divided into parties, which is so frequently encountered in the administration of a free government, do not yet exist to a great extent in our Territory.

Long may we remain exempt from such an evil. Far distant be the day when our legislative halls shall be converted into an arena of party strife, and when ... legislators shall be consumed in angry debate about party names — and in mere personal altercation.

With no private ends to secure, or party interest to promote, (Gov. Henry Dodge’s) message (published in the Madison Express) brings directly before the Assembly the great subject of common concern and public benefit, which had called them together. These are impartially set and urged with an earnestness and power well befitting the occasion.

We are gratified to see that (the governor is asking) Congress for appropriations for the construction of harbors on Lake Michigan. We doubt not but the views and arguments put forth on this subject will meet a hearty response from both houses of the Legislature. In soliciting the aid of Congress in our numerous harbors and contemplated works of internal improvement, a liberal Legislature will always feel and act as the representatives of the whole people and of the whole Territory, and not a section or particular district.

When the annual sacrifice of human life — which is indeed above price — is added, the embarrassed state of travel and commercial business through that lake, back and forth from East to West, this subject assumes an importance which cannot be disregarded.

Register for more free articles
Stay logged in to skip the surveys

Wisconsin’s situation at the terminus of the (Great Lakes) possesses advantages beyond the power of figures to compute.

The question is, shall the people of this Territory (allow) all these advantages to slip out of their hands. To prevent it, they have something to do. They have the elements, even, to contend against.

Everything drifts to Chicago, and will naturally seek the Mississippi through the Illinois River. It is therefore most obviously the policy of Wisconsin to put forth her united strength to counteract these tendencies and secure to herself the benefits of her natural position.

The admission of Wisconsin as one of the independent States of the Union is a question on which a difference of opinion exists. Some consider the advantages of a Territorial condition greatly to overbalance the evils, and will oppose the project.

The governor leaves the question where it ought to be left — to the decision of the people — and recommends that the question be taken to the autumn election, when the people will be called upon to meet in precincts to make choice for the representatives for the next legislative Assembly.

Capital W: Plug in to Wisconsin politics

Subscribe to our Politics email!

* I understand and agree that registration on or use of this site constitutes agreement to its user agreement and privacy policy.