Wisconsin, admitted to the union in 1848 as the 30th state, traces its history to French explorers arriving in the early 1600s. Samuel de Champlain, governor of what was then New France and now Canada, dispatched Etienne Brule and Jean Nicolet to determine whether a water route to the Pacific Ocean existed. There was none, but there was much fur to be traded. From 1650 to 1850, the region’s economy was built around fur trading with Indian tribes.
The French and British went to war over rights to the fur trade, and when peace was declared in 1763, the British prevailed. As European immigrants poured into the state in the 19th century, many settled on farms, and some worked in lumbering and mining. The state earned its Badger State nickname from itinerant miners who burrowed into hills for shelter rather than building homes.
Old-line manufacturing has accounted for much of the state’s industry over the past century. Among the state’s 35 largest enterprises, many are in manufacturing.
In addition, dairy is a major driver of Wisconsin’s economy, generating billions of dollars every year. Cheese-making, cranberries, snap beans and corn for silage are major agricultural products in the state.
The state also has a rich political history: At a meeting convened in Ripon, Wisconsin, to create a new political party committed to preventing the expansion of slavery, the Republican Party was established there in 1854.
Later in the 19th century, a progressive movement was born in Wisconsin, led by “Fighting Bob” La Follette. Progressive Republicans’ most significant legislation was enacted in 1911, instituting one of the nation’s first programs of worker’s compensation, regulating factory safety, encouraging worker cooperatives and starting a state income tax.
Read more at the U.S. News & World Report.