A history lesson on Revolution-era Wisconsin
Our state was a far different place
By Tom Nelson
It’s the time of year when we celebrate the anniversary of our 1776 Declaration of Independence from the British Empire. We’ll wave flags, eat hot dogs, drink cold beverages and strain our necks taking in fireworks. It’s an all-around favorite season, is it not?
Ever wonder what life in Outagamie County was like in the late 18th century, during the actual American Revolution?
Aside from the fact that neither the county, the state, nor the country existed, the people who lived between the Fox and Wolf rivers were fairly removed from the epicenter of rebellion.
In 1774, the Wisconsin territory was annexed by the British, who, after defeating France in the Seven Years’ War, took possession of Canada and immediately expanded, grabbing Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio and parts of Minnesota, in the hope of encircling the 13 insurrectionist colonies.
People in Wisconsin then identified far more with French Quebec than with English-speaking colonists on the eastern seaboard.
In fact, many assisted the British during the Revolutionary War, largely in the defense of Canadian territory after the continental army attacked Ft. St. Johns in 1775.
In 1776, 1777 and 1778, “Wisconsinite” Charles de Langlade led raids against American troops in the St. Lawrence Valley.
Whatever your loyalties, whether you’re a native cheddarhead or a transplant, a son of liberty or a daughter of the American Revolution, here’s hoping you had a safe an enjoyable holiday and a dazzling, golden summer!
Tom Nelson is county executive for Outagamie County.