Wisconsin History Day By Day


Related Web Sites:
The making of the Wisconsin Constitution

The State Constitutions of 1846 and 1848


Read More About It

"The Struggle Over Ratification, 1846-1847" by the Wisconsin Historical Society

"The Attainment of Statehood" by the Wisconsin Historical Society

"The History of Wisconsin: From Exploration to Statehood" by Alice E. Smith


Vocabulary:

principal
contention
exemption
homestead
debts
currency
suffrage


Interesting Fact:

Only four counties voted in favor of the state constitution, Brown, St. Croix, Iowa and Washington.


Study Questions:

  • What were the property rights of married women in 1847 in Wisconsin?
  • What does "restriction of currency" mean?
  • Without radio and television ads pursuading people how to vote, how were people in the mid-1800's informed about upcoming elections?


    Search these newspaper databases for additional stories about Wisconsin's constitution:

  • Newspapers on BadgerLink
  • Wisconsin Historical Society


    U.S. historical events that occurred on April 6:

    1909: American explorers Robert E. Perry and Matthew A. Henson reach the North Pole.



  • April 6

    April 6, 1847: Voters in the Wisconsin Territory rejected the proposed state constitution, 20,233 to 14,119. The principal points of contention were property rights of married women, exemption of a man's homestead from forced sale to settle debts, restriction of currency and Negro suffrage.

    Wisconsin Argus, April 13, 1847

    The Result

    The election is over and the result is satisfactorially ascertained. The Constitution is defeated by an overwhelming majority. Yes, we own up beat - thoroughly used up; that is to say the Constitution is. Well, since it was to be defeated, we are glad to see it done up so strong, though we must confess that, as the returns began to thicken upon us, we felt some as the Doctors boy did when he was trying with the best possible grace, to submit to a severe castigation. He grinned and twisted and squirmed, till in his estimation, grinning and twisting and squirming ceased to be virtues and then exclaimed as the blows fell thicker and heavier, "There - there - there - that's sufficient, Doctor."

    There can no longer be a doubt that a respectable majority of the democrats of the Territory have voted against the Constitution. We are warranted in this conclusion by the known democratic majority in the Territory, and the prodigious majority against the Constitution, taken in connection with the wellknown fact that large numbers of whigs voted for the Constitution.

    The Constitution being defeated, it is a consolation to us that a majority of our party voted against it, inasmuch as it has the conclusion that the objectionable provisions which caused its defeat, were not those which recognized and carried out the established principles of the democratic party. So far as the democratic party were responsible for all the principles contained in the Constitution, by the large majority which they had in the Convention, they have undoubtedly met with a defeat. But the party is not responsible for all the principles contained in that instrument. The democratic members of that Convention were elected to frame a Constitution upon sound democratic principles, and not to invent new, untried, and unsound principles and saddle them upon the party as democratic principles, and they have met with a severe and merited rebuke from their own party for attempting it.


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