At Home in Wisconsin
The Underground Railroad in Wisconsin
See the Wisconsin
Network to Freedom
Slavery in Wisconsin
Slaves were brought to the Wisconsin Territory as personal servants
and as workers in the lead mining region during the 1820s.
of Wisconsin's Churches in the Anti-Slavery Movement [1843-1855]
In contrast to southern churches, among which the sentiment was often
held that "[the abolitionists are] traitors to their God, who in
his beneficent wisdom, ordained the institution of slavery," the
Wisconsin churches widely and actively viewed "the Anti-Slavery enterprise
as being based on the principle of the Gospel."
Rosendale Scott Club 
On October 8, 1852, two years before the new Republican party would supplant
the Whigs in their opposition to slavery, the Oshkosh
Democrat reported that the Rosendale Whigs were organizing a "Scott
Club." Among the resolutions of the new organization were a declaration
of "vigilant resistance" against the legalization of slavery
in any of the nation's territories and "everlasting protest"
against the hunting of fugitive slaves in free states.
Frederick Douglass in
Born in 1818 in Maryland as a slave, self-educated, confidant of Lincoln
and John Brown, Douglass became one of the most eloquent of spokesmen
for African Americans and the anti-slavery cause. Between 1854 and 1860,
he was also a frequent visitor to Wisconsin.
Jim Lane in Wisconsin 
In 1856, at the height of the struggle between pro-slavery and anti-slavery
forces in Kansas, Lane, a leader of the anti-slavery forces, made a speaking
tour of the state.
H. Ford Douglass
in Wisconsin, [1858-1859]
H. Ford Douglass, a black orator from Ohio and later Illinois, toured
Wisconsin between the 1856 and 1860 presidential elections, speaking on
behalf of the anti-slavery cause.
The Wide Awakes in Wisconsin
Organized during the presidential campaigns of 1856 and 1860, the Wide
Awakes were ostensibly local political clubs for getting out the Republican
vote. In the South, however, they were viewed as quasi-military organizations
intended to intimidate pro-slavery advocates, and in several states including
Wisconsin they were associated with incidents of militant activity.
Club Organization in Fond du Lac and Waupun Counties 
In anticipation of Lincoln's 1860 presidential campaign, Republican Clubs
organized at the local level throughout the state, interchangeably with
the Wide Awakes.
War: Aftermath of the Fugitive Slave Act in Wisconsin 
Arrested in 1854 for his role in freeing an escaped slave, Joshua Glover,
and freed by the Wisconsin Supreme Court, Sherman Booth, notorious Wisconsin
spokesman for abolition, was the center of a six-year legal struggle between
state and federal governments. In 1860, after being rearrested, Booth
was forcibly freed from the Milwaukee Custom House, and for two months
was the subject of violent clashes between federal marshals and sympathizers
in the vicinity of Ripon.
Wisconsin in Washington
The Slavery Issue in Washington
Review of the President's Message: Speech of Honorable Charles Billinghurst
of [Juneau, Dodge County] Wisconsin In the House of Representatives
As the election year of 1860 progressed, tempers in Congress began to
shorten. Among the notorious incidents widely reported across the country
was the confrontation between Wisconsin's Representative to Congress,
John Potter, and Virginia's Representative Roger Pryor. Initiated as a
verbal sparring match on the floor of the House, it escalated to a threatened
The Wisconsin Presence in Territorial Kansas
Ties to Kansas
Amos Lawrence, founder of Lawrence University in Appleton and the state
university in Lawrence, Kansas, was also a staunch abolitionist and directed
much of his philanthropy to the support of the New England Emigrant Aid
Society. Through his interest in a free Kansas, he became a personal friend
of John Brown and shipped to Brown the guns eventually used at Harpers
Men with John Brown at Lawrence, Kansas 
John Brown's early company of men in the Kansas Territory was available
for duty in the defense of Lawrence. The company contained two men from
Wisconsin, William Caine and William Partridge. See
also the William
to Kansas 
During 1856, Wisconsin residents began emigrating to Kansas along with
similar parties from other northern states. Among these was at least one
Wisconsin group organized by Edward Daniels to settle Kansas as part of
the effort to ensure that Kansas would enter the Union as a free state.
Some of these parties carried stores of weapons for "food,"
while many were intercepted by pro-slavery forces.
William Caine and Partridge Brothers of Wisconsin
with John Brown at Osawatomie 
The monument in Osawatomie, Kansas, memorializing the men who fell in
the 1856 Battle of Osawatomie lists the name of a Wisconsin man, George
Partridge, who with his brother and a Dodge County man was riding with
Brown when General John Reid set out with 250 men to destroy Brown's stronghold.
See also the William
at Lecompton 
Although ordered by the new territorial governor of Kansas, Gov. Geary,
to disband all armed parties, Gen. Lane of the anti-slavery forces attacked
the pro-slavery settlement of Hickory Point on September 13 and 14. Although
the attack was successful, Lane's men were captured by U. S. soldiers
operating under Geary's orders. The prisoners were taken to the territorial
capital of Lecompton and while awaiting trial were held in the basement
of a Lecompton hotel. In letters to the nation's anti-slavery press the
prisoners compared their quarters to the "black hole of Calcutta"
and argued that as abolitionists they were treated as political prisoners.
Among them were five men from Wisconsin. The only man to die in the makeshift
prison was William R. Bowles, a young man originally from Wisconsin.