Unit 4: Wisconsin People’s Rights And Responsibilities
In The Territory And State
Dr. Ava L. McCall and Thelma Ristow
Definition Of Topic
This unit will focus on Wisconsin government as it changed from a territory to a state and the
benefits and drawbacks for different groups of people if Wisconsin remained a territory or
became a state. It will also concentrate on one of the main benefits of becoming a state, the right
to elect state and national leaders, who was given this right as well as who was denied this right.
Another major emphasis of the unit will be people's efforts to win the right to vote for all women
and African American men.
Students need to understand the political process of Wisconsin government changing from a
territory to a state and controversies related to this change in order to understand the dynamic
nature of government. The unit should also help students understand that governmental decisions
which are made are filled with conflicting views, struggles for power, and that people have some
power to influence governmental decisions. The unit also should introduce the concept of the
significance of the right to vote, a right and responsibility citizens often neglect, especially as
women of all groups, African Americans, and Native Americans have been denied this right in a
country which espouses the democratic ideals of justice and equality for all. Perhaps through this
unit, students will appreciate those who fought for the right to vote for all people and value this
right and responsibility.
1. Students will increase their knowledge of Wisconsin as a territory and a state and the benefits
and drawbacks for people living in Wisconsin territory and state.
2. Students will increase their knowledge of who had voting rights and responsibilities, who were
denied these rights, and who worked to obtain voting rights for all people.
3. Students will appreciate the efforts of people who struggled to gain voting rights for all people.
4. Students will value the right and responsibility to vote.
5. Students will develop literacy skills through reading, writing, speaking, and listening.
6. Students will develop cooperative learning skills by working with others.
7. Students will develop artistic skills by expressing understandings through art.
National Social Studies Thematic Strands
This unit will include the power, authority, and governance thematic strand by
concentrating on the creation of government in Wisconsin; how government met the needs of
different groups of people as a territory and state; and ways government promoted the power of
some groups while diminishing the power of others. The unit will focus on how Wisconsin
government promoted fairness, equity, and justice among people in the territory and state and
when it did not. This strand is significant to help students realize people help create government,
are influenced by it, and the rights and responsibilities students have to encourage government's
fair and equal treatment toward all people within the state. The unit will encourage students to
value their own abilities to influence government and to honor the efforts of people in history
who committed enormous energy to encourage government to live up to its democratic ideals.
This unit will incorporate the civic ideals and practices thematic strand by including the
ideals of liberty, justice, and equality as part of the framework for establishing Wisconsin as a
territory and state; the rights and responsibilities of citizens of the state; and actions citizens can
take to influence governmental decisions. This theme is significant since citizens today tend to
feel powerless in dealing with government and neglect their right and responsibility to influence
the government through voting. As students explore this thematic strand by learning more about
the efforts of people to win the right to vote for women and African Americans, students may be
encouraged to exercise their right and responsibility to influence the government through voting
and other social action strategies.
School District Social Studies Curriculum Objectives
6. 1 Students will be able to explain why people form governments.
6. 2 Students will be able to distinguish between the roles of the territorial and state government.
14. 12 Students will be able to explain the steps for Wisconsin to move from a territory to a state.
14. 13 Students will be able to distinguish between Wisconsin as a territory and as a state.
14. 15 Students will be able to identify Wisconsin's present governor.
14. 17 Students will be able to locate Madison, the state capitol.
14. 18 Students will be able to locate Winnebago County as their county of residence.
School District Literacy Curriculum Objectives
Reading Band E
Students will use a dictionary to gain information when reading.
Students will use the index, table of contents, and glossary to gain information when reading
Students will use a variety of word analysis strategies to decode words.
Students will use a variety of comprehension strategies to gain meaning from more complex text.
Students will improvise in role play.
Students will prepare written responses to show meaning inferred from text.
Students will demonstrate understanding of a piece of literature.
Students will express and support an opinion on the author's purpose.
Students will analyze text to show understanding of character traits and actions.
Students will evaluate the behavior of characters from different cultural perspectives.
Students will paraphrase informational/expository text.
Students will read orally with expression.
Interest and Attitudes
Students will choose books of personal interest related to the curriculum unit.
Students will participate in SSR.
Students will independently choose books appropriate to their reading level.
Students will demonstrate effective listening and speaking habits.
Writing Band E
Students will construct more complex sentences.
Students will write passages with clear meaning, accuracy of spelling, and appropriate
punctuation and grammar.
Students will use a dictionary and/or thesaurus to check and extend vocabulary for writing.
Students will write statements, questions, commands, and exclamations.
Students will consistently use legible handwriting.
Students will use the editing mechanics of spelling, indentation, punctuation, grammar, and
Students will link paragraphs into a cohesive structure.
Students will write for different purposes.
Students will write from different perspectives.
Students will use the writing process to prepare for publication.
Students will incorporate feedback from adults and peers through revising and editing.
Students will write a summary of expository texts including the main topic, main ideas, and
Students will respond to text through logs or journals.
This unit will include the experiences and perspectives of different groups toward Wisconsin
government as it changed from a territory to a state and will encourage students to think critically
about and analyze these different perspectives. The unit will focus on the racism and sexism
inherent in the issue of who had voting rights after Wisconsin became a state and the social
action efforts of groups to gain voting rights for all Wisconsin citizens. The unit will encourage
students to value political equality for all groups; understand the continuing struggle for political
equality; and recognize the social action strategies still available for students as well as adults to
work for political equality.
Wisconsin People’s Rights & Responsibilities In The Territory And State:
What is a territory?
The process of Wisconsin becoming a territory was also part of the process of European
Americans taking land away from Native Americans and gaining power. Native people lived all
over the state prior to the movement of European Americans into the area. The Northwest
Ordinance of 1787 became a law to encourage European Americans to move into the territory
now known as the Midwestern states of Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin, and part of
Minnesota. As Wisconsin Native Americans were forced to cede their lands to the federal
government, it became available for European Americans to purchase.
For families with money, they could purchase land. However, only unmarried women
could own property at this time. When women married, their property belonged to their
husbands. Men could buy land, mine lead, start new cities, and begin to farm. In 1834 land
offices opened in Mineral Point and Green Bay to offer land for sale at $1.25 an acre to European
Americans willing to settle in the area. This law also provided a process for areas in the
Northwest Territory to become territories and eventually states. The Northwest Ordinance gave
residents in the territory religious freedom, prohibited slavery, and set aside land in each
township for schools.
The first step for Wisconsin to become a territory separate from the Northwest Territory
occurred when the President and Congress appointed a governor, secretary, and three judges to
make the laws for the territory and appoint local officials. The governor, secretary, and judges
each had to own 500 acres of land which immediately privileged those with more wealth.
Second, in order to become a territory, 5,000 voters were necessary. Voters were defined as free
men, at least 21 years old, who owned at least 50 acres of land, and lived in the area for at least
two years. Women, indentured servants or people working for someone else, escaped slaves, free
African Americans, and Native Americans did not count as voters. Those residents who qualified
as voters could elect members of a legislature, the Upper House or Senate and the Lower House
or Assembly. One official was elected as a delegate to Congress in Washington, but could not
vote. Third, after 60,000 voters were living in the area, they could vote to become a state and call
a convention to write laws or the constitution for the state which then had to be approved by the
voters. After the constitution was approved, the governor could request U.S. Congress to make
Wisconsin a state. Even though Indians continued to live in the Wisconsin territory, they were
not counted in the census records recording the population of the territory.
Wisconsin became a territory in 1836 and President Andrew Jackson appointed Henry
Dodge as the territorial governor. The work of the territorial government included organizing
county and city governments; writing and passing tax laws; building roads, schools, harbors,
lighthouses, and dams; hiring teachers; chartering ferries and banks; and granting divorces. The
job of the territorial secretary was to keep records and act for the governor when he (and only
men were eligible to hold these positions) was not in Wisconsin.
What were the benefits of Wisconsin becoming a territory?
Wealthy men had the most to gain from Wisconsin becoming a territory. They were
eligible to vote and hold positions in government, thus exerting influence in shaping Wisconsin
as a territory. European American men who owned smaller amounts of land also gained because
they could vote and collectively provide pressure to move Indians off their lands. Wisconsin land
could be purchased for $1.25 an acres, but many European immigrants had little cash to spend on
land, so had to find ways to earn money in order to purchase land. At first, much of the land was
sold to real estate men who hoped to make a profit by reselling the land later. European
American women had no voting rights and could own property only if they remained single, but
through marriage women could live with their families on lands taken from native people with
decreasing concerns about Indians protecting their lands.
While Wisconsin was a territory, many "Yankee" immigrants from eastern states and new
immigrants from Europe moved into the area. English, Irish, Welsh, Scots, Cornish, Germans,
Dutch, Swiss, and Norwegians moved into the Wisconsin territory and began participating in the
government, farming, banking, mining lead, fishing, printing, and opening shops, breweries, and
leather tanning businesses. While Wisconsin was a territory, there was some improvements in
transportation and communication. Although most roads were poor, stagecoach routes developed
during the territorial period and simple inns were created along these routes. People's ability to
receive and send mail improved when the territorial government contracted for greater numbers
of weekly mail routes and set up post offices.
During the territorial days, neighbors helped one another as they built cabins and barns,
cleared land, plowed, planted, and harvested because such jobs were often difficult for one
family. People also shared tools since these were in small supply. Churches were organized for
various denominations and church groups chartered educational academies and institutes. Free
public schools were beginning to be organized.
What were drawbacks to Wisconsin becoming a territory?
Native Americans had nothing to gain from Wisconsin becoming a territory and much to
lose. As more and more European Americans moved into the area, it was more difficult for
native people to hold onto their lands and eventually through treaties had to cede much of their
lands to the federal government. Wisconsin Indians had no voice in the Wisconsin territorial
government, saw no need for this new government, and did not want to pay taxes to support this
The territorial governor, secretary, and judges were appointed by the President and
approved by U.S. Congress. Voters in Wisconsin territory had no say in who these territorial
leaders were. The delegate to U.S. Congress also had no vote while Wisconsin remained a
territory. Overall, voters had less power to influence government while Wisconsin remained a
The territorial government's efforts to develop banking was difficult. The first banks
which the government chartered went out of business and people lost their savings. This led to a
distrust of banks.
What is a state?
After 60,000 voters were living in the Wisconsin territory, the Territorial Governor could
call for a vote on becoming a state. By 1846 enough European and European American or
"Yankee" immigrants eligible to vote were living in Wisconsin who voted for Wisconsin
becoming a state. Henry Dodge, the Territorial Governor, then called for a constitutional
convention, a meeting of delegates to draw up the constitution or the laws for the state. The first
constitution which was written was voted down because it gave married women the right to own
property, prohibited the government from taxing people's homes, and outlawed banks. Women's
property provision stated in part: "All property real and personal, of the wife, owned by her at the
time of her marriage, and also that acquired by her afterword. . . otherwise than from her husband
shall be her separate property." However, a law was passed which gave married women the right
to own and control their own property in 1850, two years after Wisconsin became a state. This
part of the first constitution was voted down because it was believed it would harm marriages.
There was also a fear that men would fraudulently hold property by placing it in their wife's
name, that women's character would be destroyed as they engaged in public activities involving
property, and that unscrupulous characters would seek out wives for their property. After these
portions of the constitution were removed, the second constitution was approved by the voters in
1848 and Wisconsin became a state.
The passage of the Homestead Act in 1862 also drew more European Americans into the
state of Wisconsin. This act provided 160 acres of public land (taken from Native Americans)
free of charge except for a small filing fee to anyone who met these requirements: (1) was 21
years of age or the head of a family; (2) was a U.S. citizen or has filed for citizenship; (3) had
never borne arms against the U.S. government; (4) lived on, “improved” the land by building a
dwelling at least 12 x 14 feet, and cultivated the land for at least five years. European American
settlers also could purchase land after only a six-month residency and small improvements,
provided they paid the government $1.25 an acre. This act benefitted poor families interested in
farming, but who did not have money to purchase land. Homesteaders must also build a dwelling
they could live in year round, and clear an acre a year to grow crops. If they had cleared five acres
in five years, they could own the land for the cost of a filing fee. Usually families had to have
additional sources of income than farming until they had 40 acres under cultivation, making the
farm self-sufficient. They might have taken in boarders, cut wood, sell animal pelts, or the men
worked in lumber camps in winter.
After Wisconsin became a state, the two houses of the Senate and Assembly constituted
the state legislature. The governmental leaders included the governor, lieutenant governor,
secretary of state, state treasurer, attorney general, and the state superintendent of public
instruction. These officials were elected every four years.
The governor's duties include directing state government and choosing state officials and
members of special committees. The governor works with state lawmakers by reporting to them
at the beginning of each session on how the state government is working. The governor also
prepares the state budget, the plan for spending state money. The budget must be approved by the
legislators in the Senate and Assembly. The governor is supposed to spend time talking to voters
all over the state to know about their views.
The duties of the lieutenant governor involve acting as governor when the governor is
away. The lieutenant governor is president of the Senate and calls members to order each session.
The lieutenant governor also enforces the Senate rules and calls for votes on bills, voting only if
there is a tie. Sometimes the lieutenant governor carries out special duties assigned by the
The secretary of state's duties include being in charge of all official records and stamping
official papers with the Wisconsin seal. After Wisconsin companies file special papers with the
secretary of state, these become part of the record of businesses in the state. The secretary of state
also must publish all new state laws.
The state treasurer is primarily in charge of Wisconsin's money by examining all checks
printed to pay bills.
The attorney general must be a lawyer and serves as the chief state law officer heading the
Department of Justice. This person must advise state agencies about the law and appear in court
to represent the state of Wisconsin. Sometimes the attorney general explains laws to help others
understand existing laws.
The state superintendent of public instruction is in charge of Wisconsin's public schools
by visiting schools, holding meetings, and sending information to teachers and principals. This
official must communicate with schools to let them know of laws which affect schools. The
superintendent also heads the Department of Public Instruction. The Department of Public
Instruction helps plan programs and new school buildings, write curricular materials, improve
school libraries, and oversee teacher training programs.
What was valuable about Wisconsin becoming a state?
More recent European American settlers in the Wisconsin territory were interested in
becoming a state because they wanted to elect their state leaders, become part of the United
States, and be able to vote in national elections. There was also the belief that after Wisconsin
became a state, more European Americans would move into Wisconsin.
The new state constitution enlarged who was defined as voters by allowing all European
American men who were at least 21 years old to vote. Certain Native Americans were also given
the right to vote. However, African American men could not vote until 1866 and all women
could not vote until 1920. The constitution provided for voters electing judges and providing free
schools for all children ages four through 20. Nelson Dewey was the first state governor.
What were drawbacks about Wisconsin becoming a state?
More established European American settlers in the Wisconsin territory preferred few
governmental demands on their lives and with statehood would come increased governmental
interference. Some believed Wisconsin should not become a state because many of the new
immigrants from Europe could not speak English and would be unable to vote. There was also
the view that people did not know whom to trust with governmental powers; therefore, they had
limited ability to vote intelligently. Another drawback was people's responsibility to pay federal
taxes once Wisconsin became part of the United States. These taxes would need to be paid as
well as state and local taxes.
Who could vote after Wisconsin became a state?
The new constitution allowed all European American men who were at least 21 years old
to vote. Certain Native Americans were also given the right to vote. However, African American
men could not vote until 1866 and all women could not vote until 1920. In 1885, Wisconsin
women gained the right to vote in school elections.
Now every voter must be 18 years old, have lived in Wisconsin for at least 10 days, be a
citizen of the U.S., and must have registered to vote. They also must not have been convicted of a
felony, unless their civil rights were restored and must not have been judged incompetent or
partially incompetent. Those not born in the U.S. may apply for citizenship after living as
permanent residents in the U.S. for five years. To become citizens, immigrants must be at least
18 years old; must demonstrate an ability to read, write, and speak English; pass a citizenship test
which shows a knowledge of American government and history; prove that they have lived by
generally accepted moral standards for the past five years; and swear an oath of allegiance to the
How did people work for voting rights for all people in Wisconsin?
The 13th Amendment to the Constitution abolished slavery, the 14th Amendment gave
citizenship rights to freed slaves (but linked the words citizens to males), and the 15th
amendment in 1870 gave the right to vote to African American men, but not African American
women. These increased rights for African Americans came after years of struggle by
abolitionists, those who fought to abolish slavery in the U.S. Slavery had existed within the
country for almost 250 years, from 1619 until 1865. Through conventions, meetings, and
publications, abolitionists sought to convince people throughout the U.S. of the injustices of
slavery. Many people in Wisconsin supported the abolishment of slavery even though male
members of the 1846 constitutional convention were not supportive of granting voting rights to
As a way to weaken the Confederacy during the Civil War and force the Confederacy to
rejoin the Union, President Lincoln declared all slaves free in the Confederate states with the
Emancipation Proclamation. This action became law with the 13th Amendment. Many
abolitionists such as Sojourner Truth, Frederick Douglass, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and Susan B.
Anthony were also involved in the struggle for equal rights for women, especially the right to
vote. However, with the push for equality for African American men after the Civil War, some
who supported both causes such as Frederick Douglass believed it was important to focus on
gaining equality for African American men first, then later work for equal rights for women.
Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony and others disagreed and opposed passage of the
15th amendment unless women were included. However, the 15th amendment did pass in 1870,
and African American men gained the right to vote 50 years before African American women.
The efforts to gain the right to vote for women required dedication and perseverance
among those who had different reasons for women having the right to vote. More liberal or
radical women wanted women to gain more control over their lives and participate in business,
government, and education. Others wanted to preserve women's traditional role, but give it more
significance and respect. One suffrage banner from 1912 proposed women's vote as an extension
of their domestic role:
"Mother mends my socks and shirts,
Mother mends my coat,
Mebbe she could mend some laws,
If she had the vote."
On September 7, 1882, 35 women and men organized the Wisconsin Woman's Suffrage
Association which lasted until the right to vote was gained for Wisconsin women 38 years later.
This movement worked at the state and local levels to gain the right to vote for women. Members
of the organization worked for a state law which would allow women to vote in all state and local
elections and hoped for a federal constitutional amendment which gave women the right to vote
nationally. This organization introduced woman suffrage bills in the Wisconsin Assembly from
1882 until 1912 and advocated suffrage through a boat tour on Lake Winnebago and the Fox
River. In 1886 men voters agreed to allow women to vote in school elections, but generally the
movement to gain the right to vote for women in all other elections at the local and state levels
progressed slowly until the 20th century.
Some believed the Wisconsin Woman's Suffrage Association was not aggressive enough
in working for the vote for women and formed another organization the Political Equality League
whose members marched in parades, distributed literature, lobbied legislators, wrote articles, and
spoke at different public gatherings. Members of the group cruised on the Wolf River stopping to
speak for equal rights at every landing. Members played instruments and spoke about women's
right to vote at band concerts in the park. They also spoke at labor union conventions,
businessmen's clubs, civic and religious meetings, and county fairs. However, their auto tour of
the state alerted even more people to the issue of women's voting rights. Members of this
organization spoke about the importance of women having some control over influences that
affected the home which voting offered. After the woman suffrage amendment was rejected by
Wisconsin male voters in 1912, the Wisconsin Woman's Suffrage Association and the Political
Equality League joined as one organization, the Wisconsin Woman Suffrage Association.
Members of this organization built its membership, published its own newspaper, and continued
to introduce women's suffrage bills in the state legislature.
One of the Wisconsin women working for women's voting rights was Ada James. She
was born in 1876 in Richland Center, Wisconsin and her mother, father, and uncle also believed
women should have the right to vote. Ada's father State Senator David James introduced the
suffrage bill, or the proposed law which gave women the right to vote, in the Wisconsin
legislature. From 1911 to 1919, Ada James as president of the Political Equality League
encouraged people all over Wisconsin to support women's right to vote by traveling to and
speaking at state and county fairs, and with other women traveling by car to speak to farmers at
creameries, to workers at factories, and to any listeners on street corners. This automobile tour
through southern Wisconsin gained a great deal of attention, even though many people were
shocked to see women speaking from the back seat of a car. Ada James also participated in
traveling on a boat on the Wolf River delivering leaflets supporting votes for women at every
boat landing. Another strategy these women used to publicize the importance of the vote for
women was hiring a pilot to drop flyers about votes for women over county fairgrounds.
Other Wisconsin women who worked for women's right to vote included Theodora
Youmans of Waukesha; Jessie Hooper of Oshkosh; Frances Willard of Janesville; Reverend
Olympia Brown of Racine; Belle La Follette of Madison; and Carrie Chapman Catt of Ripon.
Belle La Follette believed women should have the vote because it was a democratic change and it
would improve homes and thus society. According to Ms. La Follette, government exists for
society, and since government touches people's lives so much through transportation, schools,
and public utilities, women are just as interested in government as men. Belle La Follette also
believed if women as well as men could directly influence government through voting,
government would be more responsive to people's welfare.
Most labor unions supported women's right to vote and national suffrage organizations
and their leaders also provided financial and speaking assistance for the Wisconsin organizations.
On the national level, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony were the first leaders of the
women's suffrage movement and both helped the Wisconsin suffrage organization get started.
Elizabeth Cady Stanton wrote speeches and developed the philosophy of the suffrage movement
while Susan B. Anthony provided facts and statistics and traveled around the country delivering
Elizabeth's speeches. Unfortunately, neither lived to see the 19th Amendment to the Constitution
pass, which gave women the right to vote. The second generation of women's suffrage leaders in
the early 20th century were more racist by excluding women of color in the suffrage
organizations than Stanton and Anthony had been. Although Wisconsin never passed a law
giving women the right to vote in all state and local elections, it was the first state to ratify the
federal constitutional amendment giving women all over the U.S. the right to vote.
All Native Americans were declared U.S. citizens in 1924 and thus eligible to vote in all
local, state, and national elections. However, some native people in Wisconsin were defined as
citizens earlier. The federal government granted citizenship to the Oneida in the 1830s after they
had moved to Wisconsin. During the state constitutional conventions of 1846 and 1848,
citizenship and the right to vote was granted to male Indians who were considered "civilized" or
who had adopted European American ways of life and lived apart from their tribe. However, this
decision became interpreted as only those male Indians who had accepted allotments and had full
title to these allotments were defined as citizens, which excluded most of the Native American
men in Wisconsin in 1848. When many Wisconsin Native Americans volunteered to fight on the
side of the Union during the Civil War even though they were not considered citizens, the
fairness of this definition of citizenship was questioned.
During the late 1800s Indian lands continued to be divided into 40- or 80-acre allotments
for individual ownership. After individual Native American men held onto their allotted land for
25 years, they received full title to their allotments and were eligible to become full citizens.
After World War I when Wisconsin Native Americans volunteered for military service in very
high numbers even though many were not U.S. citizens, native groups and civic groups lobbied
Congress to make Native Americans citizens. In 1919, all Native American veterans were offered
citizenship. At this point Wisconsin Indian veterans as well as those who had full title to their
allotments were the only native people considered U.S. citizens. With further lobbying of U.S.
Congress by Native American groups as well as non Native American groups, in 1924 all Native
Americans in the U.S. were granted citizenship and the right to vote. However, Wisconsin
Indians and native people all over the U.S., could maintain their tribal citizenship along with
their U.S. citizenship. For those native people who were enrolled members of their tribe, they
possessed dual citizenship and could participate in their tribal governments and in the U.S.
government at the local, state, and national levels.
Who opposed people gaining the right to vote?
The unequal achievement of voting rights in Wisconsin and in the U.S. reflect the sexism
and racism which are deeply ingrained within our society. The belief in the inferiority of people
of color and women of all cultural groups in comparison to European American men has often
been a significant aspect of the opposition to all people gaining voting rights in Wisconsin. By
giving Native Americans, African Americans, and women of all groups the right to vote,
European American men would be forced to share some of their power with these groups.
Many Wisconsin women viewed women participating in governmental activities either
through voting or through running for office as improper because it meant becoming involved in
traditionally male activities. More conservative women may also have been offended by the
implied denigration of housework and childcare by women campaigning for voting rights. Many
men in Wisconsin believed women were weaker and needed to be protected and cared for, thus
were unsuitable for participating in government through voting. Male voters also were concerned
about creating a new, unknown class of voters who would have to be addressed every election.
Numerous professional men feared suffrage would lead to increased competition from women
for their jobs. Some Wisconsin legislators believed women were not educated enough to vote. A
majority of European immigrants had strong views on the importance of women remaining in the
home and out of public life, which included voting, although not all agree that European
immigrants were more resistant to women's suffrage than European Americans already living in
The German-American Alliance also opposed women's suffrage because they feared it
would lead to prohibition which would not only harm the brewing industry, but would also lessen
the quality of life for anyone who enjoyed alcohol, a part of the German American culture. After
the Women's Christian Temperance Union was founded by Frances Willard in 1874, members
campaigned for votes for women as well as for prohibition or outlawing the sale of alcohol.
Brewers, distillers, and liquor dealers opposed women gaining the right to vote because they
feared that it would lead to prohibition and the failure of their businesses.
Introduction To Unit
1. Provide opportunities for students to illustrate what they know about the topic prior to
beginning the study in order to understand students' prior knowledge and questions they may
have. For example, you might ask students to explain what government they thought Native
Americans and the first European and European American immigrants in Wisconsin needed in
order to live peacefully in Wisconsin. Follow up questions might be: What did people need from
government? How would they develop rules for getting along with other people in the state?
Who would be responsible for building roads or improving roads already built? Who would be
responsible for building schools? Who should have a say in government? What leaders might
people need? What would they do? How should they be selected? Students can create individual
lists on K (Know), W (Want to Know), and L (Learned) charts which can be compiled into class
2. Students might also prepare concept maps to show what they already know about Wisconsin
government today. The phrase "Wisconsin government" could be written in the middle of a piece
of paper with words or phrases added in a web design around the main concept as the students
think about who the leaders are, what rights Wisconsin citizens have, and the responsibilities
Wisconsin citizens have.
3. At intervals during the unit, students add what they are learning to the L portion of the chart so
that by the end of the unit, the chart provides a brief summary of what they have learned.
4. Students may complete another concept map at the end of the unit to illustrate their new
understandings of Wisconsin government, the different leaders we have, and main rights and
responsibilities of Wisconsin citizens.
Wisconsin As A Territory: Advantages And Disadvantages
1. Distribute an identity card to each small group of students. Examples of such cards include:
Identity 1 - You are a Ho-Chunk family still living in Wisconsin, but the U.S. government is
pressuring your tribe to move to a reservation in Iowa. You and your extended family are
determined not to move.
Identity 2 - You are a Menominee family. Your tribe is being pressured by the U.S. government
to give up land and move to Minnesota, but the tribe does not want to move there.
Identity 3 - You are an English mining family who immigrated to Wisconsin from England
because you heard about lead mining opportunities. Your family is living with relatives until you
can afford to build your own cabin.
Identity 4 - You are a wealthy German American family. The father owns 500 acres of farmland.
You have several hired girls and hired hands working for you.
Identity 5 - You are a young German couple who recently immigrated to Wisconsin. You left
your children in your homeland to live with relatives until you earned enough money to send for
them. You both live with and work for a German American farmer in Wisconsin.
Identity 6 - You are a “Yankee” family who moved to Wisconsin from New York. You heard of
good farmland in Wisconsin and bought 150 acres to farm.
2. Encourage students to explore what it would have been like to live in Wisconsin when it was a
territory given their identity. They could consult "The Wisconsin Territory” on pages 4-25 of the
September, 1973 issue of Badger History focusing on Wisconsin Territorial Days for a
description of this era in Wisconsin's history. In order to provide greater background on the lives
of English lead miners, read excerpts from “Life on Wisconsin’s Lead-Mining Frontier” published
in Learning about Wisconsin: Activities, Historical Documents, and Resources Linked to
Wisconsin’s Model Academic Standards for Social Studies in Grades 4-12 and show samples of
the lead which motivated new immigrants to mine (available from museum shops). Additional
background on lead mining in Wisconsin can be found on pages 57-59 in Wisconsin: The Story of
the Badger State. Where might they live? What might their daily lives be like? How might they
travel from place to place? If they were European American, how would they hear from relatives
in Europe or in the eastern states? Students could write a summary of their lives in the Wisconsin
3. Ask students to investigate the governmental leadership positions which existed when
Wisconsin was a territory, if they were eligible to hold these positions given their identity, the
responsibilities or duties these leaders had, and how they were chosen. Encourage students to
question the view of this time which equated men who did not own property as “lawless” and
“little less savage than the Indians” which prohibited them from holding leadership positions in
the Northwest Territory (see page 5 of the October, 1998 issue of Cobblestone magazine).
Students should consult the September, 1973 issue of Badger History which deals with Wisconsin
Territorial Days, chapter 10 in The Wisconsin Story, the article “The Best System We Could Get”
from the October, 1998 issue of Cobblestone magazine, the article “Establishing the Vote” from
the March 2004 issue of Cobblestone magazine, and pages 48-49 and 67-72 of Wisconsin: The
Story of the Badger State. Guide students in creating a visual summary such as a chart or
illustration which summarizes what they learned.
4. Introduce students to the governmental structure of the Oneida and other Iroquois nations
before contact with Europeans and ask them to compare that structure with the new government
of the Wisconsin territory. Compare who could participate in the government and who could not.
The main components of the Iroquois government include: (A) A “Council of Fifty,” similar to a
parliament, was composed of representatives from the five nations. The Council had decision-making powers and all decisions were made unanimously. (B) Women could not serve on the
Council, but nominated the tribal leader and removed leaders when they were guilty of
misconduct. (C) All laws were freely debated and discussed. (D) New tribal members were
admitted as equal members to older members. (E) Civilian leaders were different from military
leaders. For additional information, see Native American Governments in Today’s Curriculum in
the October, 1997 issue of Social Education and American Indian Tribal Governments.
5. Introduce students to the governmental structure of the Great Lakes nations and ask them to
compare that structure with the new government of the Wisconsin territory. Compare who could
participate and how leaders were chosen. Each Great Lake nation was ruled by a council of elders
or chiefs. Everyone had a voice in making decisions, however. Decisions were made to benefit all
people. Only men could become chiefs by inheriting the position if he were the eldest son of a
chief or by doing generous, kind deeds for others. See American Indian Tribal Governments for
6. Encourage students to discuss their views of living in Wisconsin as a territory given their
identity. What would they like about it? What would they dislike? How would they feel about
more European and European American immigrants moving into the territory? Could they
become a governmental leader? Could they help choose the governmental leaders? What rights
would they have? Encourage students to consult the summary of civil rights in “The Best System
We Could Get” in the October, 1998 issue of Cobblestone magazine and the denial of rights to
Native people and African American slaves in “The Dredful Scott Decision” in the same issue of
Cobblestone. Students should consult the visual summaries from the previous activity and then
write their evaluation of their life in the territory from their identity.
Wisconsin As A State: Advantages And Disadvantages
1. Invite students to learn more about the process of becoming a state and the difference between
Wisconsin as a territory and a state. Students should summarize what they learned for the class
with a visual aid. See chapters 10 and 12 in The Wisconsin Story and the November, 1978 issue of
Badger History which concentrates on Wisconsin Government. For teacher background, read
“Statehood” on pages 72-75 in Wisconsin: The Story of the Badger State.
2. Show students the maps of the Michigan Territory, 1834-1836, the Wisconsin Territory 1836-1838 and 1838-1848 and after statehood found on p. 33 of Voices & Votes: How Democracy
Works in Wisconsin Teacher’s Guide and Student Materials (for background information on the
transition from a territory to statehood, see “teacher background” on pages 30-31) Ask students to
summarize how the territory changed between 1836 and when Wisconsin became a state. Students
could play the board game “From Territory to Statehood” found on pages 28-29 in the teacher’s
guide and student materials from Voices & Votes: How Democracy Works in Wisconsin to review
many of the changes which occurred from the 1820s until 1848.
3. Lead students to discuss how their lives would change given their identities if Wisconsin
became a state. How might their lives improve? How might their lives become more difficult?
4. Encourage students to work in small groups to find out what governmental leadership positions
were created when Wisconsin became a state, what were the responsibilities for each position, and
how leaders obtained their positions. Students might summarize what they learned through a
chart with the headings "Governmental Leaders," "Duties," and "How Chosen" with main points
listed under each heading. Students should consult chapters 10 and 12 in The Wisconsin Story and
the November, 1978 issue of Badger History which concentrates on Wisconsin Government.
5. Divide students into small groups with half the class searching for reasons for Wisconsin
remaining a territory and who preferred that Wisconsin remain a territory. The second half
searches for reasons why some people wanted Wisconsin to become a state and who wanted this
change to statehood. Each group could make a chart summarizing the main ideas they discovered.
Students could read chapter 1 in Voices & Votes: How Democracy Works in Wisconsin, consult
"The Wisconsin Territory" on pages 4-25 of the September, 1973 issue of Badger History
focusing on Wisconsin Territorial Days, the November, 1978 issue of Badger History
highlighting Wisconsin Government, and chapter 10 "Early Wisconsin Territory" and chapter 12
"Wisconsin Becomes a State" in The Wisconsin Story.
6. Ask students to assume the same identity they were given when Wisconsin was a territory.
Encourage students to discuss their views of living in Wisconsin as a state given their identity.
What would they like about it? What would they dislike? How would they feel about more
European and European American immigrants to move into the state? How would they feel about
being part of the United States? How would they feel about paying taxes to the United States
government? Could they become a governmental leader? Could they help choose the
governmental leaders? Students should consult the visual summaries from the previous activities
to aid them during the discussion. Students might write their evaluation of their life in the state of
Wisconsin from their identity.
People’s Voting Rights And Responsibilities After Wisconsin Became A State
1. Ask students to interview an adult member of their family about their views on voting.
Encourage students to find out if the family member is eligible to vote, their views on the
importance of voting, the regularity with which they vote, and how they would feel if they could
not vote. Students should be ready to summarize what they learned for the rest of the class.
2. Invite students to conduct interviews with additional adult members in their families and
neighborhoods regarding the above questions and summarize in writing what they learned. A class
book could be prepared summarizing how some adults today view voting.
3. Ask students to discuss who should have the right to vote for governmental leaders in
Wisconsin and in the country and why. Invite students to learn more about reasons for limiting
voting rights to male property owners and how long people have been voting for leaders in this
country. Students might read chapters 2 and 6 in Voices & Votes: How Democracy Works in
Wisconsin and "Elections in the Colonies," pages 4-9 in the October, 1996 issue of Cobblestone
focusing on Elections in America. The article “Presidential Elections in the Age of Television” in
the September, 2000 issue of Social Education briefly describes circumstances surrounding the
first presidential election in 1789. A timeline detailing who had voting rights at different times is
included in the January/February, 2001 Social Education article, “Prospects for the Electoral
College after Election 2000” and “Voting Timeline at a Glance” in the March, 2004 issue of
4. Show students the video Wisconsin Government, part 1 (approximately 15 minutes) to find out
who could vote when Wisconsin was a territory and state. The video explains the significance of
the slavery issue after Wisconsin became a state and introduces a few people who worked for
voting rights for African Americans and women.
5. Show students the video “Program 4: Creating a State” (approximately 15 minutes) from the
Investigating Wisconsin History series. Encourage students to watch for reasons why women,
African Americans, and Native Americans could not vote after Wisconsin became a state. Ask
students to compare women’s rights in early Wisconsin history with women’s rights among
6. Ask students to write quickly their responses to these questions: When Wisconsin became a
state, those Native Americans who were enrolled as members of their tribe because they met the
requirements for tribal membership were already part of their tribal government and could
participate in tribal governmental decisions. Should Native Americans also be citizens of
Wisconsin and the U.S. and able to vote? Why? Why not? Encourage students to discuss their
ideas in small groups, then as a class. See Fundamental 16 "Indian Land Allotment and U.S.
Citizenship" on pages 172-176 in Classroom Activities on Wisconsin Indian Treaties and Tribal
Sovereignty for a discussion of citizenship for native people. They may also read “Native
American Citizenship and Suffrage” from the March, 2004 issue of Cobblestone magazine,
“Tribal Governments” on page 54 in Voices & Votes: How Democracy Works in Wisconsin, and
“American Indians and the Question of Citizenship on pages 95-97 in Voices & Votes: How
Democracy Works in Wisconsin.
7. Assign half the class to learn more about Sojourner Truth's efforts to gain equal rights for
African Americans and women. Students might read A Picture Book of Sojourner Truth or
Walking the Road to Freedom: A Story about Sojourner Truth or the short biography in Myself
and Women Heroes in My World to learn more. As a way of sharing how she worked for racial
and gender equality, students might create a dramatic reenactment or puppet play of Sojourner
Truth's refusal to get off a street car when the conductor ordered her off because of her race or her
famous "Ain't I a Woman" speech at a Women's Rights Convention in 1851. Other texts which
provide information on Sojourner Truth's life for advanced readers or for the teacher to develop
background knowledge include Sojourner Truth: Antislavery Activist and Sojourner Truth: Ain't I
a Woman?. A more complete description of a dramatic reenactment activity is described on page
38 in Women's History Curriculum Guide.
8. Assign half the class to learn more about Frederick Douglass and his work in helping African
Americans and women become more equal. Students might consult the Cobblestone issue which
focuses on Frederick Douglass: Fighter for Freedom, Frederick Douglass: The Last Day of
Slavery, Escape from Slavery: The Boyhood of Frederick Douglass in His Own Words or other
biographies. Encourage students to find out how Frederick Douglass learned to read; escaped
from slavery; spoke publicly about the harshness of slavery in England, Scotland, and Ireland as
well as in the U.S.; wrote his autobiography to let many know what slave life was like; published
an anti-slavery newspaper; and worked for votes for African Americans and women. Students
might create drawings, a poster, or write a poem, informational piece, or personal narrative
highlighting main events of Douglass' life.
9. As a way of introducing women's fight for the right to vote, read aloud The Ballot Box Battle
which is narrated by a fictional character, Cordelia, who learned about Elizabeth Cady Stanton
when Stanton taught her how to ride a horse. During this time Stanton talked with Cordelia about
her efforts to prove her worth as a girl to her father growing up and her present concern for
women gaining the right to vote. Cordelia accompanies Elizabeth Cady Stanton in her attempt to
vote prior to women gaining the right to vote and witnesses the ridicule Stanton suffers.
Encourage students to explain what meanings they gained from the text and their reactions to it.
Ask students to work in small groups to list reasons why women should vote and reasons why
they should not vote, then make a class list. For a more detailed description of Stanton’s endeavor
to vote, read aloud pages 111-112 in Elizabeth Cady Stanton: The Right is Ours.
10. In small groups have the class read and discuss You Want Women to Vote, Lizzie Stanton?
which is a biography of Elizabeth Cady Stanton. It portrays Stanton as a woman always fighting
against living life in the traditional "women's role" although she married and had seven children.
Stanton was also one of the national leaders for women's suffrage and the book illustrates the
challenges of this work with critical family members and the demands of child care. However,
Stanton's middle-class status as well as Susan B. Anthony's friendship and support helped Stanton
to continue to develop the philosophy and ideas for women's suffrage.
Discuss the important ideas students found in the text and their reactions to the text. Students
might keep a journal or reading log as they read the text to record important ideas and their
reactions to the text. Students could refer to these during group discussions and submit for teacher
Encourage students to analyze the text for what middle-class women's lives were like during the
1800s and make a chart, web, or diagram illustrating the main ideas. Students should cite evidence
from the text for these ideas.
With students discuss influences on Stanton's life to make her want to fight for women's equality
even when it was very difficult. Students should cite evidence from the text for these conclusions.
Ask students to develop character webs by analyzing the character traits for Elizabeth Cady
Stanton, her husband, her father, and Susan B. Anthony and give evidence from the text to support
each trait. Students may include dialogue or actions as supportive evidence.
Discuss whose perspective the text is written from, evidence for this conclusion, and how the text
might change with a different perspective.
Discuss why the author might have written this text and what she wanted readers to gain from it.
11. Introduce other texts on Elizabeth Cady Stanton's and Susan B. Anthony's efforts to win equal
rights for women, including the right to vote. Encourage students to read such texts as Remember
the Ladies: The First Women's Rights Convention and They Shall Be Heard: Susan B. Anthony &
Elizabeth Cady Stanton independently. Students might share what they learned with the rest of the
12. For brief versions of Elizabeth Cady Stanton's life and her work with Susan B. Anthony,
students might read pages 12-14 in Women's History Curriculum Guide; "The Partnership," pages
25-26 in the March, 1985 issue of Cobblestone focusing on Susan B. Anthony and the Women's
Movement; pages 24-26 in Women in American History: An Introductory Teaching Packet; and
pages 11-12 in Women as Members of Groups. Discuss main events in Stanton's life, motivations
for working so hard to gain greater equality for women, and what she accomplished. For a broad
overview of women's struggle for equality in the U.S. see the text Taking a Stand Against Sexism
and Sex Discrimination or Woman's Suffrage Movement, 1848-1920 curriculum unit.
13. Invite students to learn more about Susan B. Anthony who worked alongside Elizabeth Cady
Stanton in gaining the right for women to vote. They might read "She Stood Her Ground" (pages
17-19) and "Testing the Fourteenth Amendment" (pages 35-37) in the March, 1985 issue of
Cobblestone focusing on Susan B. Anthony and the Women's Movement; the section on Susan B.
Anthony (also recorded on cassette tape) in Women of Courage; the booklet provided in the
curriculum guide Failure is Impossible: Susan B. Anthony; page 13 in Women in History:
Discovering America's Famous Women Through Research-Related Activities; and the texts Susan
B. Anthony: Champion of Women's Rights, The Story of Susan B. Anthony, and Susan B. Anthony:
A Photo-Illustrated Biography.
14. For interested students, they might portray Susan B. Anthony's trial after being arrested for
voting prior to the passage of the 19th Amendment which officially gave women the right to vote.
The script for this trial is included on pages 36-37 in Women's History Curriculum Guide.
15. Show students the video "The Susan B. Anthony Story" (37 minutes long) which portrays a
teenage girl being transported back in time to observe Susan B. Anthony's trial for breaking New
York state law prohibiting women from voting. The emphasis of the video is to encourage youth
today to do something about the problems they see around them just as Susan Anthony did
something about women not having the right to vote. Encourage students to watch the video for
reasons why Anthony voted and what she hoped to accomplish through the trial. Following the
video, lead a discussion on these questions: How might Susan Anthony have felt during the trial
and after the verdict was given? Why didn't she give up the fight for women having the right to
vote after the trial? If you would have been in Anthony's place, what would you have done?
16. Encourage students to work in small groups to read excerpts of original documents (such as
letters and articles in magazines, Declaration of Independence, Declaration of Sentiments from
the Women’s Rights Convention of 1848, and Anthony’s comments during her 1872 trial) which
discuss women’s rights during the 1800s. Encourage students to summarize the rights women had
during the 19th century, rights denied them, and arguments for and against greater equality for
women. For a more complete description of this activity see “History Mystery: A Documents-Based Lesson on Women’s Rights” from the November/December, 2000 issue of Social Studies
and the Young Leaner.
17. Contrast the rights Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) women held during the 19th century with those
of European American women in the U.S. Encourage students to question which culture is more
“civilized” based on the rights women held at the time. For example, Haudenosaunee women
controlled their own property, contributed equally to the sustenance of the nation through their
agriculture and control of home life, and their children belonged to them rather than the fathers. In
Haudenosaunee government, women chose their chiefs, held important governmental positions as
clan mothers, and had a voice in their government. An excellent background resource for this
discussion is Sisters in Spirit: Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) Influence on Early American Feminists,
especially the chart on pages 30-31.
18. After students have completed research on Frederick Douglass, Sojourner Truth, Elizabeth
Cady Stanton, and Susan B. Anthony, organize a talk show format in which students choose to
play the roles of these leaders, talk show host, and members of the audience who ask questions of
the leaders. Students role playing the leaders should prepare to explain who they are and why they
are fighting for equal rights, the host should prepare an introduction to each leader, and members
of the audience should prepare questions to ask each leader. For a more comprehensive
explanation of this talk show activity, see "Freedom Has a Name" from the Winter, 1991 issue of
Update on Law-Related Education.
19. For a broad overview of the work of Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony's efforts to
win the right to vote for women, show the video "Against the Odds: The Women's Vote" (24
minutes in length). The video includes not only background on Stanton and Anthony and
circumstances in their early lives which encouraged them to work for women's equality, but also
women's involvement in the Civil War as well as World War I which demonstrated women's
contributions to the country. These contributions provided additional reasons for women having
the right to vote. Ask students to focus on what helped women gain the right to vote as they view
the video. Following the video, work with the students to make a list of all the factors which
helped women gain the right to vote.
20. Read aloud or encourage students to read independently A Long Way to Go which provides a
young girl's perspective on her grandmother's suffrage activities and her parents' opposition to
suffrage in 1917. The main character recognizes the unfairness of women being unable to vote as
well as boys' assertions that girls were not as smart or strong as boys. Ask students to summarize
the arguments for and against women having the right to vote as portrayed in the text and their
reactions to these arguments. Invite students to give their interpretations of the reasons for the
main character's support of women's suffrage when her parents were against it.
21. Copy cartoons, advertisements, and quotes which promote women's suffrage and which argue
against women's suffrage. Ask students to work with a partner, select one, and write why they
believe the author prepared this message, and their reaction to this message. Sources for cartoons,
advertisements, and quotes include the October, 1996 issue of Cobblestone which deals with
Elections in America, Wisconsin Women Fight for Suffrage, and Uncommon Lives of Common
22. Invite students to learn more about those who believed women should not have the right to
vote. They might read "Who Opposed Woman Suffrage?" pages 40-42 in Cobblestone focusing
on Susan B. Anthony and the Women's Movement.
23. Assign or allow students to choose cooperative groups to learn more about Wisconsin women
who helped gain the right for women to vote and share what they learned with the class. They
might complete research on women such as Ada James of Richland Center; Theodora Youmans of
Waukesha; Jessie Hooper of Oshkosh; Frances Willard of Janesville; Reverend Olympia Brown
of Racine; Belle La Follette of Madison; and Carrie Chapman Catt of Ripon. Advanced readers
may read Strong-Minded Woman: The Story of Lavinia Goodell, Wisconsin’s First Female
Lawyer to learn more about Goodell’s struggle to become a lawyer in Wisconsin, her
representation of women’s concerns in court, and her public speaking for temperance and
women’s rights. With teacher assistance, students could consult Wisconsin Women: A Gifted
Heritage, pages 235-240 in the chapter “Wisconsin” from A History of Women in the United
States: State-by-State Reference, and Uncommon Lives of Common Women. Each group may
illustrate what they learned through creating drawings, developing original lyrics to a familiar
tune, creating a dramatic vignette, or writing a play, personal narrative, informational piece,
historical fiction, or a poem.
24. Read aloud or encourage students to read Belle Case La Follette's reasons for women gaining
the right to vote and invite students to think about her arguments. What ideas seem valid for the
importance of women having the right to vote? What ideas seem weak? What ideas do you agree
with? Disagree with?
See chapter 11 “Are Women Not People, too?” in Belle and Bob La Follette: Partners in Politics
and pages 45-47 in Belle Case La Follette, 1859-1931: A Resource Guide for Ms. La Follette's
views on suffrage for women.
25. Show students the video Votes for Women?! 1913 U.S. Senate Testimony (17 minutes long)
which contains the testimony of Kate Douglas Wiggin who spoke against women having the right
to vote and Belle Case La Follette who argued for women having the right to vote. While the
testimony is heard, the visuals of buttons, banners, and cartoons promoting and discouraging
women's suffrage are shown. Encourage students to watch the video to find out reasons given for
why women should not have the right to vote and reasons given for why they should have this
right. After the video, ask students to work in small groups to list reasons for and against women
having the right to vote, share their ideas with the class, then make a class list. At the close of the
discussion, ask students what they would do if they were members of the Senate, would they vote
for or against a constitutional amendment giving women the right to vote? Encourage students to
offer reasons for their decision.
26. Provide copies of "Ada James and Votes for Women" from the September, 1979 issue of
Badger History focusing on Wisconsin Women for students to read. After reading, lead students to
discuss why they thought Ada James believed it was important for women to have the right to
vote; what was difficult about working for this right; and what helped her to keep working for
women's right to vote. Students should provide evidence from the article for their ideas.
27. Prepare a summary of women's work in Wisconsin for women's right to vote from Wisconsin
Women Fight for Suffrage, pages 235-240 in the chapter “Wisconsin” from A History of Women
in the United States: State-by-State Reference, and Uncommon Lives of Common Women. For an
overview of Wisconsin women’s efforts to win suffrage, students could read “Women Demand
the Right to Vote” on pages 88-92 in Voices & Votes: How Democracy Works in Wisconsin (for
background information, see “Teacher Background: Women and the Right to Vote” in Voices &
Votes: How Democracy Works in Wisconsin Teacher’s Guide and Student Materials). Divide the
narrative into sections with each section providing the text for a picture book. Invite students to
work individually or with a partner to illustrate the text. After students share their sections of the
text with the class, ask students to select a title. The text can become part of the class library.
28. Review for students efforts to win voting rights for African Americans in Wisconsin.
Summarize important events from the article "Wisconsin and Negro Suffrage" by Leslie H. Fishel,
Jr. from the Wisconsin Magazine of History and “African Americans’ Struggle for the Vote” on
pages 93-94 in Voices & Votes: How Democracy Works in Wisconsin. Encourage students to
question why slavery was outlawed in the Northwest Territory and the Wisconsin Territory, but
the right for African Americans to vote took much longer.
29. Encourage students to write letters to people who worked to gain voting rights for Native
Americans, African Americans, and women of all groups. Students should explain their own
views of the work of suffrage leaders, why they thought the leaders' work was important, and what
it means for their lives today. See page C2 in the September, 1995 issue of Social Education for a
more complete description of this activity.
30. Invite a guest speaker from the League of Women Voters to explain the history of this
organization as related to women's voting rights, the significance of people's right and
responsibility to vote today, and ways the League of Women Voters encourages voting. A
description of the League of Women voters students could read is found in "The League of
Women Voters," pages 35-36 in the November, 1988 issue of Cobblestone dealing with The Two-Party System. A brief background for teachers on the League of Women Voters is found in
"Learning from the Suffragists: The League of Women Voters Educates Citizens for Action,"
pages 290-292 in the September, 1995 issue of Social Education.
31. Lead students in singing "Winning the Vote" and "Keep Woman in Her Sphere" from The
American History Songbook. "Winning the Vote" contains somewhat humorous lyrics which
argue for and against women having the right to vote while "Keep Woman in Her Sphere" argues
that thoughtful men understand that women should be able to choose their sphere and be free to
choose to vote. Encourage students to summarize reasons for and against women having the right
to vote from the lyrics; speculate about the purposes of these songs; and describe their reactions to
32. Review with students who has the right to vote today. Encourage students to speculate how
the criteria for voting today has changed from when Wisconsin first became a state. See pages 182
and 183 of State of Wisconsin Blue Book 1997-1998, Sesquicentennial Edition for current
requirements. Create a class chart listing the current requirements for people to have the right to
vote in Wisconsin.
33. Read aloud the picture book Vote! by Christelow which reviews the purpose and importance
of voting, the history of voting rights in the U.S., and the process and outcome of voting. Show
the timeline of voting rights at the end of the text and ask students who had voting rights first,
second, and last.
34. Encourage students to speculate how far Wisconsin government has come in having equality
among members of the state senate and assembly. Ask students to guess the number of women,
African Americans, Hmong Americans, and Native Americans in the 33-member senate and in the
99-member assembly. Since women are approximately 50% of the population, we could expect to
see women in half the positions. Hmong Americans and Native Americans comprise
approximately 1% each of the state population in 1990, so we might expect to see one person
from each group in the assembly. African Americans in 1990 were 5% of Wisconsin's population,
so we could expect to see one or two African Americans in the senate and five in the assembly. In
1997, there were 9 women, 2 African Americans, and no Native Americans in the state senate; 22
women, 6 African Americans; and no Native Americans in the state assembly. Contact your state
senator or assembly representative for current racial and gender composition of members of the
senate and assembly. Consult State of Wisconsin Blue Book 1997-1998, Sesquicentennial Edition
for background information on each member of the senate and assembly as well as the
racial/ethnic composition of Wisconsin's population.
35. Ask students to explain how new immigrants to Wisconsin become U.S. citizens and obtain
voting rights. After an initial discussion of students’ ideas, lead students in the activity “Create a
Citizenship Ceremony” from They Came to Wisconsin Teacher’s Guide and Student Materials in
which students learn about the steps in becoming a citizen, including applying for citizenship and
being interviewed, passing a civics test, and participating in a swearing-in ceremony. Encourage
students to explain their reactions to these requirements, especially the oath of allegiance.
Family Involvement Activities
1. At the beginning of the unit, introduce the unit to families, explaining the main goals, activities,
and expectations for the students. Invite families to participate by partaking in the voting
2. Encourage family involvement by asking students to interview an adult member of their family
about their views on voting. Students should find out if the family member is eligible to vote, their
views on the importance of voting, the regularity with which they vote, and how they would feel if
they could not vote. Ask families to read students' rough draft of the interview summary for
3. Encourage family involvement by assisting students in interviewing additional adult members
in their families and neighborhoods regarding the above questions and summarize in writing what
they learned. Ask families to assist students with writing the summary of this interview.
Overall Assessment Strategies
1. Students' individual K-W-L charts about Wisconsin government could be saved and compared
with K-W-L charts completed by the end of the unit to show gains in knowledge during the unit.
Analyze students' work for understanding of main ideas of territorial and state government and
who had voting rights.
2. Students' individual concept maps showing what they knew about Wisconsin government today
completed at the beginning of the unit could be saved and compared with concept maps
completed at the end of the unit. Analyze students' work for understanding of main ideas of
Wisconsin government today, the different leaders we have, and main rights and responsibilities
of Wisconsin citizens.
3. At the beginning of the unit, as a class, brainstorm what is important to learn from the unit,
different ways students might express this knowledge, and criteria for evaluating the final product.
For example, the students and teacher might agree everyone should learn at least two main ideas
about Wisconsin territorial government, about Wisconsin state government, and voting rights.
Students could express these ideas through writing, drawing, singing, or creating a display. The
students as well as the teacher evaluate the final product using the agreed-upon criteria.
4. Students might save all samples of their work from the unit and select those which illustrate
significant ideas they learned for their portfolio.
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Davis, L. (1998). Susan B. Anthony: A photo-illustrated biography. Mankato, MN: Bridgestone
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Ferris, J. (1988). Walking the road to freedom: A story about Sojourner Truth. Minneapolis:
Fritz, J. (1995). You want women to vote, Lizzie Stanton? New York: G. P. Putnam.
Johnston, N. (1995). Remember the ladies: The first women's rights convention. New York:
Kann. B. (2008). Belle and Bob La Follette: Partners in politics. Madison, WI: Wisconsin
Historical Society Press.
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WI: The State Historical Society of Wisconsin.
Krass, P. (1988). Sojourner Truth: Antislavery activist. New York: Chelsea House.
McCulley, E. A. (1996). The ballot box battle. New York: Alfred A. Knopf.
McCurdy, M. (Ed.). (1994). Escape from slavery: The boyhood of Frederick Douglass in his own
words. New York: Alfred A. Knopf.
McKissack, P. A. & McKissack, F. (1992). Sojourner Truth: Ain't I a woman? New York:
Miller, W. (1995). Frederick Douglass: The last day of slavery. New York: Lee & Low.
Monsell, H. A. (1960). Susan B. Anthony: Champion of women's rights. New York: Aladdin
Oneal, Z. (1990). A long way to go. New York: Viking.
Schier, M. L. (2001). Strong-minded woman: A story of Lavinia Goodell, Wisconsin’s first female
lawyer. Northfield, MN: Midwest History.
Sigerman, H. (2001). Elizabeth Cady Stanton: The right is ours. New York: Oxford.
Belcher-Hamilton, L. (1988, November). The league of women voters. Cobblestone, 9, 35-36.
Berg, L. S. (1985, March). Testing the Fourteenth Amendment. Cobblestone, 6, 35-37.
Chorlian, M. (2004, March). Voting timeline at a glance. Cobblestone, 25, 9.
Feldman, R. T. (1998, October). The Dredful Scott decision. Cobblestone, 19, 26-30.
Filliaci, A. M. (2004, March). Native American citizenship and suffrage. Cobblestone, 25, 26-28.
Gard, C. (1996, October). Elections in the colonies. Cobblestone, 17, 4-9.
Greene, M. (1998, October). The best system we could get. Cobblestone, 19, 4-7.
Kanetzke, H. W. (Ed.). (1973, September). Wisconsin territorial days. Badger History, 27.
Kanetzke, H. W. (Ed.). (1975, September). From Northwest Ordinance to statehood. Badger
History, 29, 52-57.
Kanetzke, H. W. (Ed.). (1978, November). Wisconsin government. Badger History, 32.
Klos, K. (1985, March). She stood her ground. Cobblestone, 6, 17-19.
McLeod, J. (1985, March). The partnership. Cobblestone, 6, 25-26.
Miller, A. P. (1985, March). Who opposed woman suffrage? Cobblestone, 6, 40-42.
Platt, D. H. (1979, September). Ada James and votes for women. Badger History, 33, 24-28.
Volk, A. (2004, March). Establishing the vote. Cobblestone, 25, 6-8.
Yoder, C. P. (1989, February). Frederick Douglass: Fighter for freedom. Cobblestone, 10.
Bletzinger, A. & Short, A. (1982). Wisconsin women: A gifted heritage. Neenah, WI: Wisconsin
State Division of the American Association of University Women.
Brown, V. (1975). Uncommon lives of common women: The missing half of Wisconsin history.
Madison, WI: Wisconsin Feminists Project Fund.
Clark, J. I. (1956). Wisconsin women fight for suffrage. Madison, WI: The State Historical Society
Hanmer, T. J. (1990). Taking a stand against sexism and sex discrimination. New York: Franklin
Risjord, N. K. (1995). Wisconsin: The story of the badger state. Black Earth, WI: Trails Books.
Silverman, J. (1992). The American history songbook. Pacific, MO: Mel Bay.
Wagner, S. R. (2001). Sisters in spirit: Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) influence on early American
feminists. Summertown, TN: Native Voices.
Weatherford, D. (2004). Wisconsin. In C. Weatherford (Ed.), A history of women in the United
States: State-by-state reference (pp. 229-250). Danbury, CT: Grolier Academic Reference.
Wisconsin Legislative Reference Bureau. (1997). State of Wisconsin blue book 1997-1998,
sesquicentennial edition. Madison, WI: Department of Administration Document Sales
Cain, B. (1995, September). Learning from the suffragists: The League of Women Voters
educates citizens for action. Social Education, 59, 290-292.
Fishel, L. (1963). Wisconsin and Negro suffrage. Wisconsin Magazine of History, 46, 180-196.
Gallagher, A. F. (1991). Freedom has a name: A talk show from the past. Update on Law-Related
Education, 15, 20-22.
Iuso-Cox, M. (1995, September). Letters to suffragists. Social Education, 59, C2.
Libresco, A. S. (2000, November/December). History mystery: A document-based lesson on
women’s rights. Social Studies and the Young Learner, 13, P1-P4.
Libresco, A. S. (1995, September). Suffrage and social change: The organizing strategies of
Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony. Social Education, 59, 266-269.
Potter, L. A. & Schamel, W. (1997, October). The Homestead Act of 1862. Social Education, 61,
Rothwell, J. T. (2000). Presidential elections in the age of television. Social Education, 64, 262-271.
Rothwell, J. T. (2001). Prospects for the electoral college after election 2000. Social Education,
Sahr, D. E. (1997, October). Native American governments in today’s curriculum. Social
Education, 61, 308-315.
Professional Curriculum Guides
Aten, J. (1986). Women in history: Discovering America's famous women through research-related activities. Carthage, IL: Good Apple.
Brown, H. & Office of School Services (2003). They came to Wisconsin teacher’s guide and
student materials. Madison, WI: State Historical Society of Wisconsin.
Department of Human Relations, Madison Metropolitan School District. (1986). American Indian
tribal governments. Madison, WI: Madison Metropolitan School District.
Fortier, J. D., Grady, S. M. & Prickette, K. R. (1999). Learning about Wisconsin: Activities,
historical documents, and resources linked to Wisconsin’s model academic standards for
social studies in grades 4-12. Madison, WI: Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction.
Malone, B., Clement, S., Kasparek, J. & Oberle, K. (2005). Voices & votes: How democracy
works in Wisconsin teacher’s guide and student materials. Madison, WI: The State
Historical Society of Wisconsin.
National Women's History Project. (1985). Myself and women heroes in my world. Santa Rosa,
National Women's History Project. (1985). Women as members of groups. Windsor, CA: Author.
Eisenberg, B. (n.d.). Woman's suffrage movement: 1848 - 1920. Santa Rosa, CA: National
Women's History Project.
Phillips, E. (1987). Women in American history: An introductory teaching packet. Brooklyn, NY:
The Equity Intropacket Project, Organization for Equal Education of the Sexes.
Riley, J. (1990). Belle Case La Follette, 1859 - 1931: A resource guide. Madison, WI: Her Own
Ruthsdotter, M. & Eisenberg, B. (Eds.). (n.d.). Women's history: Curriculum guide. Windsor, CA:
National Women's History Project.
Satz, R. N. (1996). Classroom activities on Wisconsin Indian treaties and tribal sovereignty.
Madison, WI: Department of Public Instruction.
Tomin, B. & Burgoa, C. (1983). Failure is impossible, 1820-1906: Susan B. Anthony. Santa Rosa,
CA: Tomin-Burgoa Productions.
Hawkhill Associates. (Producer). (1988). Wisconsin government [Video]. (Available from
Hawkhill Associates, Madison, WI 53703).
Hinz-Junge, J. (Producer). (1985). Women of courage: Volume 1 [Book and Cassette Recording].
St. Paul, MN: Dog Day Records.
Keys, M. (Producer) & DeMaio, R. J. (Director). (1988). Against the odds: The women's vote
[Video]. (Available from Films for the Humanities, Box 2053, Princeton, NJ 08543)
Riley, J. (Producer/Director). (1991). Votes for women?! 1913 U.S. Senate testimony [Video].
(Available from Her Own Words, P.O. Box 5264, Madison, WI 53705)
Thomas, D., & Young, Shelly (Producers), & Thomas, D (Director). (1998). Investigating
Wisconsin History [Video]. (Available from Wisconsin Public Television, Green Bay, WI
or the Education Communication Board, Madison, WI)
Vaughn, G. L. (Producer) & Holmes, F. L. (Writer/Director). (1994). The Susan B. Anthony story
[Video]. (Available from Grace Products, 1761 International Parkway Suite 135,
Richardson, TX 75081)
Cynthia Thorpe, President of League of Women Voters. Oshkosh, Wisconsin.
Wisconsin History Units
Teaching Social Studies