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The Wisconsin Portal


Wisconsin is a Great Lakes state in the United States. Its name is thought to be an adaptation of the Ojibwe word for "Red-stone place." Other theories are that it means "Gathering of the Waters" or "Great Rock."

Flag of Wisconsin

It became the 30th state on May 29, 1848. According to the U.S. Census of 2010, Wisconsin's population was 5,686,986. Its capital is Madison and the largest city is Milwaukee.

Called "America's Dairyland," Wisconsin is best known for its cheese and the Green Bay Packers. The state is also noted for its historic breweries, bratwurst, and Harley-Davidson motorcycles.

With its location between the Great Lakes and the Mississippi River, Wisconsin is home to a wide variety of geographical and glacial features. This varied landscape makes the state a popular vacation destination for outdoor recreation.

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Milwaukee skyline.jpg

Milwaukee is the largest city in the state of Wisconsin and the 22nd largest (by population) in the United States. Located on the southwestern shore of Lake Michigan, the city is the county seat of Milwaukee County.

Once known almost exclusively as a brewing and manufacturing powerhouse, Milwaukee has taken steps over the past few years to reshape its image, in large part by reviving its downtown. In the past decade, new additions to downtown have included the Milwaukee Riverwalk, the Midwest Airlines Center, an internationally renowned addition to the Milwaukee Art Museum, as well as major renovations to the Milwaukee Auditorium and U.S. Cellular Arena. In addition, many new skyscrapers, condos, lofts, and apartments have been constructed in neighborhoods on or near the lakefront and riverbanks for the purpose of attracting new residents to the city.

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Joseph McCarthy in 1954

Joseph McCarthy (November 14, 1908 - May 2, 1957) was a Republican U.S. Senator from the state of Wisconsin between 1947 and 1957. Beginning in 1950, McCarthy became the most visible public face of a period of extreme anti-communist suspicion inspired by the tensions of the Cold War. He was noted for making unsubstantiated claims that there were large numbers of Communists and Soviet spies and sympathizers inside the federal government. Ultimately, his tactics led to his being discredited and censured by the United States Senate. The term "McCarthyism," coined in 1950 in reference to McCarthy's practices, was soon applied to similar anti-communist pursuits. Today the term is used more generally to describe demagogic, reckless, and unsubstantiated accusations, as well as public attacks on the character or patriotism of political opponents.

Born and raised on a Wisconsin farm, McCarthy earned a law degree at Marquette University in 1935 and was elected as a circuit judge in 1939, the youngest in state history. At age 33, McCarthy volunteered for the United States Marine Corps and served during World War II. He successfully ran for the United States Senate in 1946, defeating Robert M. La Follette, Jr. After several largely undistinguished years in the Senate, McCarthy rose suddenly to national fame in 1950 when he asserted in a speech that he had a list of "members of the Communist Party and members of a spy ring" who were employed in the State Department.

However, McCarthy was never able to substantiate his sensational charges. In succeeding years, McCarthy made accusations of Communist infiltration into the State Department, the administration of President Truman, Voice of America, and the United States Army. He also used charges of communism, communist sympathies, or disloyalty to attack a number of politicians and other individuals inside and outside of government. With the highly publicized Army-McCarthy hearings of 1954, McCarthy's support and popularity began to fade. Later in 1954, the Senate voted to censure Senator McCarthy by a vote of 67 to 22, making him one of the few senators ever to be disciplined in this fashion. McCarthy died in Bethesda Naval Hospital on May 2, 1957, at the age of 48. The official cause of death was acute hepatitis; it is widely accepted that this was brought on by alcoholism.

Did you know...

  • ...that the tallest flagpole in the United States was raised at Acuity Insurance in 2005 after a 2003 flagpole fell?
  • ...that the Peshtigo Fire has the distinction of being the deadliest fire in the United States, but it was largely forgotten because it happened on the same day as the 1871 Great Chicago Fire?
  • ...that two-time defending NASCAR championship car owner Carl Kiekhaefer quit his racing activities because he was worried about a backlash to his company?

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Milwaukee 05741u.jpg
Panoramic view of Milwaukee, Wis. Taken from City Hall tower c1898.
Image credit: The Gugler Lithographic Co., Milwaukee, Wis.

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