Wisconsin could have been much bigger

Share this on Facebook download .zip with all pictures

Yes, territories were not really made to become states, in most cases. They were usually made when large chunks of unorganized federal land needed basic governance. Territories were created by Congressional decree alone. Territorial governance was set up and overseen by Congress.

Although states often took the name of a territory the process was quite different. States were created when the people in part of a territory organized themselves, drafted a constitution, set up the foundations of self-governance, defined boundaries, etc, and eventually petitioned Congress to recognize their statehood. Congress could say no, or, more often, make conditions, such as boundary adjustments.

All the changes made to Wisconsin, shown in the OP map, are of the “decree of Congress” type, not the “people of Wisconsin” type. Iowa would be a better example of an alternate state that might have been. As with Wisconsin, Iowa Territory was huge but it was obvious that only a part would become a state. Certainly nothing bigger than Missouri.

The Iowan Convention petitioned Congress with boundaries rather different from today’s Iowa. The southern border would be with the state of Missouri, and the east along the Mississippi, as today, but to the north Iowa would reach up the Mississippi to the Minnesota River (St. Paul), then southwest along the Minnesota River to the Blue Earth River, then diagonally southwest to the junction of the Big Sioux and Missouri Rivers (Sioux City). [This map](http://iowahighwayends.net/maps/proposedborder1.gif) shows the proposed northern boundary—this Iowa would have a large triangle of the rich prairies of what is now southern Minnesota, but not a smaller bit of what is now northwest Iowa. Unfortunately I can’t find a map of the full proposed state—it looks something like a pentagon.

To Iowans these boundaries were sensible and good—access to the Mississippi, Missouri, and Minnesota Rivers was highly desirable, as was the fertile soil of today’s southern Minnesota. Rivers were key for transporting agricultural goods. The Minnesota-Mississippi confluence, where Minneapolis and St. Paul are today, was of strategic value (transportation, trade, etc). It all made sense. This Iowa would be larger than Arkansas but smaller than Missouri.

But there was trouble in Congress—not over the sensibility of these boundaries, but over larger, slavery-related issues. Northern congressmen, in part alarmed at the adding of Texas to the US, wanted to make smaller states so they could make more free states. So Congress amended the bill’s boundaries, [making a much smaller state](http://www.mnopedia.org/sites/default/files/styles/multimedia/public/Map_5.jpg), without access to the Missouri River and not reaching to today’s St. Paul. Congress passed the bill, approving statehood, but it was rejected by Iowa voters.

Apparently this was the first time a Congressional offer of statehood was rejected. Anyway, it was clear that the main problem was the loss of Missouri River access, so the next year Congress made another offer, in the form Iowa has today, which was accepted.

As a postscript: Ten years later Iowa tried to do what Missouri had done before—add a chunk of land by extending their northern border west to the Missouri River. Missouri had done this (the “Platte Purchase”, in addition to the “Bootheel”). Iowa proposed doing the same, taking a sizable piece of what later became South Dakota. But this time Congress said no.

**TL;DR:** Iowa would be a better example of a “state that might have been”. Someone should make a map!

Latest Comments
  1. Orlye December 10, 2016
  2. CarlGuerrier December 6, 2016
  3. ShahidAqq November 26, 2016
  4. tischDE November 25, 2016
  5. Queighty November 23, 2016
  6. Kinild November 23, 2016
  7. Nicolhowle November 16, 2016
  8. LucienneDewees November 13, 2016
  9. Tryt November 11, 2016
  10. NelsonBakken November 9, 2016
  11. GastonCoit November 4, 2016
  12. Ashend October 31, 2016
  13. Uskunte October 30, 2016
  14. Iss October 26, 2016
  15. LeolaBou October 25, 2016
  16. christianson44 October 24, 2016
  17. Wartin October 21, 2016
  18. Lordnys October 18, 2016
  19. Jacquiline1999 October 16, 2016
  20. Isech October 9, 2016
  21. Dotuton October 7, 2016
  22. Odynu October 1, 2016
  23. Queighty September 22, 2016
  24. Ludser September 21, 2016
  25. Garan September 20, 2016
  26. VinitaRezendes September 16, 2016
  27. Skelashat September 15, 2016
  28. Imale September 15, 2016
  29. ArletteMaddix September 7, 2016
  30. Endvesa September 7, 2016
  31. czakNorris1 September 3, 2016
  32. Lucessinger98 September 3, 2016
  33. Tonser August 24, 2016
  34. CristineLacomb August 22, 2016
  35. tauskny August 20, 2016
  36. Adald August 15, 2016
  37. christianson44 August 14, 2016
  38. Nyill August 14, 2016
  39. goodellkol August 7, 2016
  40. Oldtiavor August 3, 2016
  41. MilagroConti July 30, 2016
  42. Nulad July 24, 2016
  43. Schiat July 16, 2016
  44. Titus16 July 11, 2016
  45. Yonys July 9, 2016
  46. Adir July 5, 2016
  47. Ingn July 3, 2016
  48. Iss June 27, 2016
  49. Sylye June 25, 2016
  50. Unthon June 23, 2016
  51. Queton June 16, 2016
  52. dreyer333 June 14, 2016
  53. ornbakerset2 June 11, 2016
  54. Daros June 11, 2016
  55. MilagroConti June 10, 2016
  56. Orpsam June 3, 2016
  57. GastonCoit May 30, 2016
  58. Suloon May 17, 2016
  59. Oasi May 11, 2016
  60. WendellAhmad May 8, 2016
  61. Iceru May 2, 2016
  62. hobbyrobie186 May 1, 2016
  63. Nicolhowle May 1, 2016
  64. Belacha April 30, 2016
  65. Oldtiavor April 23, 2016
  66. LeolaBou April 16, 2016
  67. Reavis2000 April 15, 2016
  68. kolinmcrae April 11, 2016
  69. Rosybi April 8, 2016
  70. Emn April 7, 2016
  71. Orpsam April 6, 2016
  72. Undihin March 25, 2016
  73. Mcaaast9 March 20, 2016
  74. Claribel1 March 17, 2016
  75. PatriciaAcord March 13, 2016
  76. tischDE March 12, 2016
  77. Belacha March 5, 2016
  78. deardorff3 March 5, 2016
  79. Nitanen February 26, 2016
  80. Orpsam February 20, 2016
  81. Dokeg February 20, 2016
  82. deardorff3 February 19, 2016
  83. Nyest February 14, 2016
  84. lawvercool3 February 14, 2016
  85. Daros February 14, 2016
  86. Daros February 13, 2016
  87. Tiarad February 12, 2016
  88. Tanenth February 9, 2016
  89. Nyill January 30, 2016
  90. barbozaIsland January 28, 2016
  91. Tanenth January 17, 2016
  92. Issdar January 15, 2016
  93. mcnabb January 15, 2016
  94. Unthon January 12, 2016
  95. LucienneDewees January 10, 2016
  96. Radbel January 9, 2016
  97. Chawler January 8, 2016
  98. Stramald January 6, 2016
  99. dorothywarkocz5 December 29, 2015
  100. Stramald December 29, 2015
  101. mcnabb December 26, 2015
  102. Queton December 26, 2015
  103. Emtny December 20, 2015
  104. GastonCoit December 17, 2015
  105. Fitinack December 16, 2015
  106. Iaor December 13, 2015
  107. Eldoq December 13, 2015
  108. Mcaaast9 December 3, 2015
  109. VinitaRezendes December 2, 2015
  110. barbozaIsland December 2, 2015
  111. RomaMcray December 1, 2015
  112. Ludser November 26, 2015
  113. Emn November 25, 2015
  114. Stramald November 22, 2015
  115. DavisGroce November 20, 2015
  116. WendellAhmad November 17, 2015
  117. Whail November 16, 2015
  118. Nitanen November 15, 2015
  119. Wartin November 14, 2015
  120. Kimny November 12, 2015
  121. Isquaugh November 12, 2015
  122. AdalbertoHumes November 8, 2015
  123. walters1981 November 5, 2015
  124. ShellieFiles November 1, 2015
  125. rowles09 October 30, 2015
  126. Tiaeld October 26, 2015
  127. Issdar October 18, 2015
  128. Mcaaast9 October 13, 2015
  129. LucienneDewees October 12, 2015
  130. Ensulard October 6, 2015
  131. CristineLacomb October 5, 2015
  132. Tanenth October 3, 2015
  133. Rodel October 2, 2015
Comments are closed.
Click on Like Page, to get new amazing photo every day on facebook.
Thanks! I already Like.