“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Belmont in Lafayette County, Wisconsin — The American Midwest (Great Lakes)

Land, Lead, and Politics

Land, Lead, and Politics Marker image. Click for full size.
By Gordon Govier, July 14, 2010
1. Land, Lead, and Politics Marker
The Land
First Capitol Historic Site is located in the Driftless Area of southwestern Wisconsin. When the glaciers bypassed the area they left the soft sandstones and limestones intact to form the varied landscape you see today. Belmont Mound located directly to the east, is one reminder of the last Ice Age. This 1,400-foot mound, for which Belmont was named, was first known as "Belle Monte," which means "beautiful mountain." When the legislature met here in 1836, a sea of tall grass covered the area.
Why Meet in Belmont?
Governor Henry Dodge's selection of Belmont for the first legislative session raised speculation about his relationship with Belmont's owner, John Atchison. Dodge, however, justified his decision by citing Belmont's location in the lead mining region, the center of the territory's population.
Critics Speak Out
Residents of rival towns criticized Dodge's choice. Even before the session began, complaints rang out from across the territory regarding the poor accommodations in Belmont.
"That the legislature of the great Territory of Wisconsin should be made comfortable during the discharge of their duties, I think necessary for the enactment of good and substantial laws. Empty stomachs make clear heads but not good laws. The Lord deliver us from a set of
Belmont, Wisconsin Territorial Capitol image. Click for full size.
By Gordon Govier, July 22, 2010
2. Belmont, Wisconsin Territorial Capitol
Capitol buildings lower left, Belmont Mound on right. (Looking east.)
hungry legislators."
- Dubuque Visitor, November 2, 1836 Agreeably Surprised
At least one council member, Henry Baird from Brown County, was initially impressed with Belmont.
"The village of Bellemont is laid out upon a beautiful high prairie, near the foot of a mound or hill...Its situation for a prairie country is handsome...the greatest objection to it being the want of two essential requisites, wood and water. From the description which I had previously heard of it, I had made up my mind to see but two or three houses and those of inferior quality. I was therefore agreeably surprised, upon emerging from the wood to see 6 or 8 very pretty framed buildings, neatly painted, together with several other frames in a state of forwardness."
- Henry Baird, October 24, 1836

Center Map
Map of the Lead Mines on the Upper Mississippi River
Drawn and Published by R. W. Chandler, 1829.

Location. 42° 46.089′ N, 90° 21.773′ W. Marker is in Belmont, Wisconsin, in Lafayette County. Marker is at the intersection of G and B (County Route B), on the right when traveling west on G. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Belmont WI 53510, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 7 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. The First Capitol (here,
First Capitol Sign image. Click for full size.
By Gordon Govier, July 14, 2010
3. First Capitol Sign
next to this marker); Governor Tommy G. Thompson's 1998 Address At Wisconsin's First Capitol (here, next to this marker); Belmont, Wisconsin Territory, 1836 (about 400 feet away, measured in a direct line); 1998 Wisconsin Assembly (about 400 feet away); World's Largest M (approx. 2.3 miles away); Platteville Started Here (approx. 6.1 miles away); Main Street Commercial Historic District Platteville (approx. 6.3 miles away); First State Normal School (approx. 6.4 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Belmont.
Categories. GovernmentSettlements & Settlers
Wisconsin's First Capitol Historic Buildings image. Click for full size.
By Gordon Govier, July 14, 2010
4. Wisconsin's First Capitol Historic Buildings
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on July 19, 2010, by Gordon Govier of Monona, Wisconsin. This page has been viewed 568 times since then and 13 times this year. Photos:   1. submitted on July 19, 2010, by Gordon Govier of Monona, Wisconsin.   2. submitted on July 23, 2010, by Gordon Govier of Monona, Wisconsin.   3, 4. submitted on July 19, 2010, by Gordon Govier of Monona, Wisconsin. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page.
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