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4 Patriotic Fun Facts about Madison

Many visitors to Madison are surprised to learn that there are tons of ties between the capital of Wisconsin and our nation’s capital, from architecture to street names and more. Our quick history facts make learning fun and applicable—use what you learn below anytime you visit! 

Fun Facts #1

Madison is named after James Madison, the 4th President of the United States. 
James Madison served as our country’s 4th president from 1809 to 1817, and is referred to as the “Father of the Constitution” for drafting the historic document, along with the Bill of Rights. He died in 1836, the same year that James Duane Doty, a federal judge, claimed a plat of land in territorial Wisconsin and called it the “Town of Madison.” 

Experience It:

See how Madison rose from small town to state capital at the Wisconsin Historical Museum. Be sure to visit the “Frontier Wisconsin” and “Sense of Community” areas to view pieces from Madison’s remarkable history.

Fun Facts #2

A statue of Abraham Lincoln presides over the UW–Madison campus. 
In May 1909, an Abraham Lincoln statue created by Adolph A. Weinman was erected in Lincoln’s birthplace of Hodgenville, Kentucky. Richard Lloyd Jones, a UW–Madison alumnus, had a high regard for Lincoln and is credited for commissioning the Hodgenville statue and bestowing the replica to his alma mater. That Abraham Lincoln statue, a bronze version of our 16th president, has sat at the top of UW-Madison’s Bascom Hill for 109 years.

Experience It:

It’s a UW–Madison tradition for graduates to pose for pictures while sitting in Honest Abe’s lap. Even if you’re not graduating, it’s still a fun photo op. And you’ll get to enjoy a perfect, top-of-the-hill view of State Street. 

Fun Facts #3

“Old Abe” is also a revered war eagle that once lived in the State Capitol.
During the Civil War, a bald eagle called “Old Abe” became the mascot of the 8th Wisconsin Infantry. During his military service, Old Abe saw 39 battles and skirmishes. He was famously seen in battle on a perch with an American flag.

After the Civil War, Old Abe lived a posh life in the basement of the State Capitol—to the delight of thousands of visitors.

Experience It:

Old Abe is just one interesting piece of the Wisconsin State Capitol’s past. You can pay tribute to a century of Wisconsin politics by taking a free public tour, ogling the impressive interior dome and visiting the sixth floor museum and observation deck, which is open in the summer.

Fun Facts #4

Several Madison streets are named after signers of the Constitution. 
In 1787, 39 men signed the Constitution, and several of those men have been honored through the naming of notable streets throughout Madison. James Duane Doty named many of the streets (yes, the same one who named our city), and there are 30 streets in Madison named after signers.

Experience It:

Make like a local and drive the downtown streets named after signers. Just note that many—like Gorham, Johnson and Dayton—are one-way. Be sure you’re always heading in the right direction by checking our Visitor Map.