For a variety of reasons, I’ve been digging through various pieces of Madison and Wisconsin history of late. From histories written by others to the original source materials held by the State Historical Society Archives, I’ve learned quite a bit about my current city and state of residence. Having said that, nothing compares with the annecdote that follows for sheer amusement.
The following excerpt was taken from the book “The Badger State” edited by Barbara and Justus Paul. It describes the condition of Assembly Hall for the fourth meeting of the Wisconsin Territorial Legislature in Madison. To this point, the Legislature had met once in Belmont, WI, and twice in Burlington, WI. Even when it finally convened in Madison, the Legislature initially had to convene in the basement of a meeting hall because the Assembly Hall was not yet completed.
However, in the winter of 1838, the Assembly Hall finally reached a state of completion that allowed the Legislature to assemble within its walls.
At length we took possession of the new Assembly Hall. The floors were laid with green oak boards, full of ice; the walls of the room were iced over; green oak seats, and desks made of rough boards; one fire-place and one small stove. In a few days the flooring near the stove and fire-place so shrunk on account of the heat, that a person could run his hands between the boards. The basement story was all open, and James Morrison’s large drove of hogs had taken possession; they were awfully poor, and it would have taken two of them, standing side by side, to have made a decent shadow on a bright day. We had a great many smart members in the House, and sometimes they spoke for Buncombe. When members of this ilk would become too tedious, I would take a long pole, go at the hogs, and stir them up; when they would raise a young pandemonium for noise and confusion. The speaker’s voice would become completely drowned, and he would be compelled to stop, not, however, without giving his squealing disturbers a sample of his swearing ability.
Wouldn’t it be nice to drown out and inconvenience many modern politicians in such an amusing fashion?