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On This Day: May 19

1675 - Fr. Jacques Marquette Dies

Fr. Jacques Marquette (1636-1675) died on this date in 1675 near Ludington, Michigan, at the age of 39. After the famous voyage down the Mississippi that he made in 1673 with Louis Joliet, Marquette vowed to return to the Indians he'd met in Illinois. He became ill during that visit in the spring of 1675 and was en route to Canada when he passed away. His diary of the trip is online in our American Journeys collection.

1863 - (Civil War) Assault on Vicksburg, Mississippi, Begins

For three days in May 1863, Union forces attempted to capture the city of Vicksburg to gain control of shipping on the Mississippi River. The troops climbed up steep ravines and crossed trenches to attack the fortifications above them. The 14th and 17th Wisconsin Infantry regiments participated in this unsuccessful assault. At the end of the day, the Union had lost nearly 1,000 soldiers without achieving its goal.

1934 - Wisconsin Progressive Party Formally Organized

On this date Wisconsin's Progressive Party was formally organized near 30 E. 2nd St. in Fond du Lac. It had begun as a "progressive" movement within the Wisconsin Republican Party more than 30 years before, and under leaders such as Robert M. LaFollette its list of achievements brought national attention to Wisconsin. By the 1930s, a new generation of policy makers, many of whom had been trained under progressive Republicans, were advocating for reforms as part of Democrat Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal programs (see our page on the Wisconsin roots of Social Security for an example). At the same time, a new generation of Republicans such as Walter Kohler were advocating their own solutions to the nation's problems. The heirs of the LaFollette tradition organized a third party, the Wisconsin Progressive Party, to keep alive the traditions they valued. [Source: History Just Ahead: A Guide to Wisconsin's Historical Markers, edited by Sarah Davis McBride]