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US State Songs
US State Songs

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Wisconsin State Song

"On, Wisconsin!"

Written by J. S. Hubbard and Charles D. Rosa
Composed by William T. Purdy

Adopted in 1959.

The song, "On, Wisconsin", words not attributed and music by William T. Purdy, was adopted as the official state song of Wisconsin on July 11, 1959. Governor Gaylord Nelson signed the legislation. The song that John Philip Sousa called "the finest of college marching songs" was finally made official.

Wisconsin State Song: "On, Wisconsin!"

"On, Wisconsin!"

On, Wisconsin! On, Wisconsin!
Grand old badger state!
We, thy loyal sons and daughters,
Hail thee, good and great.
On, Wisconsin! On, Wisconsin!
Champion of the right,
"Forward", our motto
God will give thee might!"

Origin of Song: "On, Wisconsin!"

"On, Wisconsin!" The music for "On, Wisconsin!" was composed in 1909 by William T. Purdy with the idea of entering it in a contest for the creation of a new University of Minnesota football song. ("Minnesota" would have replaced "On, Wisconsin" in the opening lines.) Carl Beck persuaded Purdy to dedicate the song to the University of Wisconsin football team instead, and Beck collaborated with the composer by writing the lyrics. The song was introduced at the Madison campus in November 1909. It was later acclaimed by world-famous composer and bandmaster John Philip Sousa as the best college song he had ever heard.

Lyrics more in keeping with the purposes of a state song were subsequently written in 1913 by Judge Charles D. Rosa and J. S. Hubbard, editor of the Beloit Free Press. Rosa and Hubbard were among the delegates from many states convened in 1913 to commemorate the centennial of the Battle of Lake Erie. Inspired by the occasion, they provided new, more solemn words to the already well-known football song.

Although "On, Wisconsin!" was widely recognized as Wisconsin's song, the state did not officially adopt it until 1959. Representative Harold W. Clemens discovered that Wisconsin was one of only ten states without an official song. He introduced a bill to give the song the status he thought it deserved. On discovering that many different lyrics existed, an official text for the first verse was incorporated in Chapter 170, Laws of 1959, and it is contained in Section 1.10 of the statutes:

On, Wisconsin! On, Wisconsin! Grand old badger state!
We, thy loyal sons and daughters, Hail thee, good and great.
On, Wisconsin! On, Wisconsin! Champion of the right,
'Forward', our motto - God will give thee might!

Wisconsin Law

Wisconsin Statutes, Chapter 1, Section 10. The words are included within the statute.

The law designating the song "On, Wis-consin" as the official Wisconsin state song is found in the Wisconsin Statutes, Chapter 1, Section 1.10(1)
CHAPTER 1. SOVEREIGNTY AND JURISDICTION OF THE STATE.
1.10. State song, state ballad, state waltz, state dance, and state symbols.

(1) The Wisconsin state song is "On, Wis-consin",
music written by W. T. Purdy, the words to which are as follows:
"On, Wisconsin! On, Wisconsin! Grand old badger state!
We, thy loyal sons and daughters, Hail thee, good and great. On,
Wisconsin! On, Wisconsin! Champion of the right, 'Forward', our
motto - God will give thee might!".

State Songs
US State Songs
Forty-nine states of the United States (all except New Jersey) have one or more state songs, selected by the state legislature as a symbol of the state.
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