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At different points in Wisconsin’s history, its territory was considered part of the now-Canadian province of Quebec and the state of Virginia.

Wisconsin’s territory became part of British colonial territory under the First Treaty of Paris in 1763. Later, it became a province of British-controlled Quebec under the 1774 Quebec Act. 

In 1783, following the Revolutionary War, British holdings east of the Mississippi, including Wisconsin, were ceded to the United States under the Second Treaty of Paris. 

Until U.S. independence, Virginia officials also argued that the colony had claims to Wisconsin’s territory by citing the boundaries of a 1609 charter signed by King James I. These claims ended in 1784 when Virginia ceded its holdings — stretching from present-day Virginia up to Minnesota — to the U.S. government.

This Fact Brief is responsive to conversations such as this one.


Wisconsin Historical Society Timeline of Wisconsin history, 1750-1783

Wisconsin State Legislature Wisconsin history prior to statehood

US House of Representatives Cession of lands from Virginia to the United States

Virginia Places Virginia’s cession of the Northwest Territory

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Jacob Alabab-Moser / Wisconsin WatchFact Checker

Jacob Alabab-Moser joined as Wisconsin Watch’s fact checker in September 2022, as part of the effort by The Gigafact Project in partnership with different state-level news outlets to combat misinformation in the 2022 midterm elections. Jacob has several years of experience as a fact checker and research assistant at a variety of organizations, including at The Gigafact Project. He holds a BA from Brown University and is pursuing a MSc from the London School of Economics and Political Science.