Madison is the capital of the State of Wisconsin and the county seat of Dane County. As of July 1, 2013, Madison had an estimated population of 243,344, making it the second largest city in Wisconsin, afterMilwaukee, and the 83rd largest in the United States. The city forms the core of the United States Census Bureau's Madison Metropolitan Statistical Area, which includes all of Dane County and neighboring Iowa andColumbia counties. The Madison Metropolitan Statistical Area had a 2010 population of 568,593.
Madison's origins begin in 1829, when former federal judge James Duane Doty purchased over a thousand acres (4 km²) of swamp and forest land on the isthmus between Lakes Mendota and Monona, with the intention of building a city in the Four Lakes region. When the Wisconsin Territory was created in 1836 the territorial legislature convened in Belmont, Wisconsin. One of the legislature's tasks was to select a permanent location for the territory's capital. Doty lobbied aggressively for Madison as the new capital, offering buffalo robes to the freezing legislators and promising choice Madison lots at discount prices to undecided voters. He had James Slaughter plat two cities in the area, Madison and "The City of Four Lakes", near present-day Middleton. Doty named the city Madison for James Madison, the fourth President of the U.S. who had died on June 28, 1836 and he named the streets for the other 39 signers of the U.S. Constitution. Although the city existed only on paper, the territorial legislature voted on November 28 in favor of Madison as its capital, largely because of its location halfway between the new and growing cities around Milwaukee in the east and the long established strategic post of Prairie du Chien in the west, and between the highly populated lead mining regions in the southwest and Wisconsin's oldest city, Green Bay in the northeast. Being named for the much-admired founding father James Madison, who had just died, and having streets named for each of the 39 signers of the Constitution, may have also helped attract votes.
The cornerstone for the Wisconsin capitol was laid in 1837, and the legislature first met there in 1838. On October 9, 1839,Kintzing Prichett registered the plat of Madison at the registrar's office of the then-territorial Dane County. Madison was incorporated as a village in 1846, with a population of 626. When Wisconsin became a state in 1848, Madison remained the capital, and the following year it became the site of the University of Wisconsin (now University of Wisconsin–Madison). TheMilwaukee & Mississippi Railroad (a predecessor of the Milwaukee Road) connected to Madison in 1854. Madison incorporated as a city in 1856, with a population of 6,863, leaving the unincorporated remainder as a separate Town of Madison. The original capitol was replaced in 1863 and the second capitol burned in 1904. The current capitol was built between 1906 and 1917.
During the Civil War, Madison served as a center of the Union Army in Wisconsin. The intersection of Milwaukee, East Washington, Winnebago and North Streets is known as Union Corners, because a tavern located there was the last stop for Union soldiers before heading to fight the Confederates. Camp Randall, on the west side of Madison, was built and used as a training camp, a military hospital, and a prison camp for captured Confederate soldiers. After the war ended, the Camp Randall site was absorbed into the University of Wisconsin and Camp Randall Stadium was built there in 1917. In 2004 the last vestige of active military training on the site was removed when the stadium renovation replaced a firing range used for ROTC training.
The City of Madison continued annexations from the Town of Madison almost from the date of the city's incorporation, leaving the latter a collection of discontinuous areas subject to annexation. In the wake of continued controversy and an effort in the state legislature to simply abolish the town, an agreement was reached in 2003 to provide for the incorporation of the remaining portions of the Town into the City of Madison and the City of Fitchburg by October 30, 2022.