James Duane Doty (1799-1865)
James Doty: His determination and devious tactics
made Madison the state's capital

Jay Rath - Wisconsin State Journal

Madison 150 Marker

  • Born in New York, came to Wisconsin Territory in the 1830s.
  • Quickly recognized the potential of the Isthmus area and worked with investors to buy land and lay out a plat.
  • July 1, 1836 Doty's 1st plat is done. On this plat East Washington Avenue was reserved as railroad tracks brought directly onto the capitol square.
  • After organizing the Four Lakes Company they bought up 1361 acres covering most of the isthmus.
  • Originally named his paper city “Madison City” after the recently deceased 4th president James Madison.
  • When the First territorial legislators met in Belmont, Doty promoted his proposal against 18 others. November 28, 1836 House of Representatives vote 15-11 to make Madison territorial capital.
  • Plan had advantages over the others. It was located exactly halfway between Lake Michigan and the Mississippi. The site was beautiful, and his plat stood out amongst the standard cross street plans. His was laid out in the European Baroque plan where streets come together like spokes on a wheel to focus attention on a great building, monument or park. The eight streets that surround the capital square were at cardinal points of the compass.
  • Elected governor (1841-1844), served in Congress (1849-1853)
  • Lobbied for railroads in Wisconsin.
  • 1861, President Lincoln appointed him superintendent of Indian affairs in Utah Territory, where he died in 1865.
  • Doty Street named in his honor