Written by J. S.
Hubbard and Charles D. Rosa
Composed by William T. Purdy
On, Wisconsin! On,
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!"
The music for "On, Wisconsin!" was
composed in 1909 by William T. Purdy
with the idea of entering it in a
Minnesota contest for the creation of a
new university football song. Instead,
Carl Beck persuaded him to dedicate the
song to the University of Wisconsin
football team, and Beck collaborated
with the composer by writing the lyrics.
The song was introduced at the
University of Wisconsin in Madison 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 J. S. Hubbard, editor
of the Beloit Free Press, and Judge
Charles D. Rosa. Hubbard and Rosa 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 university 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 10 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.
Source: State of Wisconsin Blue Book