Wisconsin Official State Song

On, Wisconsin!

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

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!”


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 1995-1996