ebook  History of Watertown, Wisconsin


An Electoral Study of Watertown, Wisconsin

A research paper authored by

Jesse Koehler




An investigation into Watertown's voting pattern

from its conception to the 2004 election.


Jesse Jon Koehler is a Watertown High School graduate currently attending UW-Madison.

Jesse was accepted by the UW School of Journalism & Mass Communication


[ Reproduced and posted with approval of the author ]




The information used in my research was gathered from U.S. census data from U.S. Census Bureau, election data from Wisconsin Blue Books and State Historical Archives, and referendum data from Wisconsin Blue Books and State Historical Archives. The Wisconsin State Historical Society offered me a great place of refuge during this research. Not only did I attain much contextual information from other scholarly accounts of Watertown and actual historical documents there, I was also able to view original counts of the Watertown’s votes for its early years. One thing I failed to realize early in my research was that election data for Watertown would fall both in Dodge County and Jefferson County. Sometimes it would all appear in one county and at other times it would be split by district between the two. This led me to a few unnecessary headaches and extra visits to the archives. Instead of including my copies of election data and the accompanying scribbles I have simply attached the graphs of my research data for elections and referenda. This research was conducted in the spring of 2008 so undoubtedly new data is available now. One interesting thing readers may find if they investigate newer data is the truth behind some of my predictions. University of Wisconsin-Madison Professor Robert Booth Fowler guided me while I crafted this research and he is much to thank for my understanding of trends and larger context. His book, which is cited in my paper, examines Wisconsin’s voting as a whole. This investigation of Watertown proves many of Fowler’s observations true. I hope the picture painted by this research is as enlightening for you to read as it was for me to undergo.

Jesse Koehler


Present Day Overview

               “Those who stay here have a bit of two worlds--the charm of a small town and the stir and bustle of a big city.” Penned by Elmer C. Kiessling in 1976, these words still hold true in their description of the city of Watertown, Wisconsin. This eulogized city lies in Southeastern Wisconsin on the border between Dodge and Jefferson counties and its voting wards are split into their respective county when not dealing with city politics.


Once the second largest community in the state, the 2000 Census puts the city of Watertown at a total population of 21,597 and the current estimate of 23,127 leaves it ranked as just another third class city. Of this population there are an estimated 8,046 households and 5,583 families. The city’s median income per family is $42,562 while about 4.6% of families fall below the poverty line. When compared to the national median income of $41,994 it becomes apparent that Watertown is a prime example of a middle-class city. The employment status of Watertown continues this standard with 70% of its population of working age in the labor force, and 3.3% of the population unemployed.


Even though the city is surrounded by farm land, only 0.5% of its current labor force is employed in farming, fishing, and forestry occupations; instead, the major industries of present day Watertown are manufacturing which employs 31.7% of the labor force, educational, health and social services which employs 21.9% and retail trade which employs 12.9%.  Only 7% of the labor force works for the government which is not a significant number. Its prime location mid-way between Milwaukee and Madison leaves Watertown with a large commuting labor force to each city.


               One important thing to consider in regard to median income and employment is the level of educational attainment received by the citizens of Watertown. A total of 81.9% of citizens have a high school education or better, and 16.2% have received a bachelor’s degree or higher. It isn’t surprising to discover that as the age group surveyed gets higher the percentage of those who attained a high school education decreases. This can be attributed to an increasing necessity of education for young people to be financially successful. Still, only 3.5% of Watertown has a master’s degree, 1% has a professional degree, and 0.2% has a doctorate. Most of these upper-level intellectuals are employed within the public and private school systems, at one of the numerous dentistry offices or at Watertown Memorial Hospital.


               Regardless of its status as a third-class city, Watertown lacks racial diversity. One look into any classroom at Watertown High School solidifies the fact that its citizenry is an almost completely white. In fact, 95.9% of the population categorizes themselves as white while less than 1% is attributed to African American and Asian peoples. The only other notable racial distinction is the Hispanic population ringing in at 4.9%. Considering the fact that these statistics are over eight years old, personal experience would hypothesize that this percentage is now significantly higher. Most of these Hispanic citizens come from Mexican ancestry and they send word for their families to join them as they find successful living in Watertown.


               This image of Watertown becomes much clearer when the city’s ancestry is investigated. The largest and most dominating ancestry in Watertown is undoubtedly German which claims 56.7% of city’s population. Kiessling explains this dominance in his 1976 report that “German surnames are by far the most numerous in Watertown directories and phonebooks and are likely to remain so.” Other noteworthy ancestries include Irish at 9.1 %, Polish at 5.3%, English at 4.8%, Norwegian at 4.6%, American at 4.4%, French at 2.6% and Swedish at 2.2 %. It becomes evident after looking at these ancestries that most of Watertown’s politics are controlled by what is left of German traditions and morals. To understand the effects of German remnants today it is crucial to understand the history of Watertown.


A Historical Account


               Watertown was first settled in 1836 by Timothy Johnson who built his cabin on the west side of the Rock River. Johnson found the land an ideal place to power mills and the river’s loop made for fertile farming land that has been called the “gift of the Rock” comparably to that of the Nile. The land had previously belonged to the Winnebago, Potawatomi, and Menominee Indian tribes and was called Ka-ka-ree, an Indian name referring to the oxbow loop of the Rock River, but was proclaimed Johnson’s Rapids upon its first settler’s arrival. The area had fallen into the hands of the would-be Wisconsin government after the Blackhawk War.


                The first wave of settlers ventured to the area in the early 1840s before Wisconsin even achieved statehood. Like Johnson, many of these early settlers were Yankees and the majority consisted of “Yorkers.” Their heritage and influence is apparent in the naming of the city after many of the settlers’ hometown of Watertown, NY. This cultural transplantation put many of these Republican Yankees in power during the city’s early years.


Another major group of settlers to arrive were the Irish who were looking to escape the “potato famine” of their motherland. Kiessling, a former Watertown citizen, claims that “good land was waiting for them, the Democratic Party welcomed them, and St. Bernard’s [a large Irish Catholic church] provided a spiritual home.” The Welsh also arrived around this time and their devout Catholic religion aligned them with the Democratic Party. Bohemian settlers, from what is now known as Czechoslovakia, made their homes east of the river’s loop into a thriving suburb. This Bohemian camps’s brewery and two hotels made it an ideal stop for travelers between Madison and Milwaukee. Like the Welsh, the Bohemians were devout Catholics, and Democrats, with St. Henry’s Church as their place of worship. The remainder of this first wave of settlers consisted of French Catholics that attended St. Bernard’s Church alongside their Irish brethren. Like many of the previously mentioned settlers, their Catholicism seated them in the Democratic coalition.


The next influx of settlers came distinctively from German heritage and Kiessling states, “In Watertown they outnumbered all other nationalities and were more influential than the others in determining the character of the town.” This “peaceful penetration” slowly crowded many Irish, Yankee, and French farmers out of Watertown to make room. Of course, it must be noted that the Germans were much more successful farmers because of their ability to bring over-cropped land back to fertility with fertilizers. After fleeing from the revolutions of Europe, many of these “forty-eighters” were university men who were forced to take on common jobs as store owners and druggists when they arrived here. Since the remains of the anti-foreign Know Nothing Party joined the Republican Party around this time, the Democratic Party seemed the only option for both the numerous Lutheran and the few Catholic German immigrants.


               Watertown became a village in 1849 and wrote its City Charter in 1853. Ebenezer Cole, Yankee resident, said that the survival of the settlement was “due to the money of the Germans, their iron will and their strenuous work” (Wallman, 2000). In 1853, Watertown ranked as the state’s second largest community at a population of 4,000 with 2,000 of those citizens claiming German heritage. This population is a large step from the 218 inhabitants in 1840, 800 recorded in 1847, and validates the 10,000 estimated in an 1856 census (City Council, 1856). German influence was particularly penetrating in the city’s sixth ward which came to be known as “Little Germany.” The continuous German inflow has been accredited to the presence of other Germans which is comparable to the growing Hispanic citizenry today. Sadly this remarkable growth was abruptly ended by the Panic of 1857 in which the city’s huge bonds to support railroad expansion fell through and red bankruptcy flags lined city streets forcing the city to temporarily dissolve its government to avoid paying back the bonds. Wallman reports the population dropping by almost 50% within three years to its recorded population of 5,302 in 1860. There was only negligible growth for the next seventy-five years.


               When it came to education, Watertown was fairly progressive and invested in their youth. Public school organization in Watertown began in 1844 but started off slow. In 1856, the wife of well-known German-American Carl Schurz started America’s first kindergarten in this dynamically growing community. The kindergarten was so successful that it inspired Elizabeth Peabody to introduce it into all American schools. An article in the Watertown Democrat, a local newspaper of the time, showed the community’s concern for education in 1857 when it reported that “only one-third of youngsters of school age attended school this year” (Kiessling, 1976). The newspaper worried that many of the children would grow up illiterate and took an active stance on preventing this type of future. Two colleges, Northwestern and Sacred Heart College, also sprung up in Watertown as the years went on.


               Looking at the major industries of historic Watertown helps to paint a picture of how specific government plans affected the city (Kiessling, 1976). In 1866 the largest employer in Watertown was the St. Paul Railroad with 306 men on its payroll. About two-thirds of these employees worked in the train car repair shops until the company moved to Milwaukee in 1868. The most important repercussion of the move was the mass of Irish citizens that followed the company to Milwaukee. Other major industries included two brickyards that employed 109 mainly seasonal workers, a large tobacco manufacturing center employing thirty to forty men, a brewing industry monopolized under William Hartig, and numerous saloons; in fact, Watertown was reported as having sixty saloons and the most per capita of any community in the state. Today the number of bars and pubs is held at fifty by the city government. There was also the celebrated occupation of stuffing or noodling geese that drew in travelers from across the state.


Strength of the Democratic Coalition


               With this picture of historic Watertown and its population, the city’s political divide is fairly clear. The majority of the population of Watertown was German, Irish Catholic, Bohemian Catholic, and French Catholic which can be understand as the democratic coalition of the city because of the religious lines pre-drawn upon their arrival to Wisconsin. Only the wavering German Protestants, a large portion of the German citizenry, occasionally switched to vote Whig and Republican when religious issues came up. Therefore, it was important for Democratic politicians not to mention religion instead focusing on the ethnic and cultural divisions that would anchor the German Protestants with their Catholic counterparts within the Democratic coalition.


               On the other hand, the Republican coalition was rather weak in Watertown during this era and it shows in the election results. The only major contributor to the party around this time was the Yankee population which was hastily overpowered by the forceful immigration and integration of the Germans. Yankee politicians regularly attempted to sway the German Protestants into their corner by pressing the religion divide tabooed amongst Democratic politicians. Only by gathering these swing votes were the Republicans ever able to outweigh the Democratic Catholic alliance.


               In the 1860 Presidential election the still wobbly-legged Republican Party found its footing in Abraham Lincoln and was able to defeat the Democratic Stephen Douglas both statewide and nationwide. Contrary to the state’s results, Watertown’s highly Democratic citizenry voted 58.4% in favor of Douglas. These results are not surprising considering the Democratic Party’s Catholic and German strength. Most pietistic religion members were more willing to switch to the Republican Party to vote against the sinful slavery plaguing America but the German Protestants were the only group in Watertown to fall into this category and many were still inclined to vote Democratic to preserve German solidarity.


               For the presidential election of 1872 between Horace Greeley and incumbent Ulysses S. Grant it is important to investigate at a local level to comprehend Watertown’s results. After becoming the first German-born American elected to the United State Senate in 1869, Carl Schurz made a return trip in 1872 to discourage his former neighbors in Watertown from voting for Grant. Representing Missouri, Schurz publically broke from the Grant’s Republican administration and started the Liberal Republican movement and national convention which nominated Greenley as its candidate with Schurz presiding. Wallman reports that Schurz publically arraigned the Grant administration for its faults and blunders, but never publically endorsed Greenley during his Watertown speech; in fact, Schurz may have avoided this endorsement because Greenley had not been his choice candidate for his brainchild party. Regardless, this public bashing of Grant by a notable German Senator undoubtedly rallied the German vote behind Greenley as is evident by the 74% of the vote he won in Watertown. Once again the city’s overwhelming German and Catholic citizenry diverged from the state results that favored the Republican Party.


               Watertown’s German driven Democratic Party continued to flaunt its political muscles during the 1890 gubernatorial election pitting current Republican Governor Hoard against Democrat George Peck. This election was centered on Hoard’s approval of the Republican legislature’s Bennet Law of 1889. Essentially the law dictated that no Wisconsin school would be considered a school unless the basic courses were taught in English. As an obvious attack on German cultural solidarity and push for assimilation, German citizens across the state determined to oust the Republican governor and repeal the dreaded law. Their willpower was rewarded when Peck defeated Hoard statewide and won with a landslide 78.6% in Watertown. The law was repealed during the following legislative meeting; however, many German schools began integrating English into their curriculum out of necessity and not due to legal pressure.


Economic Realignment


               Before continuing on to the election of 1896 it is crucial to consider both the national and state-wide scene to distinguish the changes this election signaled. The debate of switching to a silver monetary standard instead of continuing the gold standard became heated as William Jennings Bryan and William McKinley competed for office with their respective economic plans. Low commodity prices had been affecting the national farming and dairy industry forcing cross-party activity from farmers. Bryan’s silver standard inflation scheme appealed to these rural famers but enraged established business that would take considerable monetary loses from the switch; as a result, Bryan was backed by Southern states as well as many rural Midwesterners.


 In Wisconsin the Republicans maintained control of both the governorship and state congress despite the short-lived Peck administration. With the Democratic margin slowly falling in Wisconsin and Watertown, the Germans, particularly the Protestants, must be observed to understand this realignment. One major influence of the switch came from the industry owners that posted signs warning workers, many of who were German, that if Bryan won and the silver standard prevailed their factories would close.


Considering that railroad and brickyard industries dominated Watertown’s workforce, it is not surprising that a drastic portion of the German Protestant vote jumped to support the Republican Party out of fear of unemployment. Even though the margin falls significantly below that of the state level, McKinley defeated Bryan in Watertown with 54.3% of the vote. This realignment can also be attributed to retrospective voting that regarded the Republican Party as the party of stability due to its iron grip on state politics. Although this election indicates a Republican majority in Watertown it is important to remember that the majority of Germans remained Democratic. Since McKinley succeeded by a narrow margin it can be inferred that the entirety of the German population did not realign, instead only a borderline group that happened to be enough to give McKinley the majority had switched. It is also important to note that this same realignment occurred in all cultural groups, but the German switch appears the most critical given that the Germans were the largest of these cultural groups.


Women’s Suffrage Struggles


Until the start of the 20th century, historic political data from Wisconsin refers almost exclusively to men, but slowly women began to fight for their own political voice. Although it first appeared on the frontiers, the women’s suffrage movement quickly spread to Wisconsin amongst other states. Women used the Declaration of Independence’s claims of equality as rationale for their suffrage. In 1912 when a referendum was put to a vote, Watertown overwhelming postponed women suffrage when 82% of the citizenry voted against the referendum.


The main support for the referendum across the state came from the Yankees, Liberal Protestants, and Scandinavian wards. Suffrage seemed only natural for the Scandinavians since their motherlands were proposing the same changes; conversely, the Yankees and Liberal Protestants supported the referendum because they believed the women vote would favor the common good of the nation. For example, they believed that women would help to deal with sinful women and child labor laws while also ending white slavery. 


Conversely, the opposition to the movement came forcefully from the immigrant cultures, specifically German Americans, which explains Watertown’s results. Immigrant men feared that having women away from the home becoming informed and involved would lead them to neglect their husbands and children. A further difficulty met by the suffrage movement was the fact that upper-middle class Yankee women were the major campaigners and their language limitations prevented them from relating to immigrant women who could sway their husbands. Thankfully, WWI opened the eyes of many Americans to the importance of women and in 1919 Wisconsin ratified the 19th Amendment even though the Referendum of 1912 had failed miserably.


Progressive Interlude


               Following the economic realignment of 1896, Wisconsin became distinctively Republican on both the national and state political scene.  The weakness of the Democratic Party specifically in the 1920s can be credited to three major problems. First, Prohibition occurred under a Democrat and opponents of the amendment were not likely to side with the group that had robbed them of their alcohol. Secondly, Woodrow Wilson was largely unpopular because of his brainchild, the League of Nations; additionally, his decisions reflected directly on the Democratic Party. Finally, the Democratic Party lost a huge portion of its members when the German Americans left with feelings of betrayal by Wilson’s war against their motherland.


               Meanwhile, Robert M. La Follete and his progressive sect of the Republican Party annexed these German Americans due to La Follete’s public withstanding against Wilson and his war. In the 1924 presidential election, La Follete turned away from his trench in the Republican Party to run as a Progressive candidate against Calvin Coolidge and John Davis. Nationally La Follete’s break was bad timing considering the strength of the Republican Party. Also his anti-war outlook cost him numerous votes. His campaign lacked the organization, money, and press coverage to compete against the established political parties but still won a noteworthy 15% nationally.


In third-party supporting Wisconsin, La Follete proved victorious due to his “coalition of incompatibles” made up of the German Americans and the Old Progressives which included the Scandinavians and rural citizenry. These groups did not agree on many of the major issues but united based on the issue of war. Watertown’s composition of German Americans and rural farmers placed the majority of the city in this coalition awarding La Follete 67.5% of the vote over Coolidge’s 22.9% and Davis’ weak 9.6%. Overall the Progressive interlude’s recession to ethnic voting didn’t eclipse the previous economic realignment, but it did prove that ethnic mindsets were still able to intervene when necessary.


Fighting Prohibition


               As previously mentioned, Prohibition was a hot issue for many Wisconsin ethnic groups that indentified the consumption of alcohol as an integral part of their culture. Although the 18th Amendment and the Volstead Act were national law, they were often disregarded in Wisconsin. In 1926, Wisconsin went so far as to propose a referendum that would weaken the Volstead Act and allow the manufacture and sale of “weak beer.” Although this referendum was blatantly unconstitutional, the state rallied behind it at 74% but the governor vetoed it fearing national repercussions.


               Watertown voted more strongly in favor of the referendum at 85.4%, and this increased margin can be attributed to the ethnic compilation of the city. One explanation for its success is that Prohibition supporters were often members of the more pietistic religions that lacked significant strength in Watertown compared to the numerous Catholic churches speckled across the city. More noticeably, the large majority of the population labeled as Irish Americans and German Americans were the most dynamic supporters of the amendment. These ethnicities viewed Prohibition as discriminatory attack on their culture and were not satisfied until it was finally repealed in 1933.


               It is important to note that the referendum vote for women’s suffrage and Prohibition were inversely related in Watertown. This correlation is due to the ethnicities favoring the moral aspect of referenda being the same. Specifically, the correlation pits the moralistic Yankees against the anti-assimilation German Americans where the Yankees support women’s suffrage and Prohibition and vice versa for the German Americans.


The Religious Divide


               Back on the national stage, the Democratic Party decided they needed to make a drastic change in the 1928 presidential election to overthrow the Republican domination and Catholic New York Governor Alfred Smith was believed to be the necessary messiah. The yellow-dog Democrats of the South were not affected by this rash choice of candidate, but many battleground states such as Wisconsin were led to vote on candidate image.


               Smith was viewed as an arrogant New Yorker that sympathized with African Americans, yet more crucially he was a Catholic. In Watertown Smith did better than the typical Democrat because of his ability to pull many of the German Catholics that had switched to the Republican Party after WWI back to the Democratic Party. Regardless, Republican candidate Herbert Hoover ended up winning Watertown with 53.8% of the vote. Unlike the Referendum of 1926, Smith was unable to wield the whole strength of the German American community since the German Protestants were unwilling to vote Catholic but had still wanted their German lager back.


Introduction of Class Voting


               Even though the election of 1928 failed to displace the Republican Party directly, it wasn’t long before its iron grip was rusted by the Great Depression and ready to shatter during the presidential election of 1932. The effects of the Depression were not as intense in Wisconsin as elsewhere across the country, but it still took its toll. For instance, one-fourth of the state population was unemployed during these hard times. In the early 1930s the index of farm prices was halved and the farm industry collapsed for the first time.


               The election season brought all this hardship to the forefront of the political scene and dumped the blame on Hoover and his Republican Party; therefore, it comes to no surprise that Democratic candidate Franklin D. Roosevelt would finally get a chance to flex the political muscles of the Democratic Party for the first time since the Wilson administration. FDR defeated Hoover in Watertown with 73.9% of the vote scoring well ahead of the state margin. His stronghold included the swing vote German Protestants that had returned from the Republican Party and the rural farmers. The rural vote came about from the greater economic hit they took over other industries and made their party affiliation temporarily fade away.


               The liberal movement of FDR’s Democratic Party was not in sync with the Jeffersonian Democrat Party of Wisconsin but the slowly the state’s Democratic Party began to mirror the success of its national counterpart. Both of them noticed that class questions were replacing other issues such as religion but struggled to adapt to the change.


               When FDR ran for his third term in 1940 against Wendell Wilkie, the election superseded ethnic barriers and was based strongly on class voting. This new voting rationale resulted from the effects of FDR’s New Deal policies. Receiving most of the benefits of these policies, the working class adored FDR and became heavily Democratic. Regrettably, FDR had recently instated the draft even though he claimed to be “anti-war.” This decision lost FDR a lot of his crucial German support in Watertown because they feared another war with their “motherland.” Across the state German Protestant support fell from 64% to 24%, and these German areas have never returned to the Democratic Party. In the end, this German switch outweighed the new working class and Wilkie defeated FDR with 53.9% of the Watertown vote.


These Democratic and Republican alignments stuck over the following elections and the 1952 presidential election between Democratic candidate Adlai Stevenson and Dwight D. Eisenhower confirms the returned strength of the Republican Party in Watertown. Eisenhower took the city by a much larger margin than Wilkie when Eisenhower rang in with 65.9% of the vote. This marginal difference is specifically candidate based. Without the beloved FDR as their candidate, the Democratic Party lost some of its working class and rural appeal. Eisenhower’s successful military image also contributed to this margin.


In 1954 Watertown celebrated its centennial as a city and published a booklet in commemoration of the event. Besides its recording of the city’s history, the booklet has provided a view of the city’s current status. It claimed the population to be around 12,417 according to a 1950 census (Johannsen, 1954). This number upholds Wallman’s claim that the population suffered from a lack of population growth after the Panic of 1857. The booklet also recorded forty different manufacturing establishments contributing to the city’s industries as well as eighteen different churches representing twelve different denominations the majority of which fall under the Protestant or Lutheran category (Rausch, 1987).


               Although the 1960 election once again introduced a Democratic Catholic candidate, its irresistible religious issues weren’t as salient in Watertown as in 1928; however, candidate image did affect the margin by which the now solidly Republican city would cast their votes. As a Catholic John F. Kennedy reclaimed a small amount of Catholic votes from the German Americans and other ethnic groups, but left the German Protestant areas deeply within the Republican support as explained in the 1940 election. This portion of Catholic votes matched with the younger generation enticed by JFK’s youthful persona did land him a greater percentage of the vote than Stevenson did in 1952. Regardless of these additional votes, Richard Nixon defeated JFK in Watertown with 60.8% of the vote.


Present-Day Politics


               Returning to the current political scene of Watertown, this historic recollection explains how the city became aligned with the Republicans as well as how its ancestry determined the city’s progress. In both the 2004 presidential and 2006 gubernatorial elections the Republican candidate succeeded with a notable majority, Bush with 63.4% and Green with 60.2%. Although this Republican majority is not surprising after looking at the elections since 1940, it is helpful to redefine this strength in the current political scene.


               As a third-class city Watertown falls into the present Republican coalition that combines small towns and villages along with suburbia as their sources of power. Watertown diverges slightly from the third-class city average of being 50.3% Democratic even though it is neither a small village or Milwaukee suburb (Fowler, 2008). Its equidistance from both Milwaukee’s suburbs and the Democratic Dane County makes its Republican leaning questionable. One explanation could be the influence of Milwaukee commuters living in the city, but can be countered by the Madison commuters. Another explanation is that citizens of German ancestry align with the Republic coalition more by tradition than believing in the reasons that originally lead their ancestors to the coalition. Since German ancestry dominants 56.7% of the city, it produces a viable rationale for its divergence from that of other third-class cities.


On the other hand, the Democratic coalition’s compilation of African Americans, Scandinavians, Hispanics, and the poorest of society doesn’t gather a lot of strength in the middle-class white city of Watertown which lacks Scandinavian roots; however the city’s growing Hispanic population may bring more votes to the Democratic coalition if their immigration to the city continues. In fact, it is fair to say that the current Hispanic population is far greater than that provided by the 2000 census data and the constant growth may be a miniscule reason that Green performed worse in 2006 than Bush did in 2004. This string of thought doesn’t hold a lot of water but it is a plausible theory and future prediction. Still the Democratic coalition does gain some strength when investigating the major industries of the city. The numerous manufacturing plants of the city including Pepsi’s bottling factory Wispak and the numerous healthcare workers employed at Watertown Memorial Hospital and Bethesda Lutheran Homes Care Center may boost the Democratic vote. Working class factory laborers and healthcare workers favor the Democratic coalition public works because of its policies and projects that aid them specifically.


               In regard to the 2006 referendum “In Defense of Marriage,” these coalitions split in order to attend to their social liberalism and morality which are not uniformly predicted by their 2006 gubernatorial choice. A total of 75.1% of the city voted yes on the referendum, which was against gay marriage, compared to the 59.6% averaged by third-class cites across the state (Fowler, 2008). This large discrepancy once again falls on those of German ancestry. Both the German Protestants and the German Catholics averages lie close to the city’s total with 77.4% and 73.2% respectively.


               This intense investigation of historic Watertown in correlation to the present-day political scene was extremely enlightening. In fact, it allowed for the prediction of future Democratic trends based on an increasing Latino population as well as the preserved dominance of German tradition. Finally, all of this research proved that Watertown is not just another third-class city; instead it is a unique political culture embedded with conflict and constant metamorphosis.



City Council, 1856, City of Watertown: its Manufacturing and Rail Road Advantages, and

               Business Statistics, pamphlet, published by order of City Council.

Fowler, R. B., 2008, Wisconsin Votes; An Electoral History, University of Wisconsin Press,

               Madison, WI, 376p.

Johannsen, C.H., 1954, Watertown Wisconsin Centennial, booklet.

Kiessling, E.C., 1976, Watertown Remembered, Watertown Historic Society, Watertown, WI,

236 p.

Rausch, J., 1987, City of Watertown, Wisconsin, “Architectural and Historical Intensive Survey

Report 1986-1987,” Architectural Researches, Inc., La Crosse, WI, 356 p.

Wallman, C.J., 2000, The German Speaking 48ers, “Builders of Watertown, Wisconsin,”

University of Wisconsin Press, Madison, WI, 110 p.