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WISCONSIN
Its History and Its People

CHAPTER I

THE GIFT OF THE CREATOR

Recorded human history comprises but a small fraction in point of time, of the life of the race on the earth. That life, in turn, comprises a yet more insignificant fraction of the life of the earth itself. Since it is the province of the work we are entering upon to deal with recorded history, the reader must seek elsewhere the geological story of the creation of the land we call Wisconsin, and the transformations it has undergone. Yet the historian of mankind can never for a moment forget that the human story he is tracing is constantly modified and, indeed, largely controlled by the factors which determine its physical environment. Some description of this environment, therefore, will constitute a suitable introduction to the story it is our pleasant task to trace.

Until a comparatively recent date the Biblical story of the creation of the earth found practically universal acceptance. With the progress of the modern scientific movement, however, men were led to study the processes of nature at first hand, and as these studies progressed scholars found it impossible to reconcile their findings with the ancient story of the creation. Although there are still many intelligent people who adhere to the literal interpretation of the Biblical narrative, the teachings of science, which find expression in our colleges and schools, present a radically different account of the life story of the earth.

The science with which we are more immediately concerned is that of geology, and to geologists no portion of the United States, if indeed of all the world, presents a more interesting field for study than does our own Wisconsin. Nor has any state produced a more brilliant group of scholars in this field of endeavor, from the days of Lapham to those of President Van Hise, whose career has so recently terminated. The investigations of these workers in the hills and valleys of Wisconsin have revealed a fascinating story concerning the development of this portion of the earth's surface. The Laurentian rocks that underlie a large part of northern Wisconsin belong to the earliest

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