On Wisconsin

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"On Wisconsin" is the official song of the state of Wisconsin, as well as the fight song of the University of Wisconsin (UW).


The music was originally composed by William Purdy in 1909; Purdy planned to submit the song into a competition for a University of Minnesota fight song. However, Purdy was persuaded by a former UW student, Carl Beck, to allow UW to use the tune instead. Beck wrote the original lyrics, which were re-written in 1913. The tune is widely used by other schools with different lyrics.[1]

The phrase was also made famous during the Civil War by Arthur MacArthur, Jr., father of Douglas MacArthur. The elder MacArthur, in the 24th Wisconsin Infantry, earned the Medal of Honor for his actions at the Battle of Chattanooga in 1863, when he rallied his regiment with the cry "On, Wisconsin!"[2]

In the early 1980s, lawyers working for Paul McCartney attempted to claim copyrights for several well known songs, including Happy Birthday and On Wisconsin. The entire catalogue was later sold to Michael Jackson. When the copyright claim was initially made public outcry demanded the copyright be deeded over to the State of Wisconsin as the copyright holders were demanding royalties for performance. The matter was resolved quietly, however rumors persist McCartney or Jackson's estate hold the claim. The song remains in the public domain.

UW Lyrics

On, Wisconsin! On, Wisconsin!
Plunge right through that line!
Run the ball clear down the field, boys
touchdown sure this time. (U rah rah)
On, Wisconsin! On, Wisconsin!
Fight on for her fame
Fight! Badgers! - fight, fight, fight!
We'll win this game.

On, Wisconsin! On, Wisconsin!
Stand up, Badgers, sing!
"Forward" is our driving spirit,
Loyal voices ring.

On, Wisconsin! On, Wisconsin!
Raise her glowing flame
Stand, Fellows, let us now
Salute her name!

State Lyrics

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![3]


  1. http://www.badgerband.com/music/onwis.html
  2. http://www.arlingtoncemetery.net/amacart.htm
  3. http://www.wisconsin.gov/state/core/wisconsin_state_song.html