Madison is the capital of the U.S. state of Wisconsin and the county seat of Dane County. It is also home to the University of Wisconsin–Madison.
As of the 2010 census, Madison had a population of 233,209. making it the second largest city in Wisconsin, after Milwaukee, and the 81st largest in the United States. The city forms the core of the United States Census Bureau's Madison Metropolitan Statistical Area, which includes all of Dane County and neighboring Iowa and Columbia counties. Madison's suburbs include DeForest, Fitchburg, Maple Bluff, McFarland, Middleton, Monona, Oregon, Shorewood Hills, Stoughton, Sun Prairie, Verona, and Waunakee. The Madison Metropolitan Statistical Area had a 2008 estimated population of 561,505.
Madison was created in 1836, when former federal judge James Duane Doty purchased over a thousand acres (4 km²) of swamp and forest land on the isthmus between Lakes Mendota and Monona within the Four Lakes region, with the intention of building a city on the site. The Wisconsin Territory had been created earlier that year and the territorial legislature had convened in Belmont, Wisconsin. One of the legislature's tasks was to choose a permanent location for the territory's capital. Doty lobbied aggressively for the legislature to select Madison as the new capital, offering buffalo robes to the freezing legislators and promising choice Madison lots at discount prices to undecided voters . He had James Slaughter plat two cities in the area, Madison and "The City of Four Lakes," near present-day Middleton. Doty named the city Madison for James Madison, the 4th President of the U.S. who had died on June 28, 1836 and he named the streets for the other 38 signers of the U.S. Constitution. Even though Madison was still only a city on paper, the territorial legislature voted on November 28 in favor of Madison as its capital, largely because of its location halfway between the new and growing cities around Milwaukee in the east and the long established strategic post of Prairie du Chien in the west, and because of its location between the highly populated lead mining regions in the southwest and Wisconsin's oldest city, Green Bay in the northeast. Being named for the much-admired founding father James Madison, who had just died, and having streets named for each of the 39 signers of the Constitution, may have also helped attract votes.