Johnson, John Albert (1861–1909)

John Albert Johnson was Minnesota's first governor born in the state, its first governor to serve a full term in the current State Capitol, and its first governor to die in office, making him one of the state's most notable leaders.

Kellogg, Frank Billings (1856–1937)

Trustbuster, Senator, Secretary of State, Nobel Laureate, and World Court judge, Frank Kellogg rose from a small farm in Olmsted County to being the highest-ranking diplomat in the United States. He is remembered as one of the authors of the 1928 Pact of Paris, a multi-lateral treaty that renounced aggressive war as a matter of national policy.

Le Sueur, Meridel (1900–1996)

For more than seventy years, the Minnesota-based writer and activist Meridel Le Sueur was a voice for oppressed peoples worldwide. Beginning in the 1920s, she championed the struggles of workers against the capitalist economy, the efforts of women to find their voices and their power, the rights of American Indians to their lands and their cultures, and environmentalist causes.

Lind, John (1854–1930)

"Reform!" was the rallying cry of late nineteenth-century America, and John Lind was in the vanguard. His election as the fourteenth governor of Minnesota and the first non-Republican governor of the state in decades heralded a new progressive era.

Maas, Melvin (1898–1964)

Though he lived in a Democratic city and a Democratic political era—the Great Depression and World War II—the conservative Republican Melvin Maas represented St. Paul in Congress from 1927 to 1945, with one short interruption. He also received two World War II combat decorations, was awarded a Carnegie Hero Fund medal, and served the public for two decades after leaving politics.

McCarthy, Eugene (1916–2005)

Senator Eugene McCarthy challenged President Lyndon Johnson for the 1968 Democratic nomination, mobilizing a youth crusade against U.S. intervention in Vietnam and changing the course of politics in Minnesota and the nation.

Merriam, William Rush (1849–1931)

Well-connected socially and politically, William Rush Merriam rose through the legislative ranks to become the eleventh governor of Minnesota by age thirty-nine. In 1899, President William McKinley appointed him director of the twelfth national census.

Mesaba Co-op Park

Located near Hibbing, Mesaba Co-op Park is one of the few remaining continuously operated cooperative parks in the country. A gathering place of the Finnish cooperative movement, the park served the ethnic political radicals who energized the Iron Range labor movement and Minnesota’s Farmer-Labor party.

Mid-Minnesota Legal Aid

On April 15, 1913, John Benson opened a Minneapolis law office to offer legal help to the poor. By 2013, the office had morphed into Mid-Minnesota Legal Aid. It has served hundreds of thousands of Minnesotans.

Minneapolis Anti-pornography Ordinance

In 1977, residents of South Minneapolis mobilized to fight the expansion of adult entertainment businesses along Lake Street. In 1983, after years of unsuccessful protest, these activists sought help from nationally known feminist theorists Catharine MacKinnon and Andrea Dworkin. MacKinnon and Dworkin wrote a controversial amendment to the city's expansive civil rights ordinance that defined pornography as a violation of women's civil rights.

Minnesota and Northwestern Railroad Land Grant Scandal, 1854

In 1854 legislators in St. Paul requested a grant from the federal government to create a rail line across Minnesota Territory. Public outcry led to scandal and the repeal of the territory's first land grant bill.

Minnesota Commission of Public Safety

The Minnesota Commission of Public Safety (MCPS) was a watchdog group created in 1917. Its purpose was to mobilize the state's resources during World War I. During a two-year reign its members enacted policies intended to protect the state from foreign threats. They also used broad political power and a sweeping definition of disloyalty to thwart those who disagreed with them.

Minnesota Constitutional Convention,1857

In 1857, elected delegates met in St. Paul to draft a state constitution so that Minnesota could officially join the Union. Due to a bitter rivalry, Democrats and Republicans refused to meet jointly until near the end of the convention. Finally, a Compromise Committee with five members from each group proposed language that both sides accepted. Yet they refused to sign the same document. As a result, Minnesota has two copies of its constitution: one Democratic and one Republican.

Minnesota Farmer-Labor Party, 1924–1944

Minnesota's Farmer-Labor Party (FLP) represents one of the most successful progressive third-party coalitions in American history. From its roots in 1917 through the early 1940s, the FLP elected hundreds of candidates to state and national office and created a powerful movement based on the needs of struggling workers and farmers.

Minnesota Home Guard

When the Minnesota National Guard was federalized in the spring of 1917, the state was left without any military organization. To defend the state’s resources, the Minnesota Commission of Public Safety (MCPS) created the Minnesota Home Guard. The Home Guard existed for the duration of World War I. Units performed civilian and military duties.

Minnesota State Boundaries

Minnesota's boundaries were established by treaties between the U.S. and Great Britain and the formation of the states of Michigan, Wisconsin, Iowa, and Minnesota.

Minnesota Woman Suffrage Association

From 1881 to 1920, the Minnesota Woman Suffrage Association (MWSA) struggled to secure women's right to vote. Its members organized marches, wrote petitions and letters, gathered signatures, gave speeches, and published pamphlets and broadsheets to force the Minnesota Legislature to recognize their right to vote. Due to their efforts, the Legislature approved the Nineteenth Amendment in 1919.

National Prohibition Act (Volstead Act)

Writers of the Eighteenth Amendment to the Constitution took a little more than one hundred words to prohibit the manufacture, sale, and transportation of alcoholic beverages. It fell to Minnesota Congressman Andrew Volstead to write the regulations and rules for enforcement. The twelve-thousand-word Volstead Act remained in effect for thirteen years, from 1920 until Prohibition was repealed in December 1933.

Near v. Minnesota, 1931

In early June 1931, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that a little-known Minnesota statute was unconstitutional. The 1925 Public Nuisance Bill had been designed to close down newspapers deemed obscene or slanderous. The court’s decision set a national precedent for freedom of the press and censorship issues.

Nelson, Knute (1843–1923)

Norwegian immigrant Knute Nelson served state and country throughout his life, first as a soldier and a lawyer, then as a legislator and the twelfth governor of Minnesota. He was the state's first foreign-born governor.

New Ulm Military Draft Meeting, 1917

The World War I draft rally held in New Ulm on July 25, 1917, was an exciting event; it featured a parade, music, a giant crowd, and compelling speakers. The speakers urged compliance with law, but challenged the justice of the war and the government’s authority to send draftees into combat overseas. In the end, people obeyed the draft law, while the state punished dissent. Three of the speakers lost their jobs; the fourth was charged with criminal sedition.

Nonpartisan League

Exploited by powerful corporate and political interests in Minneapolis and St. Paul, Midwestern farmers banded together in the early twentieth century to fight for their political and economic rights. Farmers formed the Nonpartisan League (NPL) and wrote a significant chapter of Minnesota's progressive-era history.

O'Connor Layover Agreement

The O'Connor layover agreement was instituted by John O'Connor shortly after his promotion from St. Paul Detective to Chief of Police on June 11, 1900. It allowed criminals to stay in the city under three conditions: that they checked-in with police upon their arrival; agreed to pay bribes to city officials; and committed no major crimes in the city of St. Paul. This arrangement lasted for almost forty years, ending when rampant corruption forced crusading local citizens and the federal government to step in.

Olson, Floyd B. (1891–1936)

As Minnesota's first Farmer-Labor Party governor, Floyd B. Olson pursued an activist agenda aimed at easing the impact of the Great Depression. During his six years in office, from 1931 to 1936, he became a hero to the state's working people for strongly defending their economic interests.

Perpich, Rudy (1928–1995)

Democrat Rudy Perpich was Minnesota's thirty-fourth and thirty-sixth governor. The son of an Iron Range mining family, he was recognized for his innovative ideas, support of women, and emphasis on foreign trade.

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