In 1855, a federal treaty moved the Ho-Chunk (Winnebago) people from their reservation near Long Prairie to a site along the Blue Earth River. The Ho-Chunk farmed the area's rich soil with some success, but drew the hostility of white neighbors who wanted the land for themselves. Though they did not participate in the U.S.-Dakota War of 1862, they were exiled from Minnesota during the conflict's aftermath.
In 1848 the U.S. government removed the Ho-Chunk (Winnebago) from their reservation in the northeastern part of Iowa to Long Prairie in Minnesota Territory. The Ho-Chunk found the land at Long Prairie a poor choice to meet their needs as farmers. In 1855 they were moved again, this time to a reservation in southern Minnesota.
Hubert H. Humphrey, a giant of Minnesota politics, was one of the most influential liberal leaders of the twentieth century. His political rise was meteoric, his impact on public policy historic. His support for the Vietnam War, however, cost him the office he most sought: president of the United States.
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.
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.
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.
"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.
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.
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.
Conservative lawyer John F. McGee was the dominant personality on the Minnesota Commission of Public Safety, the body that governed Minnesota during World War I. Under McGee’s leadership, the commission demanded unquestioning support for the war effort and suppressed possible German American dissent. After the war, McGee became a federal judge who was well known for the heavy sentences he imposed on bootleggers.
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.
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.
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.
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.
On November 6, 2013, Minnesota voters rejected a proposed amendment to the state’s constitution. Minnesota Amendment 1, also called the Minnesota Marriage Amendment, would have limited marriage to heterosexual couples. When the amendment failed to pass, Minnesota became the first and only state to reject a same-sex marriage ban through the will of voters rather than a court ruling.
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.
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.
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'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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.