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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 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.

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.

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 1, 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.

Pillsbury, John Sargent (1827–1901)

In forty-six years as a Minnesotan, John Sargent Pillsbury helped establish what eventually became one of the world's largest flour-milling businesses, served three terms as governor, and contributed—generously and often anonymously—to numerous causes he deemed worthy.

Populism in Minnesota, 1868–1896

In the late nineteenth century, Minnesota was rife with political discontent. A national movement to support the interests of working people against elites took hold at a local level. Crusading figures like Ignatius Donnelly challenged the power of big business and wealthy tycoons. The movement, called populism, arose from the people's urge for reform. It shaped the young state's politics for close to three decades.

Progressive Era in Minnesota, 1899–1920

The growth of cities and industry in the late nineteenth century brought sweeping changes to American society. Minneapolis and Saint Paul grew rapidly. Urban labor provided new opportunities for Minnesotans as well as new challenges. Business practices and labor rights became topics of heated debate. The Progressive movement spread amid growing concerns about the place of ordinary Americans in the new urban landscape.

Republican National Convention, June 1892

Republicans from across the nation came to Minneapolis in June 1892 for secret meetings, public rallies and speeches, and their official national convention, which culminated in the nomination of then US President Benjamin Harrison as the party's presidential candidate.

Rockne, Anton Julius (1868–1950)

Minnesota State Senator Anton J. Rockne took pride in the nickname "Watchdog of the State Treasury." Yet as America's Great Depression deepened in 1932, he fought against programs for the poor and his opponents branded him "Commander-in-Chief of the Hunger Brigade."

Rolette, Joseph (1820–1871)

Joseph Rolette was a fur trader and politician during Minnesota's territorial period. A colorful character in his time, Rolette is remembered for the drastic action he took to prevent removal of Minnesota's capital to St. Peter.

Rosing, Leonard August (1861–1909)

When Leonard August Rosing became chairman of the Minnesota Democratic Party in 1896, he had his work cut out for him: Republicans had controlled the governorship since before the Civil War. But Rosing was successful in unseating Republicans and getting Democrat John Lind elected governor in 1898.

Shoemaker, Francis H. (1889–1958)

Francis H. Shoemaker’s 1931–1932 journey from a Leavenworth prison cell to a seat in the U.S. Congress ranks among Minnesota’s most bizarre political odysseys. But little about Shoemaker surprised those following the meteoric career of the radical newspaper editor from Red Wing.

Sibley, Henry H. (1811–1891)

Henry Hastings Sibley occupied the stage of Minnesota history for fifty-six active years. He was the territory's first representative in Congress (1849–1853) and the state's first governor (1858–1860). In 1862 he led a volunteer army against the Dakota under Taoyateduta (Little Crow IV). After his victory at Wood Lake and his rescue of more than two hundred white prisoners, he was made a brigadier general in the Union Army.

Smith, Alice Gustava (Sister Maris Stella) (1899–1987)

Alice Gustava Smith, better known by her students and readers as Sister Maris Stella, taught English at the College of St. Catherine (now St. Catherine University) in St. Paul for nearly fifty years. During that time she also published books of verse that built her reputation as a skilled and spiritual poet.

Stageberg, Susie Williamson (1877–1961)

Susie Williamson Stageberg is known as the "Mother of the Farmer-Labor Party." The Red Wing activist spent a lifetime fighting for unpopular political and social causes. She strongly opposed the merger of the Democratic and Farmer-Labor Parties in the 1940s.

Treaty of La Pointe, 1854

The second Treaty of La Pointe (1854) ceded most Ojibwe land on the northern and western shores of Lake Superior to the U.S. government. It also established the Grand Portage and Fond du Lac reservations. In exchange, the Ojibwe received annual payments and a guarantee that they could continue to hunt and fish throughout this territory.

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