Godfrey, Joseph (ca.1830–1909)

The U.S.–Dakota War of 1862 was a turning point in Minnesota history. Joseph Godfrey, an enslaved man, joined the Dakota in their fight against white settler-colonists that summer and fall. He was one of only two African Americans to do so.

Gold Star Mothers in Minnesota

During World War I, families began to hang flags in their windows that displayed a gold star for each relative killed in military service. The title “gold star mother” was used unofficially to describe a woman who had lost a child in service until the national organization American Gold Star Mothers, Inc., was established in 1929. Many Minnesota mothers claimed membership, and local Minnesota chapters followed.

Grand Army of the Republic in Minnesota

The Grand Army of the Republic (G.A.R.) was a fraternal organization which existed from 1866 to 1956. It was composed of veterans of the Union Army, United States Navy, Marines, and Revenue Cutter Service who served in the American Civil War. The organization allowed veterans to communicate with one another and plan reunions. At its peak in 1890 it was a powerful organization, supporting the rights of veterans and primarily Republican politicians.

Hubbard, Lucius F. (1836–1913)

Young Red Wing newspaper editor Lucius F. Hubbard backed his words with action when he enlisted as a private in the Fifth Minnesota Volunteers during the Civil War. He emerged from the fighting as a general and a war hero, and became wealthy through wheat marketing, milling, and railroads. He was elected governor in 1881.

Indochinese Refugee Resettlement Office, 1975–1986

Between 1975 and 1986, about 750,000 refugees from Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos resettled in the U.S. They passed through two initiatives: the Refugee Parole Program and the Orderly Departure Program. Voluntary agencies, sponsors, and programs managed by the Indochinese Refugee Resettlement Office offered help. As a result, Minnesota was one of ten states that accepted the largest numbers of refugees.

King, Josias R. (1832–1916)

With the fall of Fort Sumter in 1861, Minnesota became the first state to offer troops to fight the Confederacy. Josias Redgate King is credited with being the first man to volunteer for the Union in the Civil War.

LeDuc, William Gates (1823–1917)

William Gates LeDuc played a variety of parts in Minnesota’s transition from territory to statehood. A “jack of all trades” who never found great success in one endeavor, he counted former presidents, governors, generals, and supreme court justices among his friends by the time of his death in 1917.

Liberty Gardens, 1917–1919

On April 12, 1917, President Woodrow Wilson called upon Americans on the home front to help fight what would become known as World War I. In response, many Minnesotans turned to backyard gardening to increase their food supply. Homegrown vegetables filled pantries and stomachs and allowed “citizen soldiers” to conserve wheat, meat, sugar, and fats that were essential for U.S. troops and their European allies.

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.

Marty, Adam (1837–1923)

Adam Marty was a member of the First Minnesota Volunteer Infantry Regiment during the Civil War. After the war he became Commander of the Minnesota Department of the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR).

McGee, John Franklin (1861–1925)

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.

Military Intelligence Service Language School (MISLS)

In 1942, the Military Intelligence Service Language School (MISLS) was established in Minnesota. The school trained soldiers as Japanese linguists to support the US military in World War II. A unique institution, it became point of pride for Japanese Americans who faced discrimination before and in wartime and had a strong impact on the war's outcome.

Minneapolis Flour-Milling Industry during World War I

The Minneapolis flour-milling industry peaked during World War I when twenty-five flour mills employing 2,000 to 2,500 workers played a leading role in the campaign to win the war with food. Minneapolis-produced flour helped to feed America, more than four million of its service personnel, and its allies.

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 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, and units performed both civilian and military duties.

Minnesota Motor Corps

The Minnesota Motor Corps was the first militarized organization of its kind in the United States. Made up of volunteers and their vehicles, the corps existed for the duration of World War I. It provided disaster relief, transported troops, and aided police. The Motor Corps’ services proved crucial, but many viewed it as a state-sponsored police force that infringed on the rights of citizens.

Minnesota State Fair, 1917

Since its founding in 1859, the Minnesota State Fair had been an essential yearly tradition in the agricultural state. However, after the United States entered World War I in 1917, the fair took on an entirely new significance. Organizers reframed the event as a “Food Training Camp” that showed Minnesotans how to produce and conserve resources vital to the Allied war effort.

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.

Ninth Minnesota Volunteer Infantry Regiment

The Ninth Minnesota Volunteer Infantry Regiment played an important role in defending its home state as well as in operations in the South. Its three years of service for the Union culminated in the Battle of Nashville, in which its members fought side by side with men from three other Minnesota regiments.

Norstad, Lauris (1907–1988)

General Lauris Norstad helped engineer World War II victories for American air forces in Africa, Europe and Asia from 1942 to 1945. As Supreme Allied Commander in Europe from 1956 to 1963, he faced an even more dangerous challenge—the very real threat of nuclear holocaust.

Northfield Bank Raid

When the James–Younger gang rode into Northfield on September 7, 1876, with the intention of robbing the First National Bank, they did not expect any trouble from the local citizens. Unbeknownst to them, the townspeople would soon be nationally applauded for defending their town from some of the period’s most notorious outlaws.

Officers’ Training Camps At Fort Snelling, 1917

At camps held around the country during World War I, the U.S. Army quickly trained the officers it needed to grow from a small defensive force into one of millions, ready to step onto the world stage. Fort Snelling hosted two such camps in 1917: one between May 11 and August 15 and another between August 28 and November 27.

Origins of the American Legion in Minnesota, 1919–1922

At the close of World War I, the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) was the only centralized veterans’ organization prepared to help returning soldiers re-enter civilian life and to assist the families of the deceased. The American Legion formed soon after the war in order to serve veterans returning from Europe. Minnesota’s department of the Legion answered the call, creating programs that assisted veterans and led the way for the organization.

Renville, Gabriel (1825–1892)

Gabriel Renville was a fur trader, a farmer, and the leader of the Sisseton-Wahpeton Dakota from 1867 until 1892. Related by blood to multiple Dakota bands and mixed-ancestry families, he opposed Ta Oyate Duta (His Red Nation, also known as Little Crow) and other Dakota who fought against settler-colonists in the U.S.–Dakota War of 1862. His choice angered some of his relatives, who saw him as serving the interests of colonists. After the war, he was one of many who worked to reacquire land for the Sisseton-Wahpeton people.

Round Tower, Fort Snelling

The Round Tower has been a symbol of Fort Snelling since its construction in 1820. Though the U.S. Army originally built it as a defensive point for the fort, the tower has served many different functions over its long history.