African Americans Dred Scott and Harriet Robinson Scott lived at Fort Snelling in the 1830s as enslaved people. Both the Northwest Ordinance (1787) and the Missouri Compromise (1820) prohibited slavery in the area, but slavery existed there even so. In the 1840s the Scotts sued for their freedom, arguing that having lived in “free territory” made them free. The 1857 Supreme Court decision that grew out of their suit moved the U.S. closer to civil war.
The Duluth Armory has served as both a military training facility and an entertainment venue since its construction in 1915. Notable for its neoclassical design, the armory was central to the work of the National Guard and Home Guard. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2011.
In December 1891, the Duluth Street Railway Company opened an incline railway on the right-of-way of Seventh Avenue West. The company had received a charter from the state in 1881 to build a streetcar line for Duluth, and this railway was part of the larger system. The hillside was too steep for a regular rail line, and cable powered lines were often used in similar situations.
Admired for its jewel-like character, the Duluth, Missabe and Iron Range depot at Endion was constructed in 1899. The depot was designed by notable Duluth architect I. Vernon Hill, and it is one of the last small passenger depots of its kind.
The Duluth, Missabe and Iron Range Railway (DM&IR) was a small railroad that hauled iron ore and taconite from the mines of northern Minnesota’s Mesabi and Vermilion Iron Ranges to docks on Lake Superior at Duluth and Two Harbors. It operated in northern Minnesota and Wisconsin.
The Duluth, Winnipeg and Pacific Railway (DW&P) was a Minnesota railroad that operated between International Falls and Duluth. It connected to the Canadian National at International Falls and to the Northern Pacific at Duluth. As a subsidiary of the Canadian National for almost all of the twentieth century, it moved freight along an artery between the Canadian West and the American Midwest through Minnesota.
Vincent Raymond (V. R.) Dunne dedicated his life to improving the plight of workers. A leader in the 1934 Minneapolis Teamsters strike and convicted in the Smith Act Trial of 1941 for his involvement in the Socialist Workers Party, Dunne fought many battles in labor and politics.
Famed author and lecturer Charles Eastman was raised in a traditional Dakota manner until age fifteen, when he entered Euro-American culture at his father's request. He spent the rest of his life moving between American Indian and white American worlds, achieving renown but never financial security.
Seth Eastman was a painter and soldier best known for his depictions of the everyday life of Dakota and Ojibwe people around Fort Snelling in the 1840s. He stands out among other nineteenth-century American artists—particularly those who also painted American Indian people—because of his commitment to realism. Unlike his peers, Eastman mostly avoided romanticizing the Native people with whom he lived.
Seventeenth Minnesota governor Adolph Olson (A.O.) Eberhart lived the classic American story of an immigrant who achieved success through hard work and ability. He graduated at the top of his class at Gustavus Adolphus College and was the youngest state senator in the 33rd legislative session.
From 1906 to the 1960s, Danish-born brothers Valdemar and Soren Egekvist built a model of immigrant enterprise. They applied Old World skills in a New World economy. Their chain of Minneapolis bakery stores ultimately led to nationally distributed baked goods.
In 1864, the officers and men of the Eighth Minnesota Volunteer Infantry Regiment traveled from Fort Ridgley deep into Dakota Territory and then returned to Minnesota. Next, they headed to Tennessee. From there, the regiment moved to Washington, D.C., North Carolina, and finally, back to Minnesota. During that final year of the Civil War, the Eighth claimed to have covered more miles and experienced more variety in its service than any other regiment in the Union Army.
In a special state senate election held in January of 2002, Mee Moua became the first Asian woman chosen to serve in the Minnesota Legislature and the first Hmong American elected to any state legislature. Her win in St. Paul’s District 67 made national news and had lasting political and cultural impacts on the Hmong community.
Organized in late 1864, the Eleventh Minnesota Volunteer Infantry Regiment was the last infantry unit to be raised by the state. Though not involved in any major battles, the regiment performed a crucial service that helped to achieve ultimate Union victory.
On August 21, 1860, enslaved African American Eliza Winston was freed from her Mississippi slaveholder in a Minneapolis court. After being granted legal freedom, however, Winston faced white mob violence and was forced to leave the area. The event showed that although slavery was illegal in Minnesota, many white Minnesotans supported the practice when it economically benefited them.
In 1871 Minneapolis built the first public waterworks in Minnesota to pump water from the Mississippi River. The city's attempts to provide clean, safe water led to decades of efforts to improve and expand the waterworks.
Dakota people in what is now Minnesota began using glass beads to decorate clothing, bags, and household items in the mid-nineteenth century. The practice both reinforced and transformed Dakota art, allowing Native artists to preserve a creative tradition that continues in the twenty-first century.
The botched execution of William Williams was the last in Minnesota. After newspapers broke state law to report on the event, public opinion turned firmly against the death penalty, and it was repealed in 1911.
The Faribault Woolen Mill Company has statewide significance as one of the largest and oldest fully integrated woolen mills in Minnesota. The mill started as a small family-owned business in the nineteenth century and grew to become the largest and longest-surviving woolen mill in the state.
When the farmers of Traverse County founded Minnesota's first Farm Bureau, it signaled a new movement in Minnesota agriculture. In the century since its creation, the Farm Bureau has worked on the local, state, and national levels to support farmers and act as the "voice of agriculture" in America.
The Farmers' Alliance in Minnesota thrived from 1886 to 1892. During this time, the organization achieved the most progress toward its political goals in the state. These included greater regulation of the railroad industry as it impacted the wheat market, elimination of irregularities in the grading of wheat, and minimization or elimination of the middleman in the wheat trade.
The Farmers' Holiday Association was formed in 1932. The Midwestern organization successfully fought against farm foreclosures with novel strategies like penny auctions, but unsuccessfully lobbied Congress for a federal system that would pay farmers for their crops based on the cost of production.
In the 1880s, Minnesota farmers saw the need for education but resisted "book farming," or learning how to farm by reading instructional text. Farmers' institutes, lecture series that traveled to rural communities and taught practical farming skills, were popular alternatives in the 1880s through the 1920s.