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Fort Snelling in the Expansionist Era, 1819–1858

The U.S. Army built Fort Snelling between 1820 and 1825 to protect American interests in the fur trade. It tasked the fort’s troops with deterring advances by the British in Canada, enforcing boundaries between the region’s American Indian nations, and preventing Euro-American immigrants from intruding on American Indian land. In these early years and until its temporary closure in 1858, Fort Snelling was a place where diverse people interacted and shaped the future state of Minnesota.

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.

Sketch of Pierre-Esprit Radisson, undated.

Pierre-Esprit Radisson

Sketch of Pierre-Esprit Radisson, undated.

Radisson, Pierre Esprit (1636/1640–1710)

Pierre Esprit Radisson’s 1659 expedition to Lake Superior and beyond opened a door to the North American fur trade. Through it, he earned a reputation as a courageous explorer and a cunning merchant. In the 2010s he is remembered as one of the first Europeans to travel to what became the state of Minnesota.

Drawing of Mackinac Island, c.1860.

Mackinac Island

Drawing of Mackinac Island reproduced in William Peter Strickland's Old Mackinaw: The Fortress of the Lakes. Philadelphia: James Challen & Son, 1860.

Map of North America drawn by John Mitchell, 1755.

John Mitchell Map of North America

Map of North America drawn by John Mitchell, 1755.

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.

Steamboats Itasca and War Eagle at the St. Paul levee, 1859.

Steamboats

Steamboats Itasca and War Eagle at the St. Paul levee, 1859.

Painting showing a view of St. Paul, 1855.

View of St. Paul

Painting showing a view of St. Paul, 1855.

Watercolor painting of an interior view of Fort Snelling made c.1853.

Interior View, Fort Snelling

Watercolor painting of an interior view of Fort Snelling, c.1853.

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