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.
Minnesota Territory experienced a boom period starting in 1855. Industry flourished region-wide and companies amassed incredible wealth. The Financial Panic of 1857 brought the good times to a halt and interrupted the growth of the fledgling state.
The refurbished Thomas J. Lee monument in New Albin, Iowa, seen looking northwesterly into Minnesota. The monument, originally erected by Lee and the U.S. Topographic Engineer Corps in 1849, marks the Minnesota–Iowa boundary near Minnesota's southeast corner. Photographed by William Lass on November 3, 2009.
Map showing three Minnesota–Wisconsin boundaries proposed during the late 1840s. Created by Alan Ominsky and reproduced in Lass, William E., "Minnesota's Separation from Wisconsin," Minnesota History 50 (Winter 1987): 311.