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.
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.