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 they 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.

Black and white photograph of Ignatius Donnelly, 1888.

Ignatius Donnelly

Ignatius Donnelly, 1888. At this point Donnelly was the leader of the Farmers' Alliance in Minnesota and serving as a state representative. Photograph by John Collier.

Black and white photograph of J. H. Thomas, head of the Grange in Young America, 1873.

J. H. Thomas, head of the Grange in Young America

J. H. Thomas, head of the Grange in Young America, 1873.

Patrons of Husbandry Badge, 1867.

Patrons of Husbandry Badge

Patrons of Husbandry Badge, 1867.

Black and white photograph of a State Grange meeting at Northfield. Taken by Edward Newell James, c.1875.

State Grange meeting at Northfield

State Grange meeting at Northfield, c.1875. Photograph by Edward Newell James.

Populism in Minnesota, 1868–1896

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.

Black and white photo print of a drawing of the first Minnesota state capitol, c.1853–1873.

First State Capitol of Minnesota

Black and white photo print of a drawing of the first Minnesota state capitol, c.1853–1873.

The Financial Panic of 1857

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 May 23, 1972.

Refurbished Thomas J. Lee monument

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.

Tri-State marker at the junction of the states of Minnesota, Iowa, and South Dakota, looking north. The marker was erected in 1859. Photographed by William Lass on May 23, 1972.

Tri-State marker

Tri-State marker at the junction of the states of Minnesota, Iowa, and South Dakota, looking north. The marker was originally erected in 1859. Photographed by William Lass on June 29, 2009.

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