We cannot verify your location
Browse Book and Journal Content on Project MUSE

North Star State

A Minnesota History Reader

Anne J. Aby

Publication Year: 2002

Two hundred years of Minnesota history spring to life in this lively and captivating collection of essays. The North Star State encompasses the wide range of Minnesota's unique past--from the Civil War to the World Wars, from frontier life to the age of technological innovation, from Dakota and Ojibwe history to the story of St. Paul's black sleeping-car porters, from lumber workers and truckers' strikes to the women's suffrage movement. In addition to investigative articles by the state's top historians, editor Anne Aby has assembled captivating first-person accounts from key moments in Minnesota history, including George Nelson's reminiscences of his years in the early nineteenth-century fur trade; the diary of Emily Goodridge Grey, an early African American settler; and Jasper N. Searles's letters home from the Battle of First Bull Run.

Published by: Minnesota Historical Society Press

Title Page, Copyright

pdf iconDownload PDF (90.4 KB)
pp. i-iv


pdf iconDownload PDF (74.2 KB)
pp. v-vii

read more


pdf iconDownload PDF (85.6 KB)
pp. ix-xiii

Minnesota is my adopted home. I grew up in New Jersey and Massachusetts, but in the 1960s I went to Carleton College in Northfield to major in mathematics. Instead I graduated as a history major.The history classes I took in college, especially those taught by Carlton Qualey and those in a Carleton-sponsored summer in Japan program after my sophomore year, gave me a lifelong...

read more

Foreword: Discovering the Universe of Home

pdf iconDownload PDF (111.1 KB)
pp. xv-xxv

I believe that history is the primary act of the human imagination. Let me try to explain what I mean by telling you a story, a bit of my own history: What if one’s life were not a commodity, not something to be bartered to the highest bidder, or made to order? What if one’s life were governed by needs more fundamental than acceptance or admiration? What if one were simply to...


read more

The Story of the Grand Portage

pdf iconDownload PDF (143.5 KB)
pp. 5-14

...Modern mapmakers have the disagreeable habit, in the interest of economy, of dismembering the state of Minnesota and depicting the northeastern corner separately on a little inset map. Few people today realize that this little triangle of land, so cavalierly treated by our draughtsmen,was during many years the scene of more human activities than took place in all the rest of the state...

read more

George Nelson’s Fur Trade Reminiscences, 1802–1803

pdf iconDownload PDF (159.5 KB)
pp. 15-28

...The next day (I do not remember the date, in June) we reached the, to the inhabitants of Canada; the famed,“Grand Portage.” It is located, about the middle, of a bay, with a very handsome island before, the only obstruction to an immense & boundless view. The establishment of the N.W. Co, tho’ there was nothing superfluous or unnecessary, but was of an extent to prove at once the...

read more

Gift Giving in the Lake Superior Fur Trade

pdf iconDownload PDF (177.6 KB)
pp. 29-45

...Gift giving was an essential custom followed by both Indians and Europeans to pursue trade and diplomatic relations in North America during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Historical studies of this custom, however, have concentrated on European motives and machinations: historians have equated it with bribery and have suggested that it was introduced by Europeans...


read more

Territorial Imperative: How Minnesota Became the 32nd State

pdf iconDownload PDF (155.9 KB)
pp. 49-62

...The prairies and forests, the lakes and watersheds that surround the upper reaches of the Mississippi and Red Rivers,and the head of Lake Superior have been known and occupied by men and women for more than 10,000 years. During that span, the human and natural landscapes have been reworked several times by waves of climatic and cultural change. But none was swifter than...

read more

The Sioux Sign a Treaty in Washington in 1858

pdf iconDownload PDF (190.6 KB)
pp. 63-82

...In the bitter cold of February, 1858, Indian Agent Joseph Renshaw Brown set out in a sleigh from his home town of Henderson in Sibley County on a long trip westward. He was following instructions he had evidently received on February 17 from William J.Cullen,superintendent of Indian affairs of the northern superintendency in St. Paul. Cullen in turn had been given orders by Charles...

read more

The Power of Whiteness Or, the Life and Times of Joseph Rolette Jr.

pdf iconDownload PDF (203.4 KB)
pp. 83-105

...In March 1857 a short, merry, prank-loving member of the Minnesota territorial legislature made away with a recently passed bill in order to prevent it from going into law. For several days he stayed holed up in a local hotel where he ate sumptuous meals, drank fine wines and whiskies, played poker, and partied with his male and female friends. On the last day of the legislative session,...


read more

“Indeed We Did Fight”: A Soldier’s Letters from the First Battle of Bull Run

pdf iconDownload PDF (149.3 KB)
pp. 109-119

...In the spring and summer of 1861,when the North went to war at least in part to preserve the Union, the First Minnesota Volunteer Infantry went with it— and with the First Minnesota went Jasper N. Searles of Hastings.An intelligent and precocious twenty-year-old when the Civil War broke out, Searles parlayed some rudimentary medical training into a brief stint as a hospital steward....

read more

Myrick’s Insult: A Fresh Look at Myth and Reality

pdf iconDownload PDF (151.5 KB)
pp. 120-131

...Historians of the western frontier are generally familiar with the established causes of the tumultuous Dakota War, or Sioux Uprising, of August, 1862. Discontented with the treaties that forfeited lands in Minnesota and tired of the corruption inherent in the Indian bureau’s distribution of annuities, in retrospect the eastern Dakota, or Sioux, people seemed ripe for rebellion. In addition...

read more

Anti-Germanism in Minnesota Schools, 1917–1919

pdf iconDownload PDF (178.0 KB)
pp. 132-149

...Of all the cases handled by the Minnesota Commission of Public Safety during its brief official life, more than 56 per cent concerned members of the state’s German population.The seven-man commission,which some historians have called dictatorial and fascist,was “an interim agency” designed to take swift and decisive action toward “suppressing disloyal outbreaks and possible disturbances...

read more

A Minnesota Couple’s World War II Letters

pdf iconDownload PDF (170.8 KB)
pp. 150-165

...Late in the autumn of 1987,while engaged in the vexing annual chore of bringing some semblance of order to the congested contents of the cramped attic of our modest home, Georgiana and I decided it was show-down time regarding the final disposition of accumulated memorabilia. Stuff we had bumped into, stumbled over, and shunted about in that slant-ceilinged, tucked-away space...


read more

A Pioneer Businessman: The Letters of Wenzel Petran

pdf iconDownload PDF (143.6 KB)
pp. 169-180

...Much of the literature of immigration is marked by the stereotype of the poverty and hardship of agricultural pioneering. An exception to this pattern is the career of a young German immigrant named Wenzel Petran, who disembarked from a steamboat at St.Paul in the late spring of 1855, accompanied by his wife and three young children. Petran had already been a resident of the...

read more

The Historic and Geographic Importance of Railroads in Minnesota

pdf iconDownload PDF (125.2 KB)
pp. 181-187

...A new era began in Minnesota in 1862 when the state’s first train made its initial run between St. Paul and St.Anthony. Symbolically, the first locomotive, the “William Crooks,” arrived in Minnesota in 1861 by steamboat over the historic and well-traveled Mississippi River corridor.By the time the first railroad began operating within its boundaries, Minnesota had become a state, and its...

read more

The Technology that Launched a City

pdf iconDownload PDF (133.2 KB)
pp. 188-196

...During the 1870s and 1880s several significant scientific and technological innovations were made to flour mills in Minneapolis.These developments greatly improved flour manufacturing and propelled the city into becoming the nation’s leading flour producer.The middlings purifier, the gradual-reduction process, and the Berhns Millstone Exhaust System were the most important...


read more

Farmers,Warriors,Traders: A Fresh Look at Ojibwe Women

pdf iconDownload PDF (156.5 KB)
pp. 199-212

...Until recently in American history the only women from native or tribal cultures who mattered were those whose influences on past events were too important to ignore or those whose lives provided anecdotal filler in historical scenes both great and small, in which men were the primary actors. While this orientation is beginning to change as a result of a growing interest in the history...

read more

In or Out of the Historical Kitchen?: Minnesota Rural Women

pdf iconDownload PDF (157.3 KB)
pp. 213-225

...Whether categorized as women’s history or rural history, the study of women in the American West is not only alive and well, but is extremely robust and vital. Its practitioners are numerous and its literature exceedingly rich.Yet one troubling question increasingly demands attention: should the history of western women be recounted in a way that is as scholarly and “objective” as possible...

read more

Organizing for the Vote: The Minnesota’s Woman Suffrage Movement

pdf iconDownload PDF (172.8 KB)
pp. 226-239

...More than two centuries ago the Declaration of Independence extolled the equality of men and assigned to them—but not to women—certain inalienable rights. From that time onward, individual women protested this partial citizenship, but their protests did not bear fruit for nearly a century and a half, when they finally won the right to vote.Now, in 1995,Americans celebrate the...


read more

The Origin of Minnesota’s Nonpartisan Legislature

pdf iconDownload PDF (148.6 KB)
pp. 243-254

...Only two states—Minnesota and Nebraska—select their legislators on a ballot without party designations. Minnesota’s unusual arrangement dates from 1913 and is largely the result of a political accident—of a series of events strongly resembling a comedy of errors.Nebraska acquired its nonpartisan legislature more than two decades later, in 1934,when that state’s lawmaking branch was...

read more

The Minnesota Gag Law and the Fourteenth Amendment

pdf iconDownload PDF (171.4 KB)
pp. 255-271

...On June 1, 1931, the Supreme Court of the United States handed down a decision which, according to one authority, represented “the climax of a striking evolution in our Constitutional law whereby freedom of speech and press is at last effectively ‘nationalized.’” In this decision, rendered in the case of Near v. Minnesota, the court for the first time used “the guarantee of liberty in the...

read more

The Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party Schism of 1948

pdf iconDownload PDF (145.6 KB)
pp. 272-281

...Behind the lively events of the Democratic-Farmer-Labor party schism of 1948 a long and complex background of political protest can be traced.As one writer has put it, Minnesota “through most of its history has shown symptoms of political schizophrenia. On the one hand, it was the staid dowager, as reliably Republican as its down-East Yankee sisters; on the other, it had skittish moments...


read more

Revolt of the “Timber Beasts”: IWW Lumber Strike in Minnesota

pdf iconDownload PDF (171.3 KB)
pp. 285-301

...The brawny lumberjack who tells tall tales, fells giant trees, wears checkered shirts, and loves flapjacks is familiar in American folklore.This romantic image, though based partly on fact, glosses over dark and frightful features of the lumberjack’s life that in 1917 prompted Minnesota’s sons of Paul Bunyan to down their saws and axes and walk out of their camps. Led by the Industrial...

read more

Father Haas and the Minneapolis Truckers’ Strike of 1934

pdf iconDownload PDF (161.9 KB)
pp. 302-315

...Father Francis J. Haas, a seminary professor of ethics and economics,was one of the New Deal’s best known and most successful labor mediators in the turbulent 1930s. Born in Racine,Wisconsin, in 1889, he was ordained a Catholic priest in 1913. He received a doctorate in sociology in 1922 from the Catholic University of America, studying under such liberal Catholic social thinkers as...

read more

Labor, Politics, and African American Identity in Minneapolis, 1930–1950

pdf iconDownload PDF (168.7 KB)
pp. 316-332

...When Anthony Brutus Cassius walked into Minneapolis’s Midland National Bank in the fall of 1949 to borrow $10,000, he was greeted with skepticism and laughter. Like most banks, Midland considered black borrowers to be a poor risk and normally refused them loans.After a few minutes alone with the bank president, however, Cassius secured the money he requested for buying...


read more

Race and Segregation in St. Paul’s Public Schools, 1846–1869

pdf iconDownload PDF (154.8 KB)
pp. 335-347

...For early St. Paul residents, the city’s venture into racially segregated schools was new. Before 1857, when the town’s board of education first decided that black children should attend separate schools, it was not unusual to find them seated next to white, Indian, or racially mixed students.Thomas S.Williamson, a physician-missionary seeking a teacher for his St.Paul school, wrote in 1846...

read more

Indian Education and Bureaucracy:The School at Morris, 1887–1909

pdf iconDownload PDF (212.6 KB)
pp. 348-374

...Fifteen buildings sat empty on a wind-swept knoll in western Minnesota during the winter of 1910. Freshly planted trees and shrubs as well as the new brick facades on the two most substantial buildings gave the grounds an air of expectancy rather than abandonment.Yet both moods were appropriate.These buildings and the associated 292 acres of campus on the eastern edge of Morris...

read more

Knute Nelson and the Immigration Question

pdf iconDownload PDF (164.5 KB)
pp. 375-389

...The career of Minnesotan Knute Nelson, the first Norwegian immigrant to serve in both the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate,exemplifies the personal dilemma that ethnicity has posed for foreign-born politicians. From the 1880s to the 1920s, during Nelson’s congressional tenure, millions of immigrants arrived in the United States. Minnesota attracted a significant number...

read more

“Gentiles Preferred”: Minneapolis Jews and Employment, 1920–1950

pdf iconDownload PDF (191.0 KB)
pp. 390-409

...Minneapolis at the end of the twentieth century has the image of a liberal, progressive city. In the 1990s concerns about discrimination and racism focused on the African-American, Asian-American, American Indian, and Hispanic communities.No one thinks much about the Jews of greater Minneapolis who are, for the most part, economically comfortable, if not well off.Many are integrated...


read more

Mirrored Identities: The Moys of St. Paul

pdf iconDownload PDF (188.3 KB)
pp. 413-432

...Objects can tell us many things if we know how to “read” them.An 1890s autograph quilt, for example, documents the materials, designs, and embroidery techniques common in its time. Beyond these tangibles, the quiltmakers’ embroidered signatures can send the researcher on a more intriguing—and challenging— journey to learn more about the lives of individuals who would otherwise...

read more

Walk a Century in My Shoes:Minnesota 1900–2000

pdf iconDownload PDF (189.0 KB)
pp. 433-453

...My favorite shoes are flat, black tie shoes that remind me of Sister Francita,my seventh-grade teacher, and of Katherine Hepburn,my other fashion idol.My friends tease me because these shoes are so dowdy, but they’re comfortable. They don’t pinch my toes or slide off when I walk down stairs. I can run if I have to, and my feet stay dry. Most importantly, they’re “me.” I wonder what...

read more

Searching for Florence

pdf iconDownload PDF (120.3 KB)
pp. 454-462

...For me,it was the eyes.With her hand resting easily on the piano, the girl gives the camera a piercing look of pride and self-possession, with just a hint of defiance. That look stirred up deep feelings in me—about music, about daughters (especially prideful, self-possessed,occasionally defiant daughters),about reaching back for the past. I admit—and it became even more plain later, when I...


pdf iconDownload PDF (85.6 KB)
pp. 463-467


pdf iconDownload PDF (139.6 KB)
pp. 469-486

E-ISBN-13: 9780873516877
E-ISBN-10: 0873516877
Print-ISBN-13: 9780873514446
Print-ISBN-10: 0873514440

Page Count: 512
Illustrations: 9 b&w photos
Publication Year: 2002

Edition: 1