Originally published 06/30/2013
In the smoky twilight outside Gettysburg on July 2, 1863, several regiments from Alabama were fighting their way down a slope into a rocky creek bed. Union soldiers were fleeing in front of them. The Confederates were almost at their goal -- to completely break the Union line and take a battery of big guns a few hundred yards away at the top of another slope called Cemetery Ridge. But out of the smoke, a line of Minnesotans came running toward them, firing and charging with leveled bayonets. Two major Civil War anniversaries are coming up this week. Given the choice between visiting Vicksburg, Miss., and Gettysburg, Pa., there was never any question of where dignitaries from Minnesota would pay their respects. The fall of Vicksburg on July 4, 1863, may have been more important to defeating the South, and several thousand Minnesota soldiers were part of the siege that preceded the city's surrender.
Originally published 06/26/2013
ST. PAUL, Minn. — A Democratic legislator from Minnesota swiftly apologized Tuesday for a tweet he sent that referred to Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas as “Uncle Thomas” following a major ruling on the nation’s landmark voting rights law.Thomas, who is black, was part of a 5-4 majority that invalidated part of the Voting Rights Act meant to deter racial discrimination in elections. The ruling makes it tougher for federal officials to prevent states and localities, primarily in the South, from adopting policies that add barriers to voting.In response, state Rep. Ryan Winkler tweeted: “#SCOTUS VRA majority is four accomplices to race discrimination and one Uncle Thomas. Marriage decision may blur Court’s backsliding.”...
Originally published 05/28/2013
Hundreds of Civil War veterans are resting in the St. Paul's historic Oakland Cemetery, but one man says their memory and sacrifice is sometimes overlooked or forgotten -- and he's on a mission to change that.Years ago, Patrick Hill stumbled across a badly weathered grave marker belonging to an Civil War captain. Since then, he's been on a mission to replace other Civil War-era gravestones at the cemetery and remind people about the veterans' sacrifice."There are probably six to 800 Civil War guys in here," Hill estimated.Rows and rows of gravestones in all shapes and sizes bare the names and memories of the past, including the one belonging to Capt. Wilson B. Farrel....
Originally published 03/05/2013
In the annals of emancipation, Minnesota is recognized as one of the “free states.”But when author and historian Walt Bachman began digging into his family history, he uncovered substantial evidence that as late as the 1850s, slaves were kept by officers at Fort Snelling and Fort Ridgely, in full knowledge of — and even subsidized by — the government.When these slaves were sold to civilians, they continued to live in Minnesota under the bonds of slavery, and their children were born into slavery.“Slavery in the North was not tied to agriculture or industry, as it was in the South. They typically worked as house servants,” said Bachman.“In Minnesota, there were never large gangs of farm workers, or auction blocks. There weren’t those trappings of the worst forms of slavery,” he said. “But there is ample evidence of brutality towards slaves in Minnesota, including a slave who was whipped to death by her Army officer master. Slavery, wherever it was practiced, was a pernicious institution, and Minnesota was no exception.”...
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