The Historical and Cultural Society of Clay County will host Dr. Christopher Lehman for a discussion of slavery’s legacy in Minnesota. The free lecture, entitled “Slavery’s Reach: Southern Slaveholders & the North Star State,” will be held at the Hjemkomst Center on Saturday, February 22, from 1:00 p.m. to 2:30 p.m.
While some in the Midwest might remember Minnesota’s role in the U.S. Supreme Court’s infamous Dred Scott Decision or the efforts of Minnesota soldiers fighting for the Union Army, few know of slavery’s deep influence in the North Star State. From the 1840s through the end of the Civil War, leading Minnesotans invited slaveholders and their wealth into the free territory and free state of Minnesota, enriching the area’s communities and residents.
Slaveholder wealth was even invested in some of the state’s most significant institutions and provided a financial foundation for several towns and counties. Politicians and officeholders like Henry Sibley, Henry Rice, and Sylvanus Lowry worked for slaveholders — the latter two even directly lobbied slaveholders to invest in these northern properties. Similarly, six hundred residents of the new state of Minnesota petitioned the legislature to make slavery legal for vacationing southerners who brought their slaves for comfort and convenience while they escaped the summer heat of the south. The money generated by those Minnesota investments also flowed back to the South, supporting some of the United States’ largest slave plantations.
Lehman, professor and chair of Ethnic Studies at St. Cloud State University, draws on research conducted for his recent book, “Slavery’s Reach: Southern Slaveholders & the North Star State.” The book was published by the Minnesota Historical Society Press and recently nominated for a Minnesota Book Award.
Admission to the lecture is free and open to the public.
IF YOU GO
Slavery’s Reach: Southern Slaveholders & the North Star State