RCHS, with author and interviewer Paul Nelson, has developed a series of podcasts featuring interviews on subjects of historical interest.
Most recently, he and a team of historians have begun work on their March of the Governors podcast series. They’ll introduce listeners to each of Minnesota’s governors one by one. They start with a feature on Henry Sibley and will add more governors over the coming weeks and months. Tune in often to see what’s new.
All the podcasts are available here.
Featured image: Postcard of the Minnesota State Capitol. From the RCHS Collection.
March of the Governors
The “March of the Governors” podcast series provides brief snapshots of Minnesota’s governors during their terms in office. As you might imagine, there’s far more to each of their stories, both positive and negative. Thank you for joining us on this journey, and we hope you will be inspired to learn more.
March of the Governors #1: Henry Hastings Sibley
This is the first in a new series of podcasts. We call it March of the Governors because we will examine the lives and careers of governors of the State of Minnesota, one by one. We start with our first state governor, Henry Hastings Sibley, who served from 1858 to 1860.
Although he was no longer governor at the outbreak of the US-Dakota War of 1862, Sibley commanded US troops during the war and in punitive expeditions in the years following. He also organized the military commission that condemned many Dakota men to death. Ramsey County Historical Society acknowledges the negative implications of Sibley’s actions during and following the US-Dakota War. We encourage our listeners to further research the circumstances and events leading up to and following this war to better understand the context of these actions and their outcomes.
March of the Governors #2: Alexander Ramsey
Alexander Ramsey did not have it easy. He was orphaned at ten and worked as a store clerk and a carpenter before finding his vocation in politics. He served two terms in Congress from Pennsylvania. For his service to the Whig Party, he was rewarded, if you call it that, with an appointment to serve as territorial governor (1849) in a cold place with hardly any people—Minnesota. He accepted and later succeeded his rival Henry Sibley to become our second state governor. His three years in office were nothing but crisis—financial depression, war, and war. The defining event of his administration was the US-Dakota War of 1862, something that has darkened Ramsey’s reputation forever. His policies had life-and-death consequences for people at the time, and the ramifications of these policies are still felt today.
Ramsey County Historical Society acknowledges that its namesake, Alexander Ramsey, called for all Dakota people in Minnesota to “be exterminated or driven forever beyond the borders of Minnesota,” their homeland. This codification of genocidal state policy resulted in the violent and forced removal of Dakota people from their homeland. To understand Ramsey’s policies and actions in the context of both the past AND the present, listeners may want to further research the circumstances and events leading up to and following the US-Dakota War.
March of the Governors #3: Henry
Henry Swift came to Minnesota from Ohio as a young man, eventually settling in St. Peter. He was elected to the state senate and saw combat in the US-Dakota War of 1862 at the Battles of New Ulm. The next year, because of Lieutenant Governor Ignatius Donnelly’s election to the US House of Representatives and Governor Alexander Ramsey’s election to the US Senate, Swift was quickly elevated to the governorship from his position as president pro tempore of the Minnesota Senate. He served the remainder of Ramsey’s original term but declined to run for election on his own.
To learn more about the US Dakota War and Swift’s involvement in it, Ramsey County Historical Society encourages our listeners to further research the circumstances and events leading up to and following this war to better understand the context and the outcomes.
March of the Governors #4: Stephen Miller
Stephen Miller moved to Minnesota in middle age from Pennsylvania, several years after his friend Alexander Ramsey had moved to the state. He immediately involved himself in politics in St. Cloud. With the outbreak of the Civil War, he was named lieutenant colonel of the First Minnesota Regiment. He distinguished himself in battle and upon returning to Minnesota, supervised the imprisonment of 303 Dakota men and the execution of thirty-eight who were condemned for their part in the US-Dakota War of 1862. With Ramsey’s support, he was elected governor in 1864.
To learn more about the US Dakota War and Miller’s involvement in it, Ramsey County Historical Society encourages our listeners to further research the circumstances and events leading up to and following this war to better understand the context and the outcomes.
March of the Governors #5: William Rainey Marshall
William Rainey Marshall could be said to occupy a prominent place in Minnesota’s list of founding fathers. He played a leading role in many of the seminal events that shaped the state’s early history. A strong opponent of slavery, he chaired the founding meeting of Minnesota’s Republican Party. He was an officer in the military expedition against the Dakota. He served with valor as commanding officer of the Minnesota’s 7th Regiment during the Civil War and was elected governor in November 1865 and reelected in 1867. According to contemporaries, he served with integrity and effectiveness and waged a contentious, but ultimately successful campaign for passage of a Black Suffrage amendment to Minnesota’s state constitution.
To learn more about the US Dakota War and Marshall’s involvement in it, Ramsey County Historical Society encourages our listeners to further research the circumstances and events leading up to and following this war to better understand the context and the outcomes.
The March of Governors #6: Horace Austin
The second of four Minnesota governors from St. Peter, Horace Austin was the state’s first governor to directly confront the increased power of railroads, the state’s most powerful business force. Noted for being honest and straight forward, Austin succeeded in regulating their rates after being reelected in 1871 to a second term by promising to “Shake the railroads over hell”. Minnesota’s growth and prosperity during his administration was marred only near its’ end by the western Minnesota grasshopper plague and the Panic of 1873. A lawyer, Austin’s political career began as a judge after his service as a captain in the mounted rangers’ unit in the Dakota War.
To learn more about the US Dakota War and Austin’s involvement in it, Ramsey County Historical Society encourages our listeners to further research the circumstances and events leading up to and following this war to better understand the context and the outcomes.
International Institute podcast available here
International Institute with Krista Hanson
In December 1919 the International Institute of Minnesota opened its doors in St. Paul to serve the needs of recent immigrants. One hundred years later, and still in St. Paul, it continues pursuing the same mission. In the spring 2019 issue of Ramsey County History magazine author Krista Hanson chronicles the first hundred years of the International Institute. In this issue of the Ramsey County History podcast, we interview the author.
Crusade for Forgotten Souls podcast available here
In the late 1940s and early 1950s, Minnesota led the nation in reform and modernization of the treatment of the mentally ill. But it didn’t last. Author Susan Bartlett Foote has told the story, a story at the same time inspiring and disheartening, in her new book, Crusade for Forgotten Souls. She brings to life some heroic and nearly forgotten people: the amazing mental health worker Engla Shey, the clergyman Arthur Foote, and the crusading governor, Luther Youngdahl.
June 4, 2018
North Star: Civil War Stories podcast available here
North Star: Civil War Stories with Daniel Bergin & Bill Green
Ramsey County Historical Society and TPT (Twin Cities Public Television) have collaborated in the production of a new documentary film, North Star: Civil War Stories, about Minnesotans of African heritage who served in the Civil War. At the premiere screening, filmmaker Daniel Bergin and historian Bill Green discussed the project.
April 9, 2018
Minnesota Caves podcast available here.
No one knows more about subterranean St. Paul — the caves beneath our feet — than geologist and author Greg Brick. In his new book, Minnesota Caves: History and Lore, Brick describes the many caves, both natural and human-made, under St. Paul — their legends, their lore, and their reality.
December 1, 2017
The Gibbs Farm podcast available here.
The Gibbs Farm
The Gibbs Farm museum preserves remnants of both native and pioneer life from the mid-19th century, right in the middle of a densely populated urban environment. There you can find farm buildings from the Gibbs family, an archeological site, re-creations of a sod hut, native tipi and long house, native prairie and an early orchard, and a one-room school house.
April 24, 2017
Fort Snelling and the Civil War
December 31, 2016
Ford Motor Company podcast available here.
Ford Motor Company in Saint Paul
For almost a century the Ford Motor Company built vehicles in St. Paul, first on University Avenue, and from 1925 onward in Highland Park. Architect and historian Brian McMahon has now published a book telling the story of Ford in St. Paul, The Ford Century. And for the Fall 2016 issue of Ramsey County History magazine McMahon wrote an article about the Highland Park factory’s defense production during World War II. We talked with Brian McMahon about both themes.
October 30, 2016
Who Was Harriet Bishop?
Harriet Bishop is the only well-known woman among St. Paul’s early settlers. In fact, she may be the best-known of all. She was Minnesota’s first schoolteacher, yes, but what else do we know about her? Minnesota’s leading historian, Professor Mary Wingerd, brings us closer to the real Harriet Bishop — writer, land speculator, jilted bride, divorcee — a person far more interesting than our image of her as virtuous schoolmarm.
March 9, 2016
Podcast available here.
He was sometimes known as “mayor for life.” George Latimer served as mayor of St. Paul from 1976 to 1990, the longest consecutive term in St. Paul history. A lot happened on his watch: the Town Square and Lowertown developments, the Dutch elm plague; the departure of big employers like Whirlpool and Amhoist; a population decline of 40,000, and plenty more. Throughout it all Mr. Latimer remained very popular; he is still popular today. In this interview you will hear some of the reason why: there is lots of laughter.