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Syndication

John Albert Johnson (March of the Governors Series #17)
Minnesota’s sixteenth governor, John Albert Johnson, was our fourth from St. Peter. He had a “rags-to-riches Horatio Alger life.” The son of Swedish immigrants, he quit school at age twelve to support his mother and siblings. Self-educated, he eventually became a newspaper editor, state legislator, and was elected governor three times. If he hadn’t died during his third term at the age of forty-seven, Johnson would have likely been a serious candidate for the presidency in 1912. His priorities in office were those of the Progressive Era—improved conservation, making the tax system more fair, better regulation of business, and protection for workers. Johnson unsuccessfully urged women’s suffrage, ending capital punishment, and direct election of US senators. One of our most popular governors, today, his statue stands in front of the state capitol.

Direct download: 20220113_johnson_for_posting.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:55pm CDT

March of the Governors, Podcast #16
Samuel Van Sant

Samuel Van Sant was Minnesota’s fifteenth governor—the first to serve in the twentieth century and the first to occupy the current capitol. After three years of combat duty in the Union cavalry  (1861-1864), Van Sant joined the family steamboat business in LeClaire, Iowa. In 1883, he moved to Winona and soon went into politics. A Republican, he was elected to the legislature in 1892 and rose to speaker of the house just two years later. A gifted public speaker, he was elected governor in 1900 and reelected in 1902. In keeping with the spirit of the age, he championed such progressive measures as reform of the state's tax system, advocating for wilderness protection, and extending the use of the primaries to nominate candidates. In the decades following his retirement from political office, Van Sant became a national leader in Civil War veterans’ affairs and was a popular speaker at Republican gatherings throughout Minnesota. He died in 1936 at the age of ninety-two.

Direct download: 20220516_van_sant_for_posting.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:57pm CDT

Three-term US congressman John Lind, a traditional Republican with a stream of populism coursing through his veins, made a major political course change in 1894. Unhappy with Republican policies, Lind, the first Swedish-American elected to Congress, opted not to run for a fourth term and quit the party. Two years later a fusion of Democrats, Populists and left-leaning Republicans convinced him to run for governor. David Clough narrowly defeated him. In 1898, Lind returned for another gubernatorial run, this time cruising to a convincing victory. A self-described political orphan during his second run for governor, John Lind proved a zealous, highly-principled advocate for progressive ideals. This former Republican broke that party’s hold on the governorship that began in 1859 with Alexander Ramsey.

Direct download: lind_for_posting_May_edit.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:17pm CDT

David Marston Clough was a lumber baron and politician who served as Minnesota’s Republican governor from 1895 to 1899. Born in New Hampshire in 1846, he moved with his family to Spencer Brook Township, Minnesota, in 1857. He was successful in the lumber business and moved into politics, serving as a city council member in Minneapolis, state senator, and lieutenant governor before his elevation to the gubernatorial seat upon the election of Governor Knute Nelson to the US Senate. He was then elected in his own right and served one two-year term before declining to run for reelection (and controversially endorsing the Democratic candidate in the following election). Shortly thereafter, he moved to Everett, Washington, to continue in the lumber business until his death in 1924.

Direct download: clough_for_posting.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:44am CDT

Knute Nelson (1843-1923) spent two years as Governor of Minnesota on his way to becoming a representative in the US Senate, where he served for twenty-eight years. Nelson was the first prominent Scandinavian-American politician in Minnesota and in the United States. He immigrated from Voss, Norway, to Chicago as a six-year-old child and spent most of his upbringing in Norwegian-immigrant communities in Wisconsin. He made his way to Minnesota after serving in the Union Army during the Civil War and apprenticing to become a lawyer. As a politician, Nelson leveraged his dual identity as a Norwegian and war veteran to gain support from both Scandinavian and American-born populations. During Nelson’s long and accomplished career, he made what is arguably his longest-lasting mark as a US representative with the passage of the Nelson Act in 1888. 
Direct download: 20210602_nelson_for_posting_copy.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:00am CDT

Minnesota’s seventh governor, Cushman Davis, served only one term from 1874 to 1876 during which most of the state recovered from the Panic of 1873. Highlights of his time in office include amending the state’s constitution to allow women to vote in school board elections and serve on the boards; establishing (and a year later abolishing) a railroad regulatory commission; and providing limited state assistance to farmers affected by the grasshopper plague. A prominent St. Paul attorney, Davis is most remembered today as a US Senator representing the state in Washington, DC, from 1887 until his death in 1900. 

Direct download: 20210313_motg_davis_for_posting.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:35pm CDT

May 2021: March of the Governors #3 - Henry Swift

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.

Direct download: 20210405_motg_swift_mp3_version_for_posting.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:57pm CDT

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 Sibley, governor 1858 to 1860.

Direct download: 20210405_motg_sibly_mp3_version_for_posting.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:48am CDT

The International Institute of Minnesota opened its doors, in St. Paul, in December of 1919, to serve the needs of recent immigrants and refugees. One hundred years later the world has changed, but the International Institute is still in St. Paul, still doing the same work. 

In this episode we interview Krista Hanson, author of the lead article in the spring 2019 edition of Ramsey County History magazine. The title of her article is "The Centennial of the International Institute of Minnesota."

Direct download: Ramsey_County_History_Podcast_013.1.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:58pm CDT

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. 

Direct download: Ramsey20County20History20Podcast20012.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:58pm CDT

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 ande historian Bill Green discussed the project.

Direct download: Ramsey20County20History20Podcast20011.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:24pm CDT

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.

Direct download: Ramsey20County20History20Podcast20010.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:48pm CDT

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.

Category:general -- posted at: 9:24pm CDT

The Euro-American phase of Minnesota history begins with Fort Snelling, starting in 1820. The fort's busiest period was 1861-1865 -- the Civil War and the Dakota Conflict. All of the soldiers headed south to fight for the Union, and west to fight the Dakota, passed through the fort. And over a thousand displaced Dakota were interned there too. Steve Osman's new book, Fort Snelling and the Civil War -- published by the Ramsey County Historical Society -- is full of stories you've never heard before. 

Direct download: Ramsey20County20History20Podcast20008.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:46pm CDT

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 has written an article about the Highland Park factory's defense production during World War II. We talked with Brian McMahon about both themes.

Direct download: Ramsey20County20History20Podcast20007.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:57pm CDT

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.

Direct download: Ramsey_County_History_Podcast_006.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:49pm CDT

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 ob 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.

Direct download: Ramsey_County_History_Podcast_005.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:07pm CDT

For more than a century pioneer legislator Joe Rolette has been credit for preventing the Minnesota state capital from being moved from St. Paul to St. Peter. The story has been repeated countless times. But, Is it true?

In this episode Minnesota historian William Lass makes the case that the popular story is folklore, not history.  

Direct download: Ramsey20County20History20Podcast20004.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:06am CDT

What can an anti-Nazi writer and intellectual, exiled in the United States, do for his beloved Germany? Over 70 years ago Prince Hubertus zu Lowenstein visited St. Paul and met Hamline University student John Larson. A lifelong friendship and flood of letters ensued. John Larson has now assembled some of these letters, from World War II and after, into a book entitled The German Friend. We interviewed Mr. Larson at his home on Taylors Falls.

The Minnesota Historical Society has created a new venture called MNopedia: short-form articles of state history -- including several Ramsey County stories -- in an on-line encyclopedia. We interviewed MNopedia's then-editor, Molly Huber.

Direct download: Ramsey_County_History_Podcast_003.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:50pm CDT

Edward Phelan was one of St. Paul's very first settlers. Was he also a murderer? In September 1839 the body of Phelan's cabin-mate, John Hays, was found floating in the Mississippi River. He had been beaten to death. Phelan was charged with the crime, but not convicted. Now, 170 years later, St. Paul author Gary Brueggemann believes he has solved the case. He tells the tale in his new book, Minnesota's Oldest Murder Mystery. We met with Gary Brueggemann at Landmark Center in downtown St. Paul.

 

Swede Hollow is a ravine on St. Paul's east side, and for a hundred years -- 1850s to 1950s -- a receptor neighborhood for recent immigrants. Swedes first, then Italians, then Mexican-Americans. St. Paul historian Steve Trimble edited the Swede Hollow memoirs of Michael Sanchelli for the Spring 2014 issue of Ramsey County History magazine. Steve Trimble joined us to talk about life in old Swede Hollow. 

Direct download: Ramsey_County_History_Podcast_002.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:17pm CDT

John Milton tells the story of how citizen opposition delayed for many years to completion of Interstate Highway 35 through St. Paul. And labor historian Peter Rachleff describes how he and his partner Beth Cleary plan to convert the closed Arlington Hills public library into the East Side Freedom Library in St. Paul.

Direct download: Ramsey_County_HIstory_Podcast_001.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:35pm CDT

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