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Minnesota Territory

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Territory of Minnesota
Organized incorporated territory of the United States

CapitalSt. Paul
 • TypeOrganized incorporated territory
• 1849–1853
Alexander Ramsey
• 1853–1857
Willis A. Gorman
• 1857–1858
Samuel Medary
LegislatureMinnesota Territorial Legislature
• Split from Iowa and Wisconsin territories
March 3 1849
• Statehood
May 11 1858
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Iowa Territory
Wisconsin Territory
Unorganized territory

The Territory of Minnesota was an organized incorporated territory of the United States that existed from March 3, 1849, until May 11, 1858, when the eastern portion of the territory was admitted to the Union as the State of Minnesota.


Historical population
Source: 1850;[1]
The nine original counties of the Minnesota Territory extended into what became North Dakota and South Dakota (left)
The nine original counties of the Minnesota Territory extended into what became North Dakota and South Dakota (left)
Minnesota Territory Centennial stamp, issued in 1949 in recognition of Minnesota's unique Metis oxcart traders.
Minnesota Territory Centennial stamp, issued in 1949 in recognition of Minnesota's unique Metis oxcart traders.

The Minnesota Territory was formed on March 3, 1849.[2] At the time of formation there were 5000 settlers living in the Territory. There were no roads from adjoining Wisconsin or Iowa. Easiest access to the region was via waterway of which the Mississippi River was primary. The preeminent mode of transport was the  riverboat. Minnesota Territory had three significant pioneer settlements: St. Paul, St. Anthony/Minneapolis, and Stillwater plus two military reservations: Fort Snelling and Fort Ripley. All of these were located on a waterway. A reservation for the Winnebago had been created at Long Prairie in 1848. The Chippewa Agency, at Crow wing, was founded in 1852. The Upper and Lower Sioux Agencies were created in 1853. All of these were located adjacent a waterway also. The primary territorial institutions were in the three main settlements, St. Paul was made the capital; Minneapolis was selected as the site of the University of Minnesota; and Stillwater was chosen for the Territorial Prison.[3] The Military Reservations were Federal land of which the Fort Snelling Unorganized Territory still exists. Fort Ripley is now the Minnesota National Guard's Camp Ripley. The first school in the Territory was located at Fort Snelling as was the first Post Office.[4] [5] The first justice of the peace was at Mendota as was the first Church in Minnesota.  St. Peter's Catholic Church at Mendota was built in 1840.

Governor Ramsey requested that Congress approve funds for five military roads in the Territory: Mendota/Fort Snelling to the Big Sioux confluence with the Missouri River, Point Douglas to Fort Ripley, Fort Ripley Road/Swan River to Long Prairie Indian Agency, Point Douglas to Superior.[6] Money was approved in 1850 for four with the Point Douglas Fort Ripley Military Road being the first. Money was approved later for a survey of the route to the Big Sioux/Missouri,the Fort Ridgely and South Pass Wagon Road and the Wagon Road from Fort Ripley to Fort Abercrombie. Private trails were being cut too. The most well known of these was Dodd Road from 1853. It was named after Capt. Dodd, and significant portions of it still exist.[6]

When the region was Wisconsin Territory the Red River Trails were further developed by Joe Rolette.[6] There were three main trails now identified as the : West Plains Trail, East Plains Trail, and the Woods Trails.[6] They connected Fort Gerry and the Selkirk Settlement with Fort Snelling and the American Fur Trading Company at Mendota.[6] Later, the Oxcarts became synonymous with St. Paul's Kellogg St. and the riverboat landing. Fort Ripley lay along the East Plains Trail.

Territorial Governors

# Governor Took office Left office Party
1 Alexander Ramsey
Alexander Ramsey - Brady-Handy.jpg
June 1, 1849 May 15, 1853 Whig
2 Willis Arnold Gorman
May 15, 1853 April 23, 1857 Democratic
3 Samuel Medary
April 23, 1857 May 24, 1858 Democratic

Territorial Secretaries

Territorial Attorneys General

Congressional Delegates

See also


  1. ^ Forstall, Richard L. (ed.). Population of the States and Counties of the United States: 1790–1990 (PDF) (Report). United States Census Bureau. p. 4. Retrieved May 18, 2020.
  2. ^ See The Student Page of the Minnesota Secretary of State Archived July 1, 2007, at the Wayback Machine for an overview of how Minnesota's state boundaries were determined.
  3. ^ "History of the Minnesota Territory". Minnesota Territorial Pioneers. Archived from the original on July 24, 2016. Retrieved August 25, 2019.
  4. ^ Colbruno, Michael "Lives of the Dead: Mountain View Cemetery in Oakland." December 12, 2009. Retrieved March 5, 2015.
  5. ^ The Post Office in Early Minnesota, Minnesota History Vol. 40 No.2, Summer 1966, J. W. Patterson, p.78, MHS website [1]
  6. ^ a b c d e A History of Minnesota’s Highways Part One, Streets MN webpage, Monte Castleman, February 9, 2018 [2]

External links

Media related to Minnesota Territory at Wikimedia Commons

This page was last edited on 8 January 2021, at 20:25
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