Tribune editorial: The Civil War did change our state
Exactly 150 years ago Tuesday -- on April 12, 1861 -- Confederate forces fired upon Fort Sumter in South Carolina. This war, that began 1,422 miles from Willmar, also changed the future of west central Minnesota and the rest of the state.
The Civil War began a wave of change that still affects America, Minnesota and every American Indian tribe to this day.
First, the Civil War was a war among Americans -- where friends fought friends, brothers fought brothers and fathers fought sons. It was an American war to decide the future of America. It tore communities and families apart, creating friction that lasted over a century.
The Civil War created significant change: This War Between the States ended slavery, secured and strengthened the federal republic, invented the concept of 'total warfare,' opened Minnesota and the West to settlement and destroyed Southern culture and the agriculture industry upon which it existed.
In Minnesota, the Civil War had major impacts as well.
Minnesota's Gov. Alexander Ramsey was the first governor in the North to volunteer troops for the Union Army. He was also an advocate of removal of the Sioux Indian tribes from Minnesota.
As the young state furnished troops, the number of troops and men remaining in Minnesota declined.
With the Southern opposition gone, Congress passed and President Lincoln signed in 1862 the Homestead Act, which was one of three laws that opened undeveloped federal land west of the Mississippi River. President Lincoln signed it into law in May 1861.
The federal government's ability to pay and meet their treaty obligations were challenged by the Civil War. The Dakotas Indians were frustrated as well as hungry, due to a crop failure and that treaty provisions and payments were not provide in time.
The Dakotas also understood the threat of Western expansion and the absence of Minnesota's military troops, many of whom were now fighting in the eastern U.S.
Without the start of the Civil War, the Dakota War of 1862 in Minnesota may never have started.
The combination of the Civil War and the Dakota War of 1862 changed west central Minnesota and the rest of the state forever.
The Dakota communities of the Upper Sioux, the Lower Sioux and elsewhere in the state were devastated. These communities were soon removed out of state to reservations in South Dakota and Nebraska. The Dakotas did not return to Minnesota for nearly two decades.
The young state of Minnesota's settlement slowed significantly, as immigrants feared moving into the Dakota War area.
The economic and railroad development of Minnesota slowed as the Union fought the Civil War and Minnesota worried about the Dakota War.
Over the next four years, west central Minnesota and America will observe the sesquicentennial of the Civil War and of each major event.
It will be a time to reflect and remember all the losses and sacrifices along with the achievements and historic moments.