“Stephen Douglas proposes a bill for the creation of the Minnesota Territory.” *
Douglas was born in Vermont, and spent his early years there. When he was able, he migrated west and settled in Illinois. Within a year of moving west wrote is relatives back in Vermont saying,”I have become a Western man, have imbibed Western feelings principles and interests…” His political principles meshed nicely with the free-spirited populism of the west.**
Delegate to Congress from the soon-to-be “Western” Minnesota Territory, Henry H. Sibley worked with Senator Douglas to develop the nuts and bolts of this original proposal. Called the Organic Act, it provided organization of legal and legislative representation for the new territory. As an interesting sidebar, “an important provision of the Organic Act was the reservation of sections 16 and 36 of each township for school purposes.” ***
So we come to You to remember this event, Lord. We see, again, the spectacle of the mixed motives of Minnesota’s founders. On the one hand, they believe in organization, law, and education. On the other hand, the Territory soon enabled massive railroad land grants and corruption. In 1854, the Minnesota & Northwest Railroad, (eventually known as the Great Northern) committed so much fraud and bribery that their charter and land grants were revoked. Within three years, the same was granted five million acres and millions of dollars in bonds, yet they only built ten miles of railroad!? ****
We remember this dichotomy of purpose with You. Will You bless those, like Douglas and Sibley, who created the potential behind our state? We thank You for the aspirations of great men and women like them, who see the end from the beginning.
Conversely, we confess the dangers of living in a free society. Those who misuse their freedom can seek their own ends, and cause such devastation to their neighbors and the land. Will You have mercy on their selfishness, as well as the counter-judgment’s made by those most affected?
Minnesota is Your land. We are Your incomplete people. Come and help us live in right relationship with You and each other. Amen.