20th Century, Civics, education, History, Intercession, Minnesota, Uncategorized, World War II

It’s Your G.I. Bill of Rights June 22, 1944

colmery

Harry Colmery, Drafter of Servicemen’s Readjustment Act**

1944-1956
To help World War II veterans make a smooth transition back to civilian life, the U.S. government provided them with low-interest loans to put toward education, business startups, and housing expenses. The program, known as the Serviceman’s Readjustment Act, or more commonly, the “G.I. Bill of Rights,” also contained the 52-20 provision, which paid veterans $20 per week for up to 52 weeks while seeking employment.

According to the Veterans Administration (VA), a total of 7.8 million World War II vets took advantage of the G.I. Bill to get an education, and nearly 2.4 million benefited from VA-backed home loans. Less than 20 percent of the United States’ 16 million eligible veterans participated in the 52-20 program.*

“Never again do we want to see the honor and glory of our nation fade to the extent that her men of arms, with despondent heart and palsied limb, totter from door to door, bowing their souls to the frozen bosom of reluctant charity.”
American Legion Past National Commander Harry Colmery, after helping draft the Servicemen’s Readjustment Act in the winter of 1943-1944**

As the author of the Servicemen’s Readjustment Act, Colmery acted as the national catalyst to offer opportunity to the 15 million men and women returning from duty. R.B. Pitkin, editor of “The American Legion Magazine”, became a key figure in consolidating grassroots proposals, summarizes them into the following objectives.
Educational opportunity
Vocational on-the-job training
Readjustment allowances
Home, farm and business loans
Review of discharges
Adequate health care
Prompt settlement of disability claims
Mustering-out pay (removed from the bill after it was enacted separately)
Effective veteran employment services
Concentration of all veterans functions in the Veterans Administration ***

How did this look in the North Star state? Soon after the end of the war, nearly half the students in Minnesota colleges and universities are World War II veterans studying under the benefits of the G.I. Bill.**
For example, 25,000 vets enrolled at the University of Minnesota in this period; the most of anywhere in the nation. Local private college attendance also ballooned with returning vets; Bethel University had to expand from a two-year program to a four-year program to meet the demand.****

Yet, one wonders, how did this program impact the lives of its participants? Below are a few quotes from interviews with WWII veterans, conducted by writer Kevyn Burger.****
“Without the GI Bill, I never would have gone to college and I would have lived with disappointment… I had a hunger for learning I had to satisfy.”
Jeanne Bearmon, Women’s Army Corps.
“The GI Bill was fantastic, I got $75 a month to live on. That was plenty, more than enough. I had a nice room a few blocks from campus for $7 a week.”
Sherman Garon, US Army

Lord, there is something so beautiful about debts repaid, it’s almost indescribable! We commend these returning vets of WWII before You. We are doubly-honored as we think of them; they showed total commitment to freedom and freedom’s G-d, and our society echoed back its gratitude! What seems so exceptional about them is that they never seemed to expect payback from America?!

Of course, this is a generalization, but the circumstantial evidence and their testimonies prove it true over and over again. It reminds me of Your Holy Word.
“And that’s how it should be with you. When you’ve done all you should, then say, “We are merely servants, and we have simply done our duty.” Luke 17:10 CEV
What a joy it must have been to give this small token, the GI Bill, to those so humble and who so thoroughly utilized it?

We also specifically commend Colmery and Pitkin to You. We thank you for their gifts of vision and its administration. Will You bless our state and nation with similar leadership and administration? We perpetually need both dreamers and the activators of dreams; Will You give us the grace to do our role?

In contrast, we confess the limitations of administering the GI Bill in the present: it seems so bureaucratic, it feels un-relational, and the benefits seem far smaller than the costs of administering them. Our society wants to give to vets, it puts money in the offering plate, but somehow only $1 out of $7 seems to reach the hand that needs it. Will You help us with this problem? Will You stop our bickering over the amount we should give, and let us draw a straighter line between giver and receiver?

In the same way, we note the increase in the costs of education and student housing. Returning vets now routinely pay seventy to a hundred times the costs these servicemen and women paid for tuition and student housing?! Too many of these young men and women start their lives saddled with debt, yet they have taken the same risks as their forbearers; doing their duty up to the cost of their lives!

Presently, it feels as though we have lost our empathy for them. We are an heinously distracted people, continuously diverted from paying attention to real people and real relationships. Will You kindly reveal our GI Bill of wrongs, and the heart attitudes that foist scorn on the selfless service of others? Have mercy Lord, we don’t fully understand the depths of their sacrifice, nor of Yours!

“Who are you to judge someone else’s servant? To his own master he stands or falls. And he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand.” Romans 14:4 BSB*****

Minnesota Department of the American Legion. Minnesota Historical Society, St. Paul, MN. 1944. http://www.mnhs.org/mgg/artifact/gibill_rights
** https://www.legion.org/education/history
*** Pitkin, R.B. “The American Legion Magazine”. Jan.-Mar. 1969 ibid.
**** Burger, Kevyn, “GI Bill gave Minnesota veterans a path to the middle class”. StarTribune, Minneapolis, MN. 11-11-2014 Variety Section. (Kevyn Burger is a freelance writer and a newscaster at BringMeTheNews.com.)
***** https://www.biblehub.com/romans/14-4.htm

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20th Century, Civics, History, Intercession, Leadership, Minnesota, Politics

DFL Formed

DFLCommiePoster275

Apr 15, 1944
The Minnesota Democratic Farmer-Labor Party (DFL) is created on April 15, 1944, when the Minnesota Democratic Party and the Farmer-Labor Party merged. Hubert H. Humphrey is a driving force behind the merger of Democrats and Farmer-Laborites, but he turns down the new party’s nomination for governor.*

Going first to the source, the DFL website, we find that “Hubert H. Humphrey was instrumental in the merger and is considered by many to be the founder of the Minnesota DFL Party.”** Given the ubiquitous presence and success of the DFL in the current era, one can easily wonder: “What kind of rift existed between Democrats and the Farmer-Laborites back then? And “What was it about Humphrey’s leadership that helped to bridge this gap?” Below is a succinct history of the birth and early years of the DFL party in Minnesota as told by Minnpost author Iric Nathanson.***

“The 1944 merger was the result of a complex interaction of domestic and international political forces that created an unholy alliance between Robert Hannegan, the chairman of the Democratic National Committee, and Earl Browder, the head of the U.S. Communist Party.

In 1944, World War II was still underway.  The Russians were allied with the United States in an effort to defeat the Nazis, and the Communist Party believed that its short-term interests were best served by aligning with the Democratic Party and supporting the Roosevelt administration’s war effort.  That position would soon change, but in 1944 it was the party line.  Browder directed his followers in Minnesota’s Farmer Labor Party to support the merger, and they did as they were told — albeit somewhat reluctantly.
Browder’s position also influenced left-leaning Farmer Laborites who were aligned with the Communists in a movement known as the Popular Front.

While Browder was supporting the merger for his own purposes, Hannegan was looking ahead to the 1944 presidential election. The DNC chairman feared the prospect of losing Minnesota to the Republicans if the forces on the left were split here, so the merger was very much in his party’s interests as well.”***

So, we see a marked distinction between the Democrats and Farmer- Laborites at the national level as to who would be their source of authority, Washington or the international Communist Party, but what were the crucial factors at the local level? One could argue that age played a role; former U.S. Vice President Walter Mondale stated that Humphrey, himself, and the young Democrats were mocked as “the Diaper Brigade”.**** According to retired Metro State University professor Tom O’Connell, the counter-punch was that the FLP had “grown long in the tooth”, ie. too old.

O’Connell offers another brilliant opinion as to the basis of this divide; the FLP was a response to the Great Depression while the liberal Democrats around Humphrey were shaped by World War II.**** This observation rings true because of the incredible contrasts Minnesotans’ experienced during these two ages. Children of the 1920’s and 1930’s remembered: scarcity of food, bankruptcy, chronically unemployed parents, Wall Street and the Federal Government fighting to win economic control while the average family loses. Granted, the 1940’s war generation also grew up with wants and rationing, but look at what they gained: opportunity to serve in the military, opportunity for nearly unlimited hours of employment for people from all walks of life, and a state and nation rallying together to triumph over the enemy.

Young liberals maintained control of the party for the next few years, but lost momentum in 1946 to the FLP. Balance returned in the 1948 DFL convention in Brainerd. Though controlled by the Humphrey wing initially, the left wing eventually bowed out, and held its own convention. Though they produced a list of electors, they lost their slate to Humphrey’s in a decision by the Minnesota Supreme Court.****

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Humphrey gained momentum with his strong anti-segregation speech at the DNC’s national convention of 1948. This famous oratory cinched adding a civil rights plank to the party’s platform. Below is an excerpt that crystalizes his vision for a post-war Minnesota, America, and the world at large.

“Yes, this is far more than a party matter. Every citizen has a stake in the emergence of the United States as the leader of the free world. That world is being challenged by the world of slavery. For us to play our part effectively, we must be in a morally sound position.
We cannot use a double standard for measuring our own and other people’s policies. Our demands for democratic practices in other lands will be no more effective than the guarantees of those practiced in our own country.”*****

We turn our thoughts to You now Lord; may we sit with You and watch this history? We love that You simultaneously are the most responsible leader in the universe, and also the most empathetic! We love that the government of eternity is on Your shoulders because You are omnipotent; infinitely capable. Will You lead us in our intercession for these events, and bring Your Healing Presence into them?

Remarkably, the first thoughts that come to my mind are from a speech by internationally-acclaimed bass player Victor Wooten. A core point of his talk was that music is a language, and we should pass it on in the same way as we teach our young ones our mother tongue; by living with them. Language is caught first, and taught later. Our parents look us in the eye, babble with us, talk to us, listen to us, and model a lifestyle.******

Many of our divides, Adonai, seem to commence at this same point. We are like parents who suck all the color and joy out of a our child’s initial passion for music by making it a chore. We don’t let them discover music through time with their instrument, but instantly burden them with sheet music, scales, and music theory. We do not take time to make music with them, but rigidly set a timer on the piano and say, “Don’t stop practicing until the buzzer goes off!”

Blessed and Holy Ruler, does this apply to April 15, 1944, and the politics of this era? We have tried, in the same breath, to have a political conversation and dominate a political conversation. We have spoken and written, concurrently, that the rules matter and that the rules don’t matter. We have practiced, simultaneously, to both respect boundaries, and disavow boundaries when they interfere with the goals of our revolution. We have looked outwardly for societies evils and put our hand on the heads of its scapegoats to transfer our sins and pain outwardly to them. We have not contemplated our own inward incompleteness that fuels our drive to power.

In all this, as Democratic and Farmer-Laborite Minnesotans, have deeply sinned against You. We have judged our neighbor as coming up short, but not ourselves! We have attempted a coup d’etat to usurp Your rightful position as Head Justice of the Universe, and have separated from justice in the process. We have offended You, and Your sacred image within our neighbor. Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on we sinners!

We continue, giving thanks, for the light and healing that began to heal this breach between liberals and progressives on April 15, 1944 and the years that followed. We thank You for those who let young people into the political process. We thank You for those who, in forbearance, overlooked their moments of overzealous energy, failure to understand parliamentary procedure, or arrogance and disrespect towards the Party’s elders. We invite Your blessings on us as a people; will You help and cause us to mentor our youth into wisdom, and active participation in leadership?

Moreover, we thank You thank You have given people eyelids, but not earlids! Hear our acknowledgement of those who listened to their beloved political enemies! We applaud those who heard the empty bellies of the Great Depression survivors and gave ear to the dawning rally cries of the generation of World War II! We bless this virtue of acknowledgement in Humphrey, and ask for leadership like his in the Midwest, both present and future tense, that tempers strong vision with a listening heart. May we rediscover the music of civil discourse, and the gratification of discovering our place in the song of Minnesota! May it be so!

“making your ear attentive to wisdom and inclining your heart to understanding;” Proverbs 2:2 ESV

Timeline formerly at this URL: mnhs.org/about/dipity_timeline.htm
The Minnesota Historical Society Web site, http://www.mnhs.org, is fantastic! Check it out! Images are from https://images.google.com/?gws_rd=ssl; again, an amazing resource!
** https://www.dfl.org/about/dfl-history/
*** https://www.minnpost.com/politics-policy/2008/02/political-warfare-looking-back-early-dfl-caucuses/ citing Nathanson, Iric. “Political warfare: Looking back at early DFL caucuses.” Minnpost. Internet. 4 February 2008.
**** https://www.minnpost.com/politics-policy/2019/09/as-the-dfl-marks-its-75th-anniversary-do-the-partys-farmer-labor-roots-still-mean-anything/ Callaghan, Peter. “As the DFL marks its 75th anniversary, do the party’s Farmer-Labor roots still mean anything?” Minnpost. Internet. 18 September 2019.
***** http://www.mnhs.org/library/tips/history_topics/42humphreyspeech/transcript.php
****** https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2zvjW9arAZ0 Wooten, Victor. “Music as a Language: Victor Wooten at TEDxGabriolaIsland”. YouTube. 29 May 2013.
******* https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Proverbs+2%3A2&version=ESV

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20th Century, Boys, Catholic, Christian, Civics, Culture, Environment, Exploration, Faith, Gender, Girls, History, Intercession, Jesus, Jews, Men, Minnesota

Minnesota Boy Scouts Organization Forms

journal_1913boyscouts

1910
A growing fear of “boys in trouble” leads to the founding of Minnesota’s first Boy Scout troop, only eight months after the organization arrives in the United States from England.*

What can I say about the Scouts? For openers, thanks that its’ founders sought a way to connect boys with each other. Each Scout is an important part of his troop. For many, this is a first affirmation of their maleness. He learns that he can do his part and become worthy of trust.

Even in failure, like forgetting key food items for a camping trip, the troop may rib him, but ultimately close ranks and support him. That Scout learns, “ I can make do if I’m in need, and overcome temporary discomfort.” What an important lifelong lesson!

Next, the Boy Scouts will get a child or teen out of his home environment. A city kid will see places that are truly wild and untamed. He will get to know nature, and learn a proper respect for living things. He may explore the deserts, make camp in the snow, or learn wilderness survival. The Scouts exist to both invite and instill a sense of adventure in young men.

Finally, a Scout becomes aware that he can learn expertise. A simple item, like a rope, becomes the means to teach him knots and lashings, but also symbolically recognizes his work by earning a merit badge. Why do the Scouts collect merit badges? Maybe, because its a symbol of honor given by significant males, and told “Well done!”

Lord, thanks for this important event in 1910. Thanks for, thereby, giving thousands of boys a place to belong, share adventures, learn life skills, and to receive honor. Will You help them thrive in helping Minnesota boys become men?

Further, will You forgive us our failures and rejections of of our youth? We simply fail to relate. We simply fail to intersect, spend time, and show interest in their dreams. We stumble because we do not know how a simple kind word, demonstration, or listening can pivot a kid’s life path.

For example, when I was a boy, my dad was very handy and could build just about anything. He wanted me to watch him work, but he never let hold the tools. It was a perfect day for this 9 year old Cub Scout when the leader gave me a box of nails, a wood block, and a hammer. He just let us pound a design of our choice into the block, and give the results to our mothers. I’m sure it wasn’t a perfect flour de lis, but it was a symbol of the day adults trusted me with real tools.

Will You give us inspiration as a society to create more pathways, like the Scouts, that call our boys and girls out of complacency and into a life of purpose, expertise, relationship, and adventure? Will You help us get out of the way and not rescue them right away? Will You help us put tools in their hands and let them try? May they “Be prepared” for life!

*P.T.H. cites timeline formerly at this URL: mnhs.org/about/dipity_timeline.htm
The Minnesota Historical Society Web site, http://www.mnhs.org, is fantastic! Check it out! Images are from https://images.google.com/?gws_rd=ssl; again, an amazing resource!

**More on the character traits taught by the Scouts. http://www.boyscouttrail.com/content/content/scout_law-1760.asp

 

 

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20th Century, Christian, Civics, History, Minnesota, State Government

Governor Johnson Dies in Office

1909-09-21postcardGovJohnsonFuneralTrainRochesterMN

Sep 21, 1909
John A. Johnson was the state’s first governor to die in office, following surgery.*

My first question to You is; “Why do we exalt our political leaders?” Does a governor’s death hold more weight and import than one his constituents? Perhaps our Johnson’s death connotes the identification Minnesotans had with him; he was one of us.

Lord, thank You that Minnesotans did indeed relate with Governor Johnson! Thanks for the gift of empathy one feels for a fellow countryman. Thank You that we were created with a longing and value of our sense of place. Our geography imprints on our soul whether: city streets, a warehouse, open roads, or open fields.

We seem to own what our eyes often take in. A street we frequent becomes our ‘stomping grounds’. A forest we hunt we know “like the back of our hand”. May our leaders continue Johnson’s legacy of being “one of us”.

Good Governor of All, will You remember us when we lose a head of state, or maybe even a hero? Will You help us deal with losing a key leader or mentor in our lives? Will You honor the memory of Governor Johnson? Will You keep us from the extremes of guilt through creating a cult of personality around politicians, or neglecting to groom and constantly call forth the headship of the next generation?

*P.T.H. cites timeline formerly at this URL: mnhs.org/about/dipity_timeline.htm
The Minnesota Historical Society Web site, http://www.mnhs.org, is fantastic! Check it out! Images are from https://images.google.com/?gws_rd=ssl; again, an amazing resource!

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20th Century, Civics, Economics, government, History, Intercession, Jesus, law, Minnesota, Politics, railroad, State Government

Van Sant Becomes Governor

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Jan 7, 1901 to Jan 4, 1905
Samuel R. Van Sant takes office as the state’s 15th governor on January 7, 1901. He began his career as a riverboat builder on the Upper Mississippi. As Minnesota’s fifteenth governor, he led the fight to brake the runaway powers of the railroads.*

Read an excerpt of what it meant to be a “trustbuster” in his era?

“The second was the establishment of the State Board of Control to take on the railroad monopolies. The old riverboat captain didn’t have much love for his main competition on the iron rails. He particularly detested the Northern Securities Company run by James J. Hill and J.P. Morgan. The jovial riverboat captain turned out to be a very determined trustbuster. Van Sant’s battle soon turned into one of the biggest court dramas to ever come out of Minnesota in this suit to dissolve the Hill-Morgan railroad monopoly. He soon won the backing of President Teddy Roosevelt under the newly passed Sherman Antitrust Act. In 1904 the Supreme Court, by a vote of 5 to 4, upheld the determination that the Northern Securities Company was an illegal restraint of trade and the trust was broken up.”

Tuma, John. “Let’s Not Go Backward.” Conservation Minnesota March 2012 Web. 22 Jun. 2013. <http://www.conservationminnesota.org/news/headlines/lets-not-go-backward/&gt;

Father, thank you that Van Sant fought the monopolist powers of Minnesota in his term. His experience with the Northern Securities Company underscores an achilles heel of free markets; highly successful companies may eventually eliminate the competition in their fields and form monopolies or oligarchies. The most sought after form of land transportation of the North Star state was controlled by just two men; James J. Hill and J. P. Morgan.

You have given us clues in the Bible regarding property rights and ownership. Tribal allotment of specific geographic territories are described in the book of Joshua. All descendants of the sons of Jacob had land based on birthright. Land could be bought and sold, more like leased, but only for a fixed number of years until the Jubilee.

The Year of Jubilee described in Leviticus 25:8-13 is a year of pardon, for personal sins, debts, release of slaves, and a return of tribal property. So, we currently practice ownership of property, but do not have a system for forgiveness whether personal, labor, or property-based. Some may argue that bankruptcy fulfills this role, but is incomplete when compared to the model of the Pentateuch.

Although the Supreme Court upheld the position of the people regarding the railroad monopolies, we have no universal reset button for society like You describe! How do we enact Your standards in modern society? We hold property, but are not tied to specific geography on the basis of our tribes unless we are Native Minnesotans. We are disconnected from the land, and from each other! Is it because there is so little forgiveness in our modern system based not on wealth, but debt?

That said, Merciful One, do not let us be vain towards the successful, or return shrewdness with the counter-judgment of punishment! Will You forgive Minnesota its bitterness towards Morgan and Hill, and their company? Will You forgive them their “drive to power”? Most cannot relate to the unchecked influence of men like Morgan and Hill, but perhaps they can relate in a smaller way. If we have the power to change everyday situations in our favor, will we use it? Or misuse it?

Father, will You forgive us when we look expectantly and only to our system for justice? We are vapors that dissipate in a day! You are the only unchangeable personality in the universe. You are self-content and not subject to bribery. Your integrity allows us to enter into justice if we are open to self-examination as well as other-examination!

*P.T.H. cites timeline formerly at this URL: mnhs.org/about/dipity_timeline.htm
The Minnesota Historical Society Web site, http://www.mnhs.org , is fantastic! Check it out! Images are from https://images.google.com/?gws_rd=ssl; again, an amazing resource!

**More flavor on Governor Van Sant? https://www.nga.org/cms/home/governors/past-governors-bios/page_minnesota/col2-content/main-content-list/title_van-sant_samuel.default.html

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19th Century, Civics, Crime, History, Intercession, Jesus, justice, law, Minnesota

“Prison Mirror” Begins Publishing

unknown

Aug 10, 1887
The first issue of the “Prison Mirror,” the newspaper of the Minnesota State Prison in Stillwater, is published. Bank robber Cole Younger was associate editor.*

“The three Youngers – Cole, Jim and Bob – were part of the foiled bank robbery in Northfield on Sept. 7, 1876. During the robbery, the bank’s head cashier and a townsman were shot and killed. Several of the robbers were eventually killed, but two got away. It is believed that the elusive pair was Frank and Jesse James. But the Youngers were captured after a lively shoot-out with the law in a swampy area near Madelia.

The Youngers were charged with first-degree murder; they pled guilty and received life sentences at the Minnesota State Prison in Stillwater.

The brothers arrived at the prison on Nov. 22, 1876. They were addressed by Warden John Abbott Reed who assigned them numbers: Cole was inmate 699, Jim was number 700, and Bob was number 701. They were then processed like every other new convict and introduced to their new home.

The cultural side of prison life

The convicts also had access to a prison library, which Cole Younger oversaw. The library had about 6,000 volumes at the convicts’ disposal. Each inmate was given a library catalogue and was permitted to withdraw two books a week. If an inmate mutilated a book, however, he was denied further library privileges.

Music was a part of prison life, as the lockup had a band and orchestra. The inmate band was led by a citizen music teacher from outside the walls, and the instruments were paid for out of fees received from visitors, each of whom paid 25 cents to tour the prison. The band would play during drill time and on Sundays.

The Minnesota State Prison at Stillwater also had an institutional newspaper launched with funds raised – incredibly enough – by the inmates themselves. The Prison Mirror began publication in August 1887 with $200 seed money, $50 of it donated by the Youngers. In the first edition, Cole was given the “honorary” title of “Printer’s Devil.” By the second edition, he was assistant editor. By edition three, the editor had been paroled and Cole toiled on in anonymity, no longer receiving any editorial credit in the future editions.

Cole would occasionally submit items to be published in the Mirror, and he was mentioned in the paper periodically for his prison shenanigans.

The Prison Mirror is still published, and remains the oldest continuously published prison newspaper in the United States.

Warden Henry Wolfer took over command of the Stillwater Prison in 1892, and brought a radical new approach to prison management. Rather than punishing hardened criminals, Wolfer instead instituted ways to reform the convicts and try to mold them into useful citizens upon release. He did this by instituting educational classes so convicts could learn to read and write. He also allowed more “drill time,” or time outside in the yard. With these and other innovations, Wolfer quickly became known as the country’s leading prison expert.

Wolfer also saw that the old prison needed to be replaced. The limestone walls were crumbling, and the swamps were taking over the prison yard. Through Wolfer’s efforts, money was set aside for a new prison by the state legislature in 1905 and 1907. It was Henry Wolfer that helped design the state prison that is now in operation in Bayport.

It was during the construction of the new prison that W.C. Heilbron wrote his book, “Convict Life.” In 1910, a former Stillwater prison convict named John Carter wrote an article for Century Magazine entitled, “Prison Life as I found it.” This article seemed to be a response to Heilbron’s book. Carter didn’t portray the “modern prison” as rosy as Heilbron, but did give the warden credit for reforms. In his lengthy article, Carter suggested several things to make prison life more bearable for the inmates, such as allowing inmates to talk to each other and having a baseball field available for their use.

A few months later, Wolfer responded to the article through an open letter in the magazine. Wolfer said he found Carter’s suggestions credible, and “with the completion of our new prison, we shall be able to correct most, if not all, of the defects mentioned by Mr. Carter.”

In 1914, the last of the convicts were moved out of the old prison in Stillwater and moved to the new quarters in Bayport. The Bayport prison is now 82 years old, and to Wolfer’s credit, the institution is still being used as a “modern prison.”

It was Warden Henry Wolfer who started the national reform movement in America’s prisons. It is not known whether Wolfer would have allowed the weight rooms and cable television found in prisons today.

William Heilbron’s “Convict Life,” written nearly 90 years ago, gives us a peek into what it was like to be behind the limestone walls of Stillwater Prison. The book is being re-published by the Stillwater-based Valley History Press. The new issue tells the whole interesting story in 190 pages. It is filled with photographs and information that will truly put the reader in the cellblock of the old state prison. The book also includes a chapter written by one of the most notorious outlaws to ever spend time behind the Stillwater walls: Cole Younger.”

http://www.stillwatergazette.com/articles/2008/09/24/news/news330.txt

Birth:
Jan. 15, 1844
Lees Summit
Jackson County
Missouri, USA
Death:
Mar. 21, 1916
Jackson County
Missouri, USA

“Post Civil War Outlaw. Today, Cole Younger’s days of outlawry evokes romance and even chivalry in American folklore. However, the romantic, loveable character portrayed is far from the truth. Cole was instead a heartless cold blooded murderer of not only peace officers and bank tellers but women and children. Cole first killed at 17, was wanted dead or alive at 18 and is credited with killing dozens including innocent bystanders. He was born near Lee’s Summit as Thomas Coleman Younger, the son of a prosperous livery and dry goods business owner into a family of 14 children. His father was robbed and killed by members of the Kansas Militia. Spurred on by many injustices attributed to federal authorities, he joined William Clarke Quantrill as a member of his Confederate raiders during the Civil War, participating in many daring and bloody exploits, including the infamous Lawrence, Kansas, massacre. He was 18 at the time, selected because he owned a revolver. Younger left Quantrill’s renegades and joined the regular Confederate Army attaining the rank of Captain and led his own company while serving in Louisiana and later California. At the close of the war, Cole returned home and went to work on his mother’s farm. He soon became a desperado, robbing banks, trains, stagecoaches and people with Jesse Woodson James at times then a gang of his own, a family affair, with many of his brothers. Cole Younger was friends with Myra Shirley (Bell Starr) who he knew from childhood and during flights from lawmen would sometimes hide out at the Shirley family farm. Bell would turn to crime herself. A fateful attempt in 1876 to rob the Northfield, Minnesota bank, severely wounded, Younger was captured, tried and sentenced to twenty five years in state prison at Stillwater, Minnesota. There he became a hero helping to protect women convicts during a disastrous fire. He founded the “Prison Mirror,” a newspaper intended to shed a ray of light upon the lives of those behind bars. Paroled and able to obtain a pardon at age 59, his first job was at the Peterson Granite Company in Stillwater making tombstones. He later teamed up with his old comrade Frank James to form a Wild West show. Finding religion, he went on the Chataqua lecture circuit speaking on the evils of crime and drink. He wrote and had published a badly embellished autobiography of his criminal past. With old age creeping ever closer, Cole purchased a house in Lee’s Summit enjoying the good life while sitting on his porch reading his ever present bible and talking with neighbors, reporters and friends. Impressionable youngsters began calling him “Uncle Cole.” His health steadily declined. He died peacefully in his own bed from Heart and kidney failure at the most unrealistic age of 72. His closely examined remains determined 14 bullets were still embedded in his body. After a well attended funeral at the Lee’s Summit Baptist church where he attended regularly, the last member of the James-Younger Gang was buried in the town cemetery next to his brothers Jim and Bob and their mother. There’s not much left of the old prison at Stillwater which was closed in 1914. During its time it held many notorious prisoners beside the Younger Brothers. The Warden’s house a 1853 stone building remains and is now a museum as well as a few workhouse buildings. This is where Bernard Casey worked as a prison guard, before becoming a dencecelebrated beatified priest, befriending Cole Younger with his counseling influencing him to lay aside his bitterness and lead a model life while incarcerated which he continued in his post prison life. Many plaques were erected marking locations of the Cole Younger gang robberies put up by proud gleeful towns in Missouri and Kansas. The house constructed by his father remains standing to this day. 8,000 acre Robbers Cave State Park located in Wilburton, OK is a popular tourist destination and contains the cave purported to be a hiding place of the James-Younger gang.”
http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=1138

Lord, how can a victim of a crime forgive? How can a perpetrator of a heinous crime find peace, meaning to life, and a new identity? How can he forgive himself? It must be by the power of your blood! It must be through Your miracle of grace; Your example of freely given unmerited favor!
The life of Cole Younger is a powerful example of a man who once was led by his most base desires, and learned a new trade and a new path. Thank you for his life! Thank you for his faithfulness in establishing the “Prison Mirror”!
Our prison system seems to be an inevitable necessity in this fallen world. Those without self control must be restrained from hurting themselves and others. Victims need a sense of safety, others protection from sworn vengeance, and so we continue to “lock’em up, and throw away the key”.
But what of the spirits of both the offender and the offended? The offender seems to have the most to gain through forgiveness at first glance. If he is pardoned by the victim, or their family, he could still be in shackles, but his spirit is free.
But what does the victim gain by forgiveness? To once again breech the dyke holding back oceans of pain? To lose a loved one, or innocence, or a sense of justice, and again become vulnerable? This seems inhuman! Yet, Father, this is you command to us;
“Love your enemy?!”
Father, will You give us this gift, this miracle of forgiveness? Will You wipe the slate clean in the state of Minnesota between the perpetrators of crime, and their victims? This is especially difficult for those who received a terrible, unprovoked blow! Yet, Your standards remain the same?! Will you free the victims of crime from any self-made dungeons of unforgiveness stemming from the beginning of the prison system in Minnesota, through the present, and into the future? Will You give us Your ideas about justice?
Will You uphold the “Prison Mirror” and other ways that the incarcerated can form a new identity? Will You demonstrate Your power and restore faith and honor to the lives of all victims of Minnesotan crime? Will You free the land where the prisons lie, their grounds, gates, and bars from the poison of bitterness, fear, anger, rage, and discontent? When we offend our brother, we have offended his Creator! I ask this unmerited favor from You. Feed us so we don’t covet here in Minnesota! Feed us life so we are content, and crime is not attractive! Spiritus, have mercy!

*P.T.H. cites timeline formerly at this URL: mnhs.org/about/dipity_timeline.htm
The Minnesota Historical Society Web site, http://www.mnhs.org , is fantastic! Check it out! Images are from https://images.google.com/?gws_rd=ssl; again, an amazing resource!

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19th Century, Agriculture, Civics, education, farming, government, History, Intercession, Jesus, law, Minnesota, Native Americans, State Government, Treaties

The General Allotment Act (Dawes Act)

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Feb 8, 1887
Congress enacts legislation that allots 160-acre tracts of land to heads of households of American Indian families. The rest of the reservation land is thrown open to non-Indian homesteaders. Eventually, Native-held lands are reduced by more than two thirds.*

“The Dawes Act had a negative effect on American Indians, as it ended their communal holding of property by which they had ensured that everyone had a home and a place in the tribe. It was followed by the Curtis Act of 1898, which dissolved tribal courts and governments. The act “was the culmination of American attempts to destroy tribes and their governments and to open Indian lands to settlement by non-Indians and to development by railroads.”[27] Land owned by Indians decreased from 138 million acres (560,000 km2) in 1887 to 48 million acres (190,000 km2) in 1934.[3]
Senator Henry M. Teller of Colorado was one of the most outspoken opponents of allotment. In 1881, he said that allotment was a policy “to despoil the Indians of their lands and to make them vagabonds on the face of the earth.” Teller also said, “the real aim [of allotment] was “to get at the Indian lands and open them up to settlement. The provisions for the apparent benefit of the Indians are but the pretext to get at his lands and occupy them….If this were done in the name of Greed, it would be bad enough; but to do it in the name of Humanity…is infinitely worse.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dawes_Act

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Messiah, there is such a gap between intent and actions. One the one hand, the Dawes Act points to a desire to respect the property of Native Americans. On the other hand, it ‘gives’ them title to land if they accept the conditions. Is this freedom, or fiefdom?
First, as a human being and fellow Minnesotan, I want to acknowledge our sin of envy. We are not content with what we have. Lord, forgive us the envy contained in the Dawes Act of Native lands! Will You heal the whole inheritance of envy, and heal the lands that were annexed unjustly?
Second, I want to acknowledge the mixed motives of our hearts! I acknowledge the honest desire of many at this time that Native peoples assimilate and become one people with the United States, and with Minnesota. Many were motivated by a desire to share ‘common ground’ figuratively and literally with Indians. As in “I’m a simple Norwegian farmer who is trying to start a new life in America. What does my Indian neighbor have against me? I used to hunt and fish with him. I’m not a land man for the railways, or a representative of the Department of the Interior, but their actions make me the bad guy to my Indian neighbors.”

Many Natives did not want to not feel the pains of being a foreign enclave in their homelands. While they resisted many aspects of Western Culture, they also admired and even craved some of its fruits: new technologies and techniques, trade for useful products, positive interactions with new neighbors, etc. They seemed to both admire and fear the new culture in their land. Some Natives willfully accepted new ways, and others did not.

Lord, have mercy on these hearts! Some on both sides of this divide, whether Immigrant or Indian, wanted to take a chance and embrace. Some were repelled by clashing with another culture. Lord forgive how we have feared our brother’s ways, and rejected what You have to teach us through him! Lord, forgive us our hesitancy to trust! Will you restore us to chesed? https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chesed

Next, I want to acknowledge that both cultures succumbed to the “power men” within them. There were plenty of Minnesotans’ willing to capitalize on the imbalance of power the Dawes Act gave them! Too many tried to moralize the outright theft of property! They claimed desires to civilize native peoples to gain public approval for their land grab. Nothing changes. They are still among us. However, I mourn before you this day, and acknowledge this offense against my Native brothers! Have mercy! Will You reverse this curse? Will You restore these injustices?

Lastly, I want to acknowledge the counter judgments that some Native peoples made in response to these ‘land grabbers’. They chose to meet offense with counter offense, perhaps not learning from their own tribe to tribe, or First Nation to First Nation acts of offense and or war. It is clear to see these fruits yielding a harvest of separation even today in our state. Will You forgive these counter judgments? We have offended You first! Have mercy!

Will You have mercy on our natural desires for vengeance stemming from the Dawes Act? Will You give us a new common inheritance as Minnesotans’? Will You take the bitter roots from our hands so that we can recieve from You? When we must disagree, will You teach us to do it with understanding, clarity, and respect?

*P.T.H. cites timeline formerly at this URL: mnhs.org/about/dipity_timeline.htm
The Minnesota Historical Society Web site, http://www.mnhs.org , is fantastic! Check it out! Images are from https://images.google.com/?gws_rd=ssl; again, an amazing resource!

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