19th Century, abolition, African American, History, Indian, Men, Minnesota, Native Americans, News, women

Abolitionist Newspaper 1857

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1857
“Jane Grey Swisshelm, an outspoken critic of slavery and unequal treatment of women, moves to Minnesota in 1857 and publishes the St. Cloud Visiter newspaper. Mobs twice destroy her printing office, but she continues her courageous crusade for equal rights with the “St. Cloud Visiter” later renamed the “St. Cloud Democrat.” *

Jane G. Swisshelm was a pioneer in all senses of the word: in travel, in her passionate writings, and inwardly. She saw observed the cruelty of slavery when she lived in Kentucky. She lost her mother in Pennsylvania, and shortly afterwards, her husband lost his business. She moved to the Midwest to start over, joining her sister nearby. **

Already a established as a strong voice for abolition during her decade in Pittsburgh, she became the editor of a newspaper named the “St.Cloud Visiter”. Though owned by a Democrat, (who in those days were not usually abolitionists), she insisted on representing the paper as such. In effect, she offended local Democratic sensibilities resulting in the destruction of the “Visiter’s” offices and printing presses. ***

In the following decade, she aimed her pen at the Dakota Nation of Minnesota. Originally a supporter of Native Americans, the Dakota War of 1862 and their atrocities of unprovoked attacks on their neighbors changed her mind. Incensed by Native attacks, she even lobbied the Federal Government that more strident measures be taken against them. ***

Today, we thank You for voice of Jane Swisshelm, and her commitment to vigorously and forthrightly speak her mind. Her story is a cautionary tale that no individual, tribe, or nation gets it right all the time. Irregardless of passion, we all have an incomplete picture of the truth.

American politics of her day may shock modern ears; Republicans led the charge in the abolition of slavery, and the vast majority of slave states held to Democratic politics. Will You forgive us our over-identification with partisan politics in this era, and our failure to unite to oppose the evils of slavery? Will You forgive us our sins of partisan rhetoric, and more specifically to Swisshelm where her words unnecessarily broke relationship with our Southern brothers and sisters?

Next, we fail to understand much of the context of her era, and may draw some wrong conclusions from the women’s rights movement. Certainly, some 19th Century women suffered harsh abuses at the hands of men, often without hopes for a legal redress of their grievances. (We praise You that most of these legal issues are corrected, and that American women have known exceptionally high-status and equality when viewed through the lens of human history.)

Yet, our preset-day perspective may cause us to miss the ways that 19th Century male-female relationships were strong. Children trusted that their fathers’ were committed to provide for them. Wives trusted that their husbands’ love meant shelter and protection. Families busy with survival did not have lots of time to deal with legal or political issues, and often for them, it made sense to trust dad with that role.

Jesus, thanks that You have made us to be free. Will You forgive the city of St. Cloud and Minnesota any infringement of the freedom of Jane Swisshelm? Will You free us from her sinful judgment’s against those she opposed; broadbrushing all men, those who disagreed with her method of abolition, and promoting punishment against the Dakota? Thank You that Minnesota has raised awareness of the status of women and those in bondage through her voice! Thank You that even her words of judgment against the actions of a few hundred Dakota, as harsh as they may be, record the specifics of broken relationships. Will You enter into these rifts, bring humility, and restore to us a place in Your Land-Clear-Blue-Waters? Amen.

http://www.mnhs.org/about/dipity_timeline.htm
** Swisshelm, Jane Grey. Half a Century. Chicago: Jansen, McClurg, and Company, 1880.
*** Webster, Eric W. “Swisshelm, Jane Grey (1815–1884)”. Internet. https://www.mnopedia.org/person/swisshelm-jane-grey-1815-1884

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19th Century, Culture, History, Journalism, Media, Minnesota, News, Politics

First Newspaper Printed in Minnesota

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April 28, 1849
“Editor James Goodhue published the first issue of “The Minnesota Pioneer” on April 28, 1849.” *

Mr. Goodhue came to Minnesota Territory ca. April 18, 1849, and ten days later had: founded a newspaper, wrote, and published its first edition! Known as man with sharp wits and elbows, he had much to say and did not mince words. An avid Democrat, he unabashedly aired his views with vigor.

Inter alia, he debated a territorial judge so fiercely that the man stabbed him, but not before he left his challenger with a non-fatal gunshot wound!? His mixture of talk and tenacity ensure that “The Minnesota Pioneer” had enough forward momentum to survive. Currently the “(Saint Paul) Pioneer Press”, now the state’s eldest newspaper, traces its origins back to the efforts of Goodhue and the St. Paul Dispatch. ***

Lord we thank You for the gift of language and writing. We thank You for our human ability to speak. Will You help us divide this snapshot in the life of Minnesota and James Goodhue?

We thank You for the efforts and zeal of Goodhue to found a forum for public discourse in Minnesota Territory. We acknowledge the risks and personal costs paid by him for our benefit. We remember the tag line of his beloved paper to You; “Sound principles, safe men and moderate measures”.

We solemnly remember his zeal and the inherent weakness of this strength. We applaud Goodhue’s ability to articulate his heart-felt Democratic principles, but recognize that passion without self-control may yield division…or a stab wound.
Will You forgive the condemnation that came from his pen and mouth, and wounded his targets? Will You forgive the counter-judgment’s and condemnations of those who opposed him?

Presently, we find ourselves in the same position. We, at times, vigorously debate our neighbors until they become our foes. Will You give wisdom to all who pick up the pen, or tittle the keyboard in our newsrooms because they share the same heart to give voice to the times? Will You give our beloved reporters and newspapers a balance of forbearance and forthrightness, accuracy and mental acuity to enhance Minnesotan’s sense of current events? We love Your words, will You speak life to us so we can share it with others?

“With the tongue we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, this should not be! Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring?” Berean Study Bible James 3:9-11

http://www.mnhs.org/about/dipity_timeline.htm
** http://www.mnhs.org/newspapers/hub/minnesota-pioneer
*** https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/St._Paul_Pioneer_Press
**** https://biblehub.com/james/3-10.htm

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