20th Century, Agriculture, History, Intercession, Minnesota, State Government

Nonpartisan League

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1918
The farmers’ Nonpartisan League, a reform group that advocates state control of the grain industry, runs candidates in the Republican primary. The NPL loses in the primary, but joins Minnesota’s branch of the Minnesota American Federation of Labor in forming the Farmer-Labor party.*

“In the 1910s, farmers began to decry poor market conditions and violations of their economic rights. Middlemen in the grain elevator, stockyard, cold storage, banking, and rail industries regularly gouged farmers. To fight corporate interests, the NPL was formed in North Dakota in 1915.
The NPL was founded by former Socialist Party member Arthur Townley, who was also a failed flax farmer. The NPL advocated state-run mills, grain elevators, stockyards, and warehouses. In order to protect farmers further, the NPL fought for state insurance programs, pensions, and employment bureaus. After success in North Dakota’s 1916 election, the NPL began to expand. Minnesota became the center of its activities.”**

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Lord, we say we love fairness, justice, and equal rights under the law, but our practice of these traits are very imperfect and human! Have mercy! Farmers of this era wanted to address the folly and failures of the Democrats and Republicans to represent their views and grievances. They wanted a way out of the “us versus them” paradigm in Saint Paul, and Washington! Lord, hear their prayers!

Will You forgive their root judgments based on politics? Will You forgive the Wall Street Republicans their willingness to commoditize a Democratic farming way of life, and to see all Progressives as revolutionary radicals instead of neighbors desperate for change? Will You forgive the Socialist and Progressives their judgments of the passivity of the Democrats, and characterizing all Republicans as greedy “Wall Streeters”? Will You forgive Democrats their judgments and fears of Socialist extremism, Progressive utopianism, and Republican heartlessness?

We have failed You as traders and transporters of commodities. Those who weighed the grain and set the prices for the train have dishonored You, and the farmers of Minnesota. Through Solomon, perhaps the greatest economic mind the earth has ever known, You have said: “The Lord abhors dishonest scales, but accurate weights are his delight.” Proverbs 11:1 NIV Will You have mercy on all forms of dishonest trading and transport of agricultural commodities? Will You restore our broken trust, and teach us better ways to raise, assess value, and distribute food?

Our Socialism, Progressivism, Democratism, and Republicanism has tested You as the owner of all the yields of the Land of 10,000 Lakes. We have ignored Your voice because we listen through the filter of all our ‘isms’. We have discounted each other in opinion and fact. Have mercy!

We listen and ponder this parable of Jesus:
“A man planted a vineyard, rented it to some farmers and went away for a long time. At harvest time he sent a servant to the tenants so they would give him some of the fruit of the vineyard. But the tenants beat him and sent him away empty-handed. He sent another servant, but that one they beat and treated shamefully and sent him away empty-handed. He sent a third, and they wounded him and threw him out.
Then the owner of the vineyard said, ‘What shall I do? I will send my son, whom I love; perhaps they will respect him.’ But when the tenants saw him, they talked the matter over. ‘this is the heir,’ they said. ‘Let’s kill him, and the inheritance will be ours.’ So they threw him out of the vineyard and killed him. What then will the owner of the vineyard do to them? He will come and kill those tenants and give the vineyard to others.” Luke 20:9-16 NIV

In its original context, this story was a rebuke of the misuse of authority of the chief priests, elders, and teachers of the law known as the Sanhedrin. The farmers of the vineyard symbolize the people of Israel. The servants represent the prophets of G-d whom the people rejected, the heir represented the Messiah, and the landowner is G-d the Father.

Yet, I see another interpretation of this text relevant to the NPL, the “isms”, and the economic forces of Wall Street. Perhaps each of these forces stumble over their self-importance: the farmer-laborer, the politicians, the bankers, and the traders? Is it possible that each sees themselves as the owner, therefore, possessing the final say over their property? Each has refused the reasonable messages of the servants and heirs sent to them?

Eternal Father, will You forgive us for attempting to own Your possessions? Will You forgive us the rejection of our opponent’s message and messengers? Will You forgive the misbelief in the revolutionary spirit of our heart that drives us to overthrow and possess? Will You forgive the independence of the NPL, the co-dependence of the Democratic and Republican parties and Wall Street?

We give You the false heart motives of this era, and ask that take them up, out, and onto the Cross of Christ. We ask that Your blood cleanses and frees us from every attachment of the Enemy that hinders the agriculture of Minnesota. We ask that You establish proper boundaries for all these groups both present and future. Will You be the Judge of Minnesota, so we can practice the blessing of being truly Nonpartisan?

*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!
**Excellent source of information on NPL and all history Minnesota! http://www.mnopedia.org/group/nonpartisan-league

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20th Century, Agriculture, Boys, farming, Girls, History, Intercession, Minnesota

Minnesota 4-H Forms

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1914
The Boys and Girls Clubs of Minnesota have a new name: 4-H. Under the leadership of T.A. “Dad” Erickson, 4-H is dedicated to making rural life fun for young people while teaching them skills to be good farmers, homemakers, and citizens.*

It’s amazing how kids will follow someone with a good plan, or even a simple plan of an adult with a good heart.
Dad Erickson was such a visionary. As a Swedish immigrant, he had to work hard to help his family, and missed out on educational opportunities. He was embarrassed of his accent. But he had a vision where kids like him would learn by doing. He had an idea for a “corn club” where boys would learn and study this staple crop so important to Minnesota’s future. They had to tow the line, assist in studies all day, and would even camp out in the cornfields.**

These “corn clubs” birthed a youth movement. Now approximately 103 years old, the 4H clubs boast 6.5 million members aged 5 to 21 in about 90,000 clubs nationwide. They attract boys and girls, urban and rural, who commit their “head, heart, hands, and health” to the betterment of others.***

So, Good Father, we commend the leadership of T.A. Erickson, and all who have followed in his footsteps to You. Thank You for many styles of learning, and that this man helped provide a club for those who like to “learn by doing”. Will You continue to bless the activities of the 4H Club forever?

We thank You for the kids of 4H! We are grateful for their contribution to the refinement and growth of agriculture in this state, as well as their vision to tackle urban problems. Will You bless their “heads, hearts, hands, and health”?

May we reflect on these words for today, and with your help, put them into action for future generations of Minnesotans. “How can a youth afford to lose his opportunities? Let us all grasp our many golden opportunities and use our talent, that we may not at the closing moment of our life look back with regret, but that we may enter an eternity having employed our life to the best of our ability and receive the greeting, ‘well done, thou good and faithful servant.’ T. A. Erickson’s speech at his high school commencement**

*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!
**http://www.srperspective.com/2013/07/dad-of-minnesota-4-h/
***https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/4-H

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19th Century, Agriculture, Business, government, History, Intercession, Israel, Jesus, Minnesota, Native Americans, railroad, State Government

Nelson Becomes Governor

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Jan 4, 1893 to Jan 31, 1895
Norwegian immigrant Knute Nelson becomes the state’s 12th governor in 1893, the first Scandinavian to hold the office. A fighter for farmers’ interests against the railroads and grain merchants, he resigned in 1895 to run successfully for the United States Senate, where he remained until 1923.*

Thank You for the life of Knute Nelson and his leadership in Minnesota. He became a prominent leader roughly 25 years after becoming a citizen. Negative attitudes about Scandinavians were tempered by his success.
Looking back at his career, the area of greatest contention were probably those issues concerning railroad interests. On one hand, the rails offered new markets to farmers and also supplied them with manufactured goods from the east. This relationship fueled western land development, and modernized communities along the way.

However, like all new technology, railroads were often the vehicle of economic bondage for immigrant settlers, and greedy for Native Americans’ land. Farmers became dependent on the rails to bring grain to market, but having a product with limited shelf life, were subject to the manipulations of the market and shipping costs charged by the railroad companies.
But how did the railways effect the Native Minnesotans? It is understandable that a sitting Governor wants to further the economic growth and standard of living in his state, but at what cost? These questions point to his writing of the Act cited below:

“The Nelson Act of 1889 was a United States federal law intended to relocate all the Anishinaabe people in Minnesota to the White Earth Indian Reservation in the western part of the state, and to expropriate the vacated reservations for sale to European Americans. [1]
Approved by Congress on January 14, 1889, the Nelson Act was the equivalent for reservations in Minnesota to the Dawes Act of 1887, which had mandated allotting communal Indian lands to individual households in the Indian Territory, and selling the surplus. The goal of the Nelson Act was to consolidate Native Americans within the state of Minnesota on a western reservation, and, secondly, to encourage allotment of communal lands to individual households in order to encourage subsistence farming and assimilation. It reflected continuing tensions between whites and American Indians in the state. Especially after the Dakota Conflict of 1862, many Minnesota white residents were eager to consolidate the reservations, reduce the amount of land controlled by Indians and make the surplus available for sale and settlement by European Americans.
Minnesota congressmen Knute Nelson pushed for the allotment of Ojibway lands in Northern Minnesota and sale of “surplus” to non-Natives. He and others intended to force the Ojibway to relinquish most of their reservation lands. The intention was to relocate the peoples to the westernmost White Earth Reservation. All would receive individual allotments, with the remainder to be available for sale to European Americans. These actions were illegal and violated the treaties which the US had made with the tribes, but the government proceeded anyway. The Red Lake Band of the Ojibway were able to keep the southern portion of their Reservation.”
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nelson_Act_of_1889

Father, this story brings to mind the desire of King Ahab for his neighbor’s vineyard.

1 Kings 21:1-16
New International Version (NIV)
Naboth’s Vineyard
1 Some time later there was an incident involving a vineyard belonging to Naboth the Jezreelite. The vineyard was in Jezreel, close to the palace of Ahab king of Samaria. 2 Ahab said to Naboth, “Let me have your vineyard to use for a vegetable garden, since it is close to my palace. In exchange I will give you a better vineyard or, if you prefer, I will pay you whatever it is worth.”
3 But Naboth replied, “The Lord forbid that I should give you the inheritance of my ancestors.”
4 So Ahab went home, sullen and angry because Naboth the Jezreelite had said, “I will not give you the inheritance of my ancestors.” He lay on his bed sulking and refused to eat.
5 His wife Jezebel came in and asked him, “Why are you so sullen? Why won’t you eat?”
6 He answered her, “Because I said to Naboth the Jezreelite, ‘Sell me your vineyard; or if you prefer, I will give you another vineyard in its place.’ But he said, ‘I will not give you my vineyard.’”
7 Jezebel his wife said, “Is this how you act as king over Israel? Get up and eat! Cheer up. I’ll get you the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite.”
8 So she wrote letters in Ahab’s name, placed his seal on them, and sent them to the elders and nobles who lived in Naboth’s city with him. 9 In those letters she wrote:
“Proclaim a day of fasting and seat Naboth in a prominent place among the people. 10 But seat two scoundrels opposite him and have them bring charges that he has cursed both God and the king. Then take him out and stone him to death.”
11 So the elders and nobles who lived in Naboth’s city did as Jezebel directed in the letters she had written to them. 12 They proclaimed a fast and seated Naboth in a prominent place among the people. 13 Then two scoundrels came and sat opposite him and brought charges against Naboth before the people, saying, “Naboth has cursed both God and the king.” So they took him outside the city and stoned him to death. 14 Then they sent word to Jezebel: “Naboth has been stoned to death.”
15 As soon as Jezebel heard that Naboth had been stoned to death, she said to Ahab, “Get up and take possession of the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite that he refused to sell you. He is no longer alive, but dead.” 16 When Ahab heard that Naboth was dead, he got up and went down to take possession of Naboth’s vineyard.

These verses tell of an authority figure who is complicit in the annexation of his neighbor’s land. The part that stands out to me are the words of verse 3; “The Lord forbid that I should give you the inheritance of my ancestors.” Naboth did not want to sell away an inheritance.
Lord, there are many nuances that I do not know about this Act. I don’t know the Governor’s heart, his motivations, or the pressures on him. I simply see an action that is typically the breeding ground of bitterness and contention.
Will You forgive the injustice of this Act towards Native Minnesotans, their inheritance, property, and generations’? Will you release them from any binding counter-judgments that may hold them captive from receiving an inheritance from You? Will You reverse any curses on the lands specifically mentioned in this Act, and restore a right relationship between all Native Minnesotans and government?
Will You teach this state to have neither a tyranny of the majority or the minority? Will You enable us to neither feel the shame of asking for the help of our state, nor shame those who have graciously helped? Will You teach us about boundaries, property, lands, and inheritance?
Will You give honor to the just actions of Knute Nelson, his heritage, and generations? Will You forgive us in our judgments of the humanity and motive conflicts within our own natures’? Will You give us internal peace, contentment, and satisfaction in our hearts so we do not want another’s possession?

*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!

** For more depth on Governor Knute Nelson see the “Biographical Directory of the United States Congress”. http://bioguide.congress.gov/scripts/biodisplay.pl?index=n000040

***More on property rights of the ancient Middle East. https://tifwe.org/resource/ownership-and-property-in-the-old-testament-economy/

 

 

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19th Century, Culture, Exploration, History, Immigration, Intercession, Jesus, Minnesota

Icelandic Colony 1875

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Icelander Gunnlauger Petursson relocates to Lyon County, laying the foundation for the second largest Icelandic colony in the United States. Its residents acquire land in surrounding Lincoln and Yellow Medicine counties, but Minnesota becomes the center of the Icelandic colony’s business, social, and cultural activities.

Many of the Minneota Icelanders are highly literate farmers who love to read and who fill their modest homes with books they brought with them across the Atlantic Ocean. Icelanders establish the Lestrarfjelag (Reading Society) and publish Vinland, a monthly Icelandic-language newspaper with a literary focus.*

Thanks for Gunnlauger Petursson and the Icelandic peoples of Minnesota! I am so happy to hear that over a century ago, they were common farmers with an enjoyment for learning and reading. Thank you, Lord, that you do not limit us the way our societies sometimes do. You give us a curiosity to know, and reward our searching. Why do we fritter away so much time on entertainment and other amusements; You have something to teach us each day if we can listen!?
I want to bless the heritage of this Icelandic colony, their generations, their dwellings, and property in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ! May they know You in all Your beauty.

*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, Business, Faith, farming, History, Industry, Intercession, Jesus, Minnesota

King Wheat 1859  

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Minnesota’s first shipment of spring wheat is warmly received in Chicago–marking the start of an agricultural export that will become King in coming years. Production grows wildly as railroads connect farms to inland markets.

“Minnesota or that part of it known as Cottage Grove has gone to wheat. Men work in wheat all day when it does not rain, lounge round talking about wheat when it is wet, dream about wheat at night, and I fear go to meeting Sabbath Day to think about wheat.”
-Rev. George Biscoe, in a letter to his sister, August 21, 1862.*

Jesus, thank you for the blessing spring wheat has been to our state! Imagine how miraculous it felt to find a strain of grain that liked northern climes and short summers? Thank You for their generous yields, and the kind and rich soil that produced them! Thank you for ability of farmers, past and present, to focus on the work You have given them. Will You continue to bless the farmer of Minnesota, and everyone who works to bring our food to market?

Will You forgive the judgments the farmers of MInnesota have made against You? Will You forgive our grumblings about the weather, the length of the seasons, and any other rash words we have spoken against You? Will You forgive the judgments made between farmer and city-folk? Will You forgive us when we allow our passions to overtake us; even something as innocent as a desire for better grain?

*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!

 

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