20th Century, government, Governors, History, Intercession, Judgment & Counter-Judgment Cycle, law, Minnesota, monopoly, omnipresent history, Politics, railroad, State Government

Van Sant Becomes Governor 1901

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January 7, 1901 to January 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.” **

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! 

* http://www.mnhs.org/about/dipity_timeline.htm

**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/

*** 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, Architecture, History, Intercession, Judgment & Counter-Judgment Cycle, Labor, Minnesota, omnipresent history

James J. Hill House Completed

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1891

“Rugged stone, massive scale, fine detail, and ingenious mechanical systems recall the powerful presence of James J. Hill, builder of the Great Northern Railway. Completed in 1891, the red sandstone residence was the setting of the public and private lives of the Hill family.” *

Lord, what is the importance of home construction in Your economy?  Albeit this is an impressive home, but why does it matter now? Will You guide my heart and mind toward Your thoughts on the matter?

Eternal Father, a commencement thought; our home reflects our character. Mr. Hill spent much his life on the epic tasks of building a railway. His home reflects a willingness to solve difficult problems: custom shaping stones, miles of board feet of trim, and making a castle comfortable enough to live in Minnesota’s weather extremes. 

So I want to bless the heritage of Mr. Hill’s patience, long-range planning, and tenacity to face both expected and unexpected problems.I want to bless the myriad of workmen who truly put their sweat and soul into their trades to make this home exceptional. Will You bless them and all their generations of tradesmen in the present? Will You help us view the trades as an act of worship?

I’m reminded that my Messiah chose to be a carpenter, and apprenticed under His earthly father. (Joseph) Will You help us, especially men, see that worship is not just obscure and ancient songs and rituals in a church, but in fitting pipes, framing walls, running electrical lines, and every kind of working with our hands? May all who labor in tasks that go unseen and unnoticed be blessed this day in Jesus’ name! 

Another idea that attaches to character; we can build to serve a function, or build to impress others. Lord, I will not condemn this man for the pursuit of greatness. I think You get the credit when we succeed at exceptional endeavors, I think a fractal of the light of Your character shines through any human who dares to do what they love.

But Lord hear this prayer, our lives are often like homes! We build for ‘curb appeal’. We erect lovely facades. We spend considerable time and effort on the way things look to the detriment of the way things are. We already possess the favor of the King of the Universe, but how we work for the favor of our fellow human beings?! 

Will You forgive James J. Hill the past sins of empire building? Will You release his heritage, our state, and even the ground that those objects of empire occupy from separations past, present, and future? Will You forgive us for the empire building in our hearts? Will You forgive us for maintaining facades we build to our own greatness? Will You help us humbly acknowledge the efforts others have spent in our successes? Father, have mercy! Christ, have mercy! Counselor, have mercy!

* http://www.mnhs.org/about/dipity_timeline.htm

 

 

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19th Century, Architecture, History, Intercession, Minnesota, Mississippi River, omnipresent history, railroad, Transportation

Stone Arch Bridge Opens 1883

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November 23, 1883

“The Stone Arch Bridge spans the Mississippi below St. Anthony Falls. Once called “Jim Hill’s Folly,” the bridge provides a crossing for trains and becomes a Minneapolis landmark.”

First, I need to confess my bias against the railroad barons based on my reading in college to You. Will You forgive my assumption that Hill was a “Robber Baron” like many of his peers; captains of industry synonymous with trains? The rails in this era often made choices that yielded pain for the Midwestern farmer, manufacturer, or anyone who wasn’t in partnership with them. (They gained sweetheart deals for themselves and their allies, and charged exorbitant prices to the farmer whose harvest would spoil if they waited for better. I do not abhor competition, but bristle when I sense oligarchic or monopolistic control.) 

Digging into my assumptions, I found that I had wrongly placed all capitalists of this epoch in the same camp, but this is inaccurate. May I elaborate? Market capitalism is based on building a better product, and selling it at a voluntarily determined price. State capitalism twists the arm of government to sell an inferior product at an involuntary price. 

Clearly, Hill belonged more to the former camp than the latter according to Loyola economics professor Thomas J. DiLorenzo. Here lies evidence of Hill’s opposition to the state capitalism of the “Robber Barons”.

“Hill’s rates fell steadily, and when farmers began complaining about the lack of grain storage space, he instructed his company managers to build larger storage facilities near his rail depots. He refused to join in attempts at cartel price fixing and in fact “gloried in the role of rate-slasher and disrupter of [price-fixing] pooling agreements,” writes historian Burton Folsom. After all, he knew that monopolistic pricing would have been an act of killing the goose that lays the golden egg.” **

Additionally, the following quote of Professor DiLorenzo hints at why Hill’s competitors mocked the Stone Arch Bridge as “folly”, and his own internal motives.

 “In building his transcontinental railroad, from 1886 to 1893, Hill applied the same strategy that he had in building the St. Paul, Minneapolis, and Manitoba: careful building of the road combined with the economic cultivation of the nearby communities. He always built for durability and efficiency, not scenery, as was sometimes the case with the government-subsidized railroads. He did not skimp on building materials, having witnessed what harsh Midwest winters could do to his facilities and how foolish it was for the NP (Northern Pacific Railroad – his competitor) to have ignored this lesson. The solid granite arch bridge that Hill built across the Mississippi River was a Minneapolis landmark for many years.” ***

G-d, did I have it all wrong! I find myself humbled to discover that Hill is a good man, who built a better railroad. Will You honor those like him, who love their work, and offer it back to You and society as an act of worship?!

Will You free those of us harboring bitterness towards the state capitalists, and towards this spirit in man that is willing to use the law in self service? Will You free us from the admonition “Good enough for government work”? Will You lift this spirit of the slacker: up, out, and onto the Cross of Christ?

Lord, quite honestly, I hate the heritage of price fixing and theft! I abhor the curse that these judgment’s have put on our state, its’ people, our freedom of travel, and all lands that were granted, bought or stolen by the railroad lines. I  despise how the rails withheld the good that they could have chosen to perform for their fellow man, and still yielded a generous profit!

Yet, I am a man of mixed motives just like them. I withhold from doing the good I know I can do, and sin against my brother in my heart. I judge them. I think evil of them in my thoughts. I harbor resentment. Lord Jesus, King of the Universe, have mercy on me a sinner for my judgments!

Will You bring blessing to every rail, every piece of land, every train, every rail employee, and all the cargo that enters or exits this state of Minnesota? Will You profoundly bless the Stone Arch bridge, and esteem its’ symbolism? Will You be the bridge and span this rift between free-market entrepreneurs and fixed-market magnates? Amen!

* http://www.mnhs.org/about/dipity_timeline.htm

** DiLorenzo, Thomas J. “The Truth About the “Robber Barons”” excerpt of Chapter 7 “How Capitalism Saved America”. Internet. MIses Institute. 11/01/2017. https://mises.org/library/truth-about-robber-barons

*** DiLorenzo citing Burton W. Folsom Jr., “Entrepreneurs vs. the State: A New Look at the Rise of Big Business in America”, 1840 — 1920 (Herndon, VA: Young America’s Foundation, 1987

**** Read more about these lovely arches? https://www.minneapolisparks.org/parks__destinations/historical_sites/stone_arch_bridge/#group_2_150339

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19th Century, Business, Canada, Civics, Exploration, History, Industry, Intercession, Leadership, Minnesota, railroad, Transportation

Hill’s First Railroad 1879

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1879

“James J. Hill and his Canadian partners buy the near-bankrupt St. Paul and Pacific Railroad and rename it the St. Paul, Minneapolis and Manitoba. This is the beginning of the railroad career that will earn Hill the title “Empire Builder” and cement the importance of the Twin Cities as a commercial center. 

Hill’s career didn’t begin with railroads. He came to Minnesota at age 18, convincing a steamboat man to hire him as a clerk. From making sure freight reached the right people, he expanded into handling freight by boat, stagecoach, and wagon. By the time his empire was built, he was one of the nation’s leading industrialists. 

In 1891 James J. Hill will crown his success by building a house at 240 Summit Avenue in St. Paul. As massive and well-built as its owner’s railroad empire, the mansion will take three years to build and cost $931,275.01, furnished.” * 

Lord, thanks that You deal with us so patiently. You allow us to learn from our errors and seek You for mercy and truth. Thank You for the blessings of James J. Hill and his railroads.

However, we still feel the weight of the blessing and curses in the wake of his empire building! He was alleged to be duplicitous in his business dealings. He allegedly manipulated land grants or sales from cities, tribes, states, and the nations of Canada and the United States. He may have wreaked havoc on the stock market in his battle with Harriman of the Union Pacific line. **

Hill proved to be cut from a different cloth than the Robber Barons of his age whose modus operandi included manipulation of the stock market, public institutions and opinions, or Federal or State governments. In many ways, he retained the common-sense lessons of his Scots-Irish upbringing in Manitoba, Canada and the Midwestern states. A few examples of his forthright tongue and blue-collar wisdom below.

“Give me snuff, whiskey, and Swedes, and I will build a railway to hell.”

“Work, hard work, intelligent work, and then more work.”

“The wealth of the country, its capital, its credit, must be saved from the predatory poor as well as the predatory rich, but above all from the predatory politician.” ***

Lord, You are the righteous ruler and justice of North America. Will You remove the curses we have laid on James J. Hill and the lines he laid? Will You forgive his debts to the people of North America and the Midwest? Will You forgive us our injustices and betrayals of Your trust?

Like Mr. Hill, we kill our competitors and covet and build empires in our hearts. We plunder our enemies in our thoughts, and do not see our brothers and sisters as precious lives that You died and rose for! Have mercy on us: the ambitious, the coward, the sluggard, and the average! Remove the curses brought on us, our generations, the land, the property, and our homes both now and until Your return! May the pathway of this railway become a track of blessing to both Manitoba and the Twin Cities! Amen!

*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!

** https://www.upress.umn.edu/book-division/books/harriman-vs-hill

*** https://www.azquotes.com/author/6703-James_J_Hill

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