20th Century, Governors, Minnesota

Governor Karl F. Rolvaag

Karl F. Rolvaag: Governors of Minnesota. collections.mnhs.org

March 25, 1963-January 21, 1967
After the one hundred thirty-nine day recount, Lieutenant Governor Rolvaag becomes the thirty-first Governor of Minnesota by just 91 votes. Governing on principle more than charisma, this disciplined leader effectively changed: the junior college system, reapportioned legislative districts, and improved mental institutions. He had the distinction of being the first to serve a four year gubernatorial term. *

Few politicians of this era had more authentic bragging rights as to their Minnesota roots than Karl. Let’s recount a few that would deeply resonate with any Midwesterner of this age:
Karl was born in Northfield, MN. in 1913, and attended St. Olaf.
His father was the iconic Norwegian novelist of “Giants in the Earth”; Ole Rolvaag.
He dropped out of university the year his father passed, 1931, to “head out west”.
He spent six years as a railway “hobo” of sorts, chasing the man-camps and working as a logger, miner, teamster, and various roles on the rails.
He joined the I.W.W. (Industrial Workers of World), and experienced the infamous logging strikes of 1936.
He returned to St Olaf and finished his degree, got married to Florence, and promptly was sent to serve in WW II where he won a Silver Star, and a Purple Heart.
He showed himself to be a man who could work with his brains, and his hands. **
After his military service, he had more education at the University of Minnesota, and earned his LL.D (legum doctor) from the University of Oslo. *

This dichotomy of life experiences shaped his ability to relate and show empathy to all kinds of Minnesotans. For example, he was a 3-term Lieutenant Governor under Democrat Orville Freeman, and also served as LG under his Republican successor, Elmer L. Anderson!? This kind of balanced character was an object lesson of the DFL platform of his era; an educated everyman!

Digging in, we find that his practicality drove his reforms in education; ie “How can one effectively attend junior college unless its nearby?” Formerly, the community colleges were run by local school boards. Rolvaag pushed to place more leadership under the state, capitalize on economies of scale, with the overarching goal to put these junior colleges in both financial and geographic reach of students. ***

During his era, the rural political districts had more representatives than the metro areas. In the session of 1965, rural representatives passed a bill that Governor Rolvaag called a “blatant, calculated, political gerrymander.” This battle lasted 3 more iterations before a consensus was reached on redistricting in a special session. ****

A tertiary set of accomplishments could be found in the governor’s advocacy for Minnesotan’s wrestling mental illness and the Minnesota Mental Health Association, as well as his promotion of groups such as ARC (Minnesota Association for Retarded Citizens). Below is a quote from the speech from the President of ARC circa 1964.

“I am equally certain that an educated, informed and aroused citizenry is absolutely essential if we are to solve and give top priority consideration to the critical problems relating to the lack of community services and gross understaffing, gross overcrowding, herd care, and continued use of some antiquated residential and other facilities in our state institutions for the mentally retarded.
Irrespective of your and my political affiliations, I assure you that we can all be most appreciative of Governor Rolvaag’s leadership and sincere interest exhibited on these tours. Governor and Mrs. Rolvaag were most impressed with the day care centers visit ed at Duluth, Atwater, St. Cloud and Rochester, and the Sheltered Workshop at Fergus Falls. They were also impressed, as were we all, with many of the dedicated and able employees of and some of the new projects being conducted in our institutions for the mentally retarded and mentally ill.” *****

Essentially, Rolvaag did for these two communities as he had done for junior colleges and their students: make them more accessible, make them affordable, provide State assistance and support to staffing and standards, and make the public aware of their pressing needs.

A wonderful summary of Karl’s term in office came from no less than then Vice President of the United States; Hubert H. Humphrey.
“Karl Rolvaag may not be a comet, racing across the sky, but I will tell you this: Karl is as steady and reliable as the North Star. You know where he is, you know where he has been, and you know his record-solid, solid as a rock.” ******

Avna, Ho Lithos, Stone the builders rejected, Capstone of the Universe; we remember You. We applaud Your perfect consistency in authority, truth and justice. Yet, You are as immovable in Your unchanging favor towards the human race!
It seems like Karl Fritjof Rolvaag learned some of this character trait from You, and applied it in the way he led Minnesota. Even his Norwegian middle name, Fritjof, speaks of balance; “thief of peace” or “tranquil”. Will You guide us to acknowledge this moment of his leadership in history?

Our first gratitude is given for the tremendous variety and breadth of his education before office: son of Ole (a giant Norwegian mind), educated in tremendous universities, strengthened by years of heavy labor, and battled hardened in World War II. All of this preparation decries Your hand: an educated man can invite the wisdom of others, a laborer knows the sanctity of the body, and a soldier savors the depths of peace like no other! We thank You that such a man could relate to so many of us because of these joys and trials.

Subsequently, we see these experiences fulfilled in a governorship of balance and boundaries. He was not a partisan, but served the people of Minnesota as Lieutenant Governor under both parties. He wanted fair boundaries for equal representation. He wanted our people to be able to attend a junior college nearby. He drew a circle of protection around our most vulnerable citizens a decade before American society caught up. Will You remember these gifts and examples of his leadership?

On the contrary, we see judgments made of him in this era. Clearly, he believed in government as a force for good, and consolidated some powers of individuals and associations into the hand of the State. He barely won his election, therefore, did not have a perspicuous mandate. For outstate citizens then, he redrew political districts to favor the power of the metro areas over them. Will You forgive this judgment and counter-judgment past, free us from such battles in the present, and bless the future of the integrity of all political redistricting?

Further, another bitter root in our state in Governor Rolvaag’s term is the usurpation of local control of junior colleges, tech schools, and community colleges. Yes, many problems are resolved with state funding of education, and a uniformity of standards. However, this necessitates the locus of choice be removed further and further away from the individual student and the desires of their town. An example of this would be how our schools still take a summer break that is relevant to an agricultural society, even though their urban students will never plant or bring in the harvest. Will You take the dance of state versus local control of education up, out, and onto the Cross? We have gained more education, and yielded our wisdom. Will You free these judgments past, heal this balance in the present, and bless the future of our junior colleges?

Another request, Avno? We honor the actions of Rolvaag in giving dignity to the mentally ill and the developmental disabled among us. There is so much of Your heart in that! Unfortunately, his generosity towards the mentally ill has become, in some cases, enabling dysfunction. Our mentally ill citizens are afraid to move towards wellness or they may lose their benefits. We give You this “catch 22”, and invite Your solutions. We thank You for both the developmentally disabled and the mentally ill among us. May we acknowledge the incredible value of their lives, and invite their participation in society. Will You forgive us our judgments of mental illness and developmental disabilities, and the counter-judgments of those populations towards others? Will You make us like Governor Fritjof; stealing peace from discontentment?

“Dishonest scales are an abomination to the LORD, but an accurate weight is His delight.” Proverbs 11:1 Berean Study Bible *******

Sobel, Robert, and John Raimo, eds. Biographical Directory of the Governors of the United States, 1789-1978, Vol. 2, Westport, Conn.; Meckler Books, 1978. 4 vols. https://www.nga.org/governor/karl-fritjof-rolvaag/
** Ross, Carl interview of Rolvaag, Karl. Northfield, MN. “Twentieth Century Radicalism in Minnesota Oral History Project: Interview with Karl F. Rolvaag”. August 31, 1989. Internet. Minnesota Historical Society. http://collections.mnhs.org/cms/display.php?irn=10362505
*** Internet. Prabook. 2021. https://prabook.com/web/karl_fritjof.rolvaag/672210
**** Nelson, Paul. “Legislative Redistricting, 1959–1993”. Internet. MNHS. https://www.mnopedia.org/event/legislative-redistricting-1959-1993
***** https://mn.gov/web/prod/static/mnddc/live/past/pdf/60s/64/64-RBT-MDH.pdf
****** Quote by Vice President Hubert Humphrey. Speech at Minnesota DFL Beanfeed. October 29, 1966. http://www2.mnhs.org/library/findaids/00442/pdfa/00442-02055.pdf
******* https://biblehub.com/proverbs/11-1.html

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20th Century, Crime, History, Intercession, Judgment & Counter-Judgment Cycle, justice, Minnesota, omnipresent history, Uncategorized

Dillinger Escapes!

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placeography.org

March 31, 1934

“Notorious bank robber John Dillinger escapes authorities by blasting his way out of a Lexington Avenue apartment house in Saint Paul. Four months later “Public Enemy No. 1” is killed by federal agents in a gun battle outside the Biograph Theater in Chicago.” * 

“What made them do it?” This is a common question that the law-abiding portion of society has of the criminally minded. To better investigate, let us lay out some of what is known in the days leading up to this infamous Dillinger event. 

03/03/34 – Dillinger escapes from jail using a wooden gun, and steals a Sheriff’s car.**

03/06/34 – Dillinger robs bank in Sioux Falls, SD. with Baby Face Nelson and others. The heist nets them approximately $49,500.**

03/07/34 – The Department of Investigation, (FBI), because in stealing and transporting a sheriff’s car he commits a Federal crime.**

03/13/34 – Dillinger robs bank in Mason City, IA. with gang, and is injured in shoulder. The theft yields about $52,000.**

03/14/34 – Dillinger is treated at home of Dr. Nels Mortenson at 2522 Fairmount Av. St. Paul, MN.**

03/16/34 – Dillinger arrives in Chicago and attempts to obtain divorce from the husband of his girlfriend Billie Frechette.**

03/19/34 – Frechette delivers sums of money and wooden gun to Audrey Hancock and Dillinger’s father.**

03/20/34 – Dillinger and Frechette rent apartment together in St. Paul, MN.**

03/30/34 – Dillinger and Frechette host a raucous party at the Lincoln Court apartments which lasts most of the night.**

03/31/34 – The caretaker tips off the Department of Investigation, (FBI), and Dillinger and Frechette escape after shoot-out. Dillinger receives wound in the left calf.**

“For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.” Romans 8:2 ESV ***

What shall we pray for this tragic event, and the transgressions of John Dillinger? Lord, we give You thanks that You are the author of the law of life that has set us free from separation and death. You are the Good Father that waits for all prodigal sons and daughters to stop rebelling, turn around, and come back home. 

You are the only proper Judge of all humanity, whether those who do justly, or those who live in defiance. Your character is not defiled by our hatreds, or limited to our finite vantage point of our neighbor’s life. Give us humility and wisdom to watch this event with You, and to receive Your Rhema Word for ourselves and our state. 

To open, Your Word tells us that we become both what we practice, and what we think about. 

“Whoever seeks good finds favor, but evil comes to the one who searches for it.” **** Proverbs 11:27 NIV

“As someone thinks within himself, so he is.” Proverbs 23:7

Dillinger’s calendar is a portrayal of some of his thoughts and actions just for the month of March 1934. His actions betray a mind almost singularly set on crime, and personal gain. He thinks of self and worships self. He even steals a “marriage” with Billie from her husband in prison?!

Will You forgive any in our society in his day that idolized him as a folk hero? Will You forgive those who capitalized on his notorious contempt for for the law; even using him to sell their brand of cars? Will You forgive the press of his day for their greedily hyping and sensationalizing his story to sell more newspapers? We traded our scruples to be participants in his defiling story; they sold it, and we, the public bought it. Why are we such passive thinkers and indirect participants in crime? Have mercy on  us!

Will You release us from the curse of worshipping an antihero like Dillinger in Saint Paul, and throughout Minnesota in the present? We idolize thugs in the music business, and our youths have become more cruel. We venerate icons of technology, though they betray our privacy for gain, and have become voyeurs. We steal from our neighbors and employers with liberality, and vote for politicians who steal our liberty. By the Authority of Jesus Christ, we break the spirit of the Antihero over our society!

Show us a better way in the future! Bless us to report crime in ways that do not honor or popularize or capitalize on the worst actors in our culture. Bless us to receive Your thinking about those committed to lawless thinking that leads them to lawless actions. May we practice “meditating on Your laws day and night” like King David! May we agree with Your thoughts, spoken through the prophet Micah; 

“He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” *****

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

** http://www.johndillinger.com/index.php/timeline/march-1934

*** https://biblehub.com/romans/8-2.htm

**** https://biblehub.com/proverbs/11-27.htm

***** https://biblehub.com/micah/6-8.htm

 

 

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20th Century, Agriculture, farming, History, Intercession, Judgment & Counter-Judgment Cycle, Minnesota, omnipresent history, State Government

Nonpartisan League

herbert-gaston-nonpartisan-league

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 Non-Partisan?

 

 

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