20th Century, History, Uncategorized, women

First Minnesota Woman to Serve in Congress

“Coya Knutson at the piano, 1954.” Minnesota Historical Society. https://libguides.mnhs.org/knutson/primary

1955 to 1958
Cornelia “Coya” Knutson (1912-1996) was the first Minnesota woman to serve in the United States House of Representatives. She served from 1955 to 1958. Her legacy as Minnesota’s first female representative in Congress remains, as does the initiatives she pushed for regarding student loans, cystic fibrosis, and Minnesota farms.*
What a joy to find that this pioneering woman in Minnesota politics had the foresight to compile her own archives. What better evidence of a life exists than the testimony of the one who lived it? Enjoy the summary below left by the Honorable United States Representative Knutson!

“Cornelia Genevive Knutson, or “Coya” as she was commonly known, was born in Edmore, North Dakota, August 23, 1912, the daughter of Christian and Christine (Anderson) Gjesdal. She received a B.S. degree in English and music at Concordia College (Moorhead, Minnesota) and did post-graduate work at Moorhead State Teachers College and at the Julliard School of Music. She began her career as a high school teacher in Oklee, Minnesota, and married Andrew Knutson on March 21, 1940. She served in the state Agricultural Adjustment Administration (1941-1942), as a member of the Red Lake County Board (1948-1950), and as a representative from the 65th district in the Minnesota House of Representatives from 1951 to 1954. As a Democratic-Farmer-Labor candidate in Minnesota’s ninth congressional district, Knutson defeated Harold Hagen, a twelve year incumbent, to become the first Minnesota woman to be elected to the United States House of Representatives. She held that position from 1955 to 1958. Knutson was defeated in 1958, and campaigned unsuccessfully for the seat in 1960…” **

What so abruptly curtailed the momentum of this bright woman’s political career? It appears that she was the target of a focussed “shame campaign”. Now we go to a sound source on the topic; the Minnesota Legislative Reference Library to clarify the method(s) used to halt this good woman.
“She was the only Democrat in the United States House of Representatives to lose to a Republican in the 1958 election. The upset came after her husband urged her to leave Congress. Headlines around the U.S. featured his plea: “Coya, Come Home.” The Knutson’s were later divorced. (Coya Knutson, New York Times, December 26, 1976)” ***
So, can we defer that this attack on the Honorable Representative Knutson is at least two-pronged: publicly shaming her for pursuing leadership instead of matronly pursuits, and a blatant appeal to pity? While I do not have supporting evidence, the circumstantial evidence makes clear that the rhetoric used against her attacked her as a mother of her adopted son Terry, and as a supportive wife to her husband Andy.

I find the shameful emotional manipulation of her husband especially repugnant. While this case also piles on the sexism of mid-century mid-western values, this type of attack is nothing new. For those who study rhetoric, it is known as an “ad misericordiam” argument defined as: an appeal to pity or compassion. A quick search of the Center for Hellenic Studies-Harvard University reveals numerous cases recorded in Ancient Greek literature. Shall I list a few of the more famous examples? We see ad misericordiam arguments and attacks in: “Apology” (Socrates and Plato), “Wasps” (Aristophanes), and the famed speech of Demosthenes “Against Meidias”. **** all this to establish that the attacks on Coya followed the low bar of rhetoric set over twenty four centuries before her.

What is it about appeals to pity and shame that make such an emotional impact? Dr. Brene Brown has studied shame, vulnerability, and courage for decades. I’ve pulled a few quotes that may crystallize the impacts of shame.
“Shame derives its power from being unspeakable.”
“We judge people in areas where we’re vulnerable to shame.”
“Shame, blame, disrespect, betrayal, and the withholding of affection damage the roots from which love grows. Love can only survive these injuries if they are acknowledged, healed and rare.” *
May I unpack these, statement by statement?

When one is attacked through media, in this case radio and newspaper articles, it is not a two-way debate. How could Coya publicly defend herself while only the reporter holds the microphone or pen? These are the kind of questions that have no answer, and to which there is no expectation of an answer; they are only intended to attack a person and not the problem. To Brown’s second statement, we find a public willing to project their judgment of Rep. Knutson in precisely the same areas they felt the most vulnerable as mothers and husbands. To the last point, I see the insecurities of a husband that loves too little attempting to regain control. Though an adult, he seems to be unable to celebrate her success, or privately, thoughtfully, and constructively convey his objections to her career. Too often, wounded people will choose ego over love, and pride over understanding.

So we move towards You; the Healer of the Universe! You offer us real relationship with the Only Complete personality of all time! You offer us the gift of vulnerability, and are immune to our attempts to emotionally manipulate the Maker of Emotions!

We commend the forerunning of Cornelia Genevive Knutson to You today. We honor her contributions to the benefits to our farmers and those who love the outdoors. We honor her bravery to step outside the schisms in her marriage and the cultural mores of Minnesota to embrace the loneliness of leadership.

In her era, by the Cross of Christ, the Blood of Christ, the Resurrection of Christ, and the Eternal Word of G-d we come to acknowledge our heinous separations and offenses against You. We shamed Coya into compliance instead of Your adventure for her. We wrote or believed written misbeliefs, disbeliefs, unbeliefs, and falsehoods about her and the Knutson family. We not only withhold our approval of her as a human being, but withheld our votes and broke relationship with her through false accusations based on mostly false information. When we judged Coya, where we judged Coya, we have also judged Your confidence and pleasure in her. Will You forgive us?

Conversely, by the Cross of Christ, the Blood of Christ, the Resurrection of Christ, and the Eternal Word of G-d we make these healing declarations over the Knutson lineage, and all Minnesotans present and future. We declare and invite the leadership of women who fear-respect You, and love the law. We declare the doors of shame through media closed over Minnesota’s leadership, and ask that the scales of wisdom and discernment equalize and come into perfect balance. We declare the era of “gotcha politics” over, and invite You to mature us a people willing and able to: agree well, disagree well, love our enemies, seek the benefits of others before ourselves, and remain in relationship in all our present and future political discourse. May we all “Come home” to our Christ who gave the example of selfless service out of a full heart! Amen!

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off every encumbrance and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with endurance the race set out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.…” Hebrews 12:1-2 Berean Study Bible

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20th Century, Culture, Economics, Governors, History, Minnesota, omnipresent history, Politics, Uncategorized

Petersen Becomes Governor

Unknown

August 19, 1936

“Hjalmar Petersen takes office as the state’s 23rd governor upon the death of Governor Floyd B. Olson. Following his short stint as governor, Petersen tries and fails four times to regain the office.” *

“Hjalmer Petersen, the twenty-third governor of Minnesota, was born in Eskildstrup, Denmark on January 2, 1890. His education was limited and attained in the common schools of Denmark and Minnesota. At fourteen years old, he left school and went to work in the newspaper business, eventually founding the Askov American in 1914, a newspaper he owned the rest of his life. Petersen first entered politics as the clerk and then mayor of Askov. He also served as a member of the Minnesota House of Representatives from 1930 to 1934, and was the lieutenant governor of Minnesota from 1934 to 1936. On August 22, 1936, Governor Floyd B. Olson died in office, and Petersen, who was the lieutenant governor at the time, assumed the duties of the governorship. During his tenure, the federal unemployment insurance law was initiated; several labor disputes were dealt with; and significant judicial appointments were approved. After serving 134 days as governor, Petersen left office on January 2, 1936. He continued to stay politically active, serving as a member of the State Railroad and Warehouse Commission, a position he held until 1966. He also made several unsuccessful bids for the governor’s office, as well as a 1958 run for the U.S. Senate. Governor Hjalmar Petersen passed away on March 29, 1968 in Columbus, Ohio.” ** 

What did Governor Petersen’s keystone legislation of unemployment look like in his era? Minnesotans who were discharged through no fault of their own were to receive $15 a week for up to 16 weeks as of May 1,1938.*** See the table below to compare and contrast what this amount meant to a worker back  at its commencement.****

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Shall we pray? Lord, we give You thanks for being the Governor of All, for being our shield and very great reward! We agree with Your covenant promises in Genesis 15 to Abraham and his children that Your favor is greater than the sum of all property, labor, and accomplishments. We remember and bless Your eternal words, and Your heart of unmerited goodness to all who believe!

Will You forgive us our broken trust in Your provision both in Governor Petersen’s era, and in the present? We have accepted wealth from the state that it does not create or own, but extracted from our neighbors. We have accepted the premise that our present condition of dysfunction becomes the problem of our functional neighbors. Will You forgive us this faulty logic and co-dependent relationship(s)?

What if the state had made unemployment insurance voluntary instead of mandatory? We can see at least three immediate benefits immediately from this premise. First, it would allow contributors to share their wealth freely with a true spirit of giving instead of the spirit of extortion through forced charity collected by the state. 

Secondly, it would remove politicians from the direct relationship between those with extra and those in need. Maybe this would remove a sense of entitlement of guaranteed benefits, and enable a sense of gratitude and trust towards givers from receivers because they would have no expectations?

Third, it would displace politicians’ from the false narrative that they were the givers of wealth, and undercut the credit they have taken for the gifts of others.

Will You forgive us for trusting in the politicians of Minnesota, and the provisions forced on our neighbor by the co-dependent law of unemployment insurance? We have assumed a co-dependent relationship between giver and receiver and state. Will You help us revisit these issues and remove the expectations, dependency, shame, and manipulation from helping each other? Will You remove what is false and create real relationship, real opportunity to give from the heart, and real gratitude? Will You fulfill the good intentions and desires of Hjalmer Petersen on Your terms, and show us a better, more honest way to love our unemployed neighbor?

“Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” 2 Corinthians 9:7 NIV

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

** https://www.nga.org/governor/hjalmar-petersen/ 

citing 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.ssa.gov/policy/docs/ssb/v48n10/v48n10p22.pdf

**** http://www.mybudget360.com/cost-of-living-1938-to-2015-inflation-history-cost-of-goods-inflation/

 

 

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19th Century, 20th Century, 21st Century, Faith, History, Indian, Intercession, Minnesota, Native Americans, Treaties

Treaty of Mendota

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August 5, 1851
“In August the commissioners begin negotiations with the Lower Bands at Mendota. The Mdewakanton and Wahpekute are pressured into agreeing to terms similar to those forced on the Upper Bands, including $220,000 in upfront cash to the fur traders. Both treaties promise the Dakota new reservations along the Minnesota River “in perpetuity,” a pledge that will not be kept.” *
Lord, forgive the human desire to ‘work the system’ and pad our own nests! Will You forgive this heinous offense of the fur traders towards the Mdewakanton and Wahpekute within the Treaty of Mendota? Even greater, will You forgive this breech of justice committed against You through the deception of these two tribes?

Per contra, will You forgive the shame and anger of the Mdewakanton and Wahpekute towards: Lea, Sibley, Ramsey, Minnesota Territory, the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs, the U.S. Federal Government, and all unnamed parties participating in their deception? Sweet Jesus, it’s always so hard for the victims of injustice to let go of their righteous anger; will You give this gift to the Mdewakanton and Wahpekute Nations? Will You kindly and gently take this generational curse which has bound them to their historic offenders up, out, and onto the Cross of Christ? Will You restore what the enemy has taken from them, and bring Your Healing Presence to the peoples and lands involved? This land is Your property, may we view it as such both now and “in perpetuity”!

We, in the present, are angered by the deception of the Upper and Lower Dakota Bands at the hands of Luke Lea, and Alexander Ramsey through the trustful signing of the “Trader’ Papers”!!! The desire to disconnect ourselves from this event is powerful, yet Your Word gives us no escape when we offend You by accusing our neighbors. You do not yield the spirit of the law to comply with the letter of the law. You are both Grace and Truth! Help us remember this example spoken to self-righteous human accusers so many centuries ago?

“They said this to test Him, in order to have a basis for accusing Him. But Jesus bent down and began to write on the ground with His finger. When they continued to question Him, He straightened up and said to them, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to cast a stone at her.” Berean Study Bible, John 8:6-7 **

Will You give us the merciful eyes of Christ today, and into the eternal future of Minnesota? Help us see the humanity within victim and victimizer, the accuser and the accused, and to stand humbly with You against evil and for the good? May we become agents of humanity against the division and deception of the Evil One; the Author of All Grudges. Amen!

http://www.mnhs.org/about/dipity_timeline.htm
** https://biblehub.com/john/8-7.htm

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