20th Century, Civics, Economics, government, History, Intercession, Jesus, law, Minnesota, Politics, railroad, State Government

Van Sant Becomes Governor

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Jan 7, 1901 to Jan 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.”

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/&gt;

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!

*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!

**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, education, Exploration, government, History, Intercession, Jesus, Minnesota, Native Americans, State Government

Nicollet Maps of Upper Mississippi River 1843

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French astronomer Joseph Nicollet’s accurate maps of the upper Mississippi region, made over the course of several visits to Fort Snelling, are published by the U.S. Senate in 1843.*

Thanks for the blessing of accurate maps. Thanks that You give us a real assessment of the situations of our lives. Thank you that good maps help define land uses and indirectly, land disputes!

As I ponder Messr. Nicollet’s involvement in the life of this state, I quickly come to the question, “Why is an astronomer mapping terra firma so far from home?” Although I know so little about astronomy, I can easily imagine that he was trained to map the vastness of space. Perhaps working on such a small scale was a new challenge to him, or no challenge at all. His motives in this work are unknown to me, but would be an interesting campfire story.

However, I am practicing thinking about history as the Eternal Now. This is where Your Spirit leads me. I thank You that You led this man outside his discipline. I thank You that he was taken far beyond his home into the wilderness of North America. I thank You that he shared his gift, even if it was second place to astronomy! Will You bless us as his progeny to embrace the moments in life we are taken out of our expertise, and into the woods?

*www.dipity.com/Minnesota/History/Minnesota-History/

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19th Century, Business, Exploration, Health, Intercession, Jesus, Minnesota, Technology, Transportation

First Steamboat at Ft. Snelling 1823

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The “Virginia” is the first steamboat to reach Fort Snelling. Needed supplies are missing from the cargo, though the boat does carry the umbrella-wielding Italian count Giacomo Beltrami.*

Today’s meditation is on the relevance of the arrival of steamboats in the state of Minnesota. For the author, the practical is spiritual, and often the super-normal is the basis of the super-natural. Therefore, if I want to hear what my Good Father is saying to me today, I may have to slow my thoughts to the speed of a paddle-wheeler headed upstream. That said, below is a succinct general history to amplify this event:

“As early as the 17th Century a handful of explorers, hardy French voyageurs, and missionaries had ventured into the environs of the Upper Mississippi River Valley. Through a variety of relationships that included cooperation, intermingling, and competition with the native inhabitants of the region, several temporary encampments and forts had been established to support the lucrative fur trade. But most historians agree that nothing changed the frontier as quickly as steam transportation.(1)

In April, 1823 the small steam packet Virginia backed out into the channel of the Mississippi from the St. Louis levee to become the first boat to ascend the Father of Waters into what would later become the Minnesota Territory. This remarkable journey was chronicled by Giacomo Constantine Beltrami, the Italian explorer who went on to play an important role in Minnesota history. (2) A Kentucky family en route to the lead mines of southern Wisconsin on board the 118-foot vessel represented the first trickle of what would soon become a deluge of immigration. Also on board the Virginia for this historic trip was Captain William Clark of the famed Lewis and Clark Expedition of 1805.

Imagine the contrast of traveling in the relative ease and comfort of this sturdy little boat with his experience of just a few years earlier.” http://www.winonahistory.org/sesqui/steam/

There is much here to ponder: the new technology of the steamboat, how this technology changed history, and what timeless truths can we grasp from it? Lord of Mighty Rivers hear my simple thoughts and prayers.

Strong Creator, thank You for the scientific properties of water. It’s truly amazing! It’s like Your character, it can appear as ice, liquid, or steam, yet it is always the same substance. You put it into Your creative children to harness this transitional power for the betterment of humankind. Which of their ancestors would imagine that one day their boiling tea kettle would power massive loads upstream against the might of the Mississippi?

Here is my first confession and petition. Lord forgive our lack of imagination, both for ourselves, and for the dreams of others. May we practice to spur this generation to dream, and to the enjoyable discipline necessary to their fulfillment. May we be a voice of encouragement that pushes others to defy the current! Thank You for the symbolic value of the lonely Virginia moving slowly to its destination!

Next, new technology often makes the impossible possible, and the impractical practical. Again, who in the 18th century would think that their steaming iron maple syrup pot could actually become a boiler? And that that boiler would have the power to move unthinkable payloads up and downstream? And that those payloads would enable trade and previously unimaginable lifestyle for the average American?

We, in the 21st century, have the luxury to throw away old socks and t-shirts. Cotton products have become so accessible they are practically disposable. We do not know or remember that our ancestors may have experienced the incredible comfort of cotton articles from the South for the first time because of this steamboat’s success. Conversely, those in the South were likely amazed at the beautiful white flour Minnesota could send them so affordably.

Lord, we don’t often pause to remember what it’s like to do without. We do not see the masterful design of a plain white cotton t-shirt, or ponder that in past generations, it was a garment fit for a king. Or that the greatest chefs of Paris were astounded at the silky wheat flour from some unknown place called Minnesota. It was “Incroyable”!

Incredible Dreamer, thanks that You are not offended by our inventions! Thanks that this steamboat enabled Beltrami to better share his discoveries with a much wider audience. Ultimately, thanks that You take pleasure in our discoveries! May this river valley yield new discoveries and discoverers who make the impossible possible! (Just like You!)

*Note – PrayThroughHistory uses the timeline located for several years at the Minnesota Historical Society Web site, at this URL: mnhs.org/about/dipity_timeline.htm .  The current URL is www.dipity.com/Minnesota/History/Minnesota-History/ and only works if typed, not pasted, in browser. It is worth the effort!

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