Title Reviewed:
A History of Minnesota

Author Reviewed:
William Watts Folwell

[Author Unknown]


Indiana Magazine of History, Volume 18, Issue 4, pp 395-396

Article Type:
Book Review

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A History of Minnesota. By WILLIAM WATTS FOLWELL, President Emeritus of Minnesota University. Vol. I, Minnesota Historical Society, Saint Paul, 1921. Pp. 533.

IT is a pleasure to turn from the deluge of historical trash thrown on the market at present to the work of an honest historian. Dr. Folwell has at his elbow the collections of the Minnesota Historical society. He was president of Minnesota university from 1869 to 1884, was a soldier in the Civil war, and has been actively employed in governmental duties for near a half century. Besides thus understanding his state and his people and besides having a personal acquaintance with the geography of his state, he writes in a pleasing style. The volume under review covers the territorial period, from the appearance of Radisson and Groseilliers, about 1660, down to the constitutional convention in 1857.

A large part of the story is concerned with the Indians and their management by the government. The reviewer was especially interested in this, having waded through a corresponding chapter of Indiana history. There was so much peculation in Indiana, engaged in by such prominent characters, that it seemed wrong to tell the whole truth but the story told by Dr. Folwell relieves one of all apprehension. The Indian agents of early Indiana were mere kindergartners and what is more interesting a number of the same men who learned the rudiments of the game in Indiana became masters in Minnesota. Soldiers like Josiah Snelling, Amos Stoddard, Zebulon Pike, Stephen Long, Henry Leavenworth, and others also remind us of the close connection of the two states. Among the early governors was Col. Willis A. Gorman, a hero of the Mexican war and a congressman from Indiana previous to his appointment as governor. The struggle for cheap lands, the tribulations of the squatters, the building of railroads and the political strife all remind us in Indiana that our experiences were not unique—not even the contest with the British fur traders. It is an attractive story and one wonders why a sane person who can get such material will read any other kind. It is to be hoped Dr. Folwell will be able to continue the work, for it hardly seems probable a better author can be found.

Published by the Indiana University Department of History.