Historical Events of Minnesota

Minnesota became a state in 1858.
Minnesota became a state in 1858. (Image: Minnestoa state contour against blurred USA flag image by Stasys Eidiejus from Fotolia.com)

Minnesota is the 12th largest U.S. state, and known as "The land of 10,000 lakes." Over the past 1,000 years, the state has served as the home for American Indian tribes, fur traders and hearty settlers. While the United States initially was slow to settle it, Minnesota's fertile land eventually attracted tens of thousands of settlers, and its population eventually grew to more than 5 million. In that time, the state has also given birth to some of the country's prominent entertainers and businesses.

The Louisiana Purchase

In April 1803, an envoy appointed by President Thomas Jefferson secured the purchase of the 828,000-square-mile Louisiana territory from French leader Napoleon Bonaparte. The territory doubled the size of the United States at that time. It contained much of modern day Minnesota, though the U.S. did not establish any presence there for another 16 years. In 1805, explorer Zebulon Pike negotiated with the Dakota tribe for much of the rest of the state.

Fort Snelling Established

Following the War of 1812, the United States sought to establish forts in its northwestern frontier from Lake Michigan to the Missouri River. This included Fort Snelling at the confluence of the Mississippi and Minnesota rivers, a project started in 1819 and completed in 1825. The fort quickly became a bustling outpost for nearby tribes and traders. The area around the fort eventually developed into the twin cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul.


President James Buchanan officially approved Minnesota's application for statehood on May 11, 1858, making it the 32nd state. Minnesota’s population had exploded in the preceding years, growing from about 6,000 to more than 150,000 from 1850 to 1857, according to the U.S. Library of Congress. Settlers sought to exploit the area's fertile prairies and woodlands.

The U.S. and Dakota War

As settlers crowded into Minnesota, they began to overflow onto the Dakota reservation, which prompted the U.S. government to redraw and shrink its boundaries. As the Dakota's conditions deteriorated, tribal leader Little Crow agreed to go to war with the settlers. They nearly wiped out a 40-man U.S. troop relief army on Aug. 18, 1862, and fighting continued for about a month. In the end, 77 soldiers, 413 white settlers and 71 Indians--38 killed in a mass execution--were dead, according to Minnesota State University. A farmer shot and killed Little Crow near Hutchinson, Minnesota, the next year.


In 1886, a Chicago jewelry company sent a shipment of gold watches to a jeweler in Redwood Falls, Minnesota. The jeweler did not want the watches, so he sold them to the local train station's agent, Richard Sears. Sears sold the watches to other agents along the line and used the profits to buy more. Later that year, he began the R.W. Sears Watch Co., which eventually grew into Sears, Roebuck and Co.

Good Grief!

Minneapolis native Charles Schultz penned a weekly panel comic for the St. Paul Pioneer Press known as "Li'l Folks" from 1947 to 1950. On Oct. 2, 1950, Shultz's comic, now named "Peanuts," went into national syndication, appearing in seven newspapers across the country. By the time Shultz retired in 1999, Peanuts appeared in more than 2,600 newspapers around the world as well as numerous beloved television specials.

Twins Birth

On Oct. 26, 1960, the president of the Washington, DC, baseball team, the Senators, decided to move the team to the Minneapolis/St. Paul area. The Senators became the Minnesota Twins, and the city inherited baseball legends such as Harmon Killebrew and Jim Lemon.

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