Minnesota has, at length, been permitted to take her place in the Union “upon equal footing with other states”. Congress, by a solemn act of legislation, approved by the President, has recognized her as a sovereign and independent member of the Confederacy—free, henceforth, from the trammels of Territorial vassalage, and bound by no allegiance to any earthly power outside her own limits, except to the Federal Union, to the extent prescribed by the Constitution of the United States. --Honorable H.H. Sibley, Governor of the State of Minnesota. Message to a joint convention of the Legislature, June 3, 1858.
So began Gov. Henry Sibley’s address to the legislature and the people of Minnesota following Minnesota’s admittance as the 32nd state of the Union on May 11, 1858. While a day of celebration, the governor used the occasion to express sentiments of frustration with the actions of the U.S. Congress regarding Minnesota’s statehood application:
But, while it is a subject of congratulation that Minnesota is now a State in the Union, she has just ground of complaint that her admission has been so long delayed. … For this state of things Congress is responsible. Having followed the course pointed out to us with scrupulous exactness, we had organized our State Government … and we presented ourselves to the National Legislature with full confidence that the pledges made us would be faithfully redeemed. How was our application received? Our Senators and Representatives were repulsed--our expostulations were unheeded—and the humiliating spectacle has been presented to the world… simply because it subserved the purposes of Congressional politicians to allow her to remain suspended, for an indefinite period, like the fabled coffin of the false prophet, between the heavens and the earth.
Whew! It’s good to be reminded that statehood didn’t just happen. It was the culmination of years of hopes, dreams, hard work, anger, frustration, and persistence. Today, May 11, 2017, we celebrate that historical event—and the unbroken bond that links today’s Minnesotans and today’s state government with those first citizens of Minnesota as they celebrated statehood on that Spring day in 1858.
The Minnesota Legislature has passed a presidential preference primary law three times; all were repealed. Four presidential preference primaries have been held.
1913 - Governor Eberhart promoted the presidential primary in his inaugural speech in 1913, and the Legislature passed a law that year, Chapter 449.
1916 - The primary was held on March 14 (election results). Winners: Democrat, Woodrow Wilson; Prohibition, William Sulzer; Republican, Albert B. Cummins
Two days before the election, the Duluth News Tribune wrote about the upcoming contest, including "The crazy quilt presidential primary has befuddled everybody from the rummy to the justices of the Supreme Court."
In 1947, former Morning Star Tribune reporter Charles Cheney recalled the primary in The Story of Minnesota Politics: Highlights of Half a Century of Political Reporting. "Minnesota tried the presidential primary once, in 1916, and that was enough. It was a lot of grief and expense.... The 1917 Legislature repealed the presidential primary freak, and few tears were shed."
1917 - The law was repealed, Chapter 133.
1949 - A presidential primary was established by Chapter 433, approved April 14.
1952 - The primary was held on March 18 (election results). Winners: DFL, Hubert Humphrey; Republican, Harold Stassen
G. Theodore Mitau wrote about the primary in his 1970 version of the textbook Politics in Minnesota. "Stassen had led in the Minnesota Republican presidential primary, and most of the state's convention delegates were officially pledged to him. But a write-in campaign for Dwight D. Eisenhower, launched just a few days before the state primary, had resulted in what came to be called the "Minnesota miracle." With almost none of the advance publicity Stassen had enjoyed, and without the approval of the national Eisenhower organization, the campaign was phenomenally successful; 108,692 voters took the trouble to write in Eisenhower's name on the ballot, while Stassen, whose name was printed thereon, received only 20,000 more votes, 129,076."
1956 - The primary was held on March 20 (election results). Winners: Democrat, Estes Kefauver; Republican, Dwight Eisenhower
Minnesota Politics and Government, a 1999 textbook by Daniel Elazar, Virgina Gray and Wyman Spano, explained: "In the 1956 presidential primary the leaders of the DFL tried to deliver the state for Adlai Stevenson by virtually dictating to the rank-and-file DFLers that they vote for him in the name of party unity. The spontaneous reaction of the voters was to give Estes Kefauver the victory, a message pointed toward Hubert Humphrey." See also: "Primary History '56 free-for-all contest had it all," by Jim Parsons, Star Tribune, Jan. 19, 1992.
Entire chapters were devoted to this primary race in Coya Come Home: A Congresswoman's Journey by Gretchen Urnes Beito (Los Angeles: Pomegranate Press, 1990) and Hubert Humphrey: A Biography by Carl Solberg (St. Paul: Borealis Books, 2003).
1959 - The presidential primary law was repealed, Chapter 67.
Iric Nathanson wrote about the 1952 and 1956 primaries in a 2008 MinnPost article, "Political mischief: Minnesota's 1950s experiment with presidential primaries." About the repeal, he wrote, "The mainly Republican conservatives controlled the state Senate, and they moved first to vote repeal with only minimal debate. But repeal was more controversial in the House, where the liberal caucus, composed of DFLers, was in control. There, a repeal vote was delayed when primary supporters, many of whom had backed Kefauver in 1956, pushed unsuccessful to conduct one more direct primary in 1960 before scuttling the 1949 law entirely. But now DFL leaders were concerned that a 1960 primary, which permitted cross-over voting, could embarrass Hubert Humphrey and his bid for the 1960 presidential nomination."
1989 - A presidential primary bill, authored by Sen. Ron Dicklich, passed the Senate 48-16, and then the House 117-10, Chapter 291.
1990 - Changes were made to the law. The date was pushed back from the last week in February to April 7, and voters were required to declare themselves for a particular party in order to get a ballot. Chapter 603. (Background: "Minnesota primary law aims at increasing clout," by Gerald Kopplin, Hibbing Tribune, May 9, 1990)
1991-1992 - The House and Senate voted to repeal the presidential primary, but Governor Arne Carlson vetoed the bill. His veto message described his support for a presidential primary. The Senate voted to override the veto, 56-9, but the House failed to override the veto, 77-49. Veto page information. The primary remained in place. (Background: "The $4 million beauty contest: Primaries and caucuses 1992: Power to the people, sort of," Roger Swardson, City Pages, February 26, 1992.
1992 - The primary was held on April 7, 1992. Winners: DFL, Bill Clinton; IR, George H. W. Bush. (election results) (Background: "Primal yawn: Nation, and most state voters, ignored controversial primary," by Dane Smith, Star Tribune, April 9, 1992.
1995 - The presidential primary was put on hold until after 1999. (Background: "Hopes dashed for presidential primary, election overhaul," Jack B. Coffman, Pioneer Press, May 19, 1995)
1999 - The presidential primary law was repealed. Chapter 250, Article 1, Section 115.
Dr. Eric Ostermeier wrote an informative article in his Smart Politics blog recently, "A Brief history of presidential primaries."
The Library has additional sources of information on the four Minnesota presidential primaries, including many news clippings on the 1992 primary and discussion of the issue during that decade.
Former state legislator, Minnesota House Speaker, and U. S. Congressman Martin Olav Sabo died yesterday. Library staff remember Sabo as a user of the Legislative Reference Library through the years.
But in particular, we remember him fondly for a visit to the Library when he and former Representative Tom Berg came bearing wonderful pastries! They had collaborated with several former legislators and staff to write the book, Minnesota's Miracle: Learning From the Government That Worked, by Tom Berg. Shortly after the publication of the book, they brought pastries to thank Library staff for help with all of the research. We were pleased to be given credit in the book – and honored to receive a visit from the two of them!
Governor Mark Dayton's State of the State address is scheduled to be given at the University of Minnesota's McNamara Alumni Center on March 9, 2016. State of the State addresses are generally held in the Minnesota State Capitol, but that seemed an unlikely location this year given that most of the capitol building is closed for restoration.
It won't be the first time a governor has delivered a State of the State address away from the Capitol. It's been held elsewhere eight other times--twice in Bloomington, twice in Rochester, once in St. Cloud, Hutchinson, and Winona, and once at the Governor's Residence. All other State of the State addresses appear to have been held at the State Capitol.
The Minnesota Constitution requires the Governor to address the Legislature each session, but as far as we can verify, Governor LeVander's 1969 message to the legislature was the first to be titled "State of the State." The Library has collected most gubernatorial addresses since statehood: Gubernatorial Addresses to the Minnesota Legislature "State of the State" and Inaugural Addresses, 1857-present.
The Minnesota deer hunting season is just around the corner. During the 2015 legislative session, informational hearings were held to discuss the concerns of hunters regarding the declining deer herd in Minnesota. On April 17, 2015, the Legislative Audit Commission voted to direct the Legislative Auditor to evaluate the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources' (DNR) deer management process. The Legislative Auditor's report is scheduled to be released in early 2016.
The DNR completed new deer population goals for 40 of the 128 deer permit areas in the state but is postponing the remaining goal setting until the completion of the legislative audit. The completed Deer Population Goals were done in five blocks:
Superior Uplands Arrowhead: Minnesota Deer Population Goals
North Central Plains - Moraines: Minnesota Deer Population Goals
Pine Moraines: Minnesota Deer Population Goals
East Central Uplands: Minnesota Deer Population Goals
Sand Plain – Big Woods: Minnesota Deer Population Goals
According to the DNR, "As a result of this process, 85 percent of the 40 areas will be managed for populations higher than those experienced in 2014; the remaining will see no change." Additional deer population goal setting resources including Hunter and Landowner Survey Results and Deer Advisory Team Recommendations are available in the "2015 goal setting" section of the Minnesota Department of Natural Resource's Deer Management website.
Books & Reports
With the Minnesota State Capitol closed for renovation, the Minnesota Legislature is scheduled to meet in special session in the next week or two in modest, temporary chambers in two State Office Building hearing rooms. Territorial legislatures met in a variety of locations but the Minnesota House and Senate have met in one of the three Minnesota capitols since the first one was built in 1853.
We were able to find one notable exception! On March 1, 1881, the first State Capitol caught fire during an evening session in one of the final days of the 1881 legislative session. The House and Senate quickly adjourned when the fire was discovered. The Capitol was "totally destroyed" according to a story in the Minneapolis Tribune the next morning. The Tribune states that "steps were taken promptly during the evening by the mayor and lieutenant-governor and speaker for the legislature to resume its session this morning in the new market building." By 11 am the next morning, the Legislature was meeting in Market House a few blocks away at 7th and Wabasha. The 1881 Legislature also met at Market House later that year for a special session.
Although the hearing rooms in the State Office Building will be modest compared to the elegant House and Senate chambers in the beautiful 1905 Capitol, current legislators will not need to "take measures for the proper covering of the floor of the Hall with some thing other than saw dust" as they did during the 1881 special session at Market House!
Capitol renovation has booted the House out of its chamber during a previous special session. The House met in the Senate chamber during the 1989 special session.
Elizabeth Lincoln & Carol Blackburn
Continuing a tradition that dates back to the state's earliest days, Governor Mark Dayton presented his fifth State of the State address last night to an audience of legislators, state officials, and guests in the chamber of the Minnesota House of Representatives. His address is just the latest addition to the Legislative Library's compilation of Gubernatorial Addresses to the Minnesota Legislature. The earliest we've found was that of the last Territorial governor, Samuel Medary – though it was read by his private secretary, Mr. E. H. Cook.
This image captures Governor Rudy Perpich presenting one of his seven State of the State addresses. A close look at the photo shows several recognizable faces including former Governor Harold Stassen and several legislators including Senator Bill Diessner, Senator Neil Dieterich, Senator Mel Frederick, and Senator Ember Reichgott Junge.
Presidential Executive Orders have been in the news of late with the announcement of President Barack Obama's recent executive action related to immigration. Their use can be controversial and their effect powerful. President Obama has issued fewer executive orders than any other president in the past 100 years when you look at the average number of executive orders per year in office. Similarly, Governor Mark Dayton has issued 82 executive orders during his time in office, far below former Governor Wendell Anderson's total of 143 over his four year term, the most issued by recent Minnesota governors.
State level executive orders can be just as important as state statutes and are considered public documents. The Minnesota Legislative Reference Library has been collecting Minnesota executive orders since the library's founding. The Library's searchable Minnesota Executive Orders database includes the full-text of executive orders from 1968 to the present.
In a recent Sunlight Foundation study, policy analysts evaluated all 50 states on the accessibility of their governor's executive orders. Minnesota earned an A, scoring high marks for machine readability, permanence, and timeliness of availability (how quickly executive orders are posted after issuance). The Foundation evaluated the Legislative Library’s database rather than the collection of executive orders available on the website of the Minnesota governor. Governors traditionally post executive orders for their administration only; when administrations change, this set of valuable historical information can be lost - or buried in state archives.
Just one more way the Minnesota Legislative Reference Library provides Minnesotans access to a notable set of information.
The 2014 election is upon us and many remember interesting elections from previous years. The Legislative Reference Library has a few books that recount the stories.
Electing Jesse Ventura: A Third-Party Success Story. Jacob Lentz reports on the unexpected victory of third-party candidate Jesse Ventura over major-party candidates Norm Coleman and Skip Humphrey in the 1998 race for governor. (JK6193 1998)
Minnesota Standoff: The Politics of Deadlock. Rod Searle writes about the process that led to the compromise between the two parties and his selection as House Speaker after the 1978 election resulted in a 67-67 tie in the Minnesota House. (JK6171 .S43 1990)
Recount. Ronald F. Stinnett and Charles H. Backstrom tell the story of the 139-day recount that resulted from the 1962 gubernatorial election. Karl Rolvaag eventually took office in March of the following year with a 91 vote lead over incumbent Governor Elmer Andersen. (JK6152 1962 .S7)
There is No November. Dave Hoium and Leon Oistad recount first-hand the surprising turn of events when allegations against Republican-endorsed gubernatorial candidate Jon Grunseth forced him to quit nine days before election day in 1990. Arne Carlson, who lost the endorsement to Grunseth months earlier, took his place on the ballot and defeated incumbent Governor Rudy Perpich. (JK6195 .H65 1991)
This is Not Florida: How Al Franken Won the Minnesota Senate Recount. Jay Weiner tells the story of the recount that followed the 2008 election. Eventually Al Franken was sworn in as the junior Senator from Minnesota in July 2009 with a 312 vote lead over Norm Coleman. (JK1968 2008 .W45 2010)
No one has written a book about the turn of events surrounding the 2002 U.S. Senate election following Senator Paul Wellstone’s death on October 25, 2002. Walter Mondale’s autobiography, The Good Fight: A Life in Liberal Politics (E840.8.M66 A3 2010) has a section on it and the Library has compiled documents related to the election.
Contact a librarian at 651-296-8338, or firstname.lastname@example.org, to request these books.
Books & Reports
The Legislative Reference Library and the Office of the Secretary of State have just completed a major project digitizing 40,000 previously unavailable official state documents.
The Office of the Secretary of State, as the repository for many of the official records of the state of Minnesota, have kept the official documents from 1900 to 1990, and the index cards used to retrieve them, secure in cabinets and boxes. Now they are available to everyone online: Secretary of State Documents 1900-1990.
Among the interesting findings --
Other documents capture less momentous but important state events --
Access to this rich resource of official state information was funded through a grant from the Arts & Cultural Heritage Fund administered by the Minnesota Historical Society.