March of the Governors, Governor #2, Alexander Ramsey

March of the Governors, Governor #2, Alexander Ramsey
Paul Nelson and David Bly

Alexander Ramsey did not have it easy. He was orphaned at age ten and worked as a store clerk and a carpenter before finding his vocation in politics. He served two terms in Congress from Pennsylvania and for his service to the Whig Party was rewarded, if you call it that, by being sent to a cold place with hardly any people — Minnesota. But he took to it, first as territorial governor (1849), then succeeding his rival Henry Sibley to become our second state governor. But his three years in office were nothing but crisis — Depression, war, and war. The defining event of his administration was the Dakota War of 1862, something that has darkened Ramsey’s reputation forever. There’s no evidence that Ramsey ever had sympathy for Minnesota’s Indigenous people. He left the governorship in 1863 to become a US senator.

To learn more about the US Dakota War and Ramsey’s involvement in it, Ramsey County Historical Society encourages our listeners to further research the circumstances and events leading up to and following this war to better understand the context and the outcomes.