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Today I visited Historic Fort Snelling, just outside of Minneapolis, in Hennepin County, Minnesota.  Fort Snelling was established in the aftermath of the War of 1812 when Minnesota was still a frontier territory, with the purpose of protecting the fur trade from British meddling.  The fort eventually closed but re-opened at the onset of the Civil War.  Although many Minnesotans went on to fight in the Civil War, the war never came this far north.  Troops headquartered here did battle with the Dakota Indians in 1862 in other parts of Minnesota.  The fort saw its final use in World War II as a processing center for the newly drafted.

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The fort a parade demonstration and later a firing of the cannon.

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Usually when I visit a historic site I more or less know what I’m going to see.  I had no idea however that one of the most famous people to live here was a slave by the name of Dred Scott.  Scott was the property of Dr. John Emerson, an army physician who brought Scott to Fort Snelling with him from Missouri, a slave state.  Fort Snelling was at that time a part of the Wisconsin Territory, which was a free territory, but for some reason slavery was permitted at the fort.  Years later Scott sued for his freedom, arguing in part that he was free once he entered the free territory of Wisconsin.  He lost the case but helped fuel the growing abolitionist movement which came to full fruition with the Civil War. Dr. Emerson’s quarters are re-created in the picture on the left.  Below his quarters is the kitchen where Scott, along with his slave wife lived.

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Fort Snelling State Park is a short walk from the fort.  After the Dakota War of 1862, about 1600 Dakota Indians were imprisoned in what is now part of the State Park during the winter of 1862-1863.  About 130 of them died here.


The final stop on my tour of Fort Snelling was to stop at the nearby Fort Snelling National Cemetery.  Established in 1939, over 200,000 are now buried here.