Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Run Away With A City!


                                 Run Away With A City!

 Joe Rolette Did!     

    Not one park is named after him.  Not one street. Not one building. But he is the one who ran away with the capital of St. Paul.   

    Now you may say, "That is impossible.  No one can run away with the capital  city."
    I say, "Oh yes, he did."  
    Here is the tale and it is a true tale, part of Minnesota's history, so lend me your eyes and read on.
    Joe Rolette was a fur trader and opened a trading post in Pembina.  He led some of the first oxcarts from Pembina to St. Paul when Minnesota was a territory.  He was elected to the territorial legislature six times, which met in St. Paul.  He dressed in his usual clothing as a voyageur of the north woods.  The legislature met in the winter and he would arrive by dog sled trimmed with bells and ribbons.
     In 1857 the legislators knew the territory would soon become a state and each representative wanted his district to reap the benefits.  One benefit would be the official state capital.   The representatives of southern Minnesota pushed through a bill to have the city of St. Peter to be the capital.  It passed both houses and needed only the governor's signature.  
    Joe Rolette got his hands on the bill and actually ran away with it.  The Senators had to stay in continuous session until Joe was found. They had to sleep on cots set up beside their desks.
     The search was on for Joe.  The sergeant-at-arms diligently searched by day as did others. But at night it is rumored that the sergeant played poker with Joe at the Fuller House, a fine hotel.  The bill was locked in a bank's safe.  
     On the very last day of the legislative session, one minute before midnight, Joe walked into the Senate with the bill under his arm.    The gavel sounded.  The session ended. And the capital of Minnesota was St. Paul.   To honor him, there is a full-length portrait of him in the Capitol building.
      However, when Minnesota became a state (in 1858)Pembina was in North Dakota, where Joe Rolette died in 1871, penniless and forgotten.
       One of the many forgotten historical figures who made a difference in our history.  
       So, you can see, people can do the impossible.  Look at your life.  I bet you do the impossible, too.  

Monday, February 10, 2020

Black History Month Crispus Attucks

                Crispus Attucks,  A Villain or a Hero?

Little factual information is known about Crispus.  Some historians think one of his forbears was a Native American who was hanged in Boston in 1676. but no one is sure.
 Crispus might have been born in slavery in1723 near Boston, but no one is sure, again.

In 1750 William Brown put a notice in the Boston Gazette promising a 10-pound reward to the person who captured a runaway slave named "Crispas." No one is sure this is the same person.

One of Crispus's descendants says he was good at buying and selling cattle but later spent about twenty years at sea as a sailor.  This is family hearsay.  Are we sure?

No one knows why he was in Boston on the night in March 1770 when the Boston Massacre took place.  Was it by accident?  Did he want to risk his life for a cause of injustice?  Was he an irrational agitator as the defense lawyer for the soldiers suggested.  Once again, no one knows.  

On March 5th, it seems a wigmaker's apprentice accused a British officer of not paying for his new hairpiece.  Another soldier heard the boy and argued with him, and then hit the young man in the head with the butt of his rifle. A crowd of colonists surrounded the soldier, yelling, and waving clubs.  More soldiers arrived.  The mob threw snowballs and rocks.

Crispus Attucks, 6 feet 2 inches tall, was at the front edge of the crowd.  No one is certain why he was there, but he was the first to fall when two bullets hit him in the chest.  The Revolutionary war was still five years in the future, but many consider him its first casualty.

The soldiers were put on trial for murdering Attucks and four other people that night.
Witnesses testified Attucks was carrying a massive club and grabbed a soldier's bayonet before knocking him down.

John Adams (yes, the future president of the United States) defended the soldiers. Adams said Crispus Attucks was a "stout Molatto fellow whose looks were enough to terrify any person and whose mad behavior was chiefly responsible for the dreadful carnage of that night."

Most of the soldiers were released.  Two were convicted of manslaughter, and their thumbs were branded with a hot iron as punishment.

Crispus is buried in the same cemetery as Samuel Adams and Paul Revere.

'Martin Luther King Jr. described Crispus Attucks as one of the most important figures in African American history 'not for what he did for his own race but for what he did for all oppressed people everywhere.  He is a reminder that the African American heritage is not only African but American, and it is a heritage that begins with the beginning of America,' King wrote." 

As with many heroes in our history, there is myth and legend twisted together.   George Washington- chopping down a cherry tree,  Davy Crockett, kilt him a bear when he was only three, and now   Crispus Attucks has joined the illustrious ranks of our heroes.     

History is a wonderment, fascinating, intriguing, and a mystery at times.  I love it.