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Admission of Minnesota into the Union 1858


Acceptance by Congress is the final act in the process of being admitted as a state. A bill for the admission of Minnesota into the Union was submitted to Congress in December of 1857.

The bill for admission encountered several obstacles. The Minnesota bill was coupled with the bill for the admission of Kansas. It was customary to admit states in pairs to preserve the balance of power in Congress:  a state that permitted slavery would be linked with a state that prohibited slavery. Minnesota was to be a free state, Kansas a slave state. The proposal to admit Kansas was made under its fraudulent Lecompton constitution. The fraud in the adoption of the Kansas constitution was so glaring that admission under it was abandoned, delaying the Minnesota bill for several months. Minnesota’s bill also met with general opposition from congressmen from southern slave states.

On May 11, 1858, the bill for the admission of Minnesota was passed by Congress and approved by President James Buchanan. However, word of its passage did not reach St. Paul until almost two weeks later. Minnesota had no telegraph lines or railroads, so a telegram was sent to Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin, and carried up the Mississippi River to St. Paul by steamboat. On May 24, 1858, the state officers took their oaths of office and Minnesota’s state government began to function.

This ended the long trek toward statehood, which had seen the area of the state of Minnesota under four nations: France, Spain, Great Britain and the United States, and under nine territories: Northwest, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin, Louisiana, Missouri, Iowa, and Minnesota.