Saturday, December 1, 2007

Henry Hastings Sibley by Rhoda Gilman

As I probably mentioned in an early post, I have developed a strong desire to collect and to read as many biographies on Minnesota Governors as I possibly can. Mr. Sibley, my third Governor of the year, was the first Governor of the state of Minnesota...but not of the Territory.

Sibley was born in Detroit and gradually moved west to pursue the ever popular career of a fur trader. At a young age, Sibley began to establish himself as an expert on managing the beaver at Mackinaw Island. After creating a name for himself, Sibley departed Mackinaw (not realizing that it would eventually develop into a tourist trap with fudge shops, tandem bikes, shitty knickknacks, and absolutely no beaver pelts) and eventually made his way to the land around Fort Snelling where he became a prolific manager of fur trade along the Mississippi and Minnesota rivers. Now most of the fur trading was done with the natives in the area and Sibley developed strong ties to the natives, learning their tounges and even fathering a child from a Native American. These ties proved incredibly advantageous in his future while creating treaties and armies which more or less destroyed the native population. After serving in the territorial legislature, Sibley was elected the state's first governor. His term was short, but he continued to shape the future of the young state through numerous treaties, his Generalship during he Dakota War of 1862, his chairmanship of the Minnesota Historical Society, and his service as a Regent for the U of MN.

Completed November 2007

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