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Cover image for A peculiar imbalance : the fall and rise of racial equality in early Minnesota
A peculiar imbalance : the fall and rise of racial equality in early Minnesota
Publication Information:
St. Paul, MN : Minnesota Historical Society Press, c2007.
Physical Description:
xii, 219 p. ; 24 cm.
So Many Borders Not Observed -- The Story of Jim Thompson -- The Liberal Civilization -- A Peculiar Imbalance -- Shake the Dust from Your Armor! -- Divided Brethren -- The Good Indians -- Trouble on the Levee -- In Relief of the Reproach of Unjust Discrimination -- The Attainable Destiny -- "Your Race Is Now on Trial!".


Material Type
Call Number
Item Available
Book 308.8 GRE 1 1
Archives MN R 308.8 GRE 1 1

On Order



In the 1850s, as Minnesota Territory was reaching toward statehood, settlers from the eastern United States moved in, carrying rigid perceptions of race and culture into a community built by people of many backgrounds who relied on each other for survival. History professor William Green unearths the untold stories of African Americans and contrasts their experiences with those of Indians, mixed bloods, and Irish Catholics. He demonstrates how a government built on the ideals of liberty and equality denied the rights to vote, run for office, and serve on a jury to free men fully engaged in the lives of their respective communities.

Reviews 1

Choice Review

Green (Augsburg College) presents a concise, well-written account of changing racial consciousness during an approximately 40-year stretch of Minnesota history (c.1830-c.1870). In preterritorial Minnesota, black, white, Native, and mixed-blood people interacted without institutionalized race-based distinctions or limitations. When Minnesota became a territory, the new legislature barred black males from voting, but enfranchised mixed-blood trappers in order to satisfy the 5,000 population requirement. Political disfranchisement of blacks continued though early statehood, notwithstanding a growing, vigorous anti-slavery sentiment and the perception on the part of some Minnesotans that the state could override the Dred Scott decision. In the absence of voting rights, blacks (males) still enjoyed modest access to economic opportunity, while Irish Catholic immigrants and Natives, to whom suffrage had been extended (even after Indian removal in 1863), faced increasing economic discrimination--the "peculiarity" in Green's title. The tide began to turn in 1865. Minnesota, on the third attempt, adopted black suffrage two years before the Fifteenth Amendment to the Constitution was ratified. The author's discussion of partisan politics and race suggests that legalized discrimination may, indeed, have been "foolish," but it was also a matter of political expediency. A separate bibliography would have been a nice addition. Summing Up: Recommended. All levels/libraries. R. B. Way Monroe County Community College

Table of Contents

Acknowledgmentsp. viii
Prefacep. ix
1 So Many Borders Not Observedp. 3
2 The Story of Jim Thompsonp. 17
3 The Liberal Civilizationp. 37
4 A Peculiar Imbalancep. 49
5 Shake the Dust from Your Armor!p. 71
6 Divided Brethrenp. 83
7 The Good Indiansp. 103
8 Trouble on the Leveep. 127
9 In Relief of the Reproach of Unjust Discriminationp. 141
10 The Attainable Destinyp. 165
11 "Your Race Is Now on Trial!"p. 173
Notesp. 187
Indexp. 209
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