MINNESOTA (TERRITORY.) This was formerly a part of the vast country belonging to the United States which was acquired by the Louisiana purchase in 1803. It was then, with the surrounding regions, a rugged and unmeasured wilderness peopled only by savages, and had never been systematically explored by civilized man until about the period of its transfer. The tract now embraced within the limits of the territory was duly organized, and its boundaries defined, by an act of Congress, passed March 3, 1849, " to establish the territorial government of Minnesota."
Boundaries and Extent. — Bounded on the north by the boundary line between the possessions of the United States and Great Britain; east and south of east by said boundary line to Lake Superior, and by a straight line thence to the northernmost point of Wisconsin in said lake ; also along the western boundary of Wisconsin to the Mississippi River, and down the main channel of said river to the point where the line of 43£° north latitude crosses the same; south on said line, being the northern boundary of Iowa, to the north-west corner of that state, whence the boundary proceeds southerly along the western limit of Iowa, until it strikes the Missouri River; and west by the main channel of said river, as far as the mouth of White-earth River, and by the main channel of the latter until it strikes the boundary of the British possessions. The territory, at its northern extremity, reaches from east to west between the 90th and 103d degrees of west longitude, and comprehends an area of 83,000 square miles.
Government. — The government is, of course, temporary, subject to such alterations, and to such further division of the territory, as may be determined by act of Congress. All free white inhabitants, 21 years of age, are voters, and were eligible for any territorial office at the first election. A Council and House of Representatives compose the legislative assembly; the former consisting of 9 members, chosen for two years, the latter comprising 18 members, elected annually. The legislature may increase the Council to 15 members, and the representatives to 39. The governor is appointed for four years, by the President and Senate of the United States. The secretary of state, in like manner appointed, is acting governor in the absence of the executive magistrate.
Judiciary. — The Supreme Court is composed of a chief justice and two associates, appointed for four years by the President of the United States. Two of these constitute a quorum. This tribunal holds an annual session at the seat of government. There are three judicial districts, in each of which one of the justices must reside, and hold a District Court, having the jurisdiction of the United States District and Circuit Courts. Both courts possess chancery powers. The laws of Wisconsin, until repealed or modified, are valid in this territory.
Education. — To this subject all due regard is given. Two sections in each township are set apart for the support of schools. In all the settled places, school-houses are among the first edifices erected. In some towns public libraries are established, and courses of instructive lectures maintained.
Finances. — By returns from five counties in the territory, made in January, 1851, it appears that the assessed value of property in those counties amounts to somewhat over $800,000; and measures are in progress for completing the valuation of the residue. The salaries of the territorial officers, as in other and like cases, are provided for by the general government. By the act of organization, $20,000 were appropriated forthe erection of public buildings at the capital, and $5000 for the purchase of a territorial library.
Surface, Soil, &tc. — The face of the country, in the central parts of the territory, is gently undulating in its general character, and exhibits about equal proportions of prairie and timber land, intersected in every direction by clear and beautiful streams, tributary to the Mississippi and Minnesota or St. Peter's Rivers, and navigable always in the spring for flat boats. This region also abounds in lakes of pure water; and its soil is represented as being unrivalled in fertility. With some modification, the same remarks may apply to the other sections of the territory. The valley of the Red River of the north, extending south some 300 miles, from the northern boundary of the territory into the centre, is about 150 miles wide, and perfectly level, with the exception of a few tracts of wet prairie, and is admirably adapted to the culture of wheat and other grains. The soil, for the most part, throughout the territory, consists of a mixture of sand and black loam, and, being loose and porous, is peculiarly favorable to the rapid growth of bulbous and other roots. Potatoes have been known to yield 450 bushels to the acre. Vegetable crops of all kinds, and in luxuriant profusion, are brought earlier to maturity than in many regions farther south. In the valley of Minnesota River, the strawberry vine commonly attains a height of twelve inches. A large part of the territory is overspread with vast forests of excellent pine and other, trees of great value for building.
Rivers, &tc. — Almost the entire eastern boundary, by the Mississippi and St. Croix Rivers, is navigable water: steamboats ply upon the former, within the territory, for upwards of 300 miles. At the north-east, the territory is bounded by that immense expanse of waters, Lake Superior. The Minnesota winds through a delightful valley, in a south and easterly direction, and has been ascended more than 200 miles. The Big Sioux, and other tributaries of the Missouri, flow southerly and westwardly. The Red River of the north, taking its rise near the centre of the territory, flows northerly, and is navigable for some 400 miles before passing into the British possessions. The Missouri, which constitutes a great portion of the western boundary, affords navigation during nearly its whole course along the territory. There are many other fine streams, and numerous large lakes, all presenting facilities for inland commerce, such as are possessed by no one state or other territory in the Union.
Internal Improvements. — A canal, to connect Lake Superior with Lake Huron, has been much talked of, and probably at no distant day will be constructed; as such a work will secure uninterrupted water communication down the great chain of lakes to the Atlantic coast. The removal of obstructions in the Mississippi and other rivers — surveys for which purpose have been authorized by Congress — will add many hundred miles to the already immense extent of navigable waters lying within and around this territory. The aid of railroads will of course soon be called in, to complete that system of internal improvements which Nature herself seems to have suggested.
Minerals. — In this newly-settled country no explorations on any considerable scale, for the purpose of developing its mineral resources, have as yet been undertaken. There can be no doubt that this territory possesses its full share of geological treasures, which in due time will excite the attention and repay the industry of its hardy and enterprising people.
Manufactures. — The only manufacturing branches now carried on to any great extent are those which are connected with the business of house-building, especially the manufacture of lumber. Of this article, although the work was begun so recently, a sufficiency is produced, not only to supply the home demand, but to furnish annually some 20,000,000 feet of boards, logs, &c., for exportation to the markets below, on the Mississippi. A number of steam and saw mills have already been erected; and so numerous are the mill sites, and so immense the water power within the territory, that this pursuit, together with others to which these advantages
will apply, especially the manufacture of flour, must naturally add greatly to the public prosperity.
Indians. —There are several tribes, or parts of tribes, still inhabiting certain tracts at the northern and western parts of the territory. To some of these, the Chippewas and others, lands had formerly been ceded; but negotiations for the removal of the former have been entered into, and treaties for the extinction of the Indian title to other tracts have been provided for by Congress. Many of the most civilized are solicitous to become subjects of the laws of the territory, and to participate in its free institutions.
Climate. — Considering its high northern latitude, Minnesota enjoys a climate quite mild, in comparison with that of the more eastern states on the same parallel. The winters are less severe, except at some points in the neighborhood of the great lake; but the weather is uniform, regular, and subject to few or no sudden changes. The summers are temperate, and of sufficient length to bring forth and perfect the numerous agricultural products for whichthe soil is so well adapted. With abundance of pure water, and a salubrious atmosphere throughout the year, the people cannot but be favored with an uncommon measure of health.
Religion. — There are four beautiful church edifices in St. Paul, the capital, and several others in the towns of St. Anthony Falls and Stillwater. The several denominations of Christians consist of such as are usually found in the New England States.
Population. — The inhabitants of this territory, at the census of 1850, numbered but 6038, exclusive of Indians. But so desirable a country must soon attract towards it large reinforcements from the Northern and Eastern States. The tide of emigration, in fact, is already turned, and is moving with so strong an impulse in that direction, that long before the next decennial enumeration, Minnesota will no doubt have acquired the complement of inhabitants necessary to her admission as an independent state.