On this day in history, Minnesota joined the Union.
Minnesota was carved out of the eastern half of the Minnesota Territory, which included the current Minnesota region, and most of what later became Dakota Territory east of the Missouri River. Minnesota Territory also included portions of Wisconsin Territory that did not become part of Wisconsin.
A bill for the admission of Minnesota into the Union was submitted to congress in December of 1857. The bill encountered the usual antebellum obstacle in Congress of the desire by the South to retain (or better yet, exceed) the balance of power in Congress between slave states and free states. Admission of (free) Minnesota was therefore supposed to be coupled with the admission of (slave) Kansas. The Kansas admission was highly problematic, however, and the Senate was able to get the states considered separately.
On May 11, 1858, the bill for the admission of Minnesota was finally passed 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.
Minnesota is known as the “Land of 10,000 Lakes”, although it actually has more than 10,000. (To that end, Minnesota has one recreational boat per every six people, more than any other state.) For many years, Minnesota also had the world’s largest twine ball, at Darwin, weighing in at 17,400 pounds. (The honor of the home of the world’s largest twine ball now belongs to Kansas. As of September 2013, the Kansas Ball weighs 19,873 pounds. The Darwin ball still claims to be the largest one made by one man.) The world’s largest pelican, some 15 feet tall, is in Pelican Rapids. And of course The Mall of America in Bloomington is the size of 78 football fields — 9.5 million square feet.