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Full text of "A history of the Capitol buildings of Minnesota : with some account of the struggles for their location"

LIBRARY 

OF THE 

UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA. 

RECEIVED BY EXCHANGE 

Class 



A 



A HISTORY OF THE CAPITOL BUILDINGS OF MIN- 
NESOTA. WITH SOME ACCOUNT OF THE 
STRUGGLES FOR THEIR LOCATION. 



BY HON. WILLIAM B. DEAN. 



TEMPOKARY LOCATION OF THE CAPITOL BY CONGRESS AND BY THE 
STATE CONSTITUTION. 

The organic act "to establish the Territorial Government of 
Minnesota," passed by Congress March 3rd, 1849, provides in 
section 13, as follows : 

And be it further enacted, That the legislative assembly of the 
territory of Minnesota shall hold its first session in St. Paul; and at 
said first session the governor and legislative assembly shall locate 
and establish a temporary seat of government for said Territory, at 
such place as they may deem eligible; and shall at such time as they 
shall see proper, prescribe by law the manner of locating the perman- 
ent seat of government of said Territory by a vote of the people. And 
the sum of twenty thousand dollars, out of any money in the treasury 
not otherwise appropriated, is hereby appropriated and granted to 
said Territory of Minnesota, to be applied by the governor and legis- 
lative assembly to the erection of suitable public buildings at the seat 
of government. 

The third paragraph of section 5 of the act of Congress author- 
izing a State Government, passed February 26th, 1857, provides 
as follows : 

Ten entire sections of land to be selected by the governor of 
said State, in legal subdivisions, shall be granted to said State for the 
purpose of completing the public buildings, or for the erection of 
others at the seat of government, under the direction of the legislature 
thereof. 



*An address prepared at the request of the Minnesota Historical So- 
ciety, and delivered at its Annual Meeting, January 8, 1906. Mr. Dean was 
a state senator in 1891 to 1894, and drafted the bill which was enacted as a 
law by the state legislature for building the new capitol. 

HS-1 



2 MINNESOTA HISTORICAL SOCIETY COLLECTIONS. 

The Constitution of the State of Minnesota, adopted October 
13th, 1857, under the head of "Miscellaneous Subjects/' Article 
XV, Section 1 and Section 6 of _the "Schedule," makes the follow- 
ing provision : 

ARTICLE XV. 

MISCELLANEOUS SUBJECTS. 

Sec. 1. The seat of government of the State shall be at the city 
of St. Paul, but the legislature, at their first or any future session, 
may provide by law for a change of the seat of government by a vote 
of the people, or may locate the same upon the land granted by Con- 
gress for a seat of government to the State; and in the event of the 
seat of government being removed from the city of St. Paul to any 
other place in the State, the capitol building and grounds shall be 
dedicated to an institution for the promotion of science, literature and 
the arts, to be organized by the legislature of the State, and of which 
institution the Minnesota Historical Society shall ajways be a depart- 
ment. 

Sec. 6. The first session of the legislature of the State of Minne- 
sota shall commence on the first Wednesday of December next, and 
shall be held at the capitol, in the city of St. Paul. 

The preceding provisions contain all the fundamental legisla- 
tion relating to the location of the temporary and permanent 
capitol of the Territory and State of Minnesota, and of the build- 
ing to be erected. 

If it had not been for the disinterested, public spirited action 
of General Sibley. who was the Territorial delegate at that time, 
the capital of the Territory would have been fixed by the organic 
act at Mendota. instead of St. Paul. Mr. Douglas, chairman of 
the Committee on Territories, in his draft of the bill for the 
organization of the Territory, designated Mendota as the capital. 
When the bill was submitted to General Sibley, whose home was 
at Mendota, where he had large real estate interests, he at once 
remonstrated, urging that most of the people in the territory lived 
east of the Mississippi river, and that there was a unanimous 
wish to have the capitol on that side and at St. Paul. Mr. 
Douglas reluctantly yielded, but not without first urging the beauty 
and fitness of Mendota's situation at the junction of the two rivers, 
with the Pilot Knob peak as a grand place for a capitol building. 
with its beautiful and extensive view of the valleys of the Mis- 
sissippi and Minnesota rivers. 



1.33 It A K 

THE 

iVERSITY 

OF 




HISTORY OF THE CAPITOL BUILDINGS OF MINNESOTA. 3 

It is interesting to note, that., while the bill for the organiza- 
tion of the Territory was under consideration, instead of "Minne- 
sota/" Mr. Douglas proposed that it should be named "Itasca"; 
Mr. Winthrop, of Massachusetts, "Chippewa"; Mr. Thompson, of 
Mississippi, "Jackson"; and Mr. Hunter, of Delaware, "Washing- 
ton"; but the choice of the people of the new territory, "Minne- 
sota," finally prevailed. 

It was evidently the intention of Congress, in passing the 
acts for the organization of the Territory and for the admission 
of the State, and of the electors of the State, in adopting its con- 
stitution, that the permanent location of the capital for both Ter- 
ritory and State should be fixed by a vote of the people. The 
legislature could designate its temporary location, but its per- 
manent place was to be determined by the choice of the people. 

It is an interesting question, even if now academic, whether 
an injunction could have been sustained against the erection of 
the present permanent building, until after the people of the 
State had had an opportunity to express their choice whether 
St. Paul should be the final capital of the State. However, as 
no move of the kind was ever suggested or made, and the present 
magnificent building is finished and occupied, it is not conceivable 
that, so long as it stands, it will ever be abandoned and the seat 
of government changed to any other point in the State. 

ACTION BY THE FIRST TERRITORIAL LEGISLATURE. 

Upon the organization of the Territory, the contest for the 
Capitol began, and either openly or covertly the attempts to 
induce the legislature to remove it from St. Paul never ceased, 
until after the passage of the acts authorizing the construction of 
the present building. 

On Monday, the 3rd day of September, 1849, pursuant to 
the proclamation of Alexander Eamsey, the appointed governor of 
the Territory, the first legislature assembled in the Central House 
hotel (shown in Plate II), situated on the corner of Minnesota 
and Second streets, which for the time became the territorial capitol 
building, as well as a hotel. The site was a most commanding one, 
affording an extensive view of the valley of the Mississippi, and one 



4 MINNESOTA HISTORICAL SOCIETY COLLECTIONS. 

of most surpassing beauty. The Hall of Representatives and the 
territorial secretary's office were on the first floor, and the library 
and Council Chamber on the second. 

A United States flag, run up on a staff in front of the hotel 
in the presence of the town people and some blanket Indians, an- 
nounced the gathering of the first legislature. 

The Secretary of the Territory, Hon. C. K. Smith, called the 
House of Representatives to order, at eleven o'clock in the morn- 
ing, and the Council at three in the afternoon. 

The next day, the fourth of September, the Houses met in 
joint convention, to receive the Governor's message, which outlined 
with great sagacity the legislation needful for the government 
and development of the new territory. A writer in "The Pioneer" 
says, "Both houses met in the dining room, where the Rev. E. D. 
Xeill prays for us all, and Governor Ramsey delivers a message 
full of hope and far sighted prophecy to comfort us withal, and 
then leaves the poor devils sitting on rough board benches and 
chairs, to make out, as they may, the old problem of self govern- 
ment." Yet no legislature which ever sat in Minnesota was made 
of better stuff than that which assembled to lay the corner stone of 
the political edifice. 

Among other things, the Governor said, after calling attention 
to the 13th section of the organic act: "The first division of the 
clause in relation to the location of a temporary seat of government, 
makes the duty incumbent on the present legislature ; but the legis- 
lation involved in the selection of a permanent site for the Capitol 
I understand, may be had at a future day, and by a future legis- 
lature, and, indeed, it would be premature with our comparatively 
small population, to decide, at this time, so important a question 
as the location of the permanent seat of government. In fairness 
to the people who will shortly occup} r lands now in possession of the 
Indians, the decision of the question had better be postponed." 

The first session of the legislature was occupied with the sub- 
jects that would naturally pertain to the good order of the 
Territory. Legislation was passed relating to taxes, printing the 
laws, selling liquor to Indians, granting divorces, granting ferry 
rights, creation of counties, laws relating to common schools, elec- 
tions, memorials to Congress, and the incorporation of the Histori- 



HISTORY OF THE CAPITOL BUILDINGS OF MINNESOTA. 5 

cal Society. But what seemed the matter of the greatest impor- 
tance and that secured the most attention from the members, was 
the location of the temporary and permanent seat of the state gov- 
ernment. 

On September 26th, Mr. Norris, of Cottage Grove, introduced 
Council File N"o. 3, being a joint resolution, fixing St. Paul as the 
location of the temporary seat of government. This was read the 
first and second time, and laid on the table to be printed. The 
resolution was passed by the Council on October 4th, but was un- 
favorably received by the House of Kepresentatives, and by it in- 
definitely postponed, on October 8th. 

During the discussion, motions were made to amend by substi- 
tuting for St. Paul "a point on the east side of the Mississippi 
river, between Bum and Elk rivers, within five miles of a point 
directly opposite the mouth of Crow river." Mr. Marshall moved 
to amend by submitting to a vote of the people the question of 
the location of the seat of government; another motion was made 
to substitute St. Anthony for St. Paul, and another to substitute 
Sauk Eapids. 

In the meantime, the Hon. Joseph E. Brown, clerk of the 
Council, had written to the Hon. William M. Meredith, Secretary 
of the Treasury, in reference to the use of the money appropriated 
by Congress for the construction of a Capitol building; and the re- 
ply of the Secretary was, that the "money could only be expended 
after the permanent seat of government had been located." 

Mr. Burkleo, of Stillwater, from the Committee on Territorial 
Affairs, to which had been referred so much of the Governor's mes- 
sage as related to the temporary seat of government, made a report 
strongly urging the selection of St. Paul, and giving many and 
good reasons for the recommendation. 

Nothing further was done by the Legislature until the last day 
of the session, Thursday, November 1st, 1849, when Mr. Norris 
introduced a joint resolution in the Council, "That the temporary 
seat of government shall be at St. Paul, and the Governor is here- 
by required to rent suitable buildings for the legislature and the 
territorial officers; to be paid for out of the moneys appropriated 
by Congress for legislative expenses." The resolution was passed 
by the Council and the House of Eepresentatives, and was signed 



6 MIXXESOTA HISTORICAL SOCIETY COLLECTIONS. 

by the Governor on the same day. So the first legislature ad- 
journed without having made any very satisfactory progress in the 
matter of the location of a seat of government. 

THE SECOND LEGISLATURE AND THE BUILDIXG COMMISSION. 

The second session of the legislature met on January 1st, 1851. 
in the three-story brick building on St. Anthony street, now 
Third, between Washington and Franklin. 

On the 16th of January a bill was introduced in the House of 
Representatives, by Mr. Trask, of Stillwater, for the election of 
four commissioners, whose duty should be to erect a capitol build- 
ing at St. Paul and a prison at Stillwater, Washington county 
to elect one of the commissioners, Eamsey and the counties attached 
to it as a district, two, and Benton county with attached counties, 
one. The Governor was to preside at the meetings of the commis- 
sioners, and to vote in case of a tie. 

Xo provision was made as to the cost of either building, al- 
though an amendment limiting the cost to the amount appropri- 
ated by Congress was defeated. The commissioners were to be paid 
three dollars per day for each meeting attended, and meetings were 
limited to six in each month. 

While the bill was under consideration, motions were made to 
strike out Stillwater and insert Point Douglas, St. Paul, Little 
Six's village, an eligible point in Benton county, all of which 
were lost. In the House Mr. Olmstead moved to amend the title 
of the bill as follows: "A bill to provide for carrying out a mag- 
nificent scheme of log rolling, by which a presiding officer of this 
House and a Territorial printer were elected." The Speaker de- 
cided the amendment to be highly indecorous, and directed the 
Clerk to hand it back to the mover. 

The bill passed the House January 25th and the Council Janu- 
ary 29th. and was approved by the Governor February 7th. No 
attention appears to have been paid to the opinion of the Secretary 
of the Treasury that the money appropriated by Congress could be 
used only for the erection of a capitol building at the "permanent" 
seat of government. 



HISTORY OF THE CAPITOL BUILDINGS OF MINNESOTA. 7 

On February 25th., at this same session, an act was passed to 
incorporate the University of Minnesota, to be located at or near 
the Falls of St. Anthony, to be governed by Eegents who were au- 
thorized to select a site and erect buildings. 

The passage of bills authorizing the capitol building at St. Paul, 
the prison at Stillwater, and the University at St. Anthony, all 
within a month, seems to confirm very clearly the agreement alleged 
to have been made in the legislature for the distribution and loca- 
tion of the public buildings, an agreement which from that time 
to this there has never been an attempt to violate, excepting in re- 
gard to the location of the Capitol. 

Pursuant to the Act of February 7th, 1851, the Building Com- 
missioners were duly elected, and in their first report to the legis- 
lature, February 5th, 1852, stated that D. F. Brawley and Louis 
Kobert were elected from the Ramsey county district ; J. McKusick. 
from Washington county; and E. A. C. Hatch, from the Benton 
county district. 

The Board elected D. F. Brawley building commissioner for 
the erection of the Capitol building, and J. McKusick . building 
commissioner for the Territorial Prison. 

At its second meeting, May 20th, 1851, the Board proceeded 
to select a site for the Capitol building, whereupon Mr. Robert 
moved that Block No. 12 of Robert & Randall's Addition be chosen, 
being the block opposite to the present old Capitol, bounded by 
Cedar, Minnesota, Ninth and Tenth streets, on which the Central 
Presbyterian Church now stands. The site was to be donated, and 
was to comprise at least four acres of ground, including the 
streets. 

On June 27th, Col. Wilkin,* the attorney of the Board, reported 
the title of the above property to be imperfect, % whereupon the 
Board proceeded to select another site. Commissioner Hatch moved 
that Block No. 7 in Rice & Irvine's Addition to St. Paul be chosen, 
provided the owners donate the block and bind themselves to ef- 
fectually drain the property. This block is opposite the new Post 
Office, being bounded by Washington, Franklin, Fifth and Sixth 
streets. The motion, however, was lost, and thereupon Commis- 



*Col. Alexander Wilkin was killed, during the Civil War, while gallantly 
commanding his regiment, the Ninth Minnesota, at the battle of Tupelo, Mi., 
July 14, 1864. 



8 MINNESOTA HISTORICAL SOCIETY COLLECTIONS. 

sioner Robert moved that Charles Bazille's offer of Block 6, Bazille's 
Addition to St. Paul, be accepted, being the block upon which the 
old Capitol building now stands. The motion was adopted and 
the question of site finally settled. 

The plans of the Capitol building submitted by N. C. Prentiss 
were accepted, and an order for $50 in payment therefor was di- 
rected to be drawn in his favor. The dimensions of the building 
were 139 feet front, by 531/2 feet deep, with a wing in the rear 44 
by 52 feet. A Greek porch fronting on Exchange street adorned 
the otherwise extremely plain structure. 

On May 24th, 1851, five days after the Board was organized 
an advertisement was published, inviting proposals for the erection 
of the building, according to the plans; and on July 15th the 
Board decided the bid of Joseph Daniels, of $17,000, to be the 
lowest, and directed the attorney to draw up a contract. In its 
report to the Legislature, the Board stated that the contract was 
for the completion of the exterior of the building entire, according 
to the plans adopted, and the Council Chamber, Representative 
Hall, Governor's, Secretary's and Clerk's rooms to be finished 
in a suitable manner. 

The lowest bid for the completion of the Capitol was $33,000. 

The report states that the contract entered into by the Board 
does not contemplate an entire completion of the building. The 
Territorial Commissioners were evidently daring cititzens, to let 
a contract for a building to be paid for from funds which the Sec- 
retary of the United States had decided could be used only when 
the permanent seat of government had been fixed by the people. 
They contracted to expend, for an incomplete building, almost the 
whole of the appropriation of $20,000 given by the government to 
the Territory for its Capitol. 

With great frankness they then suggest, in their report to the 
Legislature, that it memorialize Congress for an additional ap- 
propriation of $20,000 to provide funds to complete the building, 
and suitably to lay out the grounds and enclose them with a stone 
wall and an iron fence. This the Legislature proceeded to do, at 
its next session, with a happy response by the government, partially 
acceding to the request, in granting an additional $12,500 to com- 
plete the Capitol building. 



HISTORY OF THE CAPITOL BUILDINGS OF MINNESOTA. 9 

LATER LEGISLATURES AND THE FIRST CAPITOL. 

The third legislative session met January 7th, 1852, and as- 
sembled in what was known as the Goodrich Block, on Third street 
below Jackson, which is now a part of the Merchants' Hotel. 

The fourth session met on January 5th, 1853, in the two-story 
brick building on the corner of Third and Minnesota streets. 

The new Gapitol building (shown in Plate III.) was first oc- 
cupied by the Legislature in its fifth session, on January 4th, 1854. 
The Commissioners, in their report to the Legislature, an- 
nounce the completion of the building, excepting the fitting of the 
Supreme Court room, which was then in progress. Like all public 
buildings, more money is reported as needed, and the Legislature 
is recommended to memorialize Congress for further appropriations 
to build and fence, and to complete other unfinished details. 

Governor Gorman, who had been appointed by President Pierce 
to succeed Governor Kamsey, occupied the Executive Chamber in 
the new Capitol on July 21st, 1853. 

In looking over the proceedings of the Commissioners, old 
settlers will be interested in the mention of the names of those 
connected with the erection of the Territorial Capitol, of Joseph 
Daniels, I. P. Wright, C. P. V. Lull, Downer & Mason, J. T. 
Eosser, afterwards a general in the Confederate army, and Secretary 
Isaac Van Etten, besides the Commissioners already named. 

The total cost of the building appears to have been $31,222.65. 

ATTEMPT TO REMOVE THE CAPITAL TO ST. PETER. 

The Legislature continued to meet and hold its sessions, year 
after year, with nothing of special note to disturb the placidity 
of its proceedings, until the memorable session of 1857, when an 
almost successful attempt was made to remove the Capital to St. 
Peter. It appears that a company, called the St. Peter Company, 
had been organized, and, in anticipation of the success of their 
project, had erected temporary buildings at St. Peter, for the ac- 
commodation of the territorial government, with the promise that, 
upon the removal of the Capital to that point, buildings equal or 
superior to the ones occupied at St. Paul would be erected and do- 
nated to the Territory. 



10 MINNESOTA HISTORICAL SOCIETY COLLECTIONS. 

The scheme was well organized, and, if the reports current at 
that time were well founded on fact, some of the territorial officers, 
as well as members of the Legislature, were placed in a position 
by the promoters of the speculation to enjoy the expected profits 
in St. Peter stock and the enhanced value of St. Peter real estate. 

The bill for the removal was introduced in the House of Rep- 
resentatives by Mr. Thomas, of Steele county, on February 5th. 
1857, and, after considerable debate and notwithstanding all the 
obstructions the friends of St. Paul could interpose, was passed 
on February 18th, by a vote of 20 ayes to 17 noes. Our honored 
fellow citizen, Mr. William P. Murray, who is still with us hale 
and vigorous, led the fight in opposition. 

The bill came up for consideration in the Council on February 
6th, when the proceedings of that body became of the most excit- 
ing and dramatic character. The fight for the bill was led by Mr. 
St. A. D. Balcombe, of Winona, and was opposed most vigorously 
by Mr. Henry X. Setzer. of Taylor's Falls. Mr. Ludden, of Marine, 
still living and a citizen of St. Paul, Mr. Eolette, of Pembina. and 
the presiding officer, President Brisbin, of St. Paul. 

All kinds of dilatory motions were interposed, without avail, 
as the bill progressed through the Council, until its passage on 
February 12th, by a vote of 8 ayes to 7 noes, when it seemed that 
the advocates of removal had carried the day, and that St. Paul had 
gone down in defeat. The temper of the discussion upon the bill 
is revealed by the tone and spirit of some of the resolutions and 
motions offered. Among others, on February 6th, Mr. Setzer of- 
fered the following: "I give notice of a motion for leave to in- 
troduce a Bill to repeal so much of the organic act of this Terri- 
tory as will enable His Excellency, Governor Gorman, to locate the 
seat of government at St. Peter/' 

On February 23rd Mr. Setzer introduced the following Pre- 
amble and Resolution : 

Whereas, There exist reports at the present time injurious to the 
fair fame and reputation of members of this Council, charging them 
with bribery and corruption in voting for a bill to remove the Capital 
to St. Peter, therefore be it 

Resolved, That a committee of three be appointed to investigate 
the truth of these charges, with power to send for persons and papers, 
and administer oaths, to take testimony in the matter, and report at 
as early a day as possible. 



HISTORY OF THE CAPITOL BUILDINGS OF MINNESOTA. 11 

On February 26th a similar Preamble was introduced, fol- 
lowed by a resolution directing the Committee on Enrolled Bills 
to retain in their possession the bill for the removal of the Capi- 
tal, until otherwise ordered by the Council. 

All of these motions and resolutions were voted down by the 
majority, and nothing more was necessary to complete the action of 
the legislature but for the Committee on Enrolled Bills to make 
their report. The bill having passed on February 12th, and no 
report having been made up to the 28th, the advocates of the meas- 
ure began to feel uneasy, and on that date Mr. Balcombe offered 
the following resolutions: 

Resolved, That the Hon. Joseph Rolette be very respectfully re- 
quested to report to the Council Bill No. 62, Council File, entitled "A 
bill for the removal of the seat of government for the Territory of 
Minnesota," this day; and that should said Rolette fail so to do before 
the adjournment of the Council this day, that the Hon. Mr. Wales, 
who stands next in the list of said Committee on Enrolled Bills, be 
respectfully requested- to procure another truly enrolled copy of the 
said Bill, and report the same to the Council on Monday next. And 
be it further 

Resolved, That the Secretary of the Council is very respectfully 
requested to give said bill, after it has been signed by the Speaker of 
the House and President of the Council, to the Hon. Mr. Wales, to 
deliver to the Governor for his approval. 

The resolutions were read by Mr. Balcombe, and before they 
were read by the Secretary, or in his hands, Mr. Balcombe moved 
their adoption by the Council, and then moved the previous ques- 
tion. Mr. Setzer then moved a call of the Council, and Mr. Kolette 
was found to be absent. Mr. Balcombe moved to dispense with fur- 
ther proceedings under the call, on which there were 9 ayes and 
5 noes. The Chair decided the motion to dispense with further 
proceedings lost, two-thirds not voting in the affirmative. It was 
upon this occasion that Mr. Balcombe attempted to demonstrate 
to the Chair and the Council that nine was two-thirds of fourteen; 
but the Chair, whose mathematics were more exact, insisted that 
9 1-3 would be required to make the desired two-thirds, and, the 
third of a man not being available, that the decision must stand 
and the motion be lost. 



12 MINNESOTA HISTORICAL SOCIETY COLLECTIONS. 

A motion to adjourn was lost, and a motion to reconsider the 
motion to adjourn was also lost. The Council had tied itself up 
completely, the objecting five members refusing to consent to any 
suspension of the rules, for which a two-thirds vote was necessary. 
This condition of affairs continued from February 28th until the 
5th of March, when the Council consented to adjourn under the 
call, after having been in continuous session for one hundred and 
twenty-three hours. 

The Council met on March 6th and continued in session through 
the day under the call, adjourning to meet on Saturday, March 
7th, still under the call, and so continued until within a few min- 
utes of the legal expiration of the session. 

During this time a great many motions were made to dispense 
with further proceedings under the call, although, after the loss 
of the first motion to do so. the President refused to entertain the 
subsequent ones, because no business had been transacted in the 
meantime. Numerous unsuccessful motions were also made to sus- 
pend the rules and to adjourn, some of which were lost by vote of 
the Council, and some the President ruled not to be in order, re- 
fusing at the same time to entertain an appeal from his decision. 

Finally, towards the end of this most protracted session, a 
truce appears to have been reached between the warring factions. 
This is not disclosed in the council journal itself, excepting as 
may be inferred from the action of the Council, but the daily 
papers of the day state such to be the case. Mr. Setzer, having 
voted with the prevailing side, moved a reconsideration of the 
vote by which the Council refused to dispense with further pro- 
ceedings under the call, which motion was carried, and further pro- 
ceedings under the call were dispensed with. 

Eeports of committees being in order, the Secretary read sev- 
eral reports from the Committee on Enrolled Bills, when Mr. Bal- 
combe inquired why the report of the committee on C. F. 62, the 
Capital Bill, was not read with the other reports. The Secretary 
thereupon stated to the President that several reports of that de- 
scription had been offered him, and that some had been left on 
his table and were then lying there, but he had refused to accept 
them because the enrolled or engrossed bill did not accompany 
them. The President decided the Secretary had acted correctly. 



HISTORY OF THE CAPITOL BUILDINGS OF MINNESOTA. 13 

Mr. Balcome then moved that Mr. Eolette be excused from 
further attendance on the present session of the Council, which 
the other side evidently interpreted as a violation of whatever the 
understanding may have been, for a call of the Council was at 
once ordered, upon motion of Mr. Setzer. 

The motion to adjourn was then made and carried, the call 
still pending. 

When the Council met on Saturday, the President declared 
the call as still pending, and without transacting any business the 
Council took a recess until four o'clock in the afternoon. Immedi- 
ately upon assembling at that time, they again took a recess until 
half past seven o'clock, when the session was resumed. A com- 
mittee from the House of Eepresentatives appearing, the President 
decided that no communication could be received while the call 
was pending, and the committee withdrew. Mr. Setzer being in 
the chair, Mr. Ludden, having voted with the prevailing party, 
moved to reconsider the motion to dispense with further proceed- 
ings under the call, which was agreed to, and, upon motion, the call 
was dispensed with, when Mr. Freeborn, from the Committee on 
Enrolled bills, made the following report: 

The Committee off Enrolled Bills would respectfully report that 
owing to the absence of the Chairman of this Commitee, Bill No. 62, 
Council File, being a bill for the removal of the seat of government 
of the Territory of Minnesota, introduced by Mr. Lowry, on the 6th 
of February, 1857, has not been reported by this Committee back to 
the Council. Your Committee would further state that the above 
named bill might have been reported back to the Council at this time, 
but that, after examining the enrolled copy of said bill, by the Secre- 
tary of the Council, in the presence of the Enrolling Clerk of the 
Council, and carefully comparing the same, we find numerous errors 
in the enrolled copy, and matter being inserted in the enrolled copy, 
which is not in the engrossed bill. Your Committee cannot, therefore, 
report the said Bill No. 62, Council File, as correctly enrolled, but 
retain the same in our possession, subject to the order of the Council, 
all of which is respectfully submitted. 

JOSEPH ROLETTE, 
WILLIAM FREEBORN, 

Committee on Enrolled Bills. 



14 MINNESOTA HISTORICAL SOCIETY COLLECTIONS. 

A call of the Council was ordered, and at 12 o'clock Presi- 
dent Brisbin resumed the chair and announced the expiration of 
this historic session by legal limitation, and declared the Council 
adjourned without a day. 

During the memorable contest all sorts of motions were made 
both in the House and Council, with the purpose of delaying final 
action, but without avail. Motions were made at various times 
to strike out St. Peter and insert Belle Plaine, Monticello, Mankato, 
"the other side of Jordan," Shakopee, St. Cloud, and Nicollet 
Island. A special police force was detailed to be on guard at the 
Capitol to preserve peace. The Pioneer and Democrat of March 
oth says: 

Alongside each member's desk was a cot bedstead on which the 
honorable might snatch a few hours repose when too sleepy to sit any 
longer in his seat. Scattered here and there through the room were 
baskets containing ample quantities of provisions, showing conclu- 
sively that" there was no danger of the Councilors suffering from lack 
of food. The gentleman from Winona was still seated by his desk, 
endeavoring to demonstrate by figures that three times five is just 
fourteen. 

While the Council was still under the call and it became ap- 
parent to the St. Peter removers that the original bill would remain 
in the pocket of the Chairman of the Committee on Enrolled 
Bills, unreported, another bill, an alleged copy of the bill already 
engrossed, was procured and enrolled; but President Brisbin of 
the Council, and Mr. Furber, Speaker of the House, refused to 
sign it, endorsing on it their reasons. The bill, however, was signed 
by the Governor and printed in the laws of tjie session. 

During the following summer the President of the St. Peter 
Company applied to Justice R. R. Xelson for a writ of mandamus 
to compel the Territorial officers to remove to St. Peter. Judge 
Xelson, however, after reviewing the evidence relating to the pas- 
sage of the act, decided that no law had been passed by the legis- 
lature for the removal of the Capital. 

One of the veteran survivors of this memorable contest informs 
the writer that the St. Paul friends had abandoned all hope of 
preventing the removal of the Capital to St. Peter, after the final 
vote in the Council, and that the move of Rolette in secreting him- 
self and the engrossed bill was originally only intended as a prac- 



HISTORY OF THE CAPITOL BUILDINGS OF MINNESOTA. 15 

tical joke, to scare the Capital removers. When the Council be- 
came tied up under the famous call, the possibility of defeating 
the scheme dawned upon the opponents of removal, with ultimate 
victory as the result. 

Joe Eolette, the Chairman of the Committee on Enrolled Bills, 
who defeated the attempt at removal to St. Peter, was comfortably 
enjoying his accommodations in an upper room in the Fuller 
House, while the sergeant at arms of the Council was searching 
for him with blinded eyes in all the places where he was not likely 
to be found. Eolette became St. Paul's mascot, and there was no 
tribute of devotion its citizens were not willing to lay at his feet 
as an evidence of their gratitude. His portrait, in life size, oc- 
cupies a conspicuous place on the walls of the Historical Society, 
and his son became one of the caretakers in the new Capitol which 
his father preserved to St. Paul. 

PROPOSED CHANGES OF BOUNDARIES OF MINNESOTA. 

Connected with the Capital removal scheme was an attempt 
to change radically the terms of the bill then pending in Con- 
gress for the admission of Minnesota as a State. This bill, in- 
troduced by Hon. Henry M. Eice, denned the western boundary 
of the proposed State about as it now runs, although not exactly. 
His bill fixed the Big Sioux river as a part of the western boun- 
dary, instead of the present line running due south from Big Stone 
lake to the northern boundary of Iowa. 

A memorial to Congress, introduced into the Minnesota legis- 
lature on January 19th, 1857, was passed by the House on January 
20th, by a vote of 25 to 10. and the Council on January 22nd, by 
a vote of 11 to 4 (the four being Freeborn, Ludden, Setzer, and 
President Brisbin), protesting against the division of the Territory 
by the line proposed in the pending bill, and asking for another 
bill to authorize the people to frame a Constitution, with such 
territorial limits and boundaries as the people represented in the 
Convention may prescribe, preparatory to admission into the Union 
as a State. 

In an "Address" published on March 9th, 1857, after the ad- 
journment of the legislature, "by the majority members of the 
Legislature to the people of Minnesota/' they say, "It was found 



16 MINNESOTA HISTORICAL SOCIETY COLLECTIONS. 

that there was a diversity of interest and opinion respecting the 
proper line of division. While St. Paul and that small portion of 
the Territory lying east of the Mississippi river was in favor of a 
north and south line, as being more favorable to their particular 
interest, all southern, western, and northern Minnesota was in 
favor of an east and west line, as being best for the interests of 
the State as a whole." Further on in this " Address'' they say, 
'"as before stated, one of the principal reasons for the immediate 
removal was the influence it would have upon the boundary line 
question." The " Address" proceeds to' recount the steps taken by 
the majority members to accomplish their aims, as follows: 

First, "To memorialize Congress protesting against the St. 
Paul division, and asking to be permitted to form our own boun- 
daries." 

Second, "The removal of the Capital to some more western 
point." 

Third, "The passage of an apportionment bill for the elec- 
tion of delegates." 

The scheme was to divide the territory on the line of the 46th 
degree of latitude, west from the Wisconsin boundary to the 
Missouri river. This line would have passed near Hinckley, Little 
Falls, Elbow Lake, and about midway betwen Breckenridge and 
Lake Traverse, and just north of the line dividing Xorth and South 
Dakota. The country south of this line was to be the State of Min- 
nesota, and that north of it the Territory of Superior. 

The memorial alluded to was passed by the Minnesota Legis- 
lature in January, was duly submitted to Congress, and on Febru- 
ary 21st, 1857, Senator Jones, of Iowa, in the Senate, offered an 
amendment to the bill then under discussion, to authorize the peo- 
ple of the Territory to decide the question whether the State shall 
embrace all the territory south of the 46th degree of latitude. The 
amendment was not adopted, and the bill introduced by Delegate 
Rice was passed. This terminated the agitation for the division 
of the territory on an east and west line. 



HISTORY OF THE CAPITOL BUILDINGS OF MINNESOTA. 17 

ATTEMPTS TO REMOVE THE CAPITAL TO KANDIYOHI COUNTY. 

The Legislature of 1858 passed an act authorizing the Gov- 
ernor to appoint one or more commissioners to assist him in select- 
ing the lands granted to the State for public buildings under 
the act of Congress authorizing a State government, passed in 
1857. Governor Sibley appointed Messrs. James D. Skinner, of 
St. Paul, W. C. Johnson, of Stillwater, and Eobert Boyle, of Hast- 
ings, as commissioners. In the performance of their duty, they 
selected 6,399.14 acres in Kandiyohi county, and these have ever 
since been designated as the Capitol lands. 

During the session of 1858, an abortive attempt was made to 
remove the Capital to Mcollet Island, but it met with little favor, 
and nothing was accomplished. 

In the Legislature of 1861, Mr. Kennedy introduced a bill to 
locate the Capitol of the State, as the permanent seat of govern- 
ment on the Kandiyohi lands, and on February 21st the bill 
passed the House of Representatives, by a vote of 25 to 12. The 
bill, however, was defeated in the Seriate. The Capitol question 
was now permitted to rest quietly until the session of 1869, when 
a determined attempt was made on the part of the country mem- 
bers, combined with Winona, Stillwater, Minneapolis, and St. 
Anthony, to fix the permanent Capitol of the State on the Kandi- 
yohi lands, and, on February 24th, a bill for that purpose passed 
the House of Representatives by a vote of 39 to 7, and the Senate 
on March 7th, by a vote of 13 to 8. Fortunately for St. Paul, 
Governor Marshall, who at former times had labored and voted to 
remove the Capital to other points in the State, saw the absurdity 
of locating it on these lands, and he vetoed the bill, giving as his 
reasons for so doing, that there was no public sentiment in favor of 
the removal ; that the question was not before the people at the last 
election; that the location was not central, and the time not op- 
portune for the State to go into an expenditure of a million of 
dollars or more. 

Another attempt at removal was made in the Legislature of 
1872. A bill was introduced by Mr. Kitchell, of Chippewa county, 
in the House of Representatives, to locate the Capital of the 
State, according to the provision of Section 1, Article XV of the 

H S-2 



18 MINNESOTA HISTORICAL SOCIETY COLLECTIONS. 

Constitution, in the town of Stanton, in Kandiyohi county. The 
bill was referred to the appropriate committee, where it still sleeps 
the sleep that knows no waking. (See also page 23.) 

CHANGES OF THE FIRST CAPITOL. 

From the time of its completion in Territorial days, no change 
was made in the Capitol building until 1866, when gas was intro- 
duced, and candles ceased to shed their lustrous light upon legisla- 
tive dignity. Old settlers will well remember the huge iron box 
stoves, one in each of the four corners of both Senate and House, 
large enough to take in sticks of cord wood length, modifying, if 
not wholly warming, the almost zero temperature which often pre- 
vailed in the chambers. In 1871 the stoves were dispensed with, 
and a steam heating apparatus was i stalled, rendering the whole 
building warm and comfortable. At the same time city water was 
introduced, so that the occupants of the building began to enjoy 
some of the comforts of civilized life. Each legislature, however, 
still continues to elect its firemen, who wander through the cham- 
bers and halls of the Capitol in a vain search for the ancient stoves, 
while the per diem is still gathered in by their willing hands. 

In 1872, the increased representation required an enlarge- 
ment of the building, and a wing fronting on Exchange street 
was ordered. To preserve, as far as possible, a symmetrical ap- 
pearance of the building, changes were then also made in the 
roof and cupola, all being completed at -a cost of about $15,000. 
(See Plate IV.) Other changes were made in 1878, by the erec- 
tion of an extension or wing on Wabasha street, accommodating 
the House of Representatives, and adding space for the use of 
the administrative affairs of the State. This work was completed 
in 1878. at a cost of $14,000, making the total cost of the building 
about $108,000. (See Plate V.) 

The dimensions of the Territorial building had grown from 
the original size of 139 feet front, and 53!/o feet deep, to 204 feet 
front, and 150 feet deep, with about fifty apartments. The busi- 
ness of the State was conducted in the enlarged building with 
more or less discomfort and inconvenience until the first of March, 
1881, when during an evening session of the legislature the build- 
ing was discovered to be on fire. 



HISTORY OF THE CAPITOL BUILDINGS OF MINNESOTA. 19 

BURNING OF THE FIRST CAPITOL. 

Notwithstanding the most heroic efforts of the fire department, 
the flames spread with such rapidity that it was only possible to 
save some of the contents of the building. The most valuable rec- 
ords and papers of various offices and of the legislature were 
carried out, but the valuable law library, the supply of state laws, 
documents, reports, and stationery were destroyed. Fortunately, 
the Historical Society's library was mostly saved. No lives were 
lost, although a large crowd of spectators and visitors was in the 
building, and several very narrow escapes by members occurred. 

The origin of the fire remains unknown. The flames were first 
discovered bursting from the dome, to which they had probably 
found their way through the partitions from the lower part of 
the building, but no one has ever been able to give any reasonable 
explanation of the mysterious disaster. 

HISTORIC REVIEW TO THE TIME OF THE CAPITOL FIRE. 

Thus passed away, upon its own funeral pyre, the first official 
home of the Territory and State. Within its walls were laid the 
plans and projects of the mighty State whose prosperous borders 
now compass great cities, thriving towns, fertile farms, and happy 
homes. Upon the face of the State the names of many of its 
founders happily remain stamped to remind us of the work they did 
so well. The names borne by the counties of Eamsey, Sibley, Eice, 
Marshall, Wilkin, Stevens, Becker, Olmsted, Freeborn, McLeod, 
Murray, Kittson, Faribault, Goodhue, Mower, Brown, Swift, Hub- 
bard and others will remain to recall the work of these sturdy 
pioneers as they laid deep and solid the foundations of the govern^ 
ment we enjoy today. Many of their contentions were sharp and 
bitter, but the end they patriotically sought was the welfare and 
development of the new State. 

While the building no longer remains, history preserves the 
record of the work done within its walls. The Constitution it- 
self, the labor of the dual Kepublican and Democratic conventions 
sitting in separate chambers, yet whose work was identical in every 
letter and line of its provisions, still remains the fundamental law 
of the Commonwealth. 



20 MINNESOTA HISTORICAL SOCIETY COLLECTIONS. 

The lines of railroad projected by the early legislators over the 
prairies of the new State, whose only roads then were the trail 
of the Indian and the march of the buffalo, are the very lines over 
which now move in every direction the commerce of our people 
and the restless multitudes of travelers. And in the dark and 
troublous days of the civil war, out through the doors of the old 
Capitol, with unfaltering steps, came our gallant officers, bearing 
their commissions from the Governor and in their hands the mus- 
ter rolls of our brave soldier boys, ready to lead them in the long 
hard fight for the preservation of the nation. After the contest was 
ever, returning through the same portals of the old building, 
came the victorious survivors, clasping the precious colors of their 
regiments, riddled and battle-stained, that they might rest under 
the dome of the Capitol as a shrine of devotion for all patriotic 
hearts. 

The steps of the Old Capitol will always be famous as the spot 
upon which Senator William H. Seward stood, when, on that 
delicious September day, in 1860, in addressing the assembled mul- 
titude, he gave expression to that wonderfully prophetic declara- 
tion which at the time seemed like the extravagance of rhetoric, 
but in these later days more like foreknowledge of the future 
when he said : 

In other days, studying what might perhaps have seemed to others 
a visionary subject, I have cast about for the future of the ultimate 
central seat of power of the North American people. I have looked 
at Quebec and at New Orleans, at Washington and at San Francisco, 
at Cincinnati and at St. Louis, and it has been the result of my best 
conjecture that the seat of power for North America would yet be 
found in the valley of Mexico; that the glories of the Aztec Capital 
would be renewed, and that city would become ultimately the Capital 
of the United States of America. But I have corrected that view, and 
now I believe that the last seat of power on this great continent will 
be found somewhere within a radius not very far from the very spot 
where I stand, at the head of navigation of the Mississippi river, and 
on the great Mediterranean lakes. 

To realize how rapidly this is being fulfilled, we have only 
to look upon the multitudes pressing into the Northwest in our 
own country, and the greater numbers finding their homes in 
the Canadian Northwest, far away towards the Arctic circle. 



HISTORY OF THE CAPITOL BUILDINGS OF MINNESOTA. 21 

OCCUPATION OF THE MARKET HOUSE. 

While the old Capitol was still in flames and its destruction 
evident, Mayor Dawson telegraphed to Governor Pillsbury, who 
had gone home to Minneapolis, offering the new and commodious 
market house, which the city of St. Paul had just about completed, 
for the use of the legislature and State officers until the Capitol 
could be rebuilt. Fortunately, the building was admirably adapted 
for the use tendered. The second story had two large halls, that 
could be used for the Senate and House of Eepresentatives, and 
the first floor could be suitably partitioned for the State officers. 
Extraordinary efforts were made during the night by the city offi- 
cers and citizens, and by the morning of March 2nd the halls were 
ready for occupancy by the legislature, which met at the regular 
hour and continued the business interrupted by the fire. As 
but two days of the session remained, the members were all anxious 
for the fate of the bills still on the calendar. Before the day was 
over the Governor and other State officers were as comfortably ac- 
commodated as the extraordinary conditions permitted. 

THE SECOND CAPITOL. 

Governor Pillsbury secured estimates at once for the rebuilding 
of the Capitol, using the old walls. An act was passed appropriat- 
ing $75,000 for that purpose, and the work of clearing up the 
ruins and preparing for the new building was at once commenced. 
It was found, however, that it would not be safe to use the old 
walls, and at an extra session, in September, 1881, which was also 
held in the city market house, a further appropriation of $100,000 
was made, and a tax of one- third of a mill was levied on all taxable 
property, for raising the money. Further appropriations were made, 
and when the new Capitol was completed the cost was about $275,- 
000. It was occupied for the first time by the legislature which 
met in January, 1883. 

The new building (shown in Plate VI) was in the form of 
a Greek cross. The Senate chamber was in the wing fronting 
on Wabasha street, and the House of Kepresentatives was in the 
rear wing, fronting on Tenth street. The Supreme Court was 
in the Exchange street front. The building was much more com- 
modious and convenient than the old Capitol. 



22 MINNESOTA HISTORICAL SOCIETY COLLECTIONS. 

It was fairly well adapted for its purposes, excepting that the 
ventilation was very deficient, and there was not a sufficient num- 
ber of committee rooms. All excepting the principal committees 
were obliged to hold their meetings in the rooms of members at 
the hotels, or in such corners and vacant places as could be secured. 

This new and second capitol was not rebuilt without the St. 
Paul delegation and the citizens suffering serious nervous chills. 
A most vigorous move was set on foot, the morning after the de- 
struction of the old building, to remove the capital from St. Paul, 
and great inducements were said to have been offered to members 
of the legislature to consider the proposition. Some of the most 
influential members were approached, urging them to assist in such 
movement. Governor Pillsbury, however, was inflexible in his re- 
fusal to entertain any consideration of the question, and an honor- 
able sense of fairness with a majority of the members caused the 
leaders in the scheme finally to desist from their attempt, and the 
legislature adjourned, after having made all necessary provisions 
for the construction of the second capitol. 

After completion, the building continued to be used .through 
successive administrations without any special changes, excepting 
that during the administration of Governor Merriam substantial 
granite steps were erected in place of the wooden ones at the four 
principal entrances. Convenient toilet rooms were also installed 
on the second floor, much to the comfort of the members of the 
legislature and the state officers. 

From the time the new capitol was finished, in 1883, until the 
meeting of the legislature of 1891, there was no active agitation of 
the question of the seat of the state government. The matter of 
its removal from St. Paul was, however, always a valuable element 
of strength with those members of the legislature who desired the 
help of the Eamsey county delegation in their legislative schemes. 

The writer was a member of the Senate of the' legislature that 
convened in January, 1891. A very short service only was nec- 
essary to impress anyone with the inadequacy of the building for 
the business of the state. The offices were all crowded to re- 
pletion. Several departments of the state had their offices in busi- 
ness blocks remote from the capitol. Every nook and cranny in 
the building was converted into a closet for storage of documents 



HISTORY OF THE CAPITOL BUILDINGS OF MINNESOTA. 23 

or a place for another desk. The ventilation, if there was any, 
was most imperfect. During the session seats were constantly 
vacant in each chamber, because of the illness of members suffer- 
ing from the noxious air. The secretary of the State Board of 
Health was called in to test the quality of the air in the senate 
chamber, and he pronounced it utterly unfit for human beings to 
breathe. For legislation to be well considered and carefully dis- 
cussed under such conditions was wellnigh impossible. Besides 
all these discomforts, the Ramsey county delegation was subjected 
to the same uneasy fear that frequent intimations of capital re- 
moval schemes always produced. 

Notwithstanding all these unfavorable conditions, it did not 
seem at all likely that a legislature, of which the majority of 
the members were elected on a platform of retrenchment and re- 
form, would give the slightest consideration to any project look- 
ing towards the construction of a new and third capitol, especially 
as the building in use had only been occupied about eight years. 
Yet there was withal an uneasy element in the legislature, ready 
and anxious for capital removal agitation, as evidenced by the 
resolution offered by Senator Dedon, of Chisago county, on March 
2nd, "that a joint committee of nine be appointed, three from 
the Senate and six from the House, to confer with the owners of 
the Minneapolis Exposition building, with a view of securing 
the same for a permanent state capitol," and the bill introduced 
by Senator Glader, of Kandiyohi, "For the sale of lots in the city 
of Mennetaga on the state capitol lands in Kandiyohi county, and 
the erection of .buildings thereat and the removal of the state capi- 
tal thereto." 

Both resolution and bill were disposed of in a parliamentary 
way so that they still remain unreported. 

WORK OF THE SENATE COMMITTEE FOR THE NEW CAPITOL. 

One day in March, 1891, during a session of the senate, the 
Hon. F. G. McMillan, representing the 30th senatorial district, 
in Hennepin county, adjoining the Ramsey county boundary, and 
a member of the majority party, came to the writer and submitted 
the following resolution, with a request to read and give him an 
opinion on it : 



24 MINNESOTA HISTORICAL SOCIETY COLLECTIONS. 

Resolved, That a committee of three be appointed by the president 
of the senate to investigate and report its findings to the next session 
of the legislature, as to what in their judgment is the most desirable 
capitol site, and if the present location is not of sufficient size for said 
capitol building, and also to report if the best interests of the state 
could be better served by the removal to a new location where larger 
and better accommodations could be obtained, and a capitol building 
erected commensurate with the dignity of a great and prosperous 
state; to the end that the state at large may be informed as to 
merits of the different proposed sites, and that the next legislature 
may, if thought advisable, adopt a site and create a commission and 
instruct them in an intelligent manner as to the wants of this state 
and the amount that will be required to erect a suitable capitol build- 
ing; also to obtain information as to size, style, material used, and 
cost of capitol buildings of other states, if thought advisable, together 
with a statement of their estimated cost, and the sum total of the 
complete building, and all other information that may come to them in 
this investigation of this subject, with the view that this state may 
avoid the errors and mistakes of other state commissions, who are 
known to have in a great many cases exceeded their authority, and 
spent large sums of money in excess of the amount originally set apart 
for that purpose, and that a commission when appointed, shall enter 
knowingly into a contract for a building complete in every respect, to 
be built in a reasonable length of time, and for a definite sum of 
money, and also held to a strict accountability and a distinct under- 
standing that, for the sum named and set apart to be expended for a 
capitol building, the state expects a completed building, ready for 
occupancy, and all within the limits of the amount appropriated for 
that purpose. 

It seemed like a gift from Greeks, and it was not possible to 
exclude from one's mind the suspicion that beneath lurked another 
plan for an agitation of the whole capitol question. There is 
now no doubt of the sincerity of Senator McMillan's purpose, but 
the writer after reading the resolution handed it back with the 
remark that its purpose was not then practicable. 

Mr. McMillan, however, offered his resolution, when notice of 
debate was given, and later, upon motion of Senator Crandall. of 
Owatonna, it was promptly laid upon the table. A quiet confer- 
ence of the Eamsey county senators was held soon after, when it 
was determined to encourage Senator McMillan to make another 
effort for the favorable consideration of his resolution, and on April 
3rd he offered it again, and favorable action was secured by a vote 
of 25 to 18, Senator Crandall, upon whose motion it was laid upon 



HISTORY OF THE CAPITOL BUILDINGS OF MINNESOTA. 25 

the table, voting in the affirmative. On April 15th, the president of 
the senate, Hon. G-. S. Ives, of St. Peter, announced the com- 
mittee to be appointed under the resolution as follows: Senators 
F. G. McMillan, of Minneapolis; William B. Dean, of St. Paul; 
and Jay LaDue, of Luverne. A few days later, upon motion of 
Senator Oscar Ayers, the number of the committee was increased 
to five, and Senator Ayers, of Austin, and Henry Keller, of Sauk 
Center, were added. As developed afterwards, all the members 
of the committee were found to be favorable to a new capitol 
building, and all, excepting Senator McMillan, thought that it 
should be located at St. Paul, not far from the site occupied by 
the old capitol. 

During the time from the adjournment of the legislature in 
April, 1891, until the meeting of the committee, in November, 
there was a great deal of quiet discussion among the people of 
St. Paul, concerning the most eligible site for a new building 
in the event of favorable action by the legislature, in 1893. Almost 
every part of the city had its advocates. A most determined effort 
was made in behalf of the midway district, in Merriam Park, and 
many reasons were advanced why it should secure the recommenda- 
tion of the committee. 

The committee held its first meeting on November 4th, 1891, 
at the Merchants' Hotel, in St. Paul, all the members being present. 
Senator McMillan was elected chairman, and F. N. Van Duzee, 
late secretary of the senate, was chosen as clerk. A short discus- 
sion disclosed the fact that, in the opinion of every member of 
the committee, a new capitol building should be erected as soon 
as practicable, .and at a cost of not less than $2,000,000, nor more 
than $3,000,000, and that, as far as possible, it be built of Min- 
nesota stone. All the members of the committee were decidedly of 
the opinion that the new building should be located in St. Paul, 
and, with the exception of Senator McMillan, that it should be 
upon the site of the old capitol or not very far distant from it. 
Holding to this opinion, the committee adopted the following reso- 
lution, Senator McMillan alone dissenting : 

Resolved, That in the report which this committee will make to the 
senate, we shall recommend that the square upon which the present 
capitol stands is in all respects the most eligible situation for the 
new building. If the plans finally adopted should require a greater 



6 MINNESOTA HISTORICAL SOCIETY COLLECTIONS. 

area for a building than the site named, we then recommend that 
sufficient ground adjacent to the present square should be obtained. 
If, however, the committee should advise a removal in order to 
obtain a greater area than may be practicable at the present location, 
or to secure a more conspicuous situation, we recommend, on account 
of public convenience, that the new site shall not be more than three 
quarters of a mile from the present capitol. 

The writer was then appointed a committee of one on the 
financial question of the new 'capitol. and Mr. McMillan on plans 
and designs. 

Before the meeting of the legislature of 1893, the committee 
visited the Iowa state capitol, at Des Moines, as well as some of 
the granite and other quarries of Minnesota, so that, in preparing 
their report for the senate, they might be able to furnish as much 
information as possible. On February 3rd, 1893, the committee 
made two reports to the senate. Senators Dean, La Due, Avers and 
Keller submitted the following majority report : 

To the Honorable, the Senate of the Legislature of the State of 
Minnesota : 

Your committee, appointed by resolution of April 3rd, 1891, to 
investigate and report to this honorable body its findings: First, as to 
whether, in its judgment, a new capitol building is necessary; second, 
if it appeared necessary to build a new building, where it should be 
located, together with facts and figures relative to the cost, size, etc., 
of the capitol buildings of other states, begs leave to report as fol- 
lows: 

The committee held its first meeting on November 4th, 1891, and 
was organized by the election of Senator P. G. McMillan, chairman, 
and Frederic N. Van Duzee, secretary. The committee has held numer- 
ous meetings and has taken a trip to Des Moines, for the purpose of 
examining the capitol of Iowa. At these meetings the committee has 
given exhaustive consideration to the questions placed before it by the 
resolution under which it was appointed. 

It is unanimous in the opinion that a new capitol building is neces- 
sary on the grounds of proper consideration for the convenient and 
expeditious discharge of the public business, the care and preserva- 
tion of the public records, the health and safety of the public servants, 
and the standing and credit of a great and prosperous commonwealth. 

The present capitol was erected under the exigency caused by the 
destruction by fire of the old building, at a time of great financial 
depression in the state, caused by a succession of crop failures. Time 
and money were both lacking, and it is certain that the present capitol 
is the best that could have been erected under the limitations which 
the circumstances imposed. 



HISTORY OF THE CAPITOL BUILDINGS OF MINNESOTA. 27 

Equally certain is it that the state has completely outgrown the 
capacity of this building, and with the crowding together of the offices 
have come other evils. For more than a decade it has been a constant 
bill of expenses, for repairs growing out of faulty and hasty construc- 
tion, and has required almost annual remodeling to furnish increased 
room for the old departments, or an abiding place in some obscure 
corner for the new machinery made necessary by the growth of the 
state, until every available inch of space, including in some instances 
what was originally intended for air and light shafts, is occupied. 
Vault space is utterly inadequate, and a vast quantity of the valuable 
public documents and records of the state are now stored away in the 
basement, absolutely without protection from fire. The assembly halls 
of the legislature are poorly adapted to their uses, and legislation is 
impeded by the lack of proper committee rooms, while any increase 
in the popular representation in the senate or house is absolutely pro- 
hibited, because there is no room for another member on the floor of 
either house. It has been impossible to keep up with the most im- 
proved methods of heating, lighting, ventilation, and sewerage, and 
as a result the public business is carried on at a great risk of health. 
In a few years some of the departments will be crowded out jof this 
building; and in this connection it must be remembered that, even 
if this legislature takes the initial steps looking to the erection of a 
new capitol, it will be at least ten years before it will be ready for 
occupancy, so that whatever is done to relieve present conditions 
should be done speedily. 

. So plain did these considerations appear to the committee, that 
at the first meeting it was unanimously resolved v to embody in this 
report a recommendation that a new capitol building be erected, and 
that the minimum limit of expenditure be $2,000,000. 

The next matter in order for consideration was a site for the new 
capitol, and the question of recommending the present location, or one 
in its immediate vicinity, of removal to an interurban point, or a loca- 
tion still further removed from the state's center of population, was 
reviewed by the committee. 

The capitol is essentially designed for the convenient dispatch 
of the public business. This end can only be reached by its location 
as nearly as may be at the center of population, not only of the state, 
but of the capital city, convenient of immediate access and within easy 
reach of the best hotel and railway facilities. For these reasons the 
committee rejected the latter alternative, and at the first meeting the 
following resolution was made part of the record: 

"Resolved, That in the report which this committee will make to 
the senate, we shall recommend that the square upon which the present 
capitol stands is in all respects the most eligible situation for the new 
building. If the plans finally adopted require a greater area for a 
building than the site named affords, we recommend that sufficient 



28 MINNESOTA HISTORICAL SOCIETY COLLECTIONS. 

ground adjacent to the present square be obtained. If, however, the 
committee should advise a removal in order to obtain a greater area 
than may be practicable at the present location, or to secure a more 
conspicuous situation, we recommend on account of public conven- 
ience, that the new site shall not be more than three-quarters of a mile 
distant from the present capitol." 

In order that the burden of cost may fall as lightly as possible 
upon the people of the state, your committee recommends that small 
appropriations be made, not larger than the annual amounts usually 
granted to the educational and other institutions of the state. We 
recommend that for the preparatory work $5,000 be set aside in each 
of the years 1893 and 1894, to defray the expenses of the commission 
to be appointed to enable it to invite and select plans for a suitable 
building. After the year 1894 we recommend that an amount equal to 
two-tenths of one mill upon the assessed valuation of all the property 
of the state be set aside from the general fund to the credit of the 
capitol commissioners, to defray the expenses of construction then to 
be undertaken. This can be done and still permit of a large reduction 
of the present rate of taxation, so that no increase of the tax levy for 
state purposes may be anticipated in consequence of favorable action 
on this recommendation. We believe that this amount appropriated 
annually during the period of ten years will enable the commissioners 
to construct a capitol building commensurate with the dignity and 
wealth of this great and growing state, and equal to all requirements 
of the public service for many generations. 

We cannot believe that appropriations extending thus through 
many years, and at such moderate amounts, will be complained of 
by our generous people, or press upon them with perceptible weight. 
The value of the property of the state now subject to taxation is, in 
round numbers, $600,000,000, more than half of which is derived from 
the three most populous counties of the state, an increase within the 
past ten years of $324,000,000. The average values of the farms of the 
state, including improvements, is less than $7 per acre. The sum 
recommended to be annually set apart for building purposes would, 
at this valuation, amount to about ten cents upon every eighty-acre 
farm in the state, an amount so insignificant that we are constrained 
to believe that every citizen of Minnesota would ratify your favorable 
action. 

In the visit made by your committee to the capitol of the state 
of Iowa, we were impressed by the noble edifice the patriotic people 
of that enterprising state had erected to mark their appreciation of 
what was befitting the dignity and importance of the official home of 
their commonwealth. The building was undertaken in 1870, when the 
total assessed valuation was less than $300,000,000, made up almost 
wholly of the rural property of the state, there being no city of a larger 
population than 20,000 or 25,000 people to share the cost of the outlay. 



HISTORY OF THE CAPITOL BUILDINGS OF MINNESOTA. 29 

The work was completed in about twelve years when the entire 
assessed valuation of the state of Iowa amounted only to about $426,- 
000,000, or nearly $200,000,000 less than that of Minnesota at the pres- 
ent time. The cost of the building was $2,800,000, a sum very much 
beyond the amount we believe it will be necessary for Minnesota to 
spend. We believe, under the restraint embodied in the bill submitted 
with this report, that a capitol worthy of our commonwealth and one 
of which every citizen will be proud, can be built for a sum less than 
the limit set in the bill. We therefore recommend this report most 
heartily to your favorable action and urge the passage of the bill 
herewith submitted. 

(Signed) 

WILLIAM B. DEAN, 
JAY LA DUE, 
OSCAR AYERS, 
HENRY KELLER. 

Senator McMillan submitted the minority report, as follows : 

Many interesting and important meetings have been held by this 
committee, and it is with a feeling of regret that your minority com- 
mittee finds itself unable to agree with the majority upon a report 
to be presented to this body. The principal point of difference is upon 
a question which is of great interest and importance to the citizens of 
this state, as well as of interest to those within whose borders said 
capitol site is to be located, and is also a question which, this com- 
mittee, as a whole, entirely ignored and refused to investigate, as con- 
templated by the provisions of the above resolutions. At the begin- 
ning of this investigation, in fact, at its first session, your minority 
committee found itself powerless to act by the adoption of a resolution 
limiting the investigation as to a capitol site to the site 'now occupied 
by the present building, or to a point within one-half mile of the same. 
This resolution was afterwards reconsidered and the limit placed at 
three-fourths of a mile distant. Your committee believes that such 
action on the part of the majority was not in accordance with the 
spirit and interpretation of the above resolution, which specifically 
stated that the commission was to present a report based upon an 
investigation of the different proposed sites, with the end in view 
that the state at large might be informed as to the merits of each. 
Such an investigation your committee believes would have thrown 
much light upon this important question, and would have, given to 
the citizens of this state a large amount of valuable information rela- 
tive to the size, cost and location of sites in other parts of the capital 
city. Your committee believes that in no sense would the advantages 
in favor of the present site, or sites adjacent thereto, have suffered 
by a comparison with those situated beyond the imaginary lines 
drawn by the majority of the committee. In view of these facts, your 



30 MINNESOTA HISTORICAL SOCIETY COLLECTIONS. 

committee would dissent from the report of the majority, and would, 
therefore, recommend that no restriction be placed in the bill limiting 
the commission in this respect, and would further recommend, in 
order that all interested may be heard upon this question, and that 
a capitol site may be selected that will be easy of access, commanding 
in view, with the grounds, in point of size, suitable to the future wants 
of this great state, and that a site may be obtained that will reflect 
credit upon the good judgment of its citizens as well as the members 
of the commission; that said capitol commission when appointed, shall 
be authorized to further investigate as to the capitol sites, their loca- 
tion, size, cost, etc., with power only to report with recommendations 
to the next session of the legislature, and to receive from that body 
the authority to designate the site for the said capitol building. Your 
committee would also report that it has spent much time in seeking 
information as to the size and location of grounds occupied by capitol 
buildings in other states, and it has been unable to find a single state 
in which the idea has been that the state capitol was other than the 
home of the state, or where it was a business building, especially 
located for the convenience of a few who were fortunate enough to live 
under the shadow cast by its great dome'; or did it find a state where 
there was the remotest probability that in a few years at most the 
adjoining property would be occupied for business purposes. 

Noble architecture and large and commodious grounds have been 
the rule followed in other states, namely: California, Colorado, Ne- 
braska, Illinois, Michigan, Missouri, Iowa and Pennsylvania, ranging 
from five acres in the smallest tract to forty-three in the largest; the 
average was fourteen and a quarter acres. Your committee would 
therefore recommend that when the state decides to erect a suitable 
capitol building for the future wants and to be a permanent home for 
the state, not less than ten acres be acquired for a capitol site, and 
that it be so far removed from close proximity to the business district 
of the city that future generations will not wonder at the lack of wis- 
dom displayed by her capitol commissioners, or by the legislature 
which will be responsible for such a blunder, if one is made. 

Your committee would also recommend that said capitol commis- 
sion should be restricted by law from adopting any plans or letting 
any contracts for the whole or a part of said building until it has been 
definitely ascertained that the cost of supervision, labor, material, and 
all other expenditures necessary for the erection and completion of 
said building, including heating apparatus and ventilating furnishings, 
and all other fixtures of the same, will in no event exceed the sum of 
$2,000,000 for a completed building. 

It would therefore be necessary in order to make an accurate 
itemized estimate of the cost of such building, which can be relied on 
with any degree of accuracy, to have the general plans, elevations, and 
sections, together with minute specifications and full detail drawings 



HISTORY OF THE CAPITOL BUILDINGS OF MINNESOTA. 31 

of all parts that go to make a complete building, from which may be 
obtained the amount and quality of all material. No accurate estimate 
can be made without them, and even then an estimate may fail of 
verification on account of a change in the value of labor or material, 
or from errors in judgment; but in no event, with such restrictions as 
outlined, if the spirit and letter of the law were followed, should such 
a building exceed ten per cent of the original estimate. 

Your committee would also recommend that the competition for 
the plans of said capitol building be limited to the architects of this 
state, and that in the event said capitol building shall cost more than 
the sum of $2,000,000, said architect shall not be entitled to any com- 
mission on the sum such building costs in excess of such amount. 

Your committee would further recommend that, in case a site is 
selected other than the site now occupied for capitol purposes, the 
present capitol building shall not be abandoned, but shall remain un- 
der control of the state for its present uses until such time as the 
capitol commission shall turn over to the state a completed building 
ready for occupancy. An abandonment of the present building and the 
scattering of state, officials over different parts of the city, and the 
necessity for properly providing for the accommodation of the state 
legislature for a period of ten years would, in the opinion of your 
committee, be detrimental to the best interests of the state. In the 
report of the majority of the committee your minority committee would 
agree except as to the recommendations made above. 

Respectfully submitted, 

>F. G. MCMILLAN. 

The minority report, besides dissenting from the majority 
on the subject of location, also urged that the competition for plans 
be limited to architects within the state. 

Many of the newspapers in the state gave the most hearty 
support to the project for a new capitol, advocating it in the strong- 
est terms, as a matter of the greatest necessity; others, on the con- 
trary, were violent in their opposition, in many cases charging 
the most unworthy motives to all concerned in promoting the en- 
terprise. 

LEGISLATION FOR BUILDING THE NEW CAPITOL. 

On the same day that the committee made its report to the 
senate, the writer introduced a bill for the construction of a 
new capitol. It must be confessed that the bill was intro- 
duced with considerable trepidation. For it seemed like the 
wildest flight of fancy to suppose that with the Republicans 



32 MINNESOTA HISTORICAL SOCIETY COLLECTIONS. 

in control of the House, and the Democratic Alliance members 
in control of the Senate, such a bill from a minority senator 
should be considered with any favor. The majority of the 
senate had been elected upon a widely heralded platform of 
economy and reform, and it seemed almost incredible that the 
senate majority would permit a bill to be passed appropriating 
the unprecedented sum of $2,000.000. besides, at the same time, 
forever settling the burning question of the permanent capital of 
the state. 

It was the first time within the history of Minnesota legis- 
lation that the St. Paul delegation assumed an aggressive at- 
titude on the capitol question. But the prize was worth the 
fight; for, if successful, it would forever settle the location of 
the seat of government, besides releasing the St. Paul delegation 
from the constantly recurring fears of removal, which often in 
times past had made it so subservient to the most unworthy 
demands. 

The bill embraced the main features of the majority report 
as to selection of location, cost of building, and the way in which 
the funds were to be provided. The next day, February 
4th, a similar bill was introduced in the House of Representatives 
by the Hon. Hiler H. Horton, member from the 27th District, 
St. Paul. 

In both houses the bills were referred to the appropriate 
committees. The bills were advanced as rapidly as possible, and 
on March l?'th the substitute reported by the Committee on 
Public Buildings, making some minor changes in the original 
bill, was passed in the House of Representatives by a vote of 
68 to 41. The substitute was reported in the senate on March 
21st, and on April 6th passed that body by a vote of 34 to 20, 
and was approved by the governor on April 7th. The contest 
in both houses was severe. In the House of Representatives 
the brunt of the fight fell upon the Hon. Patrick H. Kelly, mem- 
ber from the 25th District, St. Paul. He was equal to the occa- 
sion. By his skillful management, great energy, and happy 
adaptability, he won friends for the measure from all parties, 
and it is not too much to say that to him, more than to any 
other person, we are indebted for the success that has forever 
settled the question of the location of the capitol of the state of 
Minnesota. 



HISTORY OF THE CAPITOL BUILDINGS OF MINNESOTA. 33 

In the Senate the contest was no less vigorous, but a 
fortunate situation, involving the consideration of several 
other measures of general public interest, together with the 
generous support of patriotic and liberal minded senators, 
of all parties, who appreciated the urgent necessity for a new 
building, enabled the senators having the Capitol Bill in 
charge to secure its favorable reception and its final passage 
by a large majority. And so, after years during which the 
location of the state capitol was made a legislative foot-ball 
and a matter of constant anxiety to the people of St. Paul, 
this completed legislation forever sealed the tripartite action 
of the territorial legislature of 1851, when it passed acts fix- 
ing the University at Minneapolis, the state prison at Stillwater, 
and the capitol at St. Paul. While there has never been any 
vote of the people fixing the permanent seat of the state 
government, as required by the constitution, one cannot re- 
sist the conviction that the capitol may now be considered as 
quite permanently fixed for all time to come. 

^WORK OF THE STATE CAPITOL COMMISSION. 

As soon as the^Slrbeeame a law, Governor Nelson advised 
with Mr. Kelly and the writer as to suitable persons to be 
appointed the commissioners, for which the law provided. 
Channing Seabury, of St. Paul, H. W. Lamberton, of Winona, 
George A. Du Toit, of Chaska, 'John De Laittre, of Minne- 
apolis, C. H. Graves, of Duluth, E. E. Corliss, of Fergus Falls, and 
James McHench, of Martin county, were appointed and were con- 
firmed by the senate. Mr. Edgar Weaver, of Mankato, occupied the 
place of Mr. McHench, who died not long after his appointment. 
The remaining six members of the Board are the original appointees 
of Governor Nelson. 

It is no fulsome praise to say that no public work was 
ever committed to a more able and efficient body. For in- 
tegrity of purpose, critical taste for the beautiful in archi- 
tecture, and honesty in the discharge of their intricate duties, 
no state has ever been more loyally served. Minnesota and 
its citizens will forever rest under a burden of obligation to these 
gentlemen which it may strive in vain to repay. 



34 MINNESOTA HISTORICAL SOCIETY COLLECTIONS. 

The commissioners all accepted the appointment and at 
once entered upon the discharge of their duties, by holding 
their first meeting on May 13th, 1893. The biennial reports 
of the commissioners made to the governor of the state relate 
in great detail the operations of the Board in the performance 
of its duties. It is not within the purpose of this paper to 
repeat the story of the work which their reports so faithfully 
set forth. 

The requirements for the selection of plans for the new 
building and of an architect, as provided in the original act 
of 1893, were found to be altogether too rigorous and imprac- 
ticable. The financial scheme too was greatly impaired by 
the diminishing assessments of the property within the state, 
which, instead of increasing yearly as was anticipated, were 
so seriously affected by the wide spread financial depression 
from which the whole country suffered, that it was very 
evident the tax provided for in the laAv would not furnish 
the amount of money appropriated for the building within 
the time limited. 

All these difficulties in the original act were remedied by 
subsequent legislation in 1895, 1897 and 1899. By these 
amendments the commissioners were given greater liberty in 
the choice of an architect, and the selection of plans, and 
were permitted to issue their certificates in anticipation of 
future revenues, as might be necessary, to furnish the funds 
as their work progressed. 

In the meantime, as the country recovered from the ef- 
fects of the financial troubles, the prices of labor and of all 
kinds of materials advanced very rapidly. If the commis- 
sioners had been free to proceed with their work at the time 
they assumed their duties, the new capitol as originally plan- 
ned could have been built within the sum appropriated by 
the act, as the commissioners themselves very clearly show in 
their second report to the governor. 



HJ STORY OF THE CAPITOL BUILDINGS OF MINNESOTA. 35 

THE ARCHITECT AND THE NEW CAPITOL. 

Upon the invitation of the commissioners, architects from 
^11 over the United States, many of them of the most dis- 
tinguished reputation, submitted plans and drawings, forty-one 
in all, for the new capitol, and all anonymously. These were 
exhibited in public for two weeks, as the law required. After 
a most critical examination by the members of the Board, 
assisted by Mr. Wheelwright, a distinguished architect of 
Boston, and an almost unanimous expression by the general 
public, the plans offered by Mr. Cass Gilbert, of St. Paul, were 
chosen, although at the time he was not known as the author, 
and he was selected as the architect. A better selection could 
not have been made. Mr. Gilbert had lived in St. Paul from 
childhood. His ability, skill, and artistic taste were well 
known, and his integrity, an important element in an archi- 
tect's character, was his priceless possession. The new capitol 
building (shown in Plate VII) is the pride of every citizen. 
It will remain Mr. Gilbert's most enduring monument, and 
will proclaim his name among the great architects of all the 
ages. 

The plans and designs submitted by Mr. Gilbert, and ac- 
cepted by the commissioners, were for a building of the most 
stately and dignified character, well befitting the official home 
pf a prosperous and cultured people. The architecture is the 
Italian Renaissance. It commands admiration at once by its 
classic simplicity, and, surmounted by a superb and majestic 
dome, recalls to the beholder those celebrated structures of 
Europe that have been the study of lovers of the beautiful 
in architecture, since the days the great masters created 
them. As Dante on his famous seat sat for hours lost in con- 
templation of the perfection of the beautiful cathedral of 
Florence, so may we and our children for generations to come 
sit and study and learn what is most beautiful and classic in 
art in our admiration of Mr. Gilbert's great creation. 

The extreme length of the building is 432 feet 10 inches. 
The width through the central portico is 228 feet 3 inches. 
The extreme height of the dome is 220 feet. In the interior 
ample provision is made for the two houses of the legislature 
and their committees; for the supreme court, the governor, 



36 MINNESOTA HISTORICAL SOCIETY COLLECTIONS. 

and all officers of the state. Special attention has been given 
to the heating, lighting, and ventilating systems, everything 
throughout being of the most complete and substantial char- 
acter. The building is as nearly absolutely fireproof as human 
ingenuity can make it. 

The commissioners proceeded at once to select a site for 
the building within the limits prescribed by the law. They 
encountered many vexatious and unreasonable obstructions. 
The property they desired to purchase became at once very 
valuable in the minds of its owners, and it was only after the 
most patient and perplexing efforts that they were finally 
able to secure the commanding location the capitol now oc- 
cupies.* The grounds embrace an area of nearly eight acres 
and cost $367,161.98. The site is a most admirable one. The 
elevation is 199 feet above low water mark, and 88 feet above 
the site of the old capitol. The view from the lantern of the 
capitol dome, extending for miles over the surrounding coun- 
try, and compassing the two great cities, presents the most 
magnificent panorama to be found anywhere within the state. 
Being remote from the business center of the city, the beauty 
of the capacious grounds and the noble building itself are 
the conspicuous features of the landscape, while it is readily 
accessible in a few minutes from any part of the city by the 
numerous street car lines. 

Following the selection and purchase of the capitol site 
and the adoption of the plans and designs of Mr. Gilbert, the 
active work of construction began at once. The contract for 
the excavation and foundation was awarded to Mr. George 
J. Grant, of St. Paul. Ground was broken on March 6th, 
1896, and the first stone was laid on June 23rd of the same 
year. The foundation was completed on November 24th, 
1896. 

In the performance of their duties, the commissioners ad- 
hered rigidly to the terms of the law under which they were 



*In securing the present capitol grounds, the commissioners were very 
ably assisted by Hon. Henry M. Rice, Hon. Alexander Ramsey, and Mr. 
H. 'S. Fairchild. Their efforts with the owners of the various pieces of 
real estate, and their final success in obtaining them at something near 
their real value, place the state under great obligation to these gentle- 
men. 



HISTORY OF THE CAPITOL BUILDINGS OF MINNESOTA. 37 

acting. The zeal of the legislators in their efforts to protect 
the interests of the state and to limit the cost of the building 
had caused the insertion of provisions in the act without which 
it would not have passed the legislature, that continued se- 
riously to impede the work of the commissioners, especially 
in the matter of anticipating future revenues for the payment 
of the progressing work. The legislatures of 1897 and 1899 
relaxed the law in this respect, and gave to the commissioners 
the necessary freedom in the anticipation of funds, so that the 
work could be carried on without interruption. On August 
31st, 1897, the contract for the exterior and interior walls, 
up to but not including the dome, was awarded to the Butler- 
Ryan Company, of St. Paul. They were contractors not only 
of expert ability but of great fidelity in the execution of all 
their undertakings. The state was exceedingly fortunate in 
finding among its own citizens men so capable of successfully 
accomplishing a work of such magnitude. 

It was at this point in the work of construction that the 
architect made the first departure from the general expecta- 
tion of the public. With so many kinds of building stone to 
be found within the state, from the everlasting granite to the 
friable limestone, it was the common belief, and indeed had 
been the promise of the promoters of the legislation, that only 
Minnesota' stone would be used to build its caj>itol. But with 
a courageous devotion to the artistic and beautiful, and a 
consistent adherence to the fitness of a classic structure, all 
considerations of state advertisement were set aside and 
the only material adapted to the architecture of the building 
was selected. The beautiful marble of the Grecian mountains 
was not possible, but hardly less beautiful than that of Pen- 
telikon was the marble found in the quarries of Georgia. It 
had already been used in the Art Gallery of Washington, 
and the state capitol of Rhode Island with admirable effect, 
and, despite manifold criticism, the commissioners determined 
to adopt the advice of the architect and to use it for our 
capitol. The completed building in its pure magnificence con- 
firms and vindicates the wisdom of the commissioners. 



38 MINNESOTA HISTORICAL SOCIETY COLLECTIONS. 

LAYING THE CORNER STONE. 

On July 27th, 1898. the laying of the corner stone was 
celebrated with appropriate ceremonies. The day itself was 
bright and auspicious. Elaborate preparations were made ^or 
the comfort of the great multitude that assembled to witness 
the interesting event. A large number of public men whose 
names are identified with the history of the state, many of 
them from its earliest days, were present. The whole city of 
St. Paul was adorned in holiday attire. The pageantry of 
the parade, the waving of the flags, and the inspiring music 
of the bands, stimulated the enthusiasm of the crowd, and 
made the day one that will be long remembered. 

The exercises began by Governor Clough requesting Arch- 
bishop Ireland to invoke the Divine benediction upon the pro- 
ceedings, after which Mr. Graves on behalf of the Commis- 
sioners made a clear and most happy statement of the work 
of the Board, from the breaking of the ground to the com- 
pletion of the foundation, ready for the corner stone. Gov- 
ernor Clough then introduced United States Senator C. K. 
Davis, who delivered an oration of great eloquence, com- 
memorative of the occasion. Upon the conclusion of the ad- 
dress of Senator Davis, Judge Flandrau, one of the first Su- 
preme Judges of the state, in a most fitting address presented 
to ex-governor Ramsey a silver trowel, to be used in the lay- 
ing of the stone, which the venerable governor most appro- 
priately acknowledged. Upon request of Governor Clough, 
Mr. N. P. I/angford then read a list of the various articles 
and memorials deposited in the corner stone, "indicative of 
the progress of the state in art, literature, and agriculture."* 



*In the sealed and soldered box that lies in the corner stone the 
following articles were placed, to lie for unknown hundreds of years: 

Holy Bible. 

Statutes of the State of Minnesota, Vols. 1 and 2. 

Last published annual report of the secretary of state of Minnesota. 

Last published annual report of the Minnesota state auditor. 

Last published annual report of the Minnesota state treasurer. 

Legislative manuals of Minnesota for the years 1893. 1895, and 1897. 

History of Minnesota Volunteers in the War of the Rebellion, Vols. I 
and 2. 

Volumes 4 and 8 of the Minnesota Historical Society Collections. 

Minnesota Historical Society publication, "How Minnesota Became 

Congressional directory of the , Fifty-fifth Congress of the United 
States. 

History of the new capitol legislation. 

The original draft of the bill drawn and introduced in the legislature 
by Hon. W511iam B. Dean, of St. Paul, for the erection of a new capitol. 



HISTORY OF HIE CAPITOL 15TJILD1 X(iS OF MINNKSOTA. 39 

When the list had been read, Governor Clough asked the 
commissioners to place the box in the cavity prepared for it 
in the corner stone, and then proceeded to call upon the hon- 

Xeill's History of Minnesota. 

History of the Sioux War of 1862-63. by Isaac V. D. Heard. 

Minnesota Year Book for the years 1852 and 1853. 

Photographs of the new capitol. 

Photographs and engravings of Minnesota cities and villages. 

Minneapolis Through a Camera. 

Copies of the last issued daily newspapers of St. Paul and Minneapolis. 

Badge of the Daughters of Veterans, Tent No. 1, St. Paul. Minn. 

Report of the Grand Army of the Republic for Minnesota. 

American flag and roster of St. Paul Camp No. 1, Sons of Veterans, 
U. S. A. 

One $20 gold coin, one $10 gold coin, and one $5 gold coin, and one 
each of all the silver, nickel, and copper coins of the United States of this 
date. 

Portrait of Alexander Ramsey, first governor of the Territory of 
Minnesota. 

Portrait of Henry Hastings Sibley, first governor of the State of 
Minnesota. 

A copy of the introductory address by Hon. Charles H. Graves. 

A copy of the oration delivered today by Hon. Cushman K. Davis. 

Copper plates of the seal of the Territory and the State of Minnesota. 

Copper plate etchings of south front elevation and principal floor plans 
of the capitol. 

A copper plate on which are ensraved the names of the capitol commis- 
sioners, secretary, architect and assistants. 

A copper plate on which is engraved an epitome of memorable events 
in the history of the organization of the Territory and State of Minneso- 
ta (copied below). 

City Directory for the year 1808 of St. Paul, capital of Minnesota. 

Northwestern Gazetteer and Business Directory. 

A list, engrossed on parchment, of the contents of the corner stone. 

A copy of the program and ceremonies of laying the corner stone. 



One of the copper plates that lie in the stone bears the following in- 
scription: 

EPITOME OF MEM OR A RLE EVENTS 

In the History of the Acquisition and Organization of the Territory and 

State of Minnesota. 

1784. March 1 Cession by the State of Virginia to the United States 
of that portion of Minnesota lying east of the Mississippi river. 

1803. April 30 Treaty concluded with France for the cession of 
Louisiana to the United States, embracing that portion of Minnesota lying 
west of the Mississippi river. 

1805. Sept. 23 Conferences with different bands of Indians. 

1837. Feb. 18 Convention with Wahpaakootah and other Sioux Indi- 
ans. 

1838. June 15 Treaty with Chippewas. bv Henry Dodge, proclaimed. 

1838. June 15 Treaty with Sioux, by J. R. Poinsett. proclaimed. 

1838. The first pre-emption claim to land at St. Anthony Falls 
made bv Franklin Steele. 

1849. March 3 The United States congress passed the organic act 
creating the Territory of Minnesota. 

1849. June 1 The governor, .Alexander Ramsey, by proclamation, 
declared the territory duly organized. Population 4.94A 

1853. Feb. 24 The treaty of Traverse des Sioux, made bv Alexander 
Ramsey and Luke Lea, with the Sioux Indians on Julv 23, 1851, and t the 
treaty of Mendota, made by Alexander Ramsev and Luke Lea. with the 
Sioux Indians on Aug. 5, 1851, were proclaimed by the president. 

1857. F'eb. 26 The act authorizing the territory to form a state 
government passed by congress. 

1857. Oct 13 A state constitution was adopted 

1858. May 11 Congress passed the act admitting Minnesota into 
the Union. Henry Hastings Sibley being the first state governor. Popula- 
tion, 150.037. 

1862 July 2 The first railroad in Minnesota was operated, the train 
running from St. Paul to St. Anthony. 

1861 to 1865 Minnesota furnished more than 25,000 men for the War 
of the Rebellion. 

1890. June 1 Population. United States census. 1,301.826. 

1895. June 1 Population, state census, 1.574,619. 



40 MINNESOTA HISTORICAL SOCIETY COLLECTIONS. 

ored father of the commonwealth, Ex-Governor and Ex-Sen- 
ator Kamsey, the first territorial governor of Minnesota, to 
lay the stone in its place, and while he was performing with 
his silver trowel this most interesting duty the bands played 
and the people sang the national hymn, "America/' Gov- 
ernor Clough having announced the stone as well and properly 
set, the multitude was dismissed with the benediction by 
Bishop Gilbert. 

DIFFICULTIES OVERCOME AND THE BUILDING COMPLETED. 

Following the laying of the corner stone, the work of con- 
struction continued with great activity. The commissioners, 
however, began to feel hampered by the reduced amount of 
funds coming into their hands from the annual tax levy of 
two-tenths of a mill upon the assessed value of property in 
the state. These assessments, as stated before, steadily di- 
minished, instead of constantly increasing, as was the expecta- 
tion at the time the Act was passed. It became apparent 
that the work would have to stop unless the legislature re- 
lieved the conditions. 

The Commissioners in their report of January 1st, 1899, 
directed the attention of the legislature to the situation that 
confronted them, and prayed for the necessary relief. This 
the legislature of 1899 granted, by passing an act which au- 
thorized the Commissioners to anticipate future revenues by 
issuing certificates of indebtedness as might be necessary. 
Throughout the years of 1899 and 1900 the work progressed 
without interruption. The beauty of the growing building 
became more and more apparent, but the very splendor of the 
rising walls, 

"The princely dome, the column and the arch, 
The breathing marble and the sculptured gold," 
only brought embarrassment to the Commissioners. For while 
the building could be completed with all its appointments com- 
fortable and useful and within the sum fixed by the act, yet 
that limit would preclude the expense of the interior classic 
finish so necessary to appropriately conform to the exterior. 

Impressed by the situation, the Commissioners, in their re- 
port of 1901 and 1903, frankly state that "owing to the rise 



HISTORY OF THE CAPETOL BUILDINGS OF MINNESOTA. 4.1 

in prices, adherence to the original limit of cost would com- 
pel the use of inferior material and workmanship." They 
then proceed to specify their meaning more clearly, in de- 
tail. Wooden instead of stone floors must be used for the 
rotunda, corridors and rooms; tin instead of tile roofing; 
plain plaster finish instead of mosaic ceiling and vaulting; 
the grand stairways with only empty halls and plain plastered 
Walls, instead as now of the beautiful ceiling supported by 
marble columns and walls embellished with marble wain- 
scoting and pilasters; and plain oak doors for the main en- 
trance, instead of the present massive ones of bronze. To 
avoid such a plain and unattractive finish, the commissioners 
recommended an increased appropriation, in order to carry 
out the more artistic plans of the architect, as well as to per- 
mit the installation of the latest and most improved methods 
of lighting, heating, and ventilation; and also to purchase 
additional lots required to complete the symmetry of the eapi- 
tol grounds. Besides these important changes in the plans and 
designs, the architect was not unmindful of those artistic 
embellishments so necessary to fittingly crown this splendid 
symbol of the people's sovereignty. With a courage that 
should command our admiration and our thanks, he recom- 
mended a bronze Quadriga to surmount the main entrance 
pavilion, marble statuary of heroic size, and mural decora- 
tions, all by the most famous artists, and stately and dignified 
granite approaches to the main entrances of the building. 
Many of these recommendations that might have been re- 
ceived in the cultured centers of the world as the obvious 
artistic furnishings of such a noble structure, seem somewhat 
startling when suggested to the new people of a frontier 
prairie state. But the members of the legislature, inspired 
and educated doubtless by the presence of such magnificent 
architecture, rose grandly to these recommendations, and in- 
creased the original appropriation $1,000,000 in the session of 
1901, and $1,500,000 in the session of 1908, making the total 
appropriations $4,500,000. 

The total expenditure up to January 1st, 190'5, is $3,975,- 
860.33. The amount yet to be paid on uncompleted contracts, 
when finished, is $361,989.51, making the total cost of grounds 
and building $4,337,849.84. 



4'2 MINNESOTA HISTORICAL SOCIETY COLLECTIONS. 

Although the cost of the new capitol far exceeds the sum 
fixed in the act for its construction, yet nothing has been done 
and no money has been spent that has not been fully authoriz- 
ed by the legislature. With a laudably ambitious purpose to 
erect a building of the most stately and impressive dignity, 
the Commissioners at the same time have been true to the 
law under which they acted. They are now prepared to ac- 
quit themselves of their trust, with a consciousness of work 
well and faithfully done. That the people of the state have 
accepted the result of their labors with the most justifiable 
pride and the greatest satisfaction, there can be no doubt. 
It would be a- most graceful and meritorious act on the part 
of the state, if the legislature in its wisdom should recognize 
the valuable labors of the commissioners by an appropriation 
for their services, more in keeping with their value than the 
meager compensation allowed them in the original act. 

There yet remain two things for the state to do, in order 
to round out the completeness of the work already done: 

First, to purchase the property adjoining the capitol 
grounds and convert it into a grand park-like approach to 
the capitol, as already proposed in the plans submitted by 
Mr. Gilbert; and 

Second, to provide a state mansion on or near the capitol 
grounds, for the residence of the governor during his term of 
office, while absent from his own home, so that he will not be 
compelled to find an abiding place, as best he- can, in some 
hotel or boarding house: 

In conclusion, to another must be committed the pleasant 
duty of some time placing on the records of this Society a 
minute and critical description of the wealth of artistic beau- 
ty to be found illustrated in this royal home of our common- 
wealth. The spendid conception of Gilbert, the architect, 
realized in the building itself, the sculptures of French, the 
decorations of Garnsey, the mural paintings of La Farge. 
Blashfield, Simmons, Walker, Cox, Millet, Volk, Pyle, and 
Zogbaum, never will cease to delight our people and educate 
them to a better appreciation uf the true and beautiful in 
art. 



UNIVERSITY 
of > 

CALIFOR^ 




MINNESOTA HISTORICAL SOCIETY. 
VOL. XII. PLATE VIII. 



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