Though its charter was perpetual, the Hudson Bay Company was obliged to obtain once in twenty-one years a renewal of its license for exclusive trade. From 1670 to 1838 it had no difficulty in obtaining the desired renewal. The last license expired in 1859. Though a renewal was earnestly sought, it was not attained. The territory is now open to all traders, and the power of the old Company is practically extinguished.
The first explorations in Minnesota were made shortly after the discovery of the Mississippi River by Marquette and Hennepin. St. Paul was originally a French trading post, and the resort of the Indians throughout the Northwest. Fort Snelling was established by the United Suites Government in 1819, but no settlements were made until 1844. After the current of emigration began, the territory was rapidly filled.
While Minnesota was a wilderness, the American Fur Company established posts on the upper waters of the Mississippi. The old trading-house below the Falls of St. Anthony, the first frame building erected in the territory, is yet standing, though it exhibits many symptoms of decay.
At one time the emigration to Minnesota was very great, but it has considerably fallen off during the last eight years. The State is too far north to hold out great inducements to settlers. The winters are long and severe, and the productions of the soil are limited in character and quantity. In summer the climate is excellent, attracting large numbers of pleasure-seekers. The Falls of St. Anthony and the Minnehaha have a world-wide reputation.
INAUGURATION OF A GREAT ENTERPRISE.
Plans for Arming the Negroes along the Mississippi.—Opposition to the Movement.—Plantations Deserted by their Owners.—Gathering Abandoned Cotton.—Rules and Regulations.—Speculation.—Widows and Orphans in Demand.—Arrival of Adjutant-General Thomas.—Designs of the Government.
I have elsewhere alluded to the orders of General Grant at Lagrange, Tennessee, in the autumn of 1862, relative to the care of the negroes where his army was then operating.
The plan was successful in providing for the negroes in Tennessee and Northern Mississippi, where the number, though large, was not excessive. At that time, the policy of arming the blacks was being discussed in various quarters. It found much opposition. Many persons thought it would be an infringement upon the “rights” of the South, both unconstitutional and unjust. Others cared nothing for the South, or its likes and dislikes, but opposed the measure on the ground of policy. They feared its adoption would breed discontent among the white soldiers of the army, and cause so many desertions and so much uneasiness that the importance of the new element would be more than neutralized. Others, again, doubted the courage of the negroes, and thought their first use under fire would result in disgrace and disaster to our arms. They opposed the experiment on account of this fear.