Message of Governor Ramsey to the Legislature of Minnesota, delivered at the extra session, September 9, 1862

On September 9, 1862, Alexander Ramsey made an announcement to a special session of the Minnesota Legislature: “Our course then is plain. The Sioux Indians of Minnesota must be exterminated or driven forever beyond the borders of Minnesota.”

In the week leading up to this special session, the barricaded towns of Hutchinson and Forest City had been attacked, Little Crow had led an attack at Acton Township, and Dakota forces had scored a victory at Birch Coulee. Ramsey’s demand was not part of his prepared manuscript. But it captured the attention of a fearful public and was included in every published version of his speech.

Ramsey began donating material to the Minnesota Historical Society in the 1860s. Two weeks after his death in 1903, the Minneapolis Journal reported that papers from Ramsey’s terms as governor were found “in a pile of rubbish about to be burned in the capitol furnace.” Among those salvaged papers, preserved today at MNHS, are telegrams and letters to and from Abraham Lincoln during the 1862 war