War Within War
In early 1862, a federal investigator cautioned President Lincoln that mass corruption within Minnesota's system of Indian Agencies would lead to disaster if left unchecked. The president, consumed by the battle to preserve the Union, ignored the warning. When the U.S.-Dakota War broke out eight months later, Lincoln told Minnesota's governor Alexander Ramsey, "Attend to the Indians... Necessity has no law." The war and its aftermath—U.S. victory, Dakota internment, the largest mass hanging in American history, and the forced removal of the Dakota from their homelands—solidified Minnesota's place in the Union, even as it set the stage for the Indian Wars to come, and tragically altered the lives of thousands of Dakota people for generations to come.
David Nichols is the former academic dean at Southwestern College in Winfield, his alma mater. A native of Kansas, he has a Ph.D. in history from the College of William and Mary. His dissertation, Lincoln and the Indians: Civil War Policy and Politics, was published by the University of Missouri Press in 1978.
(Running time 51:09)