Boosters, Hustlers, and Speculatos Entrepreneurial Culture and the Rise of Minneapolis and St Paul, 1849-1883

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Overview

In 1849, when settlers arrived in the newly formed Minnesota Territory, they disembarked at the rough shantytown known as St. Paul, home to fur traders and a handful of merchants. Nearby was Fort Snelling, its soldiers charged with keeping peace in the wilderness, its territory later transferred to the burgeoning settlement at Minneapolis. Less than four decades later, St. Paul had emerged as a mercantile, banking, and railroading center, and Minneapolis had matured into the world's largest flour-milling center. ...

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Overview

In 1849, when settlers arrived in the newly formed Minnesota Territory, they disembarked at the rough shantytown known as St. Paul, home to fur traders and a handful of merchants. Nearby was Fort Snelling, its soldiers charged with keeping peace in the wilderness, its territory later transferred to the burgeoning settlement at Minneapolis. Less than four decades later, St. Paul had emerged as a mercantile, banking, and railroading center, and Minneapolis had matured into the world's largest flour-milling center. The story of how this came to be involves assorted visionaries, savvy entrepreneurs, and government-supported expansion that combined to make St. Paul-Minneapolis the region's undisputed business, political, and educational center. Historian Jocelyn Wills offers a business and entrepreneurial study of the Twin Cities during its early years, with particular focus on the individuals who took chances on and promoted the Cities? development. Boosters, Hustlers, and Speculators shares the successes and failures of a host of colorful characters who saw in the Twin Cities opportunities for financial gain and regional fame: early fur trader Norman Kittson, who built a lucrative trading network reaching to the Red River Valley; speculator Franklin Steele, who over-reached at the Falls of St. Anthony and was virtually bankrupt after the panic of 1857; milling visionary William D. Washburn, whose confident investments catapulted Minneapolis's milling district to international renown; railroad magnate James J. Hill, whose calculated business decisions helped him realize his dream of building a rail line to the Pacific. Most arrived with limited means, and only some managed to realize their dreams, but all contributed to the development of Minneapolis and St. Paul as the region's leading manufacturing, banking, and transportation center. This exhaustively researched book provides a firm foundation for understanding the role the Twin Cities have played in the development of the region and the nation from their earliest days.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780873515108
  • Publisher: Minnesota Historical Society Press
  • Publication date: 12/1/2004
  • Pages: 290
  • Sales rank: 434,630
  • Product dimensions: 6.25 (w) x 9.25 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Jocelyn Wills is an assistant professor of history at Brooklyn College, City University of New York. She earned her M.A. and Ph.D. from Texas A&M University and her B.A. from the University of British Columbia. Her work has appeared in Essays in Economic and Business History, Journal of Social History and Journal of the West.

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Table of Contents

1 1787-1849 : market expansion and Minnesota's territorial vanguard 11
2 1849-1855 : Minnesota's territorial start-up and the race for riches 40
3 1855-1861 : territorial expansion and Minnesota's first economic bust 68
4 1861-1868 : Civil War contracts and the revival of Minnesota's economy 99
5 1866-1872 : the post-Civil War boom and the rise of the Cities 120
6 1873-1877 : industrial depression and the survival of St. Paul-Minneapolis 149
7 1878-1883 : the triumph of Minnesota's metropolitan complex 178
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  • Posted January 22, 2009

    19th-century business history of Minneapolis-St. Paul

    The year 1849 was when Minnesota became a state; 1883 was the year the Northern Pacific Railroad celebrated the completion of its link between Minneapolis-St. Paul and the West coast. In between these years, the historically closely tied cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul grew from a 'collection of huts and shanties' to a major national and international center of commerce. With the phone system, up-to-date plumbing, and electricity the cities brought in in the latter 1800s, they began to more and more resemble other major American cities. Wills meticulously follows the rapid growth of the two cities by focusing on the activity of the most important individuals in the area of commerce and the economy. She is methodical and complete in describing their outsized activities and the results of these, for the most part passing over their personalities and personal lives. Even the author's notes over 40 pages are worth going through for the facts and comments found in many. Wills is an assistant professor of history at Brooklyn College, CUNY. What her book lacks in color, it more than makes up for in substance and thoroughness. It's the fundamental economic history on Minneapolis and St. Paul in the middle decades of the 19th century.

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