It may have been more than 150 years since the largest mass execution in US history took place in Mankato, but that doesn’t appear to be stopping Jack Consadine (a Mankato City Council member). Jack is pushing a petition to pardon the 38 executed Dakota men (plus two others who were hanged later).
Minnesota was a freshly minted state when it gave its electoral votes to Abraham Lincoln, whose election, among other things, resulted in tipping off the Civil War. Though the theaters of the war were far from Minnesota, the pull of fighting-age men from the light population, starvation due to poor crops and the failure to respect treaties all helped to ignite the 1862 uprising of the state’s native Dakota. After the many atrocities (committed by all involved belligerents) of the war, the December 26 execution in Mankato sealed the fate of Minnesota’s Dakota: they had to leave the state and head west (however, later expeditions were sent after them for further punishment).
An argument can certainly be made that the 38 executed Dakota warriors had blood on their hands for slaughtering unarmed women and children. Evidence of this was presented in their trials. So why should they be pardoned for crimes they actually seemed to have committed?
KTOE radio reported Jack Consadine’s responses to this line of questioning about his petition:
I based it primarily on the discrepancies in the trial. There were no defense attorneys. No defense was allowed. Also, the trials were only three to five minutes long. They were conducted in English and the Dakota didn’t understand the trial process… I’m not debating that it (the uprising) wasn’t brutal and horrific on occasions. It was. But I’m not sure where we got the moral authority to actually try them in the first place.
Jack will need a lot of signatures for his online petition, which isn’t even close to reaching the needed amount of 100,000; its deadline comes at the end March.
Photos via: USDakotaWar.org