Cover image for The children of Lincoln : White paternalism and the limits of Black opportunity in Minnesota, 1860-1876
The children of Lincoln : White paternalism and the limits of Black opportunity in Minnesota, 1860-1876
Publication Information:
Minneapolis : University of Minnesota Press, [2018]
Physical Description:
xi, 498 pages : illustration ; 25 cm
The unforgiving radical: Morton S. Wilkinson, 1860-1863 -- The candidate -- In defense of the union -- The Indian's guardian -- A wild panic prevails -- Lincoln's decision -- Pike Island -- An officer and gentleman: Thomas Montgomery, 1863-1867 -- The first lieutenant takes command -- Lizzie and the troubles -- Freedom and education -- Masonic ties -- Going home -- The man on the seal: Morton S. Wilkinson, 1865-1869 -- By chicanery and deception of a few politicians -- Willey's amendment -- A lesson in leadership -- "Good night" -- The man in the shadows: Daniel D. Merrill, 1864-1871 -- "Ole shady" -- Called to serve -- A church is born and a pastor is found -- Under his steady hand -- To be in God's favor -- Of other Baptist interests -- The buried citizen: Sarah Burger Stearns, 1866-1875 -- Celebration, 1875 -- Standing alone in Minnesota -- The lesson of Kansas -- The Tibbetts Petition -- Married woman's rights and the "King of Manomin" -- Veto! -- Back to work -- The apostate: Morton S. Wilkinson, 1869-1876 -- A curious vote on the Butler Bill -- Where the liberals went -- His unclassifiable head -- A Republican with unchanged views -- The force law -- Sine die.
"The Children of Lincoln takes an intimate look at African-American civil rights in Minnesota during the pivotal fifteen years following the Emancipation Proclamation and in the wake of the Civil War. Framed around the lives of four white patrons who worked for black freedom (Minnesota's "Children of Lincoln"), Green's history lays bare an era when many white patrons, seemingly content with the notion that African Americans were now legally "free," turned their sights to other causes, abandoning their earlier work towards equality. In truth, African Americans in Minnesota were entering a new era of darkness--while not in the same way as in the South, where white supremacy and racial violence spread with horrific force--but still an era where racism, hatred, and growing prejudice kept them from many of the rights that were seemingly now theirs"-- Provided by publisher.


Material Type
Call Number
Book 323.119 Green
Book 323.119 Green
Book 323.119 Green
Book 323.119 Green
Book 323.119 Green
Book 323.119 Green

On Order



How white advocates of emancipation abandoned African American causes in the dark days of Reconstruction, told through the stories of four Minnesotans White people, Frederick Douglass said in a speech in 1876, were "the children of Lincoln," while black people were "at best his stepchildren." Emancipation became the law of the land, and white champions of African Americans in the state were suddenly turning to other causes, regardless of the worsening circumstances of black Minnesotans. Through four of these "children of Lincoln" in Minnesota, William D. Green's book brings to light a little known but critical chapter in the state's history as it intersects with the broader account of race in America.In a narrative spanning the years of the Civil War and Reconstruction, the lives of these four Minnesotans mark the era's most significant moments in the state, the Midwest, and the nation for the Republican Party, the Baptist church, women's suffrage, and Native Americans. Morton Wilkinson, the state's first Republican senat∨ Daniel Merrill, a St. Paul business leader who helped launch the first Black Baptist church; Sarah Burger Stearns, founder and first president of the Minnesota Woman Suffragist Association; and Thomas Montgomery, an immigrant farmer who served in the Colored Regiments in the Civil War: each played a part in securing the rights of African Americans and each abandoned the fight as the forces of hatred and prejudice increasingly threatened those hard-won rights. Moving from early St. Paul and Fort Snelling to the Civil War and beyond, The Children of Lincoln reveals a pattern of racial paternalism, describing how even "enlightened" white Northerners, fatigued with the "Negro Problem," would come to embrace policies that reinforced a notion of black inferiority. Together, their lives--so differently and deeply connected with nineteenth-century race relations--create a telling portrait of Minnesota as a microcosm of America during the tumultuous years of Reconstruction.

Author Notes

William D. Green is professor of history at Augsburg University and author of Degrees of Freedom: The Origins of Civil Rights in Minnesota, 1865-1912 (winner of the Hognander Minnesota History Award) and A Peculiar Imbalance: The Rise and Fall of Racial Equality in Minnesota, 1837-1869 , both published by Minnesota. He is vice president of the Minnesota Historical Society.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgmentsp. xi
Introduction: "We Have Done Our Part"p. 1
Part I The Unforgiving RadicalMorton S. Wilkinson, 1860-1863
1 The Candidatep. 15
2 In Defense of the Unionp. 19
3 The Indian's Guardianp. 30
4 A Wild Panic Prevailsp. 43
5 Lincoln's Decisionp. 55
6 Pike Islandp. 71
Part II An Officer and a GentlemanThomas Montgomery, 1863-1867
7 The First Lieutenant Takes Commandp. 91
8 Lizzie and the Troublesp. 102
9 Freedom and Educationp. 120
10 Masonic Tiesp. 127
11 Going Homep. 136
Part III The Man on the SealMorton S. Wilkinson, 1865-1869
12 By Chicanery and Deception of a Few Politiciansp. 145
13 Willey's Amendmentp. 155
14 A Lesson in Leadershipp. 166
15 "Good Night"p. 177
Part IV The Man in the ShadowsDaniel D. Merrill, 1864-1871
16 "Ole Shady"p. 187
17 Called to Servep. 198
18 A Church Is Born and a Pastor Is Foundp. 208
19 Under His Steady Handp. 219
20 To Be in God's Favorp. 236
21 Of Other Baptist Interestsp. 245
Part V The Buried CitizensSarah Burger Stearns, 1866-1875
22 Celebration, 1875p. 255
23 Standing Alone in Minnesotap. 258
24 The Lesson of Kansasp. 267
25 The Tibbetts Petitionp. 280
26 Married Women's Rights and the "King of Manomin"p. 290
27 Veto!p. 304
28 Back to Workp. 308
Part VI The Changed ManMorton S. Wilkinson, 1869-1876
29 A Curious Vote on the Butler Billp. 321
30 Where the Liberals Wentp. 336
31 His Unclassifiable Headp. 349
32 A Republican with Unchanged Viewsp. 361
33 The Force Lawp. 373
34 Sine Diep. 389
Epilogue: The Children of Lincolnp. 404
Notesp. 417
Indexp. 479