ST. PAUL - Rep. Dean Urdahl, Minnesota’s Commissioner to the Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission, and Rep. Paul Gardner have announced plans to observe the 200th anniversary of President Lincoln’s birthday.
Minnesota will kick off its recognition of Lincoln with a Capitol rotunda ceremony on Presidents Day, Feb. 16. Minnesota Historical Society displays featuring Lincoln-related material will be presented in the Capitol, a House Resolution commemorating Lincoln will be read from the floor of House of Reps. and a Lincoln impersonator will recite the Gettysburg Address.
“While Abraham Lincoln never came to Minnesota, his impact still is directly felt by our state,” said Urdahl, R-Grove City. “Proposals that he supported and signed into law included the Homestead Act of 1862, which brought many thousand settlers to our frontier; the Pacific Railway Act launched transcontinental railroads that would traverse Minnesota; and the Morrill Land Grant Act which led to the establishment of the University of Minnesota. Also, the formation of the Department of Agriculture aided farming, one of our main industries.
“But President Lincoln is most closely associated with Minnesota and the Dakota Conflict of 1863. A total of 303 Dakota men were sentenced to death by a military commission following the conflict. Lincoln reprieved the sentences of 265 but ordered the execution of 38 that he believed were guilty of heinous crimes. He also signed the order in 1863 that removed the Dakota people to reservations in South Dakota and Nebraska.”
Events are planned throughout 2009 to commemorate Lincoln, who was born Feb. 12, 1809 in Kentucky. Forums, symposiums, musical presentations and a one-man play are scheduled for later in the year.
“Lincoln’s actions related to the Dakota Conflict have not yet been fully reconciled in Minnesota, but his influence on the state’s development was far-reaching,” said Gardner, DFL-Shoreview. “On the bicentennial of his birth, it is appropriate that we reflect on his leadership in saving the union.”
Educators are urged to highlight Lincoln’s life and his impact upon Minnesota in their classrooms. They may access lesson plans and information about Lincoln at www.mnhs.org/lincoln.
Dean Urdahl represents District 18B in the Minnesota House of Representatives. The district includes most of Meeker County and a portion of Wright County. This is Urdahl’s fourth term in the Legislature after being elected in 2002, 2004, 2006 and 2008.