Saturday, May 03, 2008

First State Legislature: John N. Chase


John N. Chase of St. Vincent, member of the First State Legislature.
Photographer: Hill, Kelley & Company
Photograph Collection, Ambrotype ca. 1858
Location no. por 23693 r1
[From the First Minnesota Legislature Collection]

Background: He was sworn in on December 3, 1857. An 1858-59 session was not held due to the protracted session of 1857-58. (Minnesota Legislative Manual, 1872, p. 66) Thus, even though the first session was adjourned on August 12, 1858; the term end date for it is listed as the day before the second legislative session's start date.

Legislative Trivia (related to the session in which John N. Chase served):

Three nicknames are used to refer to the state of Minnesota: the gopher state; land of 10,000 lakes; and the North Star state.

In February 1858, the new Minnesota Legislature introduced the "Five Million Loan" bill. The purpose of the bill was to provide money to build railroads in the state. A highly controversial proposal, the bill ultimately passed. During the public debate, a cartoon was circulated depicting the railroad tycoons as nine gophers with human heads pulling a Gopher Train. Minnesota’s nickname "the gopher state" came from this 1857 cartoon. A full description of the Five Million Loan may be found in William Watts Folwell, A History of Minnesota, Volume II (St. Paul: Minnesota Historical Society Press, 1961), pages 37-58. In fact, the nickname refers to the “striped gopher” which is not actually a gopher, but is a thirteen-lined ground squirrel.