The Slaves Who Made Minnesota is a database of names of African Americans who were held in slavery by southerners owning real estate in Minnesota. The database ranges from the establishment of Minnesota Territory in 1849 to the end of legal slavery with the passage of the Thirteenth Amendment in 1865. Minnesota was a free territory from 1849 until the Dred Scott US Supreme Court decision in 1857 turned it into a slave territory. It was a free state from 1858 onward, but southern slaveholders traveled there to purchase lots and blocks of land before and well after 1858. As a result, their wealth from slave labor provided income to communities throughout Minnesota. This website honors the labor of those slaves by individually naming them.
This list is an attempt to determine which slaves contributed to each landowner’s wealth up to the time of the purchase of the real estate. The database especially focuses on slaves who were held at the time that an owner acquired land.
This website is maintained by Dr. Christopher P. Lehman of the Ethnic & Women’s Studies Department at St. Cloud State University in St. Cloud, Minnesota. He is the author of the book Slavery in the Upper Mississippi Valley and several articles on slavery and segregation in Minnesota.