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Josiah Snelling Arrives in 1820

Updated: Aug 28, 2019

By Nick Woltman @ Pioneer Press

The first troops arrived in 1819 under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Henry Leavenworth and began construction on the stone fort the following year. Colonel Josiah Snelling arrived in 1820 to supervise construction.


Fort Snelling remained in service for nearly 40 years, until 1858 when Minnesota became the 32nd state. By then the US government had established forts further west and Fort Snelling was no longer considered necessary, so the post was officially closed later that same year.

The fort and its military reservation was purchased from the government by Franklin Steele, a local entrepreneur and former Fort Snelling sutler, who intended to plot and sell off lots for a new city named “Fort Snelling.” During this time, the post was turned into pasture and Steele’s sheep were frequently seen grazing on the fort’s old parade ground.


Fort Snelling was intended to dissuade the British from any further incursions into the Northwest and to stamp out British influence in the booming fur trade. The US intended to exploit the region’s resources for economic gain. Rather than protecting immigrants, the soldiers at Fort Snelling were tasked with keeping unauthorized people off Dakota and Ojibwe land so the fur trade could continue.


Bdote, which was important as a spiritual place and a meeting ground for Dakota people, was also the perfect strategic location for the US to fulfill its colonial aims. Fort Snelling was intended to dissuade the British from any further incursions into the Northwest and to stamp out British influence in the booming fur trade. The US intended to exploit the region’s resources for economic gain.


Rather than protecting immigrants, the soldiers at Fort Snelling were tasked with keeping unauthorized people off Dakota and Ojibwe land so the fur trade could continue.Bdote, which was important as a spiritual place and a meeting ground for Dakota people, was also the perfect strategic location for the US to fulfill its colonial aims. Fort Snelling was intended to dissuade the British from any further incursions into the Northwest and to stamp out British influence in the booming fur trade. The US intended to exploit the region’s resources for economic gain.

Rather than protecting immigrants, the soldiers at Fort Snelling were tasked with keeping unauthorized people off Dakota and Ojibwe land so the fur trade could continue.


This Article was Originally published by the Minnesota Historical Society.. View Original Post