The Repository @ St. Cloud State

Open Access Knowledge and Scholarship


Publication Title

Minnesota History

Document Type


Publication Date

Fall 2017


Enslavers from slave states came to Minnesota during the Antebellum Era and invested in land and businesses there. The investors represented the diversity of slaveholders: owners of large plantations, operators of small farms, and urban residents. Some enslavers actively bought and sold people, but others had unwittingly inherited captives from deceased relatives. Most of them had brief stays in Minnesota during the spring and summer while making their investments, but a few of them sold all their captives in the South and then permanently relocated to Minnesota to buy the land for their new homes. Their investments provided sorely needed capital to communities throughout Minnesota, and they partly enabled the existence of local institutions such as the University of Minnesota. This article looks at the investors, the trail of their money from the labor of their captives into the hands of Minnesotans, and the ways in which Minnesotans spent that money from slave labor.


This article was published in the fall 2017 issue of Minnesota History, a magazine published by the Minnesota Historical Society. The article was originally published at



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