Friday, August 25, 2017

On This Date in Minnesota History: August 25

August 25, 1917 - An outburst of patriotism that rivalled any shown in the state since the outbreak of the war marked the loyalty meeting held in Silver Lake, Minn., today, and answered the anti-government actions of Minnesotans who have opposed the policy of the government.

Every business in the village voluntarily closed their doors during the hours the demonstration was held. A parade, more than a mile in length, led the way to the speakers’ stand. Heading the parade was a squad bearing the flags of the Allies, followed by an escort of Civil War veterans, with Samuel R. Van Sant, former governor of Minn., at their head. The speakers, riding in cars, followed, and every organization in McLeod County was represented by marchers who plodded through lanes of cheering spectators.

Gov. Samuel R. Van Sant1
January 7, 1901 – January 4, 1905

Oscar Merrill, chairman of the meeting, declared when introducing the speakers, that today was the proudest in the history of McLeod County.

Sam G. Anderson of Hutchinson brought an outburst of cheers from the throng of more than 5,000 persons when he pointed to the Glencoe band that refused to play for a meeting in Glencoe, which, he said, the members of the band thought might not be loyal in its nature.

Samuel G. Anderson, Jr., Postmaster of Hutchinson2

 “This,” said Mr. Anderson, “is the proudest day of my life. Among the thousands here are represented practically every nationality, bound together by ties which are sure to hold true and prove to the world that the things in which we believe and for which we are fighting are the things worthwhile. The sedition which has disgraced the county of McLeod by showing it vile head will be stamped out by you, true American citizens.”

“I wish,” he shouted, “that just 1,000 of the loyal persons before me today had lived in New Ulm. You would have saved New Ulm, and the good people of that city from the disgrace a few traitorous self-seekers have brought upon the town and its people, which will tarnish its name for generations.”

He issued a warning to the people of McLeod, Carver, Sibley and Le Sueur counties, declaring that the germ of disloyalty had been planted and nothing short of the most careful watchfulness could assure the loyal people of that section that the germ would not grow until it becomes a real menace.

“The full power of the state and nation,” Mr. Anderson said, “will be brought to bear to convince those opposed to the government that the United States will accept no divided allegiance. Every citizen of this district will be watched, their every action noted and they will be divided into two classes, patriots and traitors. God pity the traitors when Uncle Sam becomes fully aroused. Democracy has cost too much red blood to allow it to be menaced by agents of German autocracy.”

Mr. Anderson scathingly denounced Mayor Van Lear of Minneapolis and J. O. Bentall, whom he likened to “the skunk who creeps out from under the sidewalk.”

Thomas Van Lear, Socialist Mayor of Minneapolis from Jan. 1, 1917 to Jan. 6, 19193

Former Governor Van Sant brought ringing cheer from the throng as he arose to address them, pointing out that loyalty is the first essential thing of a citizen, and that liberty is the greatest blessing this country can bestow upon her citizens, and declared that liberty of all nations is at stake in the present conflict.

“There is a greater call for the country to stand by President Wilson,” said former Governor Van Sant, “than there was to stand by President Lincoln. In those days we fought for the liberty of the negro, who was a slave. His liberty meant enough to the loyal men of this nation, that they were willing to spill their blood for his freedom.”

“There is even more stake in this war. Not only the liberty of the negro for which thousands of good men died, but the liberty of each one of you in this country and in every other country of the world is in the balance. The test of American citizenship today is loyalty.”

Sen. W. A. Campbell, who has, according to his statement, German blood in his veins, declared that there are many others like him who are loyal in declaring his loyalty to the American government and urging all others of German descent to do likewise, he shouted “If I have any relatives who are not loyal Americans I am in favor of conscripting every cent of their wealth and shipping them back to Germany that they may enjoy the kind of freedom the Kaiser dispenses.”

Sen. William A. Campbell, 1915-18 (District 32)4

Henry Herman of Lester Prairie, a banker of German descent, whose business has suffered because he dares to be outspoken in his loyalty to the United States in a German community, declared that such action could not affect his loyalty, which outweighed dollars ten to one.

The Minneapolis Morning Tribune; “New Ulm hided for Disloyalty; 5,000 at Silver Lake Cheer. Americanism of McLeod County Finds Expression at Great Meeting. Van Lear and Bentall Scathingly Denounced. More at Stake Than in Civil War, Former Governor Van Sant Declares.”; Aug. 26, 1917; p. 1.






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