Column: America, from sea to shining seaWORTHINGTON — As one looks at our nation today, most of our boundaries are natural.
By: Al Swanson, Daily Globe Historical Columnist, Worthington Daily Globe
WORTHINGTON — As one looks at our nation today, most of our boundaries are natural. We have oceans on both sides — the Atlantic on the east and the Pacific on the west. The Gulf of Mexico is at the south, and the Great Lakes are part of the north shore. Agreements with the British and Canada determined the lines between the Great Lakes and the Pacific Ocean.
Not long after the American Revolution, there was some controversy about the land west of the Mississippi River. It came about between Napoleon of France and Great Britain. Napoleon knew he could not hold the disputed territory; he did not want the British to have it. If the British had gotten it, the fledgling nation would be surrounded by the British territory on all sides.
Napoleon didn’t want the British that large in this new world. The result was the new nation got the land west of the Mississippi River. Spain, not a strong nation at that time, couldn’t hold the Florida Territory, so the United States got possession. As a result of the Louisiana Territory, the United States would become eventually, as we are today, ocean to ocean.
Settlement in the new territory was slow to develop. More than anything about the purchase, there were problems with the Indians. They had always lived in that area and opposed settlement in great numbers. The settlement didn’t come in any numbers until after the Civil War.
One of the issues was to be territory lines between states, such as Minnesota and Iowa. There was a row of counties along the border. Iowa’s border was to be up to Mankato, a more established area. Their delegations pushed hard for that border but settlements from Nobles, Rock and Jackson were opposed, and the border is left as it is today.
There were other problems in that area. Trappers had penetrated this whole area and good trapping seemed to discourage settlement. The Nobles County area was the last settlement south of the Minnesota River. Worthington became the county as it is today.
Al Swanson is president emeritus of the Nobles County Historical Society.