Famous American Trials
The Dakota Conflict Trials
A Cartoon History 
Key Figures
Accounts of Trials & Execution

    The execution of 38 Sioux at Mankato, Minnesota on December 26, 1862.
of Trials
of War
Were the Trials Unfair?
The Dakota Conflict Trials
by  Douglas Linder*  (c) 1999   
A  framed sketch of the scene depicted on this page, the execution of thirty-eight Sioux on December 26, 1862, used to fascinate me when, as a boy in  Mankato, Minnesota, I would visit the Blue Earth County Historical Museum.  Apart from its macabre appeal, the picture impressed me because it captured the most famous event in the history of my hometown** (easily surpassing in significance the death there of an obscure ex-Vice President--Schuyler Colfax-- who died while changing trains on his way back from the Black Hills).  The hanging, following trials which condemned over three hundred participants in the 1862 Dakota Conflict, stands as the largest mass execution in American history. Only the unpopular intervention of President Lincoln saved 265 other Dakota from the fate met by the less fortunate thirty-eight.  The mass hanging was the concluding scene in the opening chapter of a story of American-Sioux conflict that would not end until the Seventh Cavalry completed its massacre at Wounded Knee, South Dakota, on December 29, 1890. (CONT-->)
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In Their Own Words
*Invaluable assistance in the preparation of this website has been provided by my secretary,  Kirsten Pauli.
**Today Mankato, a city of about 30,000, may be better known as the place Pa went for supplies that couldn't be found closer to their Little House on the Prairie, as the site of the Minnesota Vikings' summer training camp, or even as the birthplace (okay, she was born a few miles away) of the wife of Jesse "The Body" Ventura. Sinclair Lewis wrote his novel Main Street in, but not about, Mankato.  Lewis, in fact, was very fond of Mankato writing, "I like Mankato just a little bit better than any other town in the world."