- 4th Grade
- 8th Grade
- High School
- Teacher Resources
- Blue Book
- State Symbols
Henry H. Sibley: Fur Trader, Governor, and Soldier
Henry Hastings Sibley was born 1811 in Michigan. His father was a Michigan Supreme Court justice who made sure Henry received a good education. But Sibley was interested in seeing the frontier. At 18, he went to Minnesota where he went to work for the American Fur Company. By the age of 23, Sibley was in charge of the company’s business among the Eastern Dakota. His neighbors, the Santee Dakotas, became his friends. He learned their language and much about their culture.
When Minnesota became a territory in 1849, Sibley was elected a delegate to Congress, a position he held for three terms. When Minnesota became a state in 1858, Sibley was elected governor, a position he held for one term. In 1862, he accepted appointment as the military commander of Minnesota in the U. S.-Dakota War. In 1863, he reluctantly accepted Lincoln’s appointment as a general reporting to General John Pope.
In 1863, Sibley led his Minnesota troops west into Dakota Territory in pursuit of Dakotas who had fled Minnesota. He found Teton Dakotas, Yanktons, Yanktonais, and Sissetons and fought them in the Battles of Big Mound, Dead Buffalo Lake, and Stony Lake.
After the Civil War, Sibley pursued a career in business that included serving as president of St. Paul Gas Light Company. He died in 1891 in St. Paul.