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"Largest mass hanging in United States history"
38 Santee "Sioux" Indian men
Mankato, Minnesota, Dec. 16, 1862
303 Indian males were set to be hanged

What brought about the hanging of 38 Sioux Indians in Minnesota December 26, 1862 was the failure "again" of the U.S. Government to honor it's treaties with Indian Nations. Indians were not given the money or food set forth to them for signing a treaty to turn over more than a million acres of their land and be forced to live on a reservation.

Indian agents keep the treaty money and food that was to go to the Indians, the food was sold to White settlers, food that was given to the Indians was spoiled and not fit for a dog to eat. Indian hunting parties went off the reservation land looking for food to feed their families, one hunting group took eggs from a White settlers land and the rest is history.

Information below tells how President Lincoln and Minnesota Governor Alexander Ramsey set out to exterminate Indians from their home land.

Authorities in Minnesota asked President Lincoln to order the immediate execution of all 303  Indian males found guilty. Lincoln was concerned with how this would play with the Europeans, whom he was afraid were about to enter the war on the side of the South. He offered the following compromise to the politicians of Minnesota: They would pare the list of those to be hung down to 39. In return, Lincoln promised to kill or remove every Indian from the state and provide Minnesota with 2 million dollars in federal funds. Remember, he only owed the Sioux 1.4 million for the land.

So, on December 26, 1862, the Great Emancipator ordered the largest mass execution in American History, where the guilt of those to be executed was entirely in doubt. Regardless of how Lincoln defenders seek to play this, it was nothing more than murder to obtain the land of the Santee Sioux and to appease his political cronies in Minnesota.

Scott Barta 712-277-2235 Sioux City, Iowa

It is expected that Lincoln be removed from his position as “hero” and relegated to a more appropriate position, to somewhere near the status of “Columbus” and “Hitler.”
We demand that Abe Lincoln's dishonest and shameful face be removed from the "occupied" and desecrated area called “Mount Rushmore” immediately.
Abe Lincoln  “honest” and “hero” No more
see online petition at

Text of Order to General Sibley, St. Paul Minnesota:


"Ordered that of the Indians and Half-breeds sentenced to be hanged by the military commission, composed of Colonel Crooks, Lt. Colonel Marshall, Captain Grant, Captain Bailey, and Lieutenant Olin, and lately sitting in Minnesota, you cause to be executed on Friday the nineteenth day of December, instant, the following names, to wit [39 names listed by case number of record: cases 2, 4, 5, 6, 10, 11, 12, 14, 15, 19, 22, 24, 35, 67, 68, 69, 70, 96, 115, 121, 138, 155, 170, 175, 178, 210, 225, 254, 264, 279, 318, 327, 333, 342, 359, 373, 377, 382, 383].

The other condemned prisoners you will hold subject to further orders, taking care that they neither escape, nor are subjected to any unlawful violence.

Abraham Lincoln,
President of the United States"

"On December 6 (1862) President Lincoln notified Sibley that he should "cause to be executed" thirty-nine of the 303 convicted Santees, Execution date was the 26th of December.  At the last minute, one Indian was given a reprieve. About ten o'clock the thirty-eight condemned men were marched from the prison to the scaffold.  They sang the Sioux death song until soldiers pulled white caps over their heads and placed nooses around their necks.  At a signal from an army officer, the control rope was cut and thirty-eight Santee Sioux dangled lifeless in the air.


A spectator boasted that this was
"America's greatest
" public execution."

Dec 27 1862 (Saturday)

SAINT PAUL, December 27, 1862. The PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I have the honor to inform you that the thirty-eight Indians and half-breeds ordered by you for execution were hung yesterday at Mankato at 10 a.m. Everything went off quietly and the other prisoners are well secured. Respectfully, H. H. SIBLEY, Brigadier-General.

"The Sioux Indians of Minnesota must be exterminated or driven forever beyond the borders of the state." 
Governor Alexander Ramsey

bounties were placed on the scalps of Dakota people
which eventually reached $200

Governor Alexander Ramsey had declared on September 9, 1862 that "The Sioux Indians of Minnesota must be exterminated or driven forever beyond the borders of the state." The treatment of Dakota people, including the hanging in Mankato and the forced removal of Dakota people from Minnesota, were the first phases of Ramsey's plan.

His plan was further implemented when bounties were placed on the scalps of Dakota people which eventually reached $200. Punitive expeditions were then sent out over the next few years to hunt down those Dakota who had not surrendered and to ensure they would not return. After 38 of the condemned men were hanged the day after Christmas in 1862 in what remains the largest mass hanging in United States history, the other prisoners continued to suffer in the concentration camps through the winter of 1862-63.

In late April of 1863 the remaining condemned men, along with the survivors of the Fort Snelling concentration camp, were forcibly removed from their beloved homeland in May of 1863. They were placed on boats which transported the men from Mankato to Davenport, Iowa where they were imprisoned for an additional three years. Those from Fort Snelling were shipped down the Mississippi River to St. Louis and then up the Missouri River to the Crow Creek Reservation in South Dakota.

The youngest person hanged in America was Hannah Ocuish who was 12 years and nine months old and was described as a half breed Indian girl. She was executed on December 20th 1786 for the murder of a 6 year old girl whom she had beaten to death after an earlier argument.

A memorial to the memory of the dead now stands in downtown Mankato in Reconciliation Park.
Click any image to view larger size photo. A new window will open.

Thanks to UNA member Scott for pictures of the memorial.

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