Lake Calhoun: The most racist lake in Minnesota?

Categories: Racism

john calhoun.jpg
John C. Calhoun, happy to lord it over black folk.
The truth about John C. Calhoun's racist past is no secret. The former senator and vice president's bigoted positions and speeches have been a matter of public record since the middle of the 1800s.

But John Winters just figured out Calhoun's past, and he's approached the Minneapolis Park Board to apply for a change in Lake Calhoun's name.

The 500-acre lake was named to honor a U.S. Senator, Vice President of the United States, and Secretary of War under President James Monroe. As Secretary of War, Calhoun ordered Colonel Henry Leavenworth to establish a fort in the region, which became Fort Snelling. The locals were grateful, so they named the lake in his honor.

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aturkus
The most racist lake in Minnesota?
But as a senator in the 1830s and 1840s, Calhoun opposed abolition, and efforts to prevent slavery from taking hold in the western territories and states. He supported the 1850 Fugitive Slave Law, and insisted that that slavery was a "positive good" during an 1837 Senate floor speech.

john calhoun 2.jpg
Calhoun, U.S. Senator, Vice President of the United States, and Secretary of War under President James Monroe, saw slavery as a net positive for America.
I hold that in the present state of civilization, where two races of different origin, and distinguished by color, and other physical differences, as well as intellectual, are brought together, the relation now existing in the slaveholding States between the two, is, instead of an evil, a good -- a positive good. I feel myself called upon to speak freely upon the subject where the honor and interests of those I represent are involved. I hold then, that there never has yet existed a wealthy and civilized society in which one portion of the community did not, in point of fact, live on the labor of the other.

And we named a lake after this guy?

"I am looking at all of this information on Calhoun and the more I see, I think this is one of the worst people ever born in this country," Winters told KARE-11.

Parks Board member Brad Bourn told the station the question of renaming the lake will have to go to a public hearing in the next few months, and could launch a process that taking several years.

What do you think? Should we rename Lake Calhoun?



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42 comments
abegaze.m14
abegaze.m14

racist were tamed to be who they were too , so if i was one i wouldnt be so proud. raised to be AN individual who can manage hell? no way , lets not forget what hes done. hes probably beneath the lake now wondering why he went to hell 

Holderniat
Holderniat

Agree with David Noon. The same mentality is alive and well amongst many here in SC and elsewhere. This thinking or rationalizing is what I believe, some call treason. No Lake has been named after Benedict Arnold that I know.

Patrick
Patrick

A few minutes with some Google talent should find somebody on the web that did something in Minnesota whose first name and claim can be re-cast in that bronze plaque on the boulder.  Everyone from military veterans to notable people in the Calhoun neighborhood would be suitable the new name.  Even some Minnesota fisherman that created a good muskie lure would be good.  I've been running, rolling, sailing, and surfing Calhoun for decades, but I can't recall if there even is a plaque.  Oh well, no matter.  The U. of M. studio arts bronze crew can bang out the job for some liters of Absinthe, and maybe some free food at The Tin Fish when R. T. Rybak MC's the christening of the new plaque there. 

Prudyann
Prudyann

Well, it seems absurd to me but with that said i might wonder how many street address's will now need to read ie West ----Blvd  oh how about Lake Wellstone?  that has a nice ring to it!

David Noon
David Noon

Calhoun's racism is only part of the problem; more grievously, this is a man who advocated disunion in defense of slavery. Long before the secession of the eleven Southern states that comprised the Confederacy, Calhoun argued that the protection of slavery was worth the destruction of the Constitution itself. More than 2500 Minnesotans died in defense of the Union that Calhoun and his ideological cousins tried to wreck. Fuck him.

boo
boo

Often, if not always, people choose what offends them.  If people want to get offended by some guy they have never heard of before this article, it seems like an incredible waste of time.

Johnny
Johnny

Earl Warren and Hubert Humphrey were both rabid anti-Semites and in the case of Warren, he was the chief architect of WW II internment camps.  In order to become electable beyond the Mayors Office Humphrey toned down and managed to hide his anti-Semitism when the realities of WW II became known but Warren refused to recant or apologize for locking up a couple of hundred thousand Japanese Americans.  I'm sure that good ol' Billy Mitchell at the U Law School has a few dark episodes and we all know about the foibles of the Carlson family and how they've constantly tried to buy respectability.  Don't even get me started on Tommy Kramer.  Open and walk through this door and that is the road in front of us.

Move on folks, the future we mold for ourselves is a hell of a lot more important than gnashing teeth over the past.

Lake Diversity Training
Lake Diversity Training

I think Calhoun is a lovely name for a lake but assholes don't deserve a legacy. Yes.

Jack
Jack

Changing the name would be whitewashing history. Its exactly the same as the whole deal with censoring Huckleberry Finn. If anything its a reminder that not too long ago people accepted racism and its kind of a monument to commemorate how far we've come.

Patrick Swinehart
Patrick Swinehart

One of the poorest excuses for an article i have read in a long while. Starts with a sensationalist headline, proceeds to tell the reader 'This man was everything we consider bad in a human being and we named a lake after him! ZOMG!' and asks them to consider changing the name of a LAKE because of it.

Don't get me started on the merits of a fucking internet poll.

Sazonada
Sazonada

Change it so it is named after someone good named Calhoun. Like "Lena Mary Calhoun Horne" Lake. Old habits die hard...

ninjamuffin
ninjamuffin

  Hey, I have a suggestion for a new name... Politically Correct Happy Sunnytime Fun Zone. Or let's change the name every day so that every Minneapolis resident doesn't feel left out or offended.   But being serious now,  the people at that time period found him important enough to name a lake after him. Naming to lake was THEIR gift to HIM. In politics and history it's easy to find things we dissagree with or dislike, it is important to remember what accomplishments  were made and not relive or forget the mistakes. I like to think they named a lake after him for building a strategic military fort and not because he was in favor of slavery.    How many of us would be where we are now if Fort Snelling was never built?  

Anon
Anon

 Lake QWERTY. Nobody's offended, just perplexed. Move on all!

guest
guest

Lincoln wasn't exactly the most progressive thinker, even in his day.  Are we going to erase the names of all people in history who fail to live up to modern standards of thinking?  And who's standard are we oing to go by?  John Winters'?  Mine?  Yours? 

Zach Ford
Zach Ford

 They should change it Lake Bin Laden

Boom Boom Shikadance
Boom Boom Shikadance

 This is ridiculous. Charles Lindbergh had anti-semetic views and racist beliefs...

"We can have peace and security only so long as we band together to preserve that most priceless possession, our inheritance of European blood, only so long as we guard ourselves against attack by foreign armies and dilution by foreign races." -Charles Lindbergh (Reader's Digest 1939)

...So while we're at it lets apologize for having Terminal 1- Lindbergh at the Airport. And he was alive in the 20th century. Like Calhoun and everyone else during those times (early 1800's), everyone was uneducated, bigoted and racially biased. No one is praising them for their downfalls rather their accomplishments. So lets forget about this.

And I guarantee until this article was put up on the site, most people didnt even know the lake was named after him, nor does anyone care. Just like no one knows who Lake Harriet is named after (Harriet Lovejoy, a broad who moved their with her colonel husband in 1819, thanks wikipedia).

Bucky
Bucky

Calhoun was a good Democrat, so it's OK. 

Freealonzo
Freealonzo

Why don't we just keep the name but choose a different honoree.  From Wikipedia here is a list of famous "Calhouns"

Ann Marie Calhoun, American violinistCraig Calhoun, American sociologistChad Calhoun, a pseudonym of Ron Goulart, writerDon Calhoun, former professional American football running backFloride Calhoun, wife of John C. Calhoun, Second Lady of the United StatesGeorge Whitney Calhoun, co-founder of the Green Bay Packers NFL football teamJames Calhoun (soldier), American soldier, killed at the Battle of Little BighornJames S. Calhoun, Georgia Politician, Army Colonel, Federal Indian Agent, and Territorial Governor of New MexicoJermie Calhoun, running back for the Oklahoma SoonersJim Calhoun, head coach of the University of Connecticut men's basketball teamJohn Calhoun (software developer), Apple Macintosh software developerJohn B. Calhoun, American EcologistKutt Calhoun ("Melvin Calhoun"), musicianMonica Calhoun, actressRory Calhoun, actorWill Calhoun, musicianWilliam Calhoun ("Haystack"), professional wrestlerWilliam Lowndes Calhoun, mayor of Atlanta, Georgia in 1879

Barney Calhoun, fictional character from the Half-Life computer game seriesMackenzie Calhoun, fictional character from Star TrekDaltry Calhoun, The leading character of the 2005 movie of the same nameNoah Calhoun, fictional character played by Ryan Gosling in the 2004 movie "The Notebook" based on the novel by Nicholas Sparks 

Aaron V-e-h-l-i-n-g
Aaron V-e-h-l-i-n-g

It's not just racism. It's outright support of slavery. That said, we would have to rename "Washington" and everything else if we followed this to a "T." But I support the name change because it is something small we can actually change, unlike changing the name of something "Washington" or "Jefferson."

Albatross
Albatross

I love the idea of renaming it. Who gives a dang about who Calhoun was - I just think giving it  a new name could be a great creative venture.  

Hotrock
Hotrock

 This guy is an evil nutjob, we wouldn't name a lake after Michelle Bachmann now would we? 

Guys
Guys

 that is a great point... hehe .. but .. his contemporaries did view him favorably.. unlike Bachman.

jkc
jkc

And while I'm on the subject, "We" didn't name the lake after anyone. A bunch of dead pre-minnesotans did.

jkc
jkc

I think the name has lost all its meaning. Now, it's just a couple syllables, nothing more. I doesn't honor anyone or anything, especially an outmoded and archaic philosophy.

Iletitshine
Iletitshine

Lost all it's meaning? Perhaps to those who would ignore the timeline of truth: history. 

We cannot simply accept the name on the basis that it's been re-appropriated for a few. It was the name of a racist, bigot - plain and simple. Knowing that now means that we have the power to do the right thing, and as a mindful, accepting community, I think we should. 

StealthChaos
StealthChaos

We should change basically everything, huh?

Levitt
Levitt

Not everything.  But this is a good start.

waziz
waziz

Whose brilliant idea was it to name a lake after the guy in the first place?

KP
KP

It's in the story..."As Secretary of War, Calhoun ordered Colonel Henry Leavenworth to establish a fort in the region, which became Fort Snelling. The locals were grateful, so they named the lake in his honor."

Eric Paq
Eric Paq

Washington, Jefferson, etc... all had slaves, should we still use those names?  What about Columbus (Columbia) the most commonly used name sake, he was a racists should we change all things named after these people?  Racism is a part of American History for better or worse and changing the names of things won't make that go away. Having things named after these people perhaps is just the uncomfortable reminder we need to make sure that we don't deny people rights.  ...And yes this is a nod to the gay marriage issue. 

Ben
Ben

Lets rename everything in the country that is offensive to someone in some way.  This is obviously the most important issue in the country right now and lots of time and energy should be focused on it as every other issue has been resolved.

CityPages, I request you stop using the abbreviation 'CP' because in the law enforcement community, we use the term 'CP' to denote 'child porn'.

Patrick
Patrick

Lighten up, Kasey.  Why not just see it as an opportunity for a fun little event for very little bucks.  Ya have a christening ceremony at The Tin Fish with the mayor on hand to officially recognize the new name on a plaque that the U. of M studio arts crew can cook up for practically nothing, and you got it.  I can see it now-Earl Calhoun, inventor of three-stitch appendectomy, or better yet, a Minnesota veteran.  You seem like an e-literate kind of guy, so get on yer 'puter there and find us a Minnesotan named Calhoun that would be a good fit.  See you down at Calhoun for the ribbon cutting and some Harriet Brewing West Side Belgian-Style IPA and walleye at The Tin Fish.

Guy
Guy

City Pages should be so lucky as to be associated with lofty reputation of child porn.

StealthChaos
StealthChaos

A sure way to snag an extra couple views

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