Minnesota posten

Minnesota posten (Red Wing, Minn.) 1857-1858 Browse the title

On November 7, 1857 Eric Norelius, a young Lutheran minister from Sweden, began publishing Minnesota posten (The Minnesota Record), the first Swedish-language newspaper in the Minnesota Territory. The paper was published in Red Wing, with twice monthly issues that were four pages, each with six columns. An annual subscription cost one dollar.

Norelius had immigrated to the United States in 1850 at the age of 17 from Hassela parish, in Hälsingland, Sweden. He became an ordained pastor in the Swedish Lutheran Church by 1856 and worked with Lutheran congregations in Vasa, Cannon Falls, and Red Wing in Goodhue County, an area that had some of the earliest Swedish settlements in Minnesota. In 1860 Norelius was among the founding members of the Augustana Lutheran Synod, and he worked as a traveling missionary to Swedish settlements west of Minneapolis.

In Minnesota posten’s Prospectus, Norelius stated that the Swedish immigrants needed “encouragement and enlightenment on the subject of Religion; they need an organ to advocate their cause and by means of which they may set themselves in communication with each other... Politically, they need a true understanding of the laws and institutions of this country so that they may be able to do their duty as citizens and enjoy the privileges afforded.” Toward these goals, Minnesota posten had local news and regular columns with church notices, instruction on various aspects of Lutheran Church doctrine, and missionary reports. There were news reports from Sweden, Europe, Asia, and the United States. And the paper provided official news from the Minnesota Territory, including election results and notices such as a copy of the text of the Constitution of the State of Minnesota from August 28, 1857, before it was ratified and Minnesota officially became a state. Minnesota posten also included stories, poems, and advertisements for local businesses and other published newspapers and periodicals. By publishing Minnesota posten, Norelius offered a contrast to another Swedish language newspaper, Hemlandet det gamla och det nya (The Homeland, the Old and the New). T. N. (Tuve Nilsson) Hasselquist started publishing Hemlandet in Galesburg, Illinois, in 1855. While both newspapers were meant for Swedish Lutherans, Norelius felt his Minnesota following had different needs. Later, in his history of the Augustana Synod, Norelius described his perspective:

I freely confess that it was largely my youthful lack of wisdom which led me to start a paper in Minnesota—a paper with the same program as Hemlandet. But underlying also was the old conflict between the center and the periphery, and I need hardly mention that Minnesota lay at the periphery... However, I may state, in justification of my action, that at the time preceding the Civil War, everybody in every state was on the lookout, nervously asking what the future might have in store for him. At that time Minnesota had no railroads to connect it with the outside world, and for months each year the Mississippi River was covered with ice. But we had the telegraph, and through the newspapers it was possible for people to learn the news of the day. To us in Minnesota a paper was a prime necessity.

Unfortunately, Minnesota posten soon faced financial difficulties, and was suspended, with the last issue published on October 13 1858. This situation brought about a merger with Hemlandet, and with Hasselquist’s support, Norelius became editor of Hemlandet in January 1859. Also at this time, Hemlandet’s publication moved to Chicago. After working as editor of Hemlandet for one year, Norelius moved on. He continued as editor and publisher of several newspapers, including the Swedish-language Skaffaren (The Steward) published in Red Wing from 1878 to 1882, and various Augustana Lutheran publications. Norelius became a celebrated leader for Swedish Lutherans, serving as president of the Augustana Synod for 19 years.