The Largest Mass Execution in US History
One-hundred and thirty-six years ago on this day in people’s history, thirty-eight Dakota men were hanged. On December 26th, 1862, the mass execution of the condemned men in Mankato, Minnesota was the largest such act ever carried out in the history of the United States. The hangings marked an end to the Dakota Sioux Uprising that had taken place earlier that year in August. With tension building over broken treaties between the U.S. government and Dakota people, a council of chiefs opted for an uprising after five white settlers were ambushed and killed by a hunting expedition. The Dakota launched attacks on New Ulm and Fort Ridgely before being defeated at Wood Lake after white settlers were reinforced by the U.S. Army. In the aftermath, more than 300 Dakota people were arrested and sentenced to death following military tribunals which is some cases lasted all of five minutes.
President Abraham Lincoln commuted all but 39 of the death penalties clearing the way for the travesty of justice. In the end, broken treaties ended in broken necks.