STATES & CITIES: Misery in Minnesota

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Misery in Minnesota

Up to the steps of the Minnesota State Capitol last week marched several hundred bonuseers, destitute farmers, city jobless and professional relief seekers. Down the steps to greet them marched big bluff Floyd Bjerstjerne Olson, only Farmer-Labor Governor in the land. The State Senate, preponderantly conservative, was still mulling over the Olson relief program. The theme of the marchers' plea was: "Tax the rich to feed the poor."

Having heard them out, Governor Olson lifted his voice and said:

"I am making a last appeal to the Legislature. If the Senate does not make provision for the sufferers in the State and the Federal Government refuses to aid, I shall invoke the powers I hold and shall declare martial law. ... A lot of people who are now fighting [relief] measures because they happen to possess considerable wealth will be brought in by provost guard and be obliged to give up more than they would now. There is not going to be misery in this State if I can humanly prevent it. . . Unless the Federal and State governments act to insure against recurrence of the present situation, I hope the present system of government goes right down to hell."

Governor Olson's threat to attack misery by declaring martial law and confiscating private property was the first of its kind in the land. Newspapers picked up his words and headlines far beyond the borders of the State made conservative readers shudder. The Governor and the State Senate fell to political bickering over relief principles as the day for the Legislature's adjournment this week approached. Only if it went home without action would the Olson threat become more than tall talk.