Chicanery and greed played primal roles
With Minnesota forming as a state.
The story most intriguingly unrolls
With greed as they proceed to legislate.
The politicians ultimately prove
How perfidy provided utter gall,
Mischievous machinations planned to move
The capital away from far St. Paul.
This tale has mystery and true intrigue,
When dealing with corrupted governor,
Political patronage and fatigue;
A drunken gambler, prostitutes, and more.
So, grab a seat, get yourself a brew
Allow some time to let this tale unfold
About when boundaries were thrown askew,
With land in hand just begging to be sold.
As “Paul is robbed to pay St. Peter’s” fee,
A page of Minnesota history.
A page of Minnesota history,
When Franklin Pierce looked for a governor,
He picked Mexican war hero to be.
Who captured Haumantla, in that war.
A chosen leader for the future state.
A powerful man with plans of his own,
To highest potentate, as fate dictates.
In eighteen fifty three – a true unknown.
Was sworn in by the US President.
He had some thorny problems in his soul
Of larceny, that some come to resent,
When greed would breed bad blood, through his control.
For in the early days, on which we teeter,
Most representatives lived to the south.
Much easier to gather in St. Peter,
Than travel to St. Paul, much further north.
The situation rose among the clan
That laid the groundwork for a profit plan.
That laid the groundwork for a profit plan,
Since Willis Gorman was the man in charge
Who thought his best investment was to pan
His holdings in St. Peter, which were large.
So, he convinced his crony legislators
To pass a bill to move the capital.
Began construction using huge road graders,
And building things around St. Peter’s mall.
He laid out nicely functional foundations
With roads for heavy traffic, double-wide,
And found an architect for his creations-
A capital to fill the town with pride.
A perfect plan to denigrate St. Paul.
He hoped he’d be real rich once things aligned,
To his plots, in St. Peter, boons would fall.
The problem was the bill — he hadn’t signed.
The law requires Gov’s to sign the bill,
But Willis stayed put in St. Peter still.
But Willis stayed put in St. Peter still,
To oversee the plans he put in place.
He needed trusty patron now to fill
The role of courier to quickly race,
A legate lacking scruples in the senate.
With proven loyalty, on whom to bet,
A lackey to be used as loose lieutenant,
And such a man was Joseph J. Rolette.
Furtrader, gambler, and a politician,
Controled enrollment bills within the house,
A natural to grab the proposition,
Though many men considered him a louse.
So, Gorman thought that Rolette was his man,
Entrusting Joe to find him right away.
While he himself laid out his full town plan,
Expecting harvest of a huge payday.
This bill of eighteen fifty seven passed.
Just need signing by the Gov’nor fast.
Just need signing by the Gov’nor fast.
Here’s what readers need to understand.
The legislative session wouldn’t last,
Expiring the possession of the land.
Now, Joe Rolette should not have been so trusted.
Nobody had considered how he felt —
The capital’s location readjusted,
Just wasn’t how he thought things should be dealt.
This gambler’s inclination was to hide.
He found a perfect hide-a-way hotel.
Ok, it had a brothel too, inside,
Where he could drink and gamble for a spell.
He’d hide there while the clock was ticking down,
While knowing, all he had to do was wait.
He dallied with the damsels until dawn,
And drank into a catatonic state.
But none of that was much of his concern,
With time that leads the senate to adjourn.
With time that leads the senate to adjourn,
While frantic politicians were distressed,
Police were called to find and overturn
The rocks, achieving poor Joe’s quick arrest.
With all the constables in hot pursuit,
The ladies of the night had hid him well.
The hotel manager was in cahoots,
And all his gambling friends would never tell.
And so, our Joe stayed hidden for a week,
Enjoying all the pleasures one could want:
Rich hands of cards, hot ladies on each cheek,
And even fine chef’s fare from restaurant.
Our fine French friend was hero of the city.
For his dynamic actions, tip a brew.
Had he not taken steps, would be a pity.
He taught the governor a thing or two
While dock of legislative session closed,
Joe entered meeting hall quite unopposed.
Joe entered meeting hall quite unopposed,
And all there present knew it was too late.
With unsigned bill in hand, the cheering rose
From those opposed who know it met its fate.
The capital, St. Paul now would remain,
While anger from the governor and friends
Would fall forgotten, dusty lost refrains
Along St. Peter’s newly formed dead ends.
While Willis Gorman to this very day
Will curse the name of Joseph J Rolette,
Whose gamble with the world came into play,
And caused a crooked plan to be upset.
‘Til eighteen fifty seven Gorman ruled,
But never made the fortune he had sought.
It vanished like the wind, when he was fooled,
Thus proving loyalty cannot be bought.
Where power and high profits were the goals,
Chicanery and greed played primal roles.