Earlier this month I noted the execution by hanging of 38 Dakota at the culmination of the US-Dakota War. Another 1,600 Dakota were deported from the region after having been imprisoned at Fort Snelling, just outside present-day Minneapolis, and a place where Dred Scott once lived. Much is made of the fact that Abraham Lincoln signed off on the execution of thirty-nine people (the largest mass government execution in US history), while others emphasize the fact that Lincoln reduced the number of people to be executed from 303 to 39 (one individual secured a last-minute reprieve).
Some 150 years later people still dispute the meaning of this event, coming just days before Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation. Ceremonies held at Mankato commemorated the event (you will find a photo gallery here). Other people discussed how to teach the event.
A good case can be made that the election of Abraham Lincoln in 1860 led to a renewed pledge for white Americans to advance westward (see the Transcontinental Railroad and the Homestead Act, for example), and that while the Republicans wanted such expansion to be devoid of slavery, they well knew that it would also involve battling native Americans resisting such expansion and deporting them elsewhere. However, one must also recall that white southerners were not against such expansion, and neither were northern Democrats such as Stephen A. Douglas. While the Civil War dampened expansionist efforts, it also laid the groundwork for postwar expansion, with the clashes on the frontier intensifying once the federal government could refocus its military efforts.
Sometimes the legacy of the Civil War is a bit more complicated than we might want to believe.