Events with author Walt Bachman

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Author of Northern Slave, Black Dakota Returns to the Twin Cities to Share His Family Story and Discuss How the U.S. Army Brought Slavery to Minnesota

(Twin Cities) – Walt Bachman’s family name is well-known in Minnesota. His great-grandfather, Henry Bachman, founded Bachman’s Inc., the nation’s largest retail florist; but there’s a side of the Bachman family few knew about until now.

Henry’s wife, Hattie Dietrich, was the daughter of uprising victim Ernest Dietrich, who had been killed at the beginning of the U.S.-Dakota War of 1862. The man accused of killing him was Joseph Godfrey, a black man born a slave in Minnesota at a time when it was supposed to be free territory

When he was young, Walt Bachman’s grandfather had told him stories about what had happened on that fateful day, and he wanted to know more about his great grandfather’s accused murderer, so he started digging. The end result of his research is the book, Northern Slave, Black Dakota: The Life and Times of Joseph Godfrey, published in March 2013 by Pond Dakota Press, a division of the Pond Dakota Heritage Society.

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Walt Bachman, who is both an historian and retired trial lawyer, will share his ground-breaking research documenting how the U.S. Army pay system rewarded military officers for using enslaved people as servants in “free” states and territories. These policies and practices brought slavery to Minnesota and shaped Joseph Godfrey’s extraordinary life story. Godfrey grew up in bondage serving Minnesota’s fur-trade elite and, as a fugitive from Minnesota slavery, was conscripted to join warriors in the U.S. Dakota War of 1862.

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Here are details about Walt Bachman’s upcoming events in Minnesota. Copies of Northern Slave, Black Dakota will be available for sale and signing.

EVENTS

Tuesday, October 15, 6:30 p.m., Brookdale Library Brooklyn Center, Book Club Discussion sponsored by the Minnesota Independent Scholars’ Forum. Open to the public.

Wednesday, October 16, 7 p.m., St. Cloud State, Voyageurs Room in the Atwood Memorial Center. Discussion sponsored by St. Cloud State and Stearns History Museum.Open to the public. Reception to follow.

Thursday, October 17, 6:00 p.m. – 9:30 p.m., Augsburg History Department, Book Discussion.

Friday, October 18, 7:00 p.m., Historic Fort Snelling, Visitor’s Center, 200 Tower Ave., St. Paul, MN 55111, Program on Northern Slavery & book signing sponsored by the Minnesota Historical Society. Open to the public.

Saturday, October 19, 10:30 a.m., Hosmer Public Library, 347 East 36th Street, Minneapolis, MN 55408, Program on Northern Slavery & book signing sponsored by the Minnesota Independent Scholars’ Forum. Open to the public.

Saturday, October 19, 3:00 p.m., Treaty History Center, St. Peter, program sponsored by the Nicollet County Historical Society. Open to the public.

To arrange an interview with Walt Bachman, contact Rachel M. Anderson, Publicist for Pond Dakota Press, at 952-240-2513 or rachel@rmapublicity.com.

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More Good Words

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Stay tuned: In October, Walt Bachman is returning to the Minnesota for a great series of events highlighting the story of how the army brought slavery to Free states and territories, forever altering the lives of enslaved people like Joseph Godfrey.

In the mean time, if you’re a subscriber to PoliticsinMinnesota.com don’t miss Frank Jossi’s article on Joseph Godfrey, “The Slave Who Fought Back”.

And our thanks go out to Quintard Taylor for the invitation to write for BlackPast.org. The result: “Slavery and Freedom on the Minnesota Frontier: The Strange Saga of Joseph Godfrey” by Walt Bachman.

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Slavery in A Free State: Events with author Walt Bachman, June 2013

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The stories Walt Bachman uncovers in Northern Slave, Black Dakota: the Life and Times of Joseph Godfrey (Pond Dakota Press, 2013) undermine the illusion that the enslavement of people was never a significant problem in free states like Minnesota.

DWCommentaries joined the conversation this week with a blog post about Northern Slave, Black Dakota and we’re looking forward to some great public discussions with Walt during his upcoming visit to Minnesota for book appearances. Choose an event near you and join us!

Saturday June 15 “Slavery at Fort Ridgely” Fort Ridgely State Park near Fairfax, MN 11:00 AM and 2:00 PM. Throughout the 160 years since Fort Ridgely was built, slavery has never been part of the fort’s known history. But Walt Bachman’s new book, Northern Slave, Black Dakota: The Life and Times of Joseph Godfrey, alters that history by documenting the presence of slaves at Fort Ridgely over the course of several years. At his first-ever talk focused on slavery at Fort Ridgely, Bachman will discuss the slaves at the fort, the prominent officers who were their slavemasters, and the army’s role in fostering the spread of slavery. Come and hear how the story of slaves at Fort Ridgely changes military history and Minnesota history. $4 admission. Free to MHS and NCHS members. Books available for sale and signing. Sponsor: Nicollet County Historical Society

Sunday June 16 “Joseph Godfrey’s Story: Viewing the Dakota War from A New Perspective” Bloomington, MN. Pond Dakota Mission Park 2:00 PM (rain location: Oak Grove Presbyterian Church, 2200 W. Old Shakopee Road, Bloomington) Joseph Godfrey was Minnesota’s only home-grown fugitive slave, and the only non-Indian to fight on the Dakota side during the U.S.-Dakota War of 1862. He was reviled and scapegoated by both whites and Dakotas after the war. Walt Bachman, author of the first-ever biography of Godfrey, will discuss why the man everyone has loved to hate deserves a fairer shake in Minnesota history. Books available for sale and signing. Suggested donation $2 per non-member adult. Sponsor: Pond Dakota Heritage Society

Tuesday June 18 “How the U.S. Army Brought Slavery to Minnesota: Joseph Godfrey, Northern Slave, Black Dakota”  Minneapolis Central Library, Minneapolis, MN 7:00 PM. Northern Slave, Black Dakota author, historian and retired trial lawyer Walt Bachman will tell how the U.S. Army’s policies and practices brought slavery to Minnesota and shaped Joseph Godfrey’s extraordinary life story. Godfrey grew up in bondage serving Minnesota’s fur-trade elite, and, as a fugitive from Minnesota slavery was conscripted to join warriors in the U.S. Dakota War of 1862. Books available for sale and signing. Free. Sponsored by the Hennepin County Library

Wednesday June 19 “Northern Slave, Black Dakota: The Life and Times of Joseph Godfrey” Kandiyohi County Historical Society 610 NE Highway 71 Willmar, MN 56201 7:00 PM. Author Walt Bachman, was born and raised in Minneapolis and is a 1966 Phi Beta Kappa, summa cum laude graduate of the University of Minnesota. As a Rhodes Scholar, Bachman received an English law degree from Oxford University in 1968; he subsequently earned a J.D. from Stanford University. For more than 20 years, he was a trial lawyer in Minneapolis, pursuing a widely varying career that ranged from practice in large and small private law firms to criminal prosecution for Hennepin County (Minneapolis and suburbs) to the instigation of disbarment and other legal ethics proceedings. Minnesota readers, in particular, will be familiar with his family: Bachman’s, Inc., now the nation’s largest retail florist, was founded by his great-grandfather Henry Bachman, who married Hattie Dietrich, the daughter of uprising victim Ernst Dietrich. (The story of Dietrich’s death is the opening scene in the book.) Bachman retired from Minnesota to New York City, where he lives with his wife, Elizabeth. His forthcoming book documents the U.S. army’s role in fostering the spread of slavery via a pay system that rewarded federal officers for using slaves as servants in free states and territories. Books available for sale and signing. Sponsor: Kandiyohi County Historical Society.

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“A Surprise Favorite”

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Pond Dakota Press was surprised –and delighted! –this week by an unsolicted review of Northern Slave, Black Dakota at Citizen Reader by the book’s indexer, a former public librarian and voracious reader:

“Whenever I index books, it is always a real bonus when they turn out to be readable, fascinating books (they don’t always, particularly when I’m indexing literary criticism). Particularly because when I index a book I end up reading it at least twice.

One of the titles I’ve most enjoyed indexing was one I did last year: Northern Slave Black Dakota: The Life and Times of Joseph Godfrey, by Walt Bachman. It’s a history/biography of a man named Joseph Godfrey, who was born into slavery in Minnesota in the 1830s, and his role in the U.S.-Dakota War of 1862.

Wait a second. Did you say born into slavery…in Minnesota? That’s right, I did. And that’s just one of the fascinating aspects of this book…” more

She concludes, “…it should certainly be sought out and made a part of every public library collection (as well as more academic libraries, and of course, individuals looking for a good book to add to their TBR piles).”

Thanks, Sarah!

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Northern Slave Release Party in the Star Tribune

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Walt Bachman, author of Northern Slave, Black Dakota: The Life and Times of Joseph Godfrey, tells about hearing his grandfather tell story of death of their mutual ancestor  Ernst Dietrich in 1862. The quest to learn more about that event led Bachman to re-investigate the story of Joseph Godfrey and the trials of Dakota warriors alleged to have participated in the war. Photo credit: Claude Peck

We had a lovely book launch for Northern Slave, Black Dakota at Bachman’s Lyndale on April 3. If you missed the party, StarTribune columnist Claude Peck wrote up the event for Artcetera, here, calling the book, “a painstakingly researched and tautly written account.” Thanks, Claude!

We send out a very special thank-you to Dale Bachman for hosting a wonderful party!

And to the descendants of Joseph Godfrey who drove in from three states to join us, it was an honor to meet you :) . Pidamaya ye!

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History Network News Picks Up Interview

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History Network News just picked up Amy Goetzman’s MinnPost interview with Walt Bachman on his research for Northern Slave, Black Dakota. Check it out!

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Thanks, Minnesota! It’s Part of Your Legacy

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It’s March 12, 2013, the official release date for our first book, Northern Slave, Black Dakota by Walt Bachman, and I want to say, “Thanks!” to about 500 thousand people.

Did you know that if you pay sales tax in Minnesota, you helped publish this book?

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In November 2008, Minnesota voters voted, “Yes,” to enact the Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment to the Minnesota Constitution. Each time I’ve had the chance to share this story publicly, people comment that they had no idea, but are glad to know that something they did in private in a voting booth four years ago, and continue to do invisibly every time they pay sales tax, has tangible results.

This is how I framed it for Bachman’s Bloomington Human Rights Commission audience on February 24, 2013:

“I’m so glad so many of you could join us today, because the biggest “thanks” we can convey goes out to you. Fully half of the project expenses of producing this book have been funded by you. On November 4, 2008, Minnesota voters approved the Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment to preserve and enhance some of our state’s most important resources, including history. The resulting amendment to the Minnesota Constitution, often referred to as the ‘Legacy Amendment,’ created four funds, one of which is the Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund. As a result, funding to support the preservation of Minnesota’s history and cultural heritage is now written into our state constitution, administered through the Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund via the Minnesota Historical Society.

This book is one fruit of you investment. With our Legacy Grants as seed money, we raised the remaining half of the costs to professionally publish this book, an undertaking that was impossible for an organization our size prior to the Legacy Amendment.

Further, the investment of your tax dollars has enabled Pond Dakota Press to making great history accessible to people of all reading abilities. So in about six weeks, Northern Slave Black Dakota will also be available in Large Print, in Braille, in phonetic print for people with dyslexia, in the universally accessible DAISY Talking Book format, and as an electronic book for any e-reader device you own.

Finally, thanks to the generosity of Walt Bachman, who has donated publishing and distribution rights, and customary royalties to the Pond Dakota Heritage Society, all the profits from the sale of Northern Slave, Black Dakota will fund the public history mission of the Society, including its publications initiatives as Pond Dakota Press.”

More than simply say,”Thanks!” we wanted to show it. So we just finished mailing a free copy of Northern Slave, Black Dakota to each region of Minnesota’s state-wide library system. So go ahead and ask for the book; your local library will soon be able to fill your request :) .

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Northern Slave, Black Dakota Pre-Release Event

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The first event, for Northern Slave, Black Dakota, February 24, 2013 was a great success! And audience of 150 turned out to hear Walt Bachman publicly present, for the first time, the story of how the U.A. Army brought slavery to Free states like Minnesota.

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If you missed it, check out the book event calendar for more appearances in April and June 2013!

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Northern Slavery profiled at MinnPost

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Did you catch Amy Goetzman’s February 22, 2012 MinnPost interview with Walt Bachman?

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Walt Bachman, author of Northern Slave Black Dakota: The Life and Times of Joseph Godfrey

““In Minnesota, there were never large gangs of farm workers, or auction blocks. There weren’t those trappings of the worst forms of slavery,” Bachman told Goetzman in a February 20, 2013 interview. “But there is ample evidence of brutality towards slaves in Minnesota, including a slave who was whipped to death by her Army officer master. Slavery, wherever it was practiced, was a pernicious institution, and Minnesota was no exception.””

Goetzman’s article is a great introduction to the story. Join us this Sunday and hear Bachman live as he presents this story publicly for the first time!

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Advance Copies Are Here!

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Advance copies of Walt Bachman‘s Northern Slave, Black Dakota are here! Pond Dakota Press will have copies available for sale and signing this Sunday, February 24, 2013 at Bachman’s Black History Month event, “Northern Slaves: How the U.S. Army Brought Slavery to Minnesota.” Bachman’s talk begins at 2:00 PM. We expect a capacity crowd, so come early to get a good seat.

The book sale opens at 1:30 PM. The cover price is $34.95. But thanks to Legacy Grant and donor funding, we are selling advance copies for $29.95. Northern Slave, Black Dakota is 412 pages in hardcover, with 12 illustrations, 3 maps, bibliography and index. The official release date is March 12, 2013.

Bachman’s talk is sponsored by the Bloomington Human Rights Commission and will be held at the Creekside Community Center, 9801 Penn Avenue South (the corner of 98th and Penn) in Bloomington, MN. The best parking is available in the large lot behind the building (lot entrance on 98th); you can also enter the building from that side.

Hope to see you there!

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