Largest mass hanging in United States history: 38 Santee Sioux Indian men hanged Mankato, Minnesota, Dec. 16, 1862.

Three hundred and three Indian males were set to be hanged, because of the failure of the US Government to honor it's treaties with Indian Nations, the Indians were not given the money or food set forth to them, for signing a treaty to turn over more than a million acres of their land, and be forced to live on a reservation.

Indian agents keep the treaty money and food that was to go to the Indians, the food was sold to White settlers, food that was given to the Indians was spoiled and not fit for a dog to eat. Indian hunting parties went off the reservation land looking for food to feed their families, one hunting group took eggs from a White settlers land, and the rest is history.
The Dakota War of 1862, or Little Crow's War, was an armed conflict between the United States and several bands of the eastern Sioux or Dakota, which began on August 17 1862, along the Minnesota River in southwest Minnesota, and ended with a mass execution of thirty eight Dakota on December 26, 1862, in Mankato, Minnesota.

Throughout the late 1850s, treaty violations by the United States and late or unfair annuity payments by Indian agents caused increasing hunger and hardship among the Dakota.Traders with the Dakota previously had demanded that annuity payments be given to them directly, introducing the possibility of unfair dealing between the agents and the traders.

In mid 1862, the Dakota demanded the annuities directly from their agent, Thomas J. Galbraith. The traders refused to provide any more supplies on credit. Thus negotiations reached an impasse as a result of the bellicosity of the traders' representative, Andrew Myrick.

On August 17, 1862, five American settlers were killedby four Dakota on a hunting expedition. Continued battles between the Dakota against settlers and later, the United States Army, ended with the surrender of most of the Dakota forces.

By late December, more than a thousand Dakota were interned in jails in Minnesota, after the thirty eight Dakota were hanged, in April 1863 the rest of the Dakota were expelled from Minnesota, to Nebraska and South Dakota, and their reservations were abolished by the United States Congress.
President Abraham Lincoln, and Minnesota Governor Alexander Ramsey set out to exterminate Indians from their homeland, Authorities in Minnesota asked President Lincoln to order the immediate execution of all three hundred and three Indian males found guilty, Lincoln was concerned with how this would play with the Europeans, whom he was afraid were about to enter the war on the side of the South.

He offered the following compromise to the politicians of Minnesota, they would pare the list of those to be hung down to thirty nine, in return, Lincoln promised to kill or remove every Indian from the state, and provide Minnesota with two million dollars in federal funds, he had promised the Sioux $1.4 million for the land.

So, on December 26, 1862, the Great Emancipator ordered the largest mass execution in American History, where the guilt of those to be executed was entirely in doubt. Regardless of how Lincoln defenders seek to play this, it was nothing more than murder to obtain the land of the Santee Sioux and to appease his political cronies in Minnesota.

We demand that Abe Lincoln's dishonest and shameful face, be removed from the occupied and desecrated area called Mount Rushmore immediately. see online petition at

Text of Order to General Sibley, St. Paul Minnesota

Ordered that of the Indians and Half-breeds sentenced to be hanged by the military commission, composed of Colonel Crooks, Lt. Colonel Marshall, Captain Grant, Captain Bailey, and Lieutenant Olin, and lately sitting in Minnesota, you cause to be executed on Friday the nineteenth day of December, instant, the following names, to wit [...39 names listed by case number of record].

The other condemned prisoners you will hold subject to further orders, taking care that they neither escape, nor are subjected to any unlawful violence .. Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States. On December 6 1862.
President Lincoln notified Sibley that he should ...cause to be executed, thirty nine of the convicted Santees, the execution date was the 26th of December, one Indian was given a reprieve. About ten o'clock the thirty eight condemned men were marched from the prison to the scaffold.

They sang the Sioux death song, until soldiers pulled white caps over their heads and placed nooses around their necks. At a signal from an army officer, the control rope was cut and thirty eight Santee Sioux dangled lifeless in the air .. A spectator boasted that this was "America's greatest public execution."

SAINT PAUL, December 27, 1862. The PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I have the honor to inform you that the thirty eight Indians and half-breeds ordered by you for execution were hung yesterday at Mankato at 10 a.m. Everything went off quietly and the other prisoners are well secured. Respectfully, H. H. SIBLEY, Brigadier-General.
Governor Alexander Ramsey had declared on September 9, 1862 ...The Sioux Indians of Minnesota must be exterminated or driven forever beyond the borders of the state.

The treatment of Dakota people, including the hanging in Mankato and the forced removal of Dakota people from Minnesota, were the first phases of Ramsey's plan. His plan was further implemented when bounties were placed on the scalps of Dakota people which eventually reached $200.

Punitive expeditions were then sent out over the next few years to hunt down those Dakota who had not surrendered and to ensure they would not return. After 38 of the condemned men were hanged the day after Christmas in 1862 in what remains the largest mass hanging in United States history, the other prisoners continued to suffer in the concentration camps through the winter of 1862-63.

In late April of 1863 the remaining condemned men, along with the survivors of the Fort Snelling concentration camp, were forcibly removed from their homeland in May of 1863. They were placed on boats which transported the men from Mankato to Davenport, Iowa where they were imprisoned for an additional three years. Those from Fort Snelling were shipped down the Mississippi River to St. Louis and then up the Missouri River to the Crow Creek Reservation in South Dakota.

A memorial to the memory of the dead now stands in downtown Mankato in Reconciliation Park.

Ed: The descendants of the hanged have been highly critical of the bison statue, concerned that the animal's hooves have been rendered "Mickey Mouse" style!