Lake Calhoun, dedicated to slavery supporter, could get renamed

John C. Calhoun, slavery supporter.

John C. Calhoun, slavery supporter.

A few weeks ago, we asked whether Lake Calhoun was the most racist lake in Minnesota.

It seemed a reasonable question, after Minneapolis resident John Waters started raising a stink about the lake being named after historical figure John Caldwell Calhoun, an unabashed proponent of slavery.

The Minneapolis Park Board evidently thinks the question is worth exploring, too.


Staff there are starting research into the possibility of changing the lake's name, board spokeswoman Dawn Sommers tells WCCO. But any official action is a long way off, "if it happens at all," she cautions. There are plenty of bureaucratic hoops to jump through, and public hearings that would need to take place, before a vote on the matter could take place.

Calhoun was a U.S. Senator, Vice President of the United States, and Secretary of War under President James Monroe. He's credited with driving the establishment of Fort Snelling, thus earning the admiration of the locals hereabouts, who named the 500-acre lake in his honor.

But it's no sceret that Calhoun was also a loud and proud proponent of slavery as a "a positive good," and supported the 1850 Fugitive Slave Law, prompting Waters to call him "the arch-prophet of slavery."

What should the lake be named? Lake Humphrey, for Hubert H. Humphrey, Waters says.

What do you think? We set up this poll in our last post about Lake Calhoun. You can vote if you haven't already.