Henry M. Rice

American politician, Minnesota (1816-1894)

Henry Mower Rice (November 29, 1816 – January 15, 1894) was a fur trader, commissioner and one of the first United States Senators from Minnesota.

Photograph of Senator Henry Mower Rice by photographer Mathew Brady

Early lifeEdit

Henry Rice was born on November 29, 1816, in Waitsfield, Vermont.[1] His parents were Edmund Rice and Ellen Durkee Rice. He went to school in Detroit and Kalamazoo, Michigan.[1] He became a sutler at Fort Atkinson, Iowa. In 1847 he negotiated a treaty with the Winnebago and Chippewa Native American tribes. In 1848 he settled in St. Paul, Minnesota. He helped negotiate the Treaty of Traverse des Sioux in 1851. This opened up parts of Minnesota west of the Mississippi River to white settlers.[1] In 1856 Rice, as a territorial delegate, worked hard to secure Congressional land grants for the railroads in Minnesota.[2]

Political careerEdit

Rice lobbied for the bill to establish Minnesota Territory. He was the delegate to the 33rd and 34th Congresses from March 4, 1853 to March 4, 1857. His work on the Minnesota Enabling Act, passed by Congress on Feb. 26, 1857, facilitated Minnesota's statehood.

In 1858 Rice was elected as a Democrat to the United States Senate. He served from Minnesota's admittance on May 11, 1858 to March 4, 1863 in the 35th, 36th, and 37th Congresses and was not a candidate for re-election. He supported John C. Breckinridge for president in 1860.[3]

Rice also served as a member of the board of regents of the University of Minnesota from 1851 to 1859.[4] Rice was president of the Minnesota Historical Society. In 1865 he ran for Governor of Minnesota, but lost the election.[4] From 1878 to 1884 he was the treasurer of Ramsey County, Minnesota. As a United States Commissioner during 1887 – 1888, he continued to negotiate treaties with the Indians.[4] He died on January 15, 1894, while on a visit to San Antonio, Texas.[4]


Statue of Henry Mower Rice in the National Statuary Hall of the U.S. Capitol building in Washington, D.C.

In 1916, the state of Minnesota donated a marble statue of Rice to the National Statuary Hall Collection at the United States Capitol. Rice County, Minnesota is named for him. His brother Edmund Rice served in the U.S. House of Representatives.[4] Rice Park in St. Paul, Minnesota is named for him.[5]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 "RICE, Henry Mower, (1816 - 1894)". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. ND. Retrieved 17 July 2014. Check date values in: |date= (help)
  2. William E. Lass, Minnesota: A History (New York: W.W. Norton & Co., 1998), p. 139
  3. Allan G. Bogue, The Earnest Men: Republicans of the Civil War Senate (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2009), p. 43
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 Andrew R Dodge, Biographical Directory of the United States Congress, 1774-2005 (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 2005), p. 1804
  5. L., Keith. "Rice Park". The Historical Marker Database. The Historical Marker Database. Retrieved 27 March 2012.