On August 13, 1908, George Potter Wilson read a paper titled "Reminiscences of the Early Bench and Bar of Minnesota" to the annual convention of the state bar association in Duluth. He was sixty-eight years old, a three-term state Attorney General, a current state Senator and a well-known and respected practitioner who had recently represented the State in its antitrust suit against the Northern Securities Company and James J. Hill.
He was admitted to the bar in Winona in 1862 at age twenty-two, and immediately began practicing law and politics. During the next two decades he met many lawyers and judges throughout the state, and they are at the center of his "Reminiscences." He mentions dozens of them, always complementary. The earliest lawyers, he recalled, settled in towns along the Mississippi, Minnesota and St. Croix Rivers. But St. Paul was the "Mecca toward which all faces were turned." Moving inward, he heaps accolades on the bars of Mankato, Rochester, Faribault and Duluth.
About the "early bar" he concludes: "We have not improved upon them in these later days, and in conclusion I here reaffirm that this state was wonderfully fortunate in the very high character and the distinguished ability of the men who came in at the beginning and to whom we are so greatly indebted."