IOWA HISTORY PROJECT
STORIES OF IOWA
FOR BOYS AND GIRLS
During the time Iowa was a territory the Democrats were in control of affairs. Robert Lucas, the first governor, was a Democrat, as was James Clarke, the third and last governor of the territory. The second governor, John Chambers, was a Whig, but the Democrats held most of the territorial and local offices.
For eight years after Iowa became a state the Democrats continued in power. Ansel Briggs an Stephen Hempstead, the first and second governors of the State of Iowa, were Democrats. The first two congressmen, Shepherd Leffler and S. Clinton Hastings, and the first two United Stares senators, Augustus C. Dodge and George W. Jones, belonged to the same party. The Democrats were in favor of the Constitution of 1846, which did not allow banks and corporations in the state. The Whigs wanted a new constitution which would allow banks and corporations to be established.
In general the Whigs were opposed to the extension of slavery in new territories, while the Democrats felt that the people themselves should decide whether they wanted slaves or not.
As new settlers moved into Iowa from the northern states the Whigs increased in numbers. In 1854 they elected James W. Grimes as governor, and a year later the General Assembly selected James Harlan as United States senator in place of Augustus C. Dodge.
Governor Grimes began many improvements. He urged better care for the unfortunates of the state - the blind, the deaf, the dumb, the feeble-minded, and the insane. The first hospital for the insane in Iowa was built at Mount Pleasant during his term. He also favored improvement of the common schools. To work out a plan for public schools, a commission consisting of Horace Mann, Amos Dean, and F. E. Bissell was appointed. Horace Mann was a noted educator of Massachusetts, Dean was president of the State University of Iowa, and Bissell was attorney-general of the state. The commission proposed that a system of free public schools open to all should be provided. In 1858 the General Assembly established such a system by law.
Under the leadership of Grimes the Republican Party was organized in Iowa in February, 1856. It replaced the Whig Party. You have already read about the new constitution for Iowa which was made in 1857. It changed the term of governor from four to two years and created the office of lieutenant governor.
Governor Grimes refused to run for a second term, and in 1857 the Republicans elected Ralph P. Lowe as governor. As soon as the General Assembly met, it promptly elected James W. Grimes to the United States senate to succeed George W. Jones.
From that day to the present all of the governors of Iowa have been Republicans except Horace Boies who was a Democrat. All of the United States senators from Iowa since 1859 have also been Republicans except Daniel F. Steck, the first Democratic senator from Iowa since the days of Dodge and Jones. The Democrats, though, have elected a number of United States congressmen from Iowa as well as many state and local officers.
In 1859 the Democrats hoped to regain control in Iowa. They nominated Augustus C. Dodge as their candidate for governor. He had just returned from Spain where he had served as United States minister since Harlan had replaced him in the Senate. The Republicans selected Samuel J. Kirkwood. Like Lincoln he was a man of the common people. He was called the "plow handle" candidate.
The two men met in a series of joint debates throughout Iowa. At Washington, Iowa, the friends of Dodge met him with a carriage drawn by four splendid horses. The Republicans rigged up a hayrack drawn by oxen, and paraded their candidate through the town. In the following election Kirkwood was successful. He was governor, you remember, during the dark days of the Civil War.
Although the Republicans continued in power in Iowa from the close of the Civil War to 1889, several times third parties in combination with the Democrats threatened their control. This was a period when farming was unprofitable. Prices were low. After a year of hard work farmers often did not make enough to pay their debts and taxes. Money was scarce and hard to get.
In the hope of improving their conditions many farmers joined the Patrons of Husbandry or the Grange. This was a sort of lodge for farmers and their wives. The first Grange in Iowa was organized at Newton on May 2, 1868. By 1872 more than 500 Granges had been established in Iowa, and more were being formed every week.
The Grangers held meetings in schoolhouses, at which talks were given about farm conditions and how to improve them. Programs of songs, speeches and debates at these meetings helped to relieve the loneliness of farm life. The Grange tried to help the farmers by cooperative buying and selling, by building elevators and warehouses, and by manufacturing farm machinery. In general these enterprises were not very successful.
In 1873 the Anti-Monopoly Party, to which most of the Grangers belonged, and the Democrats joined forces. They elected a number of stare and local officers, but Cyrus C. Carpenter, the Republican candidate, was chosen governor. He was a friend of the Grangers, and many of them voted for him.
The Grangers succeeded in getting the General Assembly of Iowa in 1874 to pass a law regulating passenger fares and freight rates. The Grangers wanted railroad rares and service to be alike for all. The railroads opposed this law and succeeded in getting it abolished four years later. Then a railroad commission of three men was created to regulate the roads. In the late seventies the Granger movement declined.
During the eighties the Greenback Party the Greenback Party took up many proposed reforms of the Anti-Monopoly Party of the seventies. The Greenbackers were in favor of keeping the paper money, called the Greenbacks, in use. This paper money had been issued by the United States during the Civil War, and when the government proposed to pay off these notes with coin, many opposed it. They thought this would make prices still lower. In the nineties, the Populist Party replaced the Greenback Party. The Populists felt that the free coinage of silver into money would bring prosperity.
James Baird Weaver of Iowa was a prominent leader of both the Greenback and Populist parties. In 1880 he was the candidate of the Greenback Party for president, and in 1892 he was the candidate for president of the Populist Party. In this election he received over a million votes, but Grover Cleveland was elected.
The last Republican governor in Iowa during this decade of the eighties was William Larrabee, who was elected in 1885 and again in 1887. In 1889 Horace Boies, a Democrat, was elected governor, and in 1891 he was reelected. But when he ran for a third term in 1893 he was defeated by Frank D. Jackson, a Republican.
During Jackson's term as governor hard times continued. In 1894 Kelly's army, a group of men out of work, reached Iowa on their way to Washington, D. C., from California. They marched from Council Bluffs to Des Moines where the people, in order to get rid of them, built flatboats, and sent the army down the Des Moines River to the Mississippi.
The Republicans have continued in power in Iowa since Jackson defeated Boies in 1893. Leslie M. Shaw was governor during the exiting days of the Spanish-American War. Albert B. Cummins was elected governor three times, and then resigned to become United States senator. Only one other Iowa governor, John Hammill, has been elected to this office three times.
During the first ten years of the new century two groups, the conservatives and progressives, grew up in the Republican Party and struggled for control. The conservatives wanted things left as they were. The progressives favored such changes in government as direct primary, popular election of United States senators, Federal income tax, tariff revision, and better regulation of railroads and corporations. The progressives stood for the "Iowa Idea." Briefly this meant that the tariff should be lowered, and that the farmer should be helped as well as the manufacturer.
Several Iowans have occupied important places in the national government. Both James Harlan and Samuel J. Kirkwood served as Secretary of the Interior. W. W. Belknap and G. W. McCrary occupied the post of Secretary of War. Leslie M. Shaw was Secretary of the Treasury, and Frank Hatton, Postmaster-General. James Wilson served as Secretary of Agriculture under presidents McKinley, Roosevelt, and Taft. E. T. Meredith occupied the same position under President Wilson, and Henry C. Wallace under President Harding.
Samuel Freeman Miller was an Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court. William B. Allison served as United States senator for thirty-six years, and in 1888 almost won the nomination for the presidency. Jonathan P. Dolliver, as United States senator, became known as Iowa's most noted orator.
Many Iowans in the House of Representatives have attained nation-wide fame. Robert G. Cousins, for example, electrified the whole country with his speech in 1898 about conditions in Cuba. William P. Hepburn became noted as an authority in railroad-rate legislation, and David B. Henderson was Speaker of the House for two terms. Indeed, the influence of Iowans in the affairs of the nation has been large.
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