History of the Constitutions of Iowa
by Benjamin F. Shambaugh
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On the other hand, Mr. Brown, Chairman of the Committee on Territories, said that the question of boundaries had been carefully investigated by his Committee, "and the conclusion to which they had come was to adhere to the boundary asked for by the people of Iowa, who were there, who had settled the country, and whose voice should be listened to in the matter."

Mr. Belser, of Alabama, was opposed to the Duncan amendment since it "aimed to admit as a State only a portion of Iowa at this time. This he would have no objection to, provided Florida is treated in the same way. He was for receiving both into the Confederacy, with like terms and restrictions. If Iowa is to come in without dismemberment, then let Florida enter in like manner; but if Iowa is divided, then let Florida be divided also."

Mr. Vinton, of Ohio, was the most vigorous champion of the Duncan amendment. He stood out firmly for a reduction of the boundaries proposed by the Iowa Convention because the country to the North and West of the new State, "from which two other States ought to be formed," would be left in a very inconvenient shape, and because the formation of such large States would deprive the West of "its due share of power in the Senate of the United States."

Mr. Vinton was "particularly anxious that a State of unsuitable extent should not be made in that part of the Western country, in consequence of the unwise and mistaken policy towards that section of the Union which has hitherto prevailed in forming Western States, by which the great valley of the Mississippi has been deprived, and irrevocably so, of its due share in the legislation of the country." As an equitable compensation to the West for this injustice he would make "a series of small States" on the West bank of the Mississippi.

Furthermore, Mr. Vinton did not think it politic to curtail the power of the West in the Senate of the United States by the establishment of large States, since in his opinion "the power of controlling this government in all its departments may be more safely intrusted to the West than in any other hands." The commercial interests of the people of the West were such as to make them desirous of protecting the capital and labor both of the North and the South.

Again, he declared that if disunion should ever be attempted "the West must and will rally to a man under the flag of the Union." "To preserve this Union, to make its existence immortal, is the high destiny assigned by Providence itself to this great central power."

The arguments for restriction prevailed, and the Duncan amendment, which proposed to substitute the Nicollet boundaries for the Lucas boundaries, passed the House of Representatives by a vote of ninety-one to forty.

In the Senate the bill as reported from the House was hurried through without much debate. Here the question of boundaries seems to have received no consideration whatever. There were, however, strong objections in some quarters to coupling Iowa with Florida in the matter of admission.

Senator Choate, of Massachusetts, called attention to the fact that this was the first instance in the history of the admission of States where it was proposed to admit two States by the same act. Under the circumstances he could welcome Iowa into the Union, but he could not give his hand to Florida. It could not be argued that Florida must be admitted to balance Iowa, since the admission of Texas was already more than a balance for the northern State. However appropriate it might have been at an earlier day to pair Florida with Iowa, it ought not to be thought of at this time. For, since the introduction of the bill, "we have admitted a territory on the southwest much larger than Iowa and Florida together—a territory that may be cut up into forty States larger than our small States, or five or six States as large as our largest States. Where and how is the balance to be found by the North and East for Texas? Where is it to be found but in the steadfast part of America? If not there, it can be found nowhere else. God grant it may be there! Everything has been changed. An empire in one region of the country has been added to the Union. Look east, west, or north, and you can find no balance for that."

Senator Evans touched upon the great issue when he proposed an amendment which provided that so far as Florida was concerned the bill should not take effect until the people had removed from their Constitution certain restrictions on the General Assembly relative to the emancipation of slaves and the emigration and immigration of free negroes or other persons of color. He was opposed to discriminations against free persons of color. Why, then, retorted a Senator from the South, do you not direct your artillery against the Constitution of Iowa which does not allow a colored person to vote?

No good reason had been urged showing why Iowa should not be admitted into the Union. All of the essential qualifications for statehood were present—a large and homogeneous population, wealth, morale, and republican political institutions. Congress did not pass an adverse judgment on the Constitution of 1844, since that instrument provided for a government which was Republican in form and satisfactory in minor details. Only one change was demanded, and that was in relation to the proposed boundaries. Here Congress insisted upon the Nicollet boundaries as incorporated in the act of admission of March 3rd, 1845, in opposition to the Lucas boundaries as provided for in the Constitution of 1844.



While Congress was discussing the boundaries of Iowa and carefully considering the effect which the admission of the new State might possibly have upon matters of National concern, the Constitution of 1844 was being subjected to analysis and criticism throughout the Territory. Moreover, it is interesting to note that the only provision of the Constitution which was held up and debated in Congress was the very one which was generally accepted by the people of the Territory without comment. Whigs and Democrats alike were satisfied with the Lucas boundaries. Nor did the people of Iowa at this time think or care anything about the preservation of the "balance of power." Their adoption of, and adherence to, the Lucas boundaries was founded upon local pride and commercial considerations.

Opposition to the Constitution of 1844 was at the outset largely a matter of partisan feeling. The Whigs very naturally opposed the ratification of a code of fundamental law which had been formulated by a Democratic majority. Then, too, they could not hope for many of the Federal and State offices which would be opened to Iowans after the establishment of Commonwealth organization. And so with genuine partisan zeal they attacked the instrument from Preamble to Schedule. Nothing escaped their ridicule and sarcasm. By the Democratic press they were charged with "an intent to keep Iowa out of the Union, so that her two Senators shall not ensure the vote of the United States Senate to Mr. Polk at the next session."

But the Whigs were not altogether alone in their opposition to the proposed Constitution, not even during the early weeks of the campaign. There was some disaffection among the Democrats themselves, that is, among the radicals who thought that the new code was not sufficiently Jeffersonian. The editor of the Dubuque Express, for example, was severe in his criticisms, but he intimated that he would vote for the Constitution in the interests of party discipline. The Bloomington Herald, on the other hand, although a strong organ of the Democracy, emphatically declared through its editorial columns that "admission under the Constitution would be a curse to us as a people."

As a party, however, the Democrats favored the Constitution of 1844, defended its provisions, and urged its adoption by the people. They held that as a code of fundamental law it was all that could be expected or desired, and with a zeal that equaled in every way the partisan efforts of the Whigs they labored for its ratification at the polls.

An examination of the arguments as set forth in the Territorial press reveals two classes of citizens who opposed ratification. First, there were those who were hostile to the Constitution because they did not want State government. Secondly, there were others who could not subscribe to the provisions and principles of the instrument itself.

The out-and-out opponents of State government continued to reiterate the old argument of "Economy." They would vote against the Constitution in order to prevent an increase in the burdens of taxation. This argument of itself could not possibly have defeated ratification, since there was at this time an overwhelming majority who desired admission into the Union. And yet the plea of economy (which always appealed strongly to the pioneers) undoubtedly contributed somewhat to the defeat and rejection of the Constitution of 1844.

Prior to the first of March, 1845, opposition to ratification was expressed chiefly in objections to the proposed Constitution. As a whole that instrument was characterized as "deficient in style, manner, and matter, and far behind the spirit of this enlightened age." It could not even be called a code of fundamental law, since it contained legislative as well as Constitutional provisions. It confounded statute law with Constitutional law.

In its detailed provisions and clauses the Constitution of 1844 was still less satisfactory to the opponents of ratification. They seemed to see everywhere running through the whole instrument erroneous principles, inexpedient provisions, and confused, inconsistent, and bungling language. They declared that the legislative, executive, and judicial departments of the government were not sufficiently separate and distinct. The principle of the separation of powers was clearly violated (1) by giving to the Executive the power of veto, and (2) by allowing the Lieutenant Governor to participate in the debates of the Senate. Nor were the popular powers—namely, the powers of sovereignty—always differentiated from the delegated powers—or, the powers of government.

The Constitution was roundly abused because it provided for the election of the Judges of the inferior courts by the people. To the minds of the critics the office of Judge was too sacred to be dragged into partisan politics and through corrupting campaigns. Judges ought not to be responsible to the people, but solely to their own consciences and to God. Likewise, it was contrary to the principles of efficient and harmonious administration to provide for the popular election of the Secretary of State, Auditor of Public Accounts, and Treasurer. Such positions should be filled by executive appointment.

Again, the Constitution was attacked because it provided for biennial instead of annual elections. The salaries fixed for State officers were "niggardly and insufficient." The method prescribed for amending the Constitution was altogether too tedious and too uncertain. The provisions relative to corporations were too narrow, since they restrained the General Assembly from providing for internal improvements. By requiring all charters of banks and banking institutions to be submitted to a direct vote of the people, the Constitution practically prevented the organization and establishment of such institutions.

Finally, objections were made to that section of the Bill of Rights which provided that no evidence in any court of law or equity should be excluded in consequence of the religious opinions of the witness. To some it was horrifying to think of admitting the testimony of non-believers and Atheists.

Such were the arguments against ratification which were advanced by the opponents of the Constitution of 1844. However, that instrument was not so defective as pictured, since back of all objections and all opposition was the mainspring of partisan politics. The Whigs were bent on frustrating the program of the Democrats. Were they able to defeat the Constitution on the issue of its imperfections? No, not even with the assistance of the radical Democrats! But fortunately for the cause of the opposition a new and powerful objection to ratification appeared in the closing weeks of the campaign. The news that Congress had, by the act of March 3, 1844, rejected the boundaries prescribed by the Iowa Convention reached the Territory just in time to determine the fate of the Constitution of 1844.

A close examination of this act of Congress revealed the fact that the fourth section thereof conditioned the admission of Iowa upon the acceptance of the Nicollet boundaries "by a majority of the qualified electors at their township elections, in the manner and at the time prescribed in the sixth section of the thirteenth article of the constitution adopted at Iowa City the first day of November, anno Domini eighteen hundred and forty-four, or by the Legislature of said State." Moreover, it was found that the provisions of the Constitution of 1844 just quoted read as follows: "This constitution, together with whatever conditions may be made to the same by Congress, shall be ratified or rejected by a vote of the qualified electors of this Territory at the township elections in April next, in the manner prescribed by the act of the Legislative Assembly providing for the holding of this Convention: Provided, however, that the General Assembly of this State may ratify or reject any conditions Congress may make to this Constitution after the first Monday of April next."

In the light of these provisions it appeared to the people of Iowa that a vote cast for the Constitution would be a vote for the Constitution as modified by the act of Congress. This view was altogether plausible since no provision had been made for a separate ballot on the conditions imposed by Congress. And so it was thought that a ratification of the Constitution would carry with it an acceptance of the Nicollet boundaries, while a rejection of the Constitution would imply a decided stand in favor of the Lucas boundaries.

Those who during the fall and winter had opposed ratification now renewed their opposition with augmented zeal. The Whigs turned from their petty attacks upon the provisions of the Constitution to denounce the conditions imposed by Congress. They declared that the Constitution must be defeated in order to reject the undesirable Nicollet boundaries.

The boundary question now led a considerable number of the more moderate Democrats to oppose ratification. Prominent leaders of the party took the stump and declared that it would be better to reject the Constitution altogether than to accept the limited boundaries proposed by Congress. They declared that the "natural boundaries" as prescribed by the Constitution should not be curtailed, and called upon all good Democrats to vote down their own Constitution. Many, however, continued to support ratification, believing that the boundaries imposed by the act of Congress were the best that could be obtained under the existing conditions. Augustus Dodge, the Iowa Delegate in Congress, took this stand.

When the Constitution of 1844 was before Congress Mr. Dodge had stood firmly for the boundaries as proposed in that instrument. But on the day after the act of March 3, 1845, had been signed by the President, he addressed a letter to his constituents in Iowa advising them to ratify the Constitution and accept the Nicollet boundaries as prescribed by Congress. Mr. Dodge thought that the State would still be large enough. He knew that the country along the Missouri river was fertile, but "the dividing ridge of the waters running into the Mississippi and Missouri rivers, called the 'Hills of the Prairie,' and which has been excluded from our new State, is barren and sterile." He called attention to the fact that the boundaries prescribed by Congress were those suggested by Mr. Nicollet, a United States Geologist, "who had accurately and scientifically examined the whole country lying between the Mississippi and Missouri rivers." Then he pointed out the influences which operated in reducing the boundaries, and concluded by saying: "Forming my opinion from extensive inquiry and observation, I must in all candor inform you that, whatever your decision on the first Monday in April next may be, we will not be able hereafter under any circumstances to obtain one square mile more for our new State than is contained within the boundaries adopted by the act of Congress admitting Iowa into the Union."

From the returns of the election it was evident that Mr. Dodge's constituents either did not take him seriously or were sure that he was mistaken in his conclusions. The Constitution of 1844 was rejected by a majority of 996 votes.

The result of the election was such as to "astound the friends of the Constitution and to surprise everybody, both friend and foe." Those who had labored for ratification throughout the campaign abused the Whigs for opposing so perfect an instrument, censured the Convention for submitting the Constitution to Congress before it had been ratified by the people, and preferred general charges of misrepresentation. The friends of the Constitution clamored loudly for a resubmission of the code of fundamental law as it had come from the Convention, so that the people might have an opportunity to pass upon it free from conditions and without misrepresentation. Within a few weeks the seventh Legislative Assembly of the Territory was to meet in regular session. The members would be asked to give the Constitution of 1844 another chance.



On Monday the fifth day of May, 1845, the Legislative Assembly of the Territory met in regular session. Three days later a message from Governor Chambers was presented and read to the members, whereby they were informed that the vote in April had certainly resulted in the rejection of the Constitution. "And," continued the Governor, "there is reason to believe that the boundary offered us by Congress had much influence in producing that result."

Believing that the rejection of the Constitution by the people called for some action on the part of the Assembly, Governor Chambers proposed and recommended "that the question be again submitted to the people, whether or not they will at this time have a Convention." But a majority of the Assembly were in favor of re-submitting the Constitution of 1844 as it had come from the hands of the Convention. A bill to re-submit was accordingly introduced and hurried through to its final passage.

A formal and solemn protest from the minority, signed by nine members and entered on the journal of the House of Representatives, set forth the leading objections to re-submission. 1. The Assembly had no delegated power to pass such a measure. 2. The act was designed to control rather than ascertain public sentiment. 3. The Constitution of 1844 had been deliberately rejected by the people. 4. No memorial indicating a change of opinion had been sent up by the people since the election. 5. In the April election the people had not been misled; they voted intelligently; and their ballots were cast against the Constitution itself. The conditions imposed by Congress "doubtless had influence in different sections of the Territory, both for and against it. What was lost on the North and South by the change, was practically made up by the vote of the center where the Congressional boundaries are more acceptable than those defined in the Constitution." 6. The question of territory being a "minor consideration," the Constitution was rejected principally on account of its inherent defects. 7. Under no consideration should the Constitution of 1844 be again submitted to the people since it embodied so many objectionable provisions.

Although the bill for re-submission had passed both branches of the Assembly by a safe majority, Governor Chambers did not hesitate to withhold his assent. On June 6 he returned it to the Council. But it is difficult to ascertain the precise grounds upon which the Governor withheld his approval, since his message deals with conditions rather than objections. In the first place he reviewed the conditions under which the Constitution of 1844 had at the same time been submitted to Congress and to the people of the Territory. Then he pointed out that, whereas a poll was taken on the Constitution according to law, no provision had been made for a separate poll on the conditions imposed by Congress. This, he thought, produced such confusion in the public mind as to cause the defeat of the Constitution. To be sure, he had proposed and was still in favor of submitting the question of a Convention to the people. But he would not now insist on such a policy. He freely admitted that the Legislative Assembly had the power to pass the measure before him. At the same time it seemed to him that, should the Constitution of 1844 be re-submitted to the people, it would simply give rise to confusion in attempts to reconcile and harmonize the various provisions of the statutes of the Territory, the act of Congress, and the Constitution.

In the face of the Governor's veto the bill to re-submit the Constitution passed both branches of the Assembly by the requisite two-thirds majority, and on June 10, 1845, was declared by the Secretary of the Territory to be a law. It provided "that the Constitution as it came from the hands of the late Convention" be once more submitted to the people for their ratification or rejection. It directed that a poll be opened for that purpose at the general election to be held on the first Monday of August, 1845. The votes of the electors were to be given viva voce. Furthermore, it was expressly provided that the ratification of the Constitution "shall not be construed as an acceptance of the boundaries fixed by Congress in the late act of admission, and the admission shall not be deemed complete until whatever condition may be imposed by Congress, shall be ratified by the people."

Thus the people were again asked to pass upon the Constitution of 1844. The campaign of the summer of 1845 was very much like the campaign of the spring. All of the leading arguments both for and against the Constitution were repeated in the press and on the stump. The parties divided on the same lines as before, except that the Whigs in their opposition had the assistance of a much larger Democratic contingent.

One is surprised to find, in connection with the boundary question, little or no mention of "slavery," the "balance of power," or the "small State policy." Indeed the people of Iowa seemed wholly indifferent to these larger problems of National Politics. It is perhaps the most remarkable fact in the fascinating history of the Constitution of 1844 that, in the dispute over boundaries, the parties did not join issue on common grounds. Congress, on the one hand, desired to curtail the boundaries of Iowa for the purpose of creating a greater number of Northern States to balance the slave States of the South; whereas the people of Iowa protested against such curtailment not because of any balance-of-power considerations, but simply because they wanted a large State which would embrace the fertile regions of the Missouri on the West and of the St. Peters on the North.

Augustus C. Dodge naturally received a good deal of criticism and abuse about this time on account of his March letter advising the acceptance of the boundaries proposed by Congress. By the Whigs he was set down as "a deserter of the people's cause." Even the Legislative Assembly, which was Democratic, resolved "that the Delegate in Congress be instructed to insist unconditionally on the Convention boundaries, and in no case to accept anything short of the St. Peters on the North, and the Missouri on the West, as the Northern and Western limits of the future State of Iowa." Mr. Dodge was not the man to oppose the known wishes of his constituents; and so, after June 10, 1845, he was found earnestly advocating the larger boundaries.

One of the most interesting phases of the campaign was a surprising revelation in regard to the attitude and ambitions of the people living in the Northern part of the Territory—particularly the inhabitants of the city and county of Dubuque. In 1844 the people of this region had been in favor of extending the boundary as far North as the St. Peters; and in the Constitutional Convention of that year Mr. Langworthy, of Dubuque, had gone so far as to advocate the forty-fifth parallel of latitude as a line of division. But on April 26, 1845, the Bloomington Herald declared that a proposition had gone out from Dubuque to divide the Territory on the North by a line running due West from the Mississippi between the counties of Jackson and Clinton and townships eighty-three and eighty-four. Later it was said that the Dubuque Transcript was altogether serious in reference to this proposed division.

These charges were not without foundation; for the records of Congress show that in May, 1846, the Speaker of the House of Representatives "presented a memorial of the citizens of the Territory of Iowa north of the forty-second degree of north latitude, praying for the establishment of a new territorial government, extending from the Mississippi river between the parallel of forty-two degrees and the northern boundary line of the United States. Also a memorial of Thomas McKnight and others, citizens of Dubuque county, in said Territory of like import."

The official returns of the August election showed that the Constitution of 1844 had been rejected a second time. But the majority against its ratification had been cut down by at least one half. Angry with disappointment the editor of the Iowa Capital Reporter declared that its defeat was due to "the pertinacious and wilful misrepresentation of the Whig press relative to the boundaries."



When the members of the eighth Legislative Assembly of the Territory of Iowa met in the Capitol on the first Monday of December, 1845, they found that, as a result of the rejection of the Constitution of 1844, they were face to face with the question which for six years had confronted the pioneer law-makers of Iowa as the greatest political issue of the Territorial period. They found that the whole problem of State organization was before them for reconsideration.

It was found also that Politics had worked some changes in the government of the Territory. John Chambers, who upon the completion of his first term as Governor had been promptly reappointed in 1844 by President Tyler, was as cheerfully removed by President Polk in 1845. And the Democracy of Iowa rejoiced over this manifestation of Jacksonianism. They believed that they would now have a Governor after their own heart—a Democrat who would have confidence in the people and respect the acts of their representatives. To be sure, the first Governor of the Territory of Iowa was a Democrat; but Robert Lucas had been altogether too independent. He had presumed to point out and correct the errors and blunders of the Assembly; whereas a true Democratic Governor was one who did not lead, but always followed the wisdom of the masses.

James Clarke, the new Governor, was a citizen of Burlington and editor of the Territorial Gazette. During his residence in the Territory he had always taken an active part in Politics. In 1844 he served as a Delegate in the Constitutional Convention. Before this he had acted as Territorial Librarian; and for a short time he filled the office of Secretary of the Territory.

Governor Clarke regretted the fate of the Constitution which he had helped to frame. In his message of December 3, 1845, he said: "Since your adjournment in June last, a most important question has been decided by the people, the effect of which is to throw us back where we originally commenced in our efforts to effect a change in the form of government under which we at present live.—I allude to the rejection of the Constitution at the August election. This result, however brought about, in my judgment, is one greatly to be deplored.—That misrepresentation and mystification had much to do in effecting it, there can be no doubt; still it stands as the recorded judgment of the people; and to that judgment until the people themselves reverse the decree, it is our duty to submit."

As to recommendations in reference to this problem the Governor was cautious. He favored State organization, because he thought that "the prosperity of Iowa would be greatly advanced by her speedy incorporation into the Union as a State." But he did not presume to recommend a particular course of action; he simply assured the Assembly of his hearty co-operation in any measure which might be enacted looking toward the accomplishment of the desired end, that is, the early admission of Iowa into the Union.

Confident that the people of Iowa really desired State organization and were anxious for its immediate establishment, the Legislative Assembly passed a bill providing for the election of delegates to a Constitutional Convention. This act, which was approved January 17, 1846, called for the election by the people of thirty-two delegates at the township elections in April. The delegates were directed to meet at Iowa City on the first Monday of May, 1846, "and proceed to form a Constitution and State Government for the future State of Iowa." When completed the draft of the code of fundamental law was to be submitted to the people for ratification or rejection at the first general election thereafter. If ratified by the people it was then to be submitted to Congress with the request that Iowa be admitted into the Union "upon an equal footing with the original States." Thus the Legislative Assembly forestalled the possibility of a repetition of the blunder of submitting to Congress a Constitution before it had been passed upon by the people. There was no serious opposition to the course outlined by the Assembly, for a large majority of the people were now anxious to see the matter of State organization carried to a successful conclusion.

Owing to the absence of vital issues, the canvass preceding the election of delegates was not what would be called an enthusiastic campaign. There was of course a party struggle between the Whigs and the Democrats for the seats in the Convention. But the Whigs, "aware of their hopeless minority," advocated a "non-partisan election." They clamored for a "no-party Constitution,"—one free from party principles—for they did not want to see the Constitution of the State of Iowa made the reservoir of party creeds. They contended, therefore, that the delegates to the Convention should be chosen without reference to party affiliations.

The Democrats, however, were not misled by the seductive cry of the Whigs. They proceeded to capture as many seats as possible. Everywhere they instructed their candidates to vote against banks. When the returns were all in it was found that they had elected more than two-thirds of the whole number of delegates.

Of the thirty-two delegates who were elected to seats in the Convention of 1846, ten were Whigs and twenty-two were Democrats. Fifteen of the members were born in the South, eight in the New England States, four in the Middle States, and five in Ohio. Of those born in the South six were from Kentucky, four from Virginia, three from North Carolina, one from Alabama, and one from Maryland. The eight members born in New England were four from Vermont and four from Connecticut. The oldest member of the Convention was sixty-seven, the youngest twenty three; while the average age of all was about thirty-seven years. As to occupation, there were thirteen farmers, seven lawyers, four merchants, four physicians, one mechanic, one plasterer, one smelter, and one trader.

It was on the morning of May 4, 1846, that the second Constitutional Convention met in the rooms of the Old Stone Capitol at Iowa City. Thirty names were entered on the roll. James Grant, a delegate from Scott county who had served in the first Convention, called the members to order. William Thompson (not a member) was appointed Secretary pro tem. Such was the temporary organization. It lasted but a few minutes; for, immediately after the roll had been called, Enos Lowe, of Des Moines county, was chosen, viva voce, President of the Convention. Mr. Thompson was retained as permanent Secretary, Wm. A. Skinner was named as the Sergeant-at-Arms. At this point "the Rev. Mr. Smith invoked a blessing from the Deity upon the future labors of the Convention." This was the only prayer offered during the entire session. Some time was saved by the immediate adoption of the rules of the Convention of 1844.

In the afternoon it was agreed to have six regular standing Committees. These were: (1) On Boundaries and Bill of Rights; (2) On Executive Department; (3) On Legislative Department, Suffrage, Citizenship, Education, and School Lands; (4) On Judicial Department; (5) On Incorporations, Internal Improvements, and State Debts; and (6) On Schedule.

It is unfortunate that only the barest fragments have been preserved of what was said in the Convention of 1846. The official journal and a few speeches are all that have come down to us. The debates could not have been very long, however, since the entire session of the Convention did not cover more than fifteen days. The discussion for the most part was confined to those subjects upon which there had been a marked difference of opinion in the earlier Convention or which had received attention in the campaigns of 1845. Indeed, the fact that Boundaries, Incorporations, Banks, Salaries, Suffrage, Executive Veto, Elective Judiciary, and Individual Rights were among the important topics of debate is evidence of a desire on the part of the Convention to formulate a code of fundamental law that would not meet with the criticisms which were so lavishly heaped upon the Constitution of 1844.

The Convention of 1846 was certainly in earnest in its desire to draft a Constitution which would be approved by the people. Enos Lowe, the President, had at the outset informed the members that they were elected "to form a new Constitution." But the attitude of the Convention is nowhere better expressed than in the following action which was taken on the eleventh day of May: "Whereas, In the opinion of this Convention, it is all important that the Constitution formed here at this time, be so framed as to meet with the approbation of a majority of the electors of this Territory, therefore,

"Resolved, That a committee of three be added to the Supervisory Committee, whose duty shall be to enquire into the sectional feelings on the different parts of a Constitution, and to report such alterations as to them appears most likely to obviate the various objections that may operate against the adoption of this Constitution."

By the nineteenth of May the Convention of 1846 had completed its labors. In comparison with the Convention of 1844 its history may be summed up in the one word, "Economy." The Convention of 1846 contained thirty-two members; that of 1844, seventy-two. The former continued in session fifteen days; the latter twenty-six days. The expenditures of the second Convention did not exceed $2,844.07; while the total cost of the first Convention was $7,850.20. Here then was economy in men, economy in time, and economy in expenditures. The thrifty pioneers were proud of the record.



The Constitution of 1846 was modeled upon the Constitution of 1844, although it was by no means a servile copy of that twice rejected instrument. Both codes were drawn up according to the same general plan, and were composed of the same number of articles, dealing substantially with the same subjects. The Constitution of 1846, however, was not so long as the Constitution of 1844 and was throughout more carefully edited.

Article I. on "Preamble and Boundaries" does not contain the quotation from the preamble of the Federal Constitution which was made a part of the corresponding article in the Constitution of 1844. As to boundary specifications, the only material difference is found in the shifting of the line on the North from the St. Peters to the parallel of forty-three and one half degrees of North latitude. This new boundary was a compromise between the boundaries suggested by Lucas and those proposed by Nicollet.

The "Bill of Rights," which constitutes Article II., contained one additional section, which aimed to disqualify all citizens who should participate in dueling from holding any office under the Constitution and laws of the State.

Article III. on the "Right of Suffrage" reads the same as in the Constitution of 1844, although in the Convention of 1846 a strong effort had been made to extend this political right to resident foreigners who had declared their intention of becoming citizens.

Article IV. on the composition, organization, and powers of the General Assembly contained four items which differed materially from the provisions of the Constitution of 1844. First, it was provided that the sessions of the General Assembly should commence on the first Monday of January instead of on the first Monday of December. Secondly, the Senate was to choose its own presiding officer. Thirdly, all bills for revenue must originate in the House of Representatives. Fourthly, the salaries for ten years were fixed as follows: for Governor $1,000; for Secretary of State $500; for Treasurer $400; for Auditor $600; and for Judges of the Supreme Court and District Courts $1,000.

Article V. on "Executive Department" differs from the corresponding article in the Constitution of 1844 in that the office of Lieutenant Governor is omitted, while the term of the Governor is made four years instead of two.

Article VI., which provides for the Judiciary, limits the term of the Judges of the Supreme Court and District Courts to four years.

Articles VII. and VIII. on "Militia" and "State Debts" respectively are the same as in the earlier Constitution.

Article IX. on "Incorporations" is a radical departure from the provisions of the old Constitution. The General Assembly is empowered to provide general laws with reference to corporations, but is restrained from creating such institutions by special laws. At the same time the article provides that "no corporate body shall hereafter be created, renewed, or extended, with the privilege of making, issuing, or putting in circulation, any bill, check, ticket, certificate, promissory note, or other paper, or the paper of any bank, to circulate as money. The General Assembly of this State shall prohibit, by law, any person or persons, association, company or corporation, from exercising the privileges of banking, or creating paper to circulate as money."

Article X. on "Education and School Lands" directs the General Assembly to "provide for the election, by the people, of a Superintendent of Public Instruction" and to "encourage by all suitable means, the promotion of intellectual, scientific, moral and agricultural improvement."

Article XI. on "Amendments of the Constitution" provided but one method of effecting changes in the fundamental law. The General Assembly was empowered to provide at any time for a vote of the people on the question of a Convention to "revise or amend this Constitution." If a majority of the people favored a Convention, then the General Assembly was to provide for the election of delegates.

Article XII. contains three "miscellaneous" items relative to (a) the jurisdiction of Justices of the Peace, (b) the size of new counties, and (c) the location of lands granted to the State.

Article XIII. on "Schedule" provided, among other things, that the Governor should by proclamation appoint the time for holding the first general election under the Constitution; but such election must be held within three months of the adoption of the Constitution. Likewise, the Governor was empowered to fix the day of the first meeting of the General Assembly of the State, which day, however, must be within four months of the ratification of the Constitution by the people.

It is, moreover, interesting to note that while the Constitution of 1844 prescribed in general outline a system of county and township government, the Constitution of 1846 left the whole matter of local government to future legislation.



While the people of the Territory of Iowa were preparing for and holding a second Constitutional Convention, and while they were debating the provisions of the new Constitution of 1846, Congress was reconsidering the boundaries of the proposed State. The matter had been called up early in the session by the Iowa Delegate.

Mr. Dodge, having been re-elected, returned to Washington with the determination of carrying out his instructions so far as the boundary question was concerned. And so, on December 19, 1845, he asked leave to introduce "A Bill to define the boundaries of the State of Iowa, and to repeal so much of the act of the 3rd of March, 1845, as relates to the boundaries of Iowa." The original copy of this bill, which has been preserved in the office of the Clerk of the House of Representatives, bears testimony to Mr. Dodge's fidelity to promises made to the people; for the description of boundaries therein is a clipping from the Preamble of the printed pamphlet edition of the Constitution of 1844. In discussing the question later in the session he referred to his pledges as follows: "I know, Mr. Chairman, what are the wishes and sentiments of the people of Iowa upon this subject. It is but lately, sir, that I have undergone the popular ordeal upon this question; and I tell you, in all candor and sincerity, that I would not be in this Hall to-day if I had not made them the most solemn assurances that all my energies and whatever influence I possessed would be exerted to procure for them the fifty-seven thousand square miles included within the limits designated in their original constitution. It was in conformity with pledges that I had given them personally, with instructions which I knew I had received from them at the ballot-box, that I introduced, at an early day of the present session, the bill imbodying the boundaries of their choice."

It was not, however, until March 27, 1846, that Mr. Stephen A. Douglas, from the Committee on the Territories to whom Mr. Dodge's bill had been referred, reported an "amendatory bill." This bill, which was introduced to take the place of the original bill, rejected the boundaries of the Constitution of 1844 and proposed the parallel of forty-three degrees and thirty minutes as the Northern boundary line of the new State. It was committed to the Committee of the Whole House on the State of the Union, wherein it was discussed on the eighth of June and reported back to the House. On the ninth of June the amendatory bill was taken up by the House and passed. It was reported to the Senate without delay, but was not passed by that body until the first day of August. On the fourth day of August the act received the approval of President Polk.

The most important discussion of the bill was in the House of Representatives on the eighth day of June. An attempt was made to reduce the State on the North. Mr. Rockwell, of Massachusetts, moved to amend by striking out the words "forty-three and thirty minutes" where they occur and inserting in lieu thereof "forty-two degrees." He understood from a memorial which had been presented to the House that the people in the Northern part of the Territory did not wish to be included within the proposed boundaries.

Mr. Douglas said that he was now in favor of the new boundaries as proposed by the Committee on the Territories. He declared that the boundaries of the act of March 3, 1845, "would be the worst that could be agreed upon; the most unnatural; the most inconvenient for the State itself, and leaving the balance of the territory in the worst shape for the formation of other new States." As to the memorial from Dubuque recommending the parallel of forty-two degrees, Mr. Douglas said that he was aware of the influences which produced it. The people of Dubuque "wished either for such an arrangement as should cause Dubuque to be the largest town in a little State, or else to make it the central town of a large State."

Mr. Rathburn, of New York, was opposed to the lines laid down in the bill. He favored less extensive boundaries because he desired to preserve "the balance of power" in the Union by the creation of small States in the West. He "was against making Empires; he preferred that we should have States in this Union."

Mr. Vinton, of Ohio, said that in the last session of Congress "no question except that of Texas had excited more interest in the House." He did not think that the people of the Territory should decide the question of boundaries; and he asserted that "if Congress was willing to let the people of Iowa cut and carve for themselves, he did not doubt that they would have their State extend to the mouth of the Columbia."

The strongest speech, perhaps, in the whole debate was that of the Iowa Delegate. Mr. Dodge reviewed the history of the boundary dispute and pointed out that both he and the people of Iowa had pursued a firm and honorable course. He showed that many of the States were as large as or even larger than the proposed State of Iowa. Referring to the boundary proposed in the act of March 3, 1845, he said: "It will never be accepted by the people of Iowa." But he produced letters to show that the Iowa Convention of 1846 were willing to accept the compromise boundary proposed in the bill under discussion. "Thus, sir, it is now apparent that, if the House will pass the bill reported by the Committee on Territories, it will put an end to this question. The convention of Iowa have met the advances of the Committee on Territories of this House."

Mr. Vinton then "moved an amendment, fixing the 43d parallel as the northern boundary." This was a tempting proposition. But Mr. Dodge stood firmly for the parallel of forty-three degrees and thirty minutes, and closed his remarks with these words: "I admonish the majority of this House that if the amendment of the gentleman from Ohio is to prevail, they might as well pass an act for our perpetual exclusion from the Union. Sir, the people of Iowa will never acquiesce in it."

From the Journal of the Iowa Convention of 1846, it appears that when the Committee on Preamble and Boundaries made their report on the morning of the second day of the Convention they recommended the compromise boundaries which had already been proposed by the Committee on the Territories in the National House of Representatives. But when the report was taken up for consideration several days later an amendment was offered which proposed to substitute the boundaries as described in the Constitution of 1844. On a test ballot the vote of the Convention stood twenty-two to eight in favor of the amendment. This was on the eighth of May. Six days later a resolution instructing the Committee on Revision to amend the article on boundaries so as to read as follows was adopted by a vote of eighteen to thirteen:

"Beginning in the middle of the main channel of the Mississippi river, at a point due east of the middle of the mouth of the main channel of the Des Moines river; thence up the middle of the main channel of the said Des Moines river, to a point on said river where the northern boundary line of the State of Missouri, as established by the Constitution of that State, adopted June 12th, 1820, crosses the said middle of the main channel of the said Des Moines river; thence westwardly, along the said northern boundary line of the State of Missouri, as established at the time aforesaid, until, an extension of said line intersects the middle of the main channel of the Missouri river; thence, up the middle of the main channel of the said Missouri river, to a point opposite the middle of the main channel of the Big Sioux river, according to Nicollet's map; thence up the main channel of the said Big Sioux river, according to said map, until it is intersected by the parallel of forty-three degrees and thirty minutes north latitude; thence east, along said parallel of forty-three degrees and thirty minutes, until said parallel intersects the middle of the main channel of the Mississippi river; thence down the middle of the main channel of said Mississippi river to the place of beginning."

These were in substance the compromise boundaries which were first proposed in Congress by the Committee on the Territories on March 27, 1846. Their precise description, however, was the work of the Iowa Convention. Congress promptly adopted this description in the Act of August 4, 1846, by striking out the words of the bill then pending and inserting the language of the Iowa Convention as used in the Preamble to their Constitution.



When submitted to the people the Constitution of 1846 was vigorously opposed by the Whigs who insisted that it was a party instrument. Their attitude and arguments are nowhere better set forth than in the address of Wm. Penn Clarke to the electors of the counties of Muscatine, Johnson, and Iowa. Mr. Clarke had come to the conclusion, after reading the proposed code of fundamental law, that its ratification would "prove greatly detrimental, if not entirely ruinous to the nearest and dearest interests of the people, by retarding the growth of the proposed State, in population, commerce, wealth and prosperity." This conviction led him to oppose the adoption of the Constitution of 1846.

First, he objected to the Constitution "because it entirely prohibits the establishing of banking institutions,"—institutions which are absolutely essential to the economic welfare and industrial development of the State. He contended that this "inhibition of banks is not an inhibition of bank paper as a circulating medium. . . . . The question is narrowed down to the single point, whether we will have banks of our own, and a currency of our own creation, and under our own control, or whether we will become dependent on other States for such a circulating medium . . . . By prohibiting the creation of banks, we but disable ourselves, and substitute a foreign currency for a home currency. The effect of the article on Incorporations will be to make Iowa the plunder ground of all banks in the Union."

Secondly, Mr. Clarke opposed the adoption of the Constitution of 1846 because of the provisions in the eighth and ninth articles. He maintained that the article on State Debts was "tantamount to an inhibition" of the construction of Internal Improvements by the State government; while the article on Incorporations aimed to prohibit the people from making such improvements.

Thirdly, he protested against the "experiment" of an elective judicial system, since the election of the judges "is calculated to disrobe our Courts of Justice of their sacred character." Mr. Clarke would not "deny the right or the competency of the people to elect their judicial officers;" but he pointed out that the effect would be "to place upon the bench political partisans," and "to elevate to the judiciary second or third rate men in point of talents and legal acquirements."

Fourthly, the Constitution should be rejected because it contains no provision securing to the people the right to elect their township and county officers. Furthermore, it is "entirely silent with reference to county and township organization."

Fifthly, Mr. Clarke argued against the adoption of the Constitution because "not a single letter can be stricken from it without calling a Convention." He declared that the Democrats, after incorporating into the Constitution "partizan dogmas," so formulated the article on Amendments as to make their creed permanent.

In the closing paragraphs of this remarkable arraignment of the proposed Constitution, Mr. Clarke referred to local interests in connection with the location of the State Capital. Iowa City, he said, had been founded "with a view to its being the permanent Capital of the State." But the new boundaries, proposed by the Committee on the Territories, would, if adopted, threaten the permanency of the Iowa City location. Indeed, Mr. Clarke went so far as to intimate that the relocation of the Capital was a part of Mr. Dodge's program in connection with the solution of the boundary problem. Curtailing the State on the North and extending it at the same time to the Missouri on the West meant the ultimate shifting of the Capital to the Raccoon Forks. Mr. Clarke concluded the prophecy by saying that "to quiet the center, we shall probably be promised a State University, or something of that character, and then be cheated in the end."

Such were the leading objections to the ratification of the Constitution of 1846 as urged by the Whigs in the press and on the stump. They were supported by the more conservative Democrats who protested against the article on Incorporations and the article on Amendments. A large majority of the people, however, were impatient for the establishment of State organization. For the time they were even willing to overlook the defects of the proposed Constitution. Many voted for the instrument with the hope of remedying its imperfections after admission into the Union had once been effected.

The Constitution of 1846 narrowly escaped defeat. At the polls on August 3, 1846, its supporters, according to the Governor's proclamation, were able to command a majority of only four hundred and fifty-six out of a total of eighteen thousand five hundred and twenty-eight votes.

On September 9, 1846, Governor Clarke, as directed by the Territorial statute of January 17, 1846, issued a formal proclamation declaring the ratification and adoption of the Constitution. In the same proclamation, and in accordance with the provisions of the new Constitution, the Governor designated "Monday, The 26th Day of October Next" as the time for holding the first general election for State officers. The returns of this election showed that the Democrats had succeeded in electing Ansel Briggs, their candidate for Governor, by a majority of one hundred and sixty-one votes. The same party also captured a majority of the seats in the first General Assembly.

Following the directions of the Schedule in the new Constitution, Governor Clarke issued a proclamation on November fifth in which he named Monday, November 30, 1846, as the day for the first meeting of the General Assembly. On December second the Territorial Governor transmitted his last message to the Legislature.

It was on Thursday morning, December 3, 1846, that the Senators and Representatives assembled together in the hall of the House of Representatives in the Old Stone Capitol to witness the inauguration of the new Governor. Here in the presence of the General Assembly Judge Charles Mason, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the Territory, administered the oath of office to the first Governor of the State of Iowa.

Twelve days after the inauguration of the State Governor at Iowa City, Mr. Dodge presented to the House of Representatives at Washington a copy of the Constitution of Iowa. The document was at once referred to the Committee on the Territories, from which a bill for the admission of Iowa into the Union was reported through Mr. Stephen A. Douglas on December seventeenth. It was made a special order of the day for Monday, December twenty-first, when it was debated and passed. Reported to the Senate on the twenty-second, it was there referred to the Committee on the Judiciary. This Committee reported the bill back to the Senate without amendment. After some consideration it passed the Senate on December twenty-fourth. Four days later it received the approval of President Polk. The existence of Iowa as one of the Commonwealths of the United States of America dates, therefore, from the TWENTY-EIGHTH DAY OF DECEMBER, ONE THOUSAND EIGHT HUNDRED AND FORTY-SIX.

The act of admission declares that Iowa is "admitted into the Union on an equal footing with the original States in all respects whatsoever," and provides that all the provisions of "An Act supplemental to the Act for the Admission of the States of Iowa and Florida into the Union" approved March 3, 1845, shall continue in full force "as applicable to the State of Iowa." The conditions contained in the provisions of this act, which had been substituted by Congress in lieu of the provisions of the Ordinance submitted by the Convention of 1844, were finally accepted by the General Assembly of the State in an act approved January 17, 1849.



Throughout Iowa there was a very general feeling of satisfaction with the new political status which came with the establishment of State government and admission into the Union. Having outlived the conditions of Territorial government the pioneers of Iowa now entered into the new political life without regret. They rejoiced over the fact that they were recognized as a part of a great Nation. They appreciated the significance of the change. Nor were the pioneers of Iowa strangers to National political life. As settlers on the Public Domain they were in a very special sense children of the Nation. They had always cherished the inheritances of the "Fathers." But now the days of dependence were over. Henceforth this people of the frontier would strengthen the whole country with their own political ideas and ideals. They would, indeed, help to vitalize the Politics of the Nation with the provincial spirit of Western Democracy.

On the other hand, the people of Iowa did not accept their new State Constitution without reservations. Wm. Penn Clarke's address had been widely read and his arguments were accepted not alone by the Whigs. In fact the Constitution of 1846 had not been adopted altogether on its merits. The people were anxious to get into the Union, and they voted for the Constitution as the shortest road to admission. They meant to correct its errors afterwards.

In 1848 the editor of the Iowa City Standard asserted that the Constitution of 1846 had been "accepted purely from motives of expediency, and with a tacit understanding that it was to receive some slight amendments as soon as they could constitutionally and legally be made. And but for this it would have been rejected by a very handsome majority. No well informed citizen can deny this."

And so the Constitution of 1846 had scarcely been ratified at the polls before an agitation looking toward its amendment or revision was begun. As early as August 19, 1846, the Iowa City Standard declared that "three fourths of the people of Iowa have determined that, cost what it may, the Ninth Article shall not remain unaltered in the Constitution."

During the first session of the General Assembly of the State a bill providing for an expression of the opinion of the people of Iowa upon the subject of amendment passed the House of Representatives, but was indefinitely postponed in the Senate by a vote of ten to eight. This was in February, 1847. In 1848 the question of Constitutional amendment was made an issue in the political campaign. The Whigs advocated amendment or revision; while the Democrats as a rule stood for the Constitution as ratified in 1846.

A bill providing for an expression of opinion by the people was again introduced in the House of Representatives during the second session of the General Assembly, but was indefinitely postponed after the second reading. A similar bill was rejected by the House during the third session. During the fourth regular session petitions favorable to amendment were received from the people.

In the meantime Stephen Hempstead was elected to the office of Governor. He had been opposed to the agitation for Constitutional revision, and in his first Message of December 7, 1852, he said: "I cannot avoid a feeling of deep concern at the opinion expressed by some portion of our fellow citizens in favor of amending the Constitution of our State in such a manner as to authorize the establishment of Banks—of special acts of incorporation for pecuniary profit, and of contracting State debts without limitations of the General Assembly." In the same document he urged "upon the General Assembly the propriety of passing a law to prohibit the circulation of all bank notes of a less denomination than ten dollars." When he retired from office in December, 1854, he still declared that he saw no "imperative reason why our Constitution should be amended." But his successor, Governor Grimes, favored submitting the question of revision and amendment to the people.

The necessity for a Convention to revise the Constitution of 1846 had become imperative. Iowa was flooded with a depreciated paper currency from other States. Gold and silver money was scarce. The few pieces which found their way into the State were hoarded either to pay taxes or to pay for government land.

Finally, "An Act providing for the revision or amendment of the Constitution of this State" was passed by the fifth General Assembly and approved by Governor Grimes, January 24, 1855. In accordance with its provisions a poll was opened at the general election in August, 1856, "for the purpose of taking a vote of the people for or against a convention to revise or amend the Constitution." On the tenth day of September the Governor declared in his official proclamation that a majority of eighteen thousand six hundred and twenty-eight votes had been cast in favor of a Convention.

In November, 1856, thirty-six delegates were elected to the Convention which met in the Supreme Court room of the Old Stone Capitol at Iowa City on January 19, 1857. Mr. Gray, of Linn County, called the Convention to order and moved that John A. Parvin, of Muscatine, be chosen President pro tem. On the following day Francis Springer was elected President of the Convention. The other permanent officers were as follows: Thomas J. Saunders, Secretary; Ellsworth N. Bates, Assistant Secretary; S. C. Trowbridge, Sergeant-at-Arms; Francis Thompson, Door Keeper; James O. Hawkins, Messenger; and W. Blair Lord, Reporter.

Of the thirty-six delegates, six were from the New England States, eleven from the Middle States, ten from the South, and nine from the Middle West. As to occupation there were fourteen lawyers, twelve farmers, two merchants, two dealers in real estate, two bankers, one book-seller, one mail contractor, one druggist, and one pork-packer. The youngest member was twenty-six, the oldest fifty-six; while the average age of all the members was forty years. Twenty-one of the thirty-six members were Republicans; the other fifteen were Democrats.

Early in the session of the Convention of 1857 there appeared to be considerable dissatisfaction with the accommodations afforded at Iowa City. The General Assembly had not yet adjourned, and so the Convention was compelled to meet for a few days in the Supreme Court room. Some of the members complained of the hotel service, and declared that they had not been welcomed with proper courtesy and hospitality by the people of Iowa City. At the same time the Convention received alluring invitations from Davenport and Dubuque. A committee of five was appointed to whom these invitations were referred. The report of this committee provoked a lively debate which Wm. Penn Clarke desired to have suppressed in the published reports. The result of the discussion was that the Convention concluded to remain in Iowa City.

On the second day the members took an oath to support the Constitution of the United States. Some desired to include in this oath the Constitution of the State of Iowa; but the majority did not think it proper to swear allegiance to a Constitution which the Convention was called upon to amend, revise, or perhaps reject altogether.

The act of January 24, 1855, calling for the Convention, provided for "the revision or amendment of the Constitution." Many would have been satisfied with a few amendments. The Convention, however, proceeded to draft a completely revised code of fundamental law. The two large volumes of printed reports show that the principles of Constitutional Law were discussed from Preamble to Schedule.

The most important question before the Convention of 1857 was that of Corporations in general and of banking Corporations in particular. The Republican majority was pledged to make provisions for a banking system of some sort. But the popular mind had not decided whether there should be a State bank with branches, or a free banking system under legislative restrictions, or both. Difficult and intricate as the problem was, the Iowa Convention handled it, nevertheless, with energy and rare ability. The debates show that the laws and experience of the other States were carefully studied. Nor were local conditions and local experience forgotten. The discussions were long, earnest, and often heated; but at no time did the Iowa Convention lose its political sanity. That political poise which, in the long run, has always characterized Iowa Politics was maintained throughout the session.

As finally agreed upon in the Convention, the provisions of the new Constitution relative to banking Corporations were in substance as follows: (1) The power to make laws relative to Corporations was conceded to the General Assembly. (2) But acts of the General Assembly authorizing or creating Corporations with banking powers must be referred to the people for their approval at a general or special election. (3) The General Assembly was empowered to establish "a State Bank with branches." But such a bank, if established, "shall be founded on an actual specie basis, and the branches shall be mutually responsible for each others' liabilities upon all notes, bills, and other issues intended for circulation as money." (4) The General Assembly may provide by a general law for a free banking system under certain restrictions. (a) Provision shall be made "for the registry and countersigning, by an officer of State, of all bills, or paper credit designed to circulate as money," and the law shall "require security to the full amount thereof, to be deposited with the State Treasurer, in United States stocks, or in interest-paying stocks of States in good credit and standing." (b) Records shall be kept of the names of stockholders and of the stock held by each. (c) Every stockholder shall be individually liable for an amount equal to twice the amount of his stock. (d) In cases of insolvency bill-holders shall have a preference over other creditors. (e) The suspension of specie payments shall never be permitted or sanctioned. (5) By a vote of two thirds of each branch of the General Assembly all laws for the organization or creation of Corporations could be amended or repealed. (6) The State shall not become a stockholder in any Corporation.

Next in importance to the question of Corporations was the Negro problem. Shall the public schools of the State be open to persons of color? Shall the Constitution guarantee to all persons, irrespective of color, the right to acquire, hold, and transmit property? Shall the testimony of Negroes be accepted in the courts? Was the militia to be composed exclusively of "able-bodied white male citizens?" Shall the right of suffrage be extended to Negroes? It was in respect to these vital questions of the hour that the Republican majority in the Convention was compelled to declare and defend its attitude.

The fact that the Republican party of Iowa was thus being put on trial for the first time makes the debates of the Convention of 1857 memorable in the political annals of the State. But these Iowa Republicans were at the same time defining and defending the attitude of their party on National issues; and so the debates of the Iowa Convention are a source-book also in the broader history of America.

No one can read the pages of these debates without feeling that Iowa was making a decided contribution to National Politics. Nearly four years before the "Divided House Speech" was delivered at Springfield, Illinois, Governor Grimes had said in his inaugural address: "It becomes the State of Iowa—the only free child of the Missouri Compromise—to let the world know that she values the blessings that Compromise has secured her, and that she will never consent to become a party to the nationalization of slavery." And full two years before Lincoln defined the attitude of his party in the Lincoln-Douglas debates, it had gone forth from the Iowa Convention, (1) that the Republican party was not a sectional party; (2) that Abolition was not a part of the Republican creed; and (3) that, while they would arrest the further extension of slavery, Republicans had no desire to interfere with the institution in places where it already existed.

The question as to whether the Negro should be allowed to vote in Iowa was referred to the people to be decided by them when the Constitution itself was submitted for ratification.

Another question of interest which provoked considerable discussion in the Convention was the location of the State University and the re-location of the Capital. This problem had already been solved by the General Assembly. But to prevent further agitation by making the compromise permanent the following section was added to the new Constitution: "The Seat of Government is hereby permanently established, as now fixed by law, at the city of Des Moines, in the county of Polk, and the State University at Iowa City, in the county of Johnson."

After a session of thirty-nine days the third Constitutional Convention in the history of Iowa adjourned sine die on Thursday, March 5, 1857.



The code of fundamental law which was drafted by the Convention of 1857 was modeled upon the Constitution of 1846, as this instrument had previously been patterned after the Constitution of 1844. Perhaps it would be better to say that the Constitution of 1857 was simply a revision of the Constitution of 1846. The later document, however, is fuller and altogether more complete and more perfect than its precursors.

The changes which had been effected in the fundamental law were summed up by the President of the Convention in his closing remarks as follows: "We have added some new and important guards for the security of popular rights, and for the promotion of the best interests of the social compact. Restrictions existed in the old constitution, which it is believed have operated to check and retard the energies and prosperity of the State. These we have removed. We have stricken the fetters from the limbs of the infant giant, and given free scope to resources, capable as we believe, of working out the highest results."

Some important additions were made to the Bill of Rights. Section four declares that the testimony of any person (including Negroes), not disqualified on account of interest, may be taken and used in any judicial proceeding. Section six provides that the "General Assembly shall not grant to any citizen, or class of citizens, privileges or immunities, which, upon the same terms, shall not equally belong to all citizens." To section nine is added the classical declaration that "no person shall be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law." Section twenty-four, which is altogether new, provides that "no lease or grant of agricultural lands, reserving any rent, or service of any kind, shall be valid for a longer period than twenty years."

In Article III. the date of the regular biennial session of the General Assembly is changed from the first Monday in December to "the second Monday in January next ensuing the election of its members." Section fifteen provides that bills (including those for revenue) may originate in either House of the General Assembly. But, according to Section seventeen, "no bill shall be passed unless by the assent of a majority of all the members elected to each branch of the General Assembly." Furthermore, the cases in which the General Assembly is prohibited from passing local or special laws are specifically enumerated in section thirty.

The most significant change or addition in the article on the "Executive Department" is the provision for a Lieutenant Governor.

The article on the Judicial Department provides for the election of the Judges of the Supreme Court by the people instead of by the General Assembly. By the same article provision is made for "the election of an Attorney General by the people."

The article on "State Debts" is more explicit and more guarded, but permits the State to contract debts which, however, "shall never exceed the sum of two hundred and fifty thousand dollars."

Article VIII. removes the illiberal restrictions which had been placed by the Constitution upon Corporations—especially banking Corporations. And Article X. makes the process of amending the fundamental law altogether more flexible.

The Board of Education, provided for in Article IX., was an innovation. As a system of educational control it proved unsatisfactory and was soon abolished by the General Assembly.

The new Constitution was submitted to the people for ratification at the regular annual election which was held on Monday, August 3, 1857. Naturally enough the Democrats, who had been in the minority in the Convention of 1857, opposed the adoption of this "Republican code." The Republican party, however, now had the confidence of the people and were able to secure its ratification by a majority of sixteen hundred and thirty votes. At the same time the special amendment which proposed to extend the right of suffrage to Negroes failed of adoption.

On September 3, 1857, Governor James W. Grimes declared the "New Constitution" to be "the supreme law of the State of Iowa."


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