POLITICS SINCE THE CIVIL WAR
From 1858, when the first Republican governor
took office, until the Democratic landslide in 1832, Iowa was
always considered to be a Republican state. During those
years but one Democratic United States Senator and one
Democratic governor were elected. In this period of time
there were two political leaders in Iowa that stood out
because of their opposition to the Republican party. One of
them was the Democratic Governor Horace Boies, and the other,
James B. Weaver, leader of the third-party movements.
Horace Boies was a native of the State of New
York. In 1867 he came to Waterloo, Iowa, where he set up a
law office. Because he could not agree with the Republicans
on their stand for a high protective tariff and for stare-wide
prohibition, he left the party in 1880 and joined the
Democrats. In 1889, the Democratic party nominated him for
governor. In a campaign based upon the issue of "license
versus prohibition," Mr. Boies was elected. He became the
first Democratic governor since the Civil War.
Serving with Governor Boies was a senate in
which the Republicans had a majority of six, and a house of
representatives that was equally divided between the two
parties. The result was that few laws were passed. In 1891
Governor Boies was re-elected and carried into office with him
the remainder of the Democratic ticket. Two years later,
against his wishes, he was renominated but defeated.
Mr. Boies was a candidate for the presidential
nomination on the Democratic ticket in 1892 and 1896. He was
one of the three leading candidates in 1896 when William
Jennings Bryan was nominated.
The "Grange," a farmers' secret organization,
was started in Washington D. C., in 1867. It grew rapidly and
in 1872 became interested in politics for the purpose of
railroad regulation. It was largely responsible for the
"Antimonopoly" party in Iowa. In 1873 this party elected a
majority of the members of the Iowa house of representatives.
They succeeded in passing fair and just laws regulating
railroad rates. This was the first important revolt of Iowa
farmers to get "equality of opportunity."
The Greenback party was the next important
third party in Iowa. Most of the Antimonopolists joined this
new parry. It was formed in Iowa in 1876 and reached its
greatest power in 1879 when its candidate for governor
received 45,529 votes, Two senators and five representatives
were elected to the state legislature. The party stood for
payment of government bonds with "greenbacks" or paper money.
The Greenback party lasted several years but
soon lost its power and joined with the "Populist" party.
JAMES B. WEAVER
James Baird Weaver was a native of Ohio and
came to Davis County, Iowa, with his parents in 1843. He
graduated from the law school of Ohio University at the age of
21 and started to practice law at Bloomfield, Iowa. Soon
afterwards he became editor of the Davis County Republican.
Early in the Civil War, Mr. Weaver enlisted in
the army and was made first lieutenant. For gallant conduct
he was promoted, first to major and then to the rank of
After the war, General Weaver became prominent
in politics. In 1875 he was the most prominent Republican
candidate for governor. His opponents, seeing his power,
brought out the name of former Governor Kirkwood who was the
only Republican who could defeat Weaver for the nomination.
Kirkwood received the nomination and General Weaver left the
Mr. Weaver soon became a leader in the
National or "Greenback" party. In 1878 he was elected to
Congress on that ticket. In 1880 the National party nominated
him for President and he received about 350,000 votes. He was
re-elected to Congress in 1884 and 1886. By this time the
"Greenback" party had lost most of its influence.
In 1892 Mr. Weaver again ran for President,
this time on the People's or "Populist" ticket. He received
more than a million votes and carried the states of Idaho,
Colorado, Nevada, and Kansas, with a total electoral vote of
When the Republican and Democratic parties saw
that the populist party was becoming strong, they wrote planks
into their platforms that were similar to those of the
Populist platform. By so doing they hoped to win back the
voters who had gone to the new party. In 1896 the Populist
party joined the Democratic party by nominating Mr. Bryan for
One other important third-party movement came
to Iowa in 1912 when former President Theodore Roosevelt was a
candidate for President on the Progressive, or "Bull Moose"
ticket. "Teddy," as he was familiarly called, had many
followers in Iowa and received a large vote.
The big Democratic landslide came in 1932 when
Franklin D. Roosevelt carried the stare for President and when
Louis Murphy was elected to the United States Senate, as well
as the entire Democratic state ticket and six of the nine
congressmen. The Democrats again carried the state in 1934
and in 1936.