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 Iowa History

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Our Iowa, Its Beginning and Growth

Herbert L. Moeller and Hugh C. Mueller

New York, Newsom and Company


Transcribed by Debbie Gerischer & Kaylee Bopp




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 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 brigadier-general.

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 Republican party.

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 twenty-two.

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 President.

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.


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