Two pictures are
included with this chapter: The Grasshopper Scourge and the State
College of Agriculture.
The total receipts of the State Treasury during the two years
ending November 2, 1867, were $1,365,158.57 and the expenditures for
the same period $1,315,654.74. The debt of the State at this time
was $385,000 of which $300,000 was for expenses incurred for
military purposes during the Civil War.
The Republican State Convention met at Des Moines on the 19th of
June, 1867, with nine hundred and eighty-four delegates in
attendance. There was an animated contest for the nominations, a
nomination being considered equivalent to an election. The
principal candidates for Governor were Colonel Samuel Merrill of
Clayton County, J. B. Grinnell of Poweshiek, Colonel J. A.
Williamson of Polk and J. W. Cattell of the same county. On the
first ballot the vote was as follows: Merrill, four hundred and
twenty-six; Grinnell, two hundred and sixty-two; Williamson, one
hundred and seventy-seven; Cattell, fifty-eight. On the next ballot
Merrill was nominated by a large majority. The candidates for
Lieutenant-Governor were John Scott, E. B. Woodward, S. A. Moore and
Nathan Udell. On the second ballot Colonel Scott was nominated.
Joseph N. Beck was nominated for Supreme Judge, Henry O'Connor for
Attorney-General and D. F. Wells for Superintendent of Public
The following were the important resolutions adopted:
"Resolved, That we again proclaim
it as a cardinal principle of our political faith that all men are
equal before the law, and we are in favor of such amendments to the
Constitution of Iowa as we secure the rights of the ballot, the
protection of the law and equal justice to all men irrespective of
color, race or religion.
"We approve of the military
reconstruction acts of the 39th and 40the Congresses.
"The Republican members of
Congress are entitled to the thanks of the Nation of their firmness
in resisting the conspiracy to turn over the Government to the hands
of traitors and their allies and defeating the purpose of a corrupt
Executive, thus sustaining the interests of liberty in a great and
dangerous crisis in our history."
The Democratic State Convention assembled at Des Moines on the
26th of June and nominated the following candidates for the various
officers: for Governor, Charles Mason of Des Moines County;
Lieutenant-Governor, D. M. Harris of Guthrie; Supreme Judge, J. H.
Craig of Lee; Attorney-General, W. T. Barker of Dubuque;
Superintendent of Public Instruction, Maturin L. Fisher of Clayton.
The important declarations in the platform were as follows:
"Resolved, That each State has
the right to order and control its own institutions. Each State has
the right to regulate the elective franchise for itself and, as
citizens of Iowa, we are opposed to striking the word "white" out of
our State Constitution.
"That the existing tariff should
be repealed or greatly modified.
"That we favor taxing Government
bonds the same as other property.
"That we favor the repeal of the
present liquor law of the State and the enactment of a well
regulated license law.
"That we are in favor of granting
the elective franchise to foreigners who have resided in the State
one year and declared their intention to become citizens.
"That the denial of
representation to ten States of the Union, through odious military
reconstruction, in violation of the Constitution, should meet with
the unqualified opposition of every good citizen."
No convention was held by the Conservative Republican party this
year and its members generally united with the Democrats.
The election resulted in the success of the Republican candidates
by the following vote: Colonel Samuel Merrill, 89,144 votes; Judge
Charles Mason, 62,657: Merrill's majority-26,587. The other
candidates on the Republican ticket received substantially the same
It was in August of this year that myriads of grasshoppers first
appeared in western Iowa. They seemed to come from the region of
the Rocky Mountains where they breed in vast numbers. When large
enough to fly, they rise in the air to a great height usually moving
in a northeasterly direction. They seem to know in what direction
they wish to migrate and when on the wing, if overtaken by adverse
winds, frequently settle to the earth and alight until the wind
changes or subsides. While upon the ground they feed ravenously
upon tender vegetation, devouring growing crops and garden
vegetables. In 1867 they were traced from the mountain regions west
of Kansas, alighting in that State at various points and doing
serious damage to growing crops. Moving in a northeasterly
direction they crossed the Missouri River and invaded the western
counties of Iowa. Their ravages were most serious in the counties
of Woodbury, Ida, Sac, Calhoun, Page, Adams, Ringgold, Clarke,
Adair, Warren, Polk, Madison, Cherokee, Carroll, Greene, Dallas,
Boone and Webster.
Small grain was harvested before their appearance and escaped
damage while corn and vegetables were freely devoured by the
millions which literally shadowed the sun like a cloud, as they
pursued their onward flight. On a bright day they first attracted
the attention of persons looking toward the sun, when they had the
appearance of snow flakes, their gauzy wings glistening in the
sunlight at a great height above the earth. When wishing to feed
they slowly settled to the earth until the ground was covered with a
moving swarm of the insects, devouring every green, growing thing
within the line of their march. They often remained for weeks in
the same region, at night crawling up corn stalks, large weeds,
fences and the sides of buildings and when daylight appeared,
descending again to the ground to feed. In some localities they
remained until November, depositing millions of eggs just beneath
the surface before they resumed their travels in the air. After
completing their stay, suddenly, as though a signal had been given,
they would, after months of living on the ground, slowly rise with
glistening white wings to a great altitude and disappear. The
damage done by the pests was not great, as most farm crops were well
matured before their advent to the earth. The first observed passed
over high in the air and were seen no more; while the eggs deposited
by the swarms which came later and remained several weeks, hatched
the next summer and from these great damage was done before their
wings grew large enough to enable them to fly. While they remained
their appetites were unlimited and as they hopped and crawled along,
every green plant on their line of march was wholly or partially
devoured. They spread out over most of western Iowa but were much
more numerous in some localities than in others. Crops were only
partially destroyed but the aggregate damage was very great in more
than forty counties. Early in June the wings of the earliest
hatched had become large enough to enable them to start on their
travels and by the last of the month nearly all had disappeared.
The Twelfth General Assembly convened at Des Moines on the 13th
of January, 1868. Hon. John Russell of Jones County was chosen
Speaker of the House of Representatives.
In his message Governor Stone recommended the establishment of a
State Reform School for the reception, safe keeping and education of
youthful criminals and convicts of tender age, whence they might be
removed form the corrupting influence of hardened criminals confined
in the penitentiary. He stated that of the convicts now in the
penitentiary fifty-nine were under twenty-one years of age and a
number of these from twelve to eighteen years of age. He
recommended the resumption of the land granted to the Dubuque and
Sioux City Company for the reason that the company had failed to
comply with all of the essential conditions of the grant. He said:
"The Agricultural College building is nearly completed. This
structure, in its architectural design and mechanical execution, is
one of the most imposing and substantial in the State." He
recommended a liberal appropriation for its completion and
equipment. He urged the prompt ratification of the proposed
amendments to the Constitution of the United States and the
necessary legislation to submit to a vote of the people the
amendment to our State Constitution already approved by the last
Legislature. He recommended the creation of the office of county
auditor and the establishment of inferior courts to relieve the
District Courts in the most populous counties.
On the 16th of January the two houses assembled in joint
convention in the presence of which Samuel Merrill was sworn in as
Governor and John Scott as Lieutenant-Governor; after which Governor
Merrill delivered his inaugural address.
The most important acts of the General Assembly were the
ratification of the amendments to the Constitution of the United
States and ratifying and confirming the amendment to the
Constitution of the State of Iowa, heretofore mentioned. Acts were
passed providing for the establishment of a State Reform School,
creating the office of county auditor, providing for an Asylum for
the Deaf and Dumb and for an additional institution for the insane;
resuming the grants of lands to the Dubuque and Sioux City Railroad
Company; and regranting to the Iowa Falls and Sioux City Company;
also resuming the grant to the McGregor Western Railroad Company and
granting the same to the McGregor and Sioux City Railway Company;
establishing a system of Circuit Courts; requiring a registry of
voters and providing for the taxation of shares in National Banks.
An act to encourage fruit growing and timber planting by exempting
land thus planted from taxation for a term of years was also passed.
Resolutions were passed in each house, by a strict party vote, in
favor of the impeachment by Congress of President Johnson, the
Republicans voting for and the Democrats against it.
In 1867 an attempt had been made in the House of Representatives
of Congress to impeach President Johnson. The matter was referred
to the judiciary committee. After several months spent by the
committee in taking evidence, on the 25th of November, three
different reports were made. Five of the Republican members
reported in favor of impeachment. James F. Wilson of Iowa and
Woodbridge, Republicans, reported against impeachment while the two
Democratic members were also opposed to impeachment. When the
resolutions came before the House that the body by a vote of
fifty-six yeas to one hundred and nine nays refused to impeach.
Price and Loughridge of Iowa voted for impeachment; while Allison,
Dodge, Hubbard and Wilson voted against it. In the following August
the President suspended from the War Department, Secretary Stanton,
and directed General Grant to act as Secretary in the interim. The
removal of Secretary Stanton from the position he had filled with
such marked ability during the war, aroused intense indignation
throughout the Northern States among the members of the Republican
party, as they had long regarded Stanton as the one fearless and
uncompromising member of the Cabinet who stood between the arbitrary
designs of the President and the will of the loyal people as
expressed by the acts of their Representatives and Senators in
Congress. On the 13th of January, 1868, the Senate by a vote of
thirty-five to five (a strict party vote) passed a resolution to the
effect that the Senate did not concur in the removal of Secretary
Stanton and General Grant thereupon retired from the position. In
February the House committee on reconstruction reported a resolution
as follows: "Resolved, That Andrew John don, President of the
United States, be impeached of high crimes and misdemeanors." The
resolution was adopted by the House on the 24th by a vote of one
hundred and twenty-eight yeas to forty-seven nays, all the members
from Iowa voting for impeachment. A committee of seven was
appointed to prepare articles of impeachment and James F. Wilson of
Iowa was a member of this committee. When the articles were adopted
by the House he was one of the managers chosen by that body to
conduct the trial before the Senate. The people of the country were
wrought up to intense excitement over the trial, a large majority of
the Republicans strongly approving the impeachment, while the
opposition was bitterly denouncing the attempt to remove the
President from office. The trial lasted from March 5th to May 16th
when the vote was taken in the Senate.
It stood thirty-five for conviction to nineteen against. As it
required two-thirds to convict the President was declared acquitted,
amidst the most intense excitement. All who voted "Guilty" were
Republicans, while seven Republicans voted "Not Guilty," as did all
of the Democrats. Senator Harlan of Iowa voted to convict while our
other Senator, James W. Grimes, voted to acquit. Never in the
political history of the country has there been such a fierce and
ungovernable outcry of rage and denunciation raised against public
officials as was hurled by the Republican press and people at the
seven Republican Senators who conscientiously and bravely gave their
votes for the acquittal of the President. It drove all of them from
public life, for a time alienated life-long friends and cast a cruel
stigma upon reputations earned by pure lives in long and faithful
public service. The denunciation of Senator Grimes by Iowa
Republicans was unmeasured, almost unanimous and brutal on the
extreme. For a time reason was ignored, justice smothered and rage
ruled supreme. His motives were impugned and his superb and
patriotic services to his State and country, during the darkest
years of the war for the Union, were ignored, while his Republican
constituents vied with each other in vile abuse of a Senator who was
courageous enough to render a judgment which met the approval of his
conscience upon the trial of a bitter political opponent. Time had
indicated his judgment and the brave act which for a time
overwhelmed the strong man and eminent statesman. He did not live
to see the day, but it soon came, in which every citizen of the
State he served so long and well honored his memory as one of the
blest and noblest public men.
The Republican State Convention assembled at Des Moines on the
7th of May, 1868, and renominated the State officers whose terms
were about to expire. Henry O'Connor was nominated for
Attorney-General in place of F. E. Bissell who died before the
expiration of his term. The platform reaffirmed the principles
declared in the last convention and unanimously recommended the
nomination of General U. S. Grant for President.
The Democratic State Convention was held at Des Moines on the
26th of February and nominated the following candidates for State
officers: Secretary of State, David Hammer; Treasurer, L. McCarty;
Auditor, Harvey Dunlavey; Register Land Officer, A. D. Anderson;
Attorney-General, J. E. Williamson. The resolutions declared the
reconstruction policy of Congress to be unconstitutional; in favor
of abolishing the National Bank system and the substitution of
United States notes in place of bank currency; in favor of the
repeal of the prohibitory liquor law and the enactment of a license
law; opposed negro suffrage in Iowa and interference by the General
Government with suffrage in the States, and in favor of George H.
Pendleton for President. The two conventions nominated candidates
for Presidential electors and chose delegates to their respective
National conventions to nominate candidates for President.
The Republican National Convention met at Chicago on the 20th of
May and nominated General Grant for President and Schuyler Colfax
for Vice-President. It approved the reconstruction policy of
Congress and denounced President Johnson and his executive acts and
The National Democratic Convention assembled at New York on the
4th of July, nominated Horatio Seymour for President and Frank P.
Blair for Vice-President. Andrew Johnson received considerable
support in the convention during the twenty-one ballots. The
platform of the convention was very lengthy and in general terms
approved the policy of President Johnson in his controversy with
Congress over the reconstruction measures.
The campaign was waged with great determination by the two
parties in Iowa and resulted in the following vote on President:
Grant, 120,399; Seymour, 74,040. Majority for Grant, 46,359. The
vote for the State officers did not very much from that for
President, the highest vote being 120,265 for Wright for Secretary
of State. The vote on the Constitutional amendment for striking the
word "white" from the clause qualifying electors, stood as follows:
for negro suffrage - 105,384, against - 81,119; majority for
The legislature in 1868 in regranting lands to the Iowa Falls and
Sioux City, and McGregor and Sioux City Railway companies,
incorporated in each act a clause which read as follows:
"Provided, said railroad company
accepting the provisions of this act, shall at all times be subject
to such rules, regulations and rates of tariff for the
transportation if freight and passengers, as may from time to time
be enacted and provided for by the General Assembly of the State of
Iowa and further subject to the conditions, limitations,
restrictions and provisions contained in this act and the act of
Congress granting said lands to the State of Iowa."
The declaration by the State of this right to regulate the
charges of railroads for conveying freight and passengers was very
obnoxious to the various railroads and railroad construction
companies and they joined in an attempt to defeat the enactment of
the principle of such regulation by the General Assembly. Their
efforts were unsuccessful although they were supported in that
position by many members representing portions of the State which
were destitute of railroads, who were assured by the representatives
of the companies that such restrictions would defeat, for a long
time, the extension of railroads into the sparsely settled regions
of the State.
After the adjournment of the Legislature several of the railroad
companies declared that they would build no more roads in Iowa so
long as that restriction remained on the statute books. The people
living in sections remote from railroads, organized strong movements
to influence the Governor to call an extra session of the General
Assembly for the purpose of removing the obnoxious restriction and
thus promote railroad building.
Committees were appointed to correspond with members of the
General Assembly with the object of securing the consent of a
majority that, in the event of the assembling of the Legislature in
special session, the restriction would be repealed. The effort was
not successful and after a long delay railroad building was again
The main building of the State Agricultural College was completed
in the fall of 1868 and a preparatory session was opened on the 21st
of October. Dr. A. S. Welch, United States Senator from Florida,
had been chosen President. Young women were admitted as students on
an equality with young men. On the 17th of March, 1869, the college
was formally opened. More than 1,000 persons assembled from all
parts of the State to witness the inauguration of the people's
college from which so much benefit was expected. Governor Merrill
and Lieutenant-Governor Scott delivered addresses. B. F. Gue,
President of the Board of Trustees, which had erected the buildings
and organized the college, gave a history of the work. Hon. John
Russell, chairman of the building committee, followed with an
interesting address. President Welch then delivered his inaugural
explaining the plan of work and the chief aims of the industrial
college. Strong opposition had been made to the admission of women
but the trustees decided upon their admission making this the second
Agricultural College to permit girls to be enrolled as students.
On the 1st of January, 1869, the Burlington and Missouri River
Railroad had one hundred and eighty miles of its main line completed
to Afton, in Union County. The gross earnings of the road for the
year 1868 were $841,653. This road had, up to this date, received
of its land grant 287,095 acres. The Chicago and Rock Island
Company had completed on the 1st of January of the same year two
hundred and seventy-six miles of railroad, had received 474,674
acres of public land and its gross earnings for 1868 were $1,051,
The Chicago and Northwestern Railway Company had completed a line
from Clinton to Council Bluffs and received of public lands 775,454
acres, its gross earnings for 1868 were $3,372,628.
The Dubuque and Sioux City Railway had, up to January, 1869,
completed one hundred and forty-three miles of road of its main
line, a branch to Cedar Rapids of fifty-six miles and one to Waverly
to twenty miles. It received land upon completion of the road
amounting to 1,226,588 acres. Its gross earnings for 1868 were
The McGregor and Sioux City Railroad had eighty-five miles of
road completed and received of public lands 372,800 acres. Its
gross earnings for 1868 were $498,322.
The Des Moines Valley Railroad was completed from Keokuk to Des
Moines, a distance of one hundred and sixty-two miles. Its gross
earnings for the year were $710,240. Its entire land grant was
estimated at 464,023 acres, of which 100,000 acres were reserved to
secure it's building into Fort Dodge.
The Sioux City and Pacific Railroad was a line built from Sioux
City, a connection with the Northwestern at Missouri Valley in
Harrison Count, a distance of about seventy-five miles. Its gross
earnings for 1868 were $127,000. A land grant was obtained by this
road in Nebraska.
The council bluffs and St. Joseph Railroad was completed to the
south line of the State, a distance of forty-two miles. Its gross
earnings for the year were $153,854. It had no land grant.
The Council Falls and Minnesota Railroad was extended north from
Cedar Falls a distance of forty-two miles and had no land grant.
It will be seen from these reports that Iowa had, on the 1st of
January, 1869, 1,473 miles of railroad completed and in operation.
The entire amount of public lands granted to the roads to aid in
their construction was 3,127,785 acres.
During the year 1868 there was entered at the United States Land
Office in the Sioux City District 255,993 acres of public lands.
Of these entries 31,738 acres were cash sales; 78,240 acres were
taken with Agricultural College scrip, 9,666 acres with military
land warrants and 80,700 acres as homesteads. It was estimated at
the end of the year1868 that but one-third of the tillable land in
the State had been brought under cultivation. The auditor of the
State reported that during the two years from January, 1866, to the
close of 1868, there had been added to the material wealth of the
State over $38,000,000. The total value of the real and personal
property in 1869 shown by the Auditor's report was $194,532,199.
A convention was held at Dubuque on the 11th of November, 1869,
composed of prominent men of Iowa, Wisconsin and Illinois to promote
water navigation between the great lakes and the Mississippi River.
Resolutions were unanimously adopted urging Congress to make an
appropriation to aid the improvement of the navigation of the Fox
and Wisconsin Rivers and the Michigan Canal.
The Republican State Convention met at Des Moines on the 10th of
June, 1869, and renominated Governor Merrill by acclamation. The
prominent candidates for Lieutenant-Governor were Major M. M.
Walden, L. W. Ross, John A. Parvin and John Hilsinger. Major Walden
was nominated on the first ballot. Judge John F. Dillon was
nominated for reelection; and A. S. Kissell was renominated for
Superintendent of Public Instruction without opposition. The
resolutions were unimportant, making no new issue. For the first
and only time Republicans State Central Committee made to the
convention a full report of its receipts and expenditures for the
last political campaign. The contributions were $3,132 and the
total disbursements were $3,181.
The Democratic State Convention met at Des Moines on the 14th of
July and nominated the following ticket: Governor, George Gillaspy;
Lieutenant-Governor, A. P. Richardson; Supreme Judge, W. F.
Brannan; Superintendent of Public Instruction, Edward Jaeger. The
resolutions were substantially a reaffirmation of the platform of
the last State Convention.
At the election the Republican candidates were chosen by an
average majority or 40,000. The vote for Governor was as follows:
Samuel Merrill-97,243, George Gillapsy-57,257; Merrill's
majority, 39,986. Dillon's majority was 40,308.
The thirteenth General Assembly convened at Des Moines on the
10th of January, 1870. A. R. Cotton was elected speaker of the
House. Governor Merrill and Lieutenant-Governor Walden were sworn
into office in the presence of the joint convention of the General
Assembly on th 13th of the January by Judge C. C. Cole. On the
following day Lieutenant-Governor Walden was installed as president
of the Senate.
Hon. James W. Grimes, having resigned his seat in the United
States Senate, this General Assembly elected a Senator to fill the
vacancy and also one to serve for the full term of six years from
March 4, 1871. There was a warm contest for these positions before
the Republican caucus which made the nominations, as the Republicans
had a large majority on joint ballot and their choice was sure to be
ratified by the Legislature. George G. Wright of Des Moines,
William B. Allison of Dubuque and Governor Samuel Merrill of
McGregor were candidates for the full term; James B. Howell of
Keokuk, J. B. Grinnell of Grinnell, William Vandever and D. N.
Cooley of Dubuque and John Scott of Nevada were candidates for the
In the joint convention of the General Assembly which convened on
the 20th of January, George G. Wright received one hundred and
twenty-one votes for the United States Senator for the full term of
six years and Thomas W. Clagett, the candidate for the Democrats,
received eighteen. For the short term James B. Howell received one
hundred and twenty-two votes and John T. Stoneman, Democrat,
The most important acts of this General Assembly were the
following: the creation of a State Board of Immigration, consisting
of the Governor and one member from each of the six Congressional
Districts, its secretary to act as the Commissioner of Immigration.
The board was authorized to send agents to the eastern States and
to Europe for the purpose of aiding immigration of Iowa.
A strong effort was made at this session to pass a bill to
prescribe rules and regulations for railroads and to establish
uniform and reasonable rates of tariff for transportation of certain
freights thereon. The bill met with the powerful opposition of the
railroad companies throughout the State and was the beginning of the
long contest between the people and these corporations as to the
power and right of the Legislature to control railroads. The bill
was defeated in the Senate, where it originated, by a vote of
twenty-one. An act was passed providing for the taxation of
railroad property, after a long and earnest debate. The plan was to
tax the gross receipts at the rate of one per cent.. On the
receipts of $3,00 per mile; on receipts over $3,00 and under $6,000
per mile, two per cent; and on the excess of receipts over $6,000
per mile, three per cent; these taxes to be in lieu of all taxes on
the road-bed, right of way, rolling stock and necessary buildings
for operating the road; any other property belonging to the company
to be taxed as property of individuals in the county where situated.
An act was passed to enable townships, incorporated towns and
cities to aid in the construction of railroads by voting taxes. A
former law for this purpose had been declared unconstitutional by
the State Supreme Court and this act was so framed as to endeavor to
avoid the objections raised to the former law.
The Legislature passed an act to divide the county of Kossuth and
form the north three tiers of townships into a new county to be
named Crocker, in honor of General M. M. Crocker. It provided for
the election of supervisors in 1870 and other county officers;
authorized the supervisors to locate a county-seat at its meeting
in January, 1871, which they did by establishing it at a new town
laid out near the geographical center of the county, which was named
Greenwood Center and where a post office was established. Crocker
County had but brief existence, as the Supreme Court, in case
brought before it, declared the act by which the county was created
to be in conflict with the constitution and void. Acts were passed
for the government and management of the two insane asylums, one at
Mount Pleasant and one at Independence. Acts were provided for the
government of the State University at Iowa City and one authorizing
the several counties to establish and maintain high schools. A
commission was created to revise the statues of the State.
A long and bitter contest was had in this General Assembly over
a bill to provide for erection of a new and permanent Capitol
Building. It was ably supported by Hon. John A. Kasson who was
elected to the House from Polk County for the purpose of securing
the appropriation for a new State House. For years there had benn
strong opposition to the measure but never more determined than at
this session. By judicious management, however, he succeeded in
procuring an appropriation for the beginning of the great work which
gave to the State a permanent building at a moderate cost, one which
ranks among the most beautiful of State Capitols.
Legislature ratified the fifteenth amendment to the National