It was over a hundred years from the time that the black robed missionaries, Marquette
and Johet, first found "the way to Iowa," until the first white man made a settlement
within its borders. During the time it was a French possession, Iowa remained a
savage wilderness. A few names, as that of the Des Moines river and Tete des Morts
in Dubuque county, are the only marks left of the French rule. During all this time
no grant of land was made.
Louis XIV, in whose honor Louisiana was named, cherished great hopes for the prosperity
of his American possessions. He gave them much personal attention. No English sovereign
ever took such interest in the English colonies as this French king did in his.
But the upper part of the Louisiana territory seemed a hard field to colonize. In
1699 D'Iberville, a distinguished French naval officer, and his brother Bienville
founded a prosperous colony near the present site of New Orleans. In 1764 St. Louis
was platted and named for Louis XV. During the time that Iowa was under French dominion,
no town was laid out within its territory or permanent colony established. The difficulties
of colonization, as they appeared at that time, were described by the French writer
Du Pratz, who in his history of Louisiana, published in 1763, says: "many ages must
pass before we can penetrate into the northern part of Louisiana."
During much of this time, France, England and Spain were at war with each other.
There was a continual jealousy over their respective possessions. From 1754 to 1763,
the French and Indian war raged. The fall of Quebec closed the long series of struggles
between France and England for supremacy in America. France was humiliated. She
lost Canada and the territory east of the Mississippi. By the treaty of Paris in
1763, England secured all the French territory east of the Mississippi, except a
region east of New Orleans. A year previous, Louis XV, a corrupt great-grandson
of Louis XltV, had ceded by secret treaty the territory of Louisiana lying west
of the Mississippi, to its remotest tributaries, including Iowa, and all north of
the source of the river, to Charles III of Spain, another great-grandson of Louis
XIV, but a man of strong character. Louis XV gave as his reason for ceding this
territory to Spain, the afifection and friendship existing between these two royal
persons. The truth of the matter was that Louis XV was in dire straits, and France
was heavily in debt to Spain for the assistance given during the French and Indian
The colonists at New Orleans were exasperated over the king's disgraceful act, and
pleaded with him to retract. It is said that Bienville, one of the founders
HISTORY OF WEBSTER COUNTY
of the colony, then an old man living in Paris, went to the prime minister, and
upon bended knees, with tears streaming down his cheek, begged that the king reconsider.
But it availed nothing, for this was the answer: "I'he colony can- not continue
its precarious existence without an enormous expense, of which France is incapable.
Is it not better that Louisiana should be given awav to a friend than be wrested
from us by a hereditary foe?"
The French colonists did not take kindly to either the British or the Spanish rule.
The French population of the Illinois country, at the time it passed under English
rule was about five thousand. Nearly one-half of this number refused to become British
subjects, and to escape it moved to the west side of the Mis- sissippi. At New Orleans
the Acadians and Creoles refused to subject them- selves to Spanish authority, and
drove the officials sent to rule them from tiie country. It was not until 1768 that
the western portion was brought under Spanish subjection. In that year. Governor
Don O'Reilly, the new Spanish ruler, landed at New Orleans, suppressed the insurrection
and inaugurated Span- ish rule. No representative of Spain, however, came to upper
Louisiana until 1769 when a captain arrived at St. Louis with twenty-five soldiers.
By uni- versal consent the last French commandant, a man highly respected and of
fine character, remained in authority. The Spanish Lieutenant-Governor, Don Pedro
Piernas, arrived and took formal possession of the province May 10, 1770. Thus what
is now Iowa came under Spanish rule.
From the first, the navigation of the Alississippi river was a bone of con- tention.
At the close of the revolution in 1783, England recognized the Alis- sissippi as
the west boundary of the United States. Spain had been friendly to the colonies
during the revolution, and had aided them in many ways. With the coming of peace,
however, it soon became evident that as the price for these courtesies, Spain aimed
at gaining a large portion of the land just east of the Mississippi. Therefore she
guarded the navigation of the Mississippi jealously and felt that to allow the free
navigation of the Mississippi was to lose her vantage ground; and might even ultimately
cause her to lose her possessions on the west side of the river. On the other hand
the free navigation of the river to its mouth became of vital importance to the
United States. It was the only commercial outlet for her western territory. Finally
Spain closed the river, and vowed that she would keep it closed, until she secured
a more satis- factory boundary line for her possessions, in the south. A Kentucky
flatboat- man, disregarding the Spanish decree, started boldly down the river with
a lot of hardware. The Spanish authorities at Natchez stopped him, seized his boat
and cargo, and left him to get back home on foot through the forest as best he could.
The impetuous spirit of the Kentucky settlers was aroused. They swore that if the
Spaniards did not open the river to them, they would raise an army of backwoods
men, open it by force and drive the Spaniards into the sea. So intense was the feeling,
that a small sized revolution in the western part of the United States was almost
brought on by John Jay's proposed treaty with Spain in 1786. As the American minister
to Spain, he had failed to secure any con- cessions as to the free navigation of
the Mississippi, and had almost consented that the United States should waive this
right for twenty years, if Spain would concede it at the expiration of that period.
This proposition set the whole west-
HISTORY OF WEBSTER COUNTY
ern country in a blaze. The settlers in the upper valley determined to take things
in their own hands, and enforce their right, unless the government would do something
for them. They proposed to organize an army, seize the Spanish forts, capture New
Orleans, and compel Spain to yield the free navigation of the river. The Spanish
governor finally realized that some concession must be made. Even the thought of
the backwoods men with their rifles, struck terror to the hearts of the Spaniards.
As a compromise, he therefore granted the privilege of free navigation to James
Wilkinson and certain other American traders in tobacco, flour and other products.
In 1788 after fruitless negotiation with Spain, congress declared, "that the free
navigation of the Mississippi river is a clear and essential right of the United
States, and that it ought to be enforced." Congress and Washington began to prepare
for the conflict which seemed to be at hand. Spain still delayed. The Whiskey Rebellion
in Pennsylvania and an Indian war in the west gave Spain courage to put off the
day of concession. Finally the American minister at Madrid proposed to the Spanish
government, "that if Spain would cede the United States her possessions east of
the Mississippi river, that the United States would make no claims to the territory
west of the river, as her real inter- est would then require that Spain should retain
her possessions west of it. Since the free navigation of the riyer was of such absolute
necessit\- to the United States, it must sooner or later be conceded." The minister
said: "this is the decree of Providence, written on every map of the continent,
and it can- not be prevented by any agency. Would it not be the part of wisdom to
anticipate an irresistible event peaceably and cement a lasting friendship with
the United States on the basis of mutual interest and benefits." But for twelve
years the matter hung fire. Spain realized that in granting the free navigation
of the river, she was giving up the only means of checking the onward march of the
American pioneer, who was only too anxious to wrest away all of her western territory.
Reuben Gold Thwaites says, "a river is no adequate boundary be- tween nations, if
on one bank be a people feverish to cross, and on the other a lethargic folk. The
valley itself is a geographical unit." Already the Americans had settled the eastern
part of the valley in numbers sufficient to dominate. Many had not waited for a
change in political ownership before crossing to the western part. Spain had now
become deeply involved in the Napoleonic wars. She feared an invasion of her American
territory from the long suffering pioneers of the western part of the United States.
Spain finally sought a settlement, and by a treaty made, October 20, 1795, the middle
of the Mississippi river was made the western boundary of the United States, from
the thirty-first degree of latitude to its source, and navigation to be free to
The French had never become fully reconciled to the loss of their Ameri- can possessions.
Napoleon, therefore, resolved to restore Louisiana to France. vSpain, weakened and
heavily in debt, was easily induced to recede the territory of Louisiana to France.
The treaty ratifying this agreement was made October I, 1801. But before France
could take possession of the province, the political chess board of Europe had again
changed. The power of Napoleon had begun to weaken. The armies of England and her
allies were pressing hard. He was fearful that his arch enemy might seize his American
possessions. He needed
HISTORY OF WEBSTER COUNTY
money to replenish his treasury. There had always been a natural friendship between
France and the Young Republic. Napoleon felt that he would rather give Louisiana
to a friendly power than have it go to the hereditary foe of the French. He foresaw
that the only way to checkmate England's power in America was to allow the United
States to expand its boundaries. Accordingly confiden- tial negotiations were opened
with the American minister to France, Robert R. Livingston. The scheme was at once
communicated to President Jefferson who was quick to grasp the opportunity. James
Monroe was sent to aid in the negotiations but before his arrival, Livingston had
practically "made the bargain."
Even before Napoleon offered Louisiana to the United States, the question of ownership
of Louisiana had been of deep concern to American statesmen. In 1790 Jeff'erson
wrote to President Washington "of the magnitude of the danger which will attend
our government if Louisiana and the Floridas be added to the British Empire." The
United States really disliked the. idea, of having France for a neighbor on the
west, as much as Spain. In fact the time had come when they desired New Orleans,
the key to the whole situation, for themselves. But Napoleon would not sell New
Orleans without the rest of the province. Livingston and IMonroe were without instructions
from President Jefferson as to the country west of the Mississippi. But they accepted
the oft'er and made the purchase. The treaty of cession was signed x\pril 30, 1803.
Iowa for the last time changed ownership. Hitherto her existence had been under
two flags. Henceforth she was to have but one, "the Flag of the Free." Napo- leon
said concerning the treaty, "you asked me for a city, I have given you an empire."
The treaty came before the senate for ratification. Constitutional objections were
made. But the national and commercial benefits were soon seen, and opposition disappeared.
Probably the letter written by Livingston to Madison, June 25, 1803, hastened the
action of congress. In this letter he says, "I hope nothing will prevent your immediate
ratification without altering a syllable of the terms. Be persuaded that France
is sick of the bargain, that Spain is much dissatisfied, and that the slightest
pretense will lose you the treaty." Congress ratified the treaty the 19th of October.
President Jeff'erson was authorized to take possession and occupy the "promised
land," October 31, 1803. Salter says: "The triumphs of diplomacy are more honorable
than those of war. The peace- makers are of superior dignity to the war-makers.
It is note-worthy that the author of the Declaration of Independence was the director
of the Louisiana Purchase, and that Livingston, the chief agent in making the treaty,
was one of the committee to draw up the Declaration. Their fame was as statesmen,
not as soldiers. Monroe had a similar honor."
In the extent of the purchase, Jefferson saw, "a widespread field for free- dom
and equal laws." After signing the treaty Livingston rose and shook hands with Monroe
and with Marbois, the French Minister of Finance, and said, "we have lived long
but this is the noblest work of our li\es. This treaty will change vast solitudes
into flourishing districts, and prepare ages of happiness for innu- merable generations."
Jefferson wrote to Livingston that he was well pleased, that the negotiations were
conducted with a frankess and a sincerity honorable to both nations and comfortable
to a man of honest heart to review. In writ-
HISTORY OF WEBSTER COUNTY
ing to Livingston he called the transaction "your treaty" giving him full credit
for his part in it.
Even with their Yankee shrewdness, the United States little dreamed of the bargain
they were making. In fact none of the previous owners of Louisiana had ever appreciated
its worth. The purchase price $15,000,000 at that time seemed a huge sum. Some said
it would make such a large national debt that it could never be paid. The national
debt is now a billion and a quarter dollars, and yet it causes no particular concern.
Today \\'ebster county less than a thousandth part of the Louisiana territory could
not be bought for its purchase price. Today less than a century from that time,
one American citizen has in his life time made from the raw resources of this land
a fortune of over $265,000,000.
During the forty years that Spain owned Iowa, there were but three grants of land
within its territory. In 1788, Julien Dubuque, a French Canadian, secured a permit
from the Fox Chiefs to work the lead mines in a tract extend- ing along the Mississippi
river, from the mouth of the Little Alaquoketa to the Tete des Morts. These lead
mines had been discovered in 1780 by the wife of Peosta, a prominent Fox Chief.
Dubuque brought from Prairie du Chien ten Canadians to assist him as smelters, wood
choppers and boatmen. A smelting furnace was erected on a point of land now known
as Dubuque Bluff. At that time there was a Fox village called Kettle Chief on the
present site of Dubuque. Since Dubuque and most of his companions had taken squaw
wives, the Indians allowed them to live in this village. Many of the old men and
women of the tribe worked in the mines. Dubuque built up a good trade in lead with
the merchants of St. Louis, and in furs with the dift'erent tribes.^ It was a rule
of Spain that none but Spaniards could hold mines so he became a Spaniard and named
his mines "Spanish Mines." Dubuque representing to Carondelet, the governor of Louisiana,
that he had bought the land from the Indians, secured a grant in 1796. The truth
was that Dubuque had never bought the land, but had secured only a permit from the
Indians to work the mines. Dubuque was not a successful business man and he became
heavily in debt to Auguste Chou- teau a prominent merchant of St. Louis. In settlement
of this indebtedness Dubuque conveyed to Chouteau an undivided seven-sixteenths
interest of his land estimated to consist of 73,324 acres. It was also provided
that at the death of Dubuque the remainder should become the property of Chouteau
or his heirs. In 1805 Dubuque and Chouteau filed a claim with the United States
asking to have t'leir title confirmed to all of the land which Dubuque had originally
leased of the Indians. For nearly fifty years thjs claim was pending in various
tribu- nals. Both the original claimants died long before the matter was finally
set- tled by a decision of the supreme court of the United States rendered in March,
1853. The case was one of the most important and closely contested law-cases in
Iowa litigation. Able attorneys were employed on both sides. The title to a large
tract of land, including the city of Dubuque and its valuable lead mines, was involved.
The final decision of the court was based upon the legal con- struction to be given
to the original grant made by the Indian council to Dubuque in 1788, and also upon
the nature of the grant received by him from Governor Carondelet in 1796. The court
held that both these grants were but in the nature
HISTORY OF WEBSTER COUNTY
of permits or leases to mine lead, and were not intended to convey actual title.
During the time Dubuque lived in Iowa, three flags had floated over him, the red
and yellow of Spain, the tricolor of France, and the Stars and Stripes of the United
States. A monument erected to his memory bears this inscription : "Julien Dubuque,
Miner of the Mines of Spain, the founder of our city, died March 24th, 18 10, aged
45 years and six months." The other two grants were, one to Basil Girard of the
land where the city of McGregor now stands, the other to Louis Tesson, called by
some Honore or Honori, of the land on which Mont- rose in Lee county is situated.
These two grants were later confirmed by the United States.
Before the Louisiana territory could be transferred to the United States, it was
necessary that France should first formally receive it from Spain. Accord- ingly
the French appointed M. Laussat to receive the government of the prov- ince. He
arrived at New Orleans November 30, 1803, and presented the Span- ish authorities
his credentials with the order for the transfer of the province. Laussat remained
in authority until the twentieth of December when the United States commissioners,
Governor Claiborne, and Governor James Wilkinson arrived and formally received the
province from the French, Salter gives this description of the ceremony : "The day
was fine. A large crowd assembled. The treaty and the credentials of the commissioners
were read. Laussat then gave the keys of the city to Claiborne and proclaimed the
transfer of Louisiana to the United States. The French flag came down and the American
flag went up. As they met in midair, cannon and guns resounded with salutes to both
flags. On the same day Governor Claiborne issued a proclamation declaring the authority
of Spain and France at an end, and the establishment of that of the United States
of America." The transfer of Upper Louisiana the same writer describes thus : "The
following spring similar ceremonies took place at St. Louis. Captain Amos Stoddard,
of the United States Artillery, was com- missioned to act for both the French Republic
and the United States. On the ninth of March, 1804, he received for France the government
of Upper Louisiana from Don Carlos de Hault De Lassus, the Spanish lieutenant governor,
a man of high character, French by birth, but long in the Spanish service, and a
personal friend of General William Henry Harrison, then governor of the adjoin-
ing Indiana territory. On the next day, the tenth of March, Captain Stoddard, acting
for both countries, transferred the government from France, and received it for
the United States. On one day the flag of Spain gave way to that of France, on the
next day the flag of France gave way to that of the United States."
Iowa has two inheritances, geographical and political. Dr. Shambaugh says : "As
a geographical area, the Iowa country became a part of the United States through
the purchase of the province of Louisiana in 1803; and so her territorial descent
is traced through the district of Louisiana, the territory of Louisiana, and the
territory of Missouri. On the other hand the political inheritances of Iowa, which
are Anglo-American, were transmitted through the territories of the Old Northwest,
especially the Northwest territory, the Indiana territorv, the territory of Michigan,
and the original territory of Wisconsin.
On March 26, 1804, congress passed an act extending the constitution and
HISTORY OF WEBSTER COUNTY
laws of the United States to Louisiana. The territory of Louisiana was divided into
two parts, and the thirty-third degree of north latitude, or about the north line
of Arkansas was fixed as the dividing line. The southern part was called the territory
of Orleans, and was given government similar to that of the adjoin- ing territory
of Mississippi. The northern part was called the district of Louisiana, and its
government was vested in the governor and judges of Indiana. The district of Louisiana
had an existence of nine months as a part of the Indiana territory. During this
time the district of St. Charles was formed. This included the inhabited portion
north of the Missouri river, — the settlements of Tesson, Dubuque and Girard in
what is now Iowa.
Even at this early day, the question of slavery had entered into National legislation.
Indiana was a free territory. It had been organized under the "Ordinance of 1787,"
which had forever prohibited the introduction of slavery within its limits. This
ordinance had been applied to the Mississippi territory excepting, however, the
clause prohibiting slavery. On October i, 1804, General William Henry Harrison,
then governor of Indiana, assumed the office of gov- ernor of the territory of Louisiana
also. But the people of St. Louis were dis- satisfied with the government of Indiana.
Remonstrances were sent to Wash- ington. They said, "that placing the district under
the territory where slavery is proscribed is calculated to alarm the people, and
create the presumption of a disposition in congress to abolish slavery in the district
at a future day." They claimed, "that in view of the treaty, the people were entitled
to their slaves and to the right of importing slaves." But John Randolph, to whom
the petition of remonstrance had been referred stood firm, and reported, "that the
prohibition of the importation of foreign slaves was a wise .and salutary restriction
equally dictated by humanity and policy." A year previous some Indiana citizens
had petitioned to have the articles of the ordinace which prohibited slavery sus-
pended claiming that it tended to prevent the immigration of persons Avho would
come if they could bring their slaves with them. Randolph had then replied, "that
it was inexpedient to impair a provision wisely calculated to promote the happiness
and prosperity of the northwestern country." Congress denied the peti- tion of the
citizens of Indiana, but yielded to the demands of those on the west side of the
Mississippi river. Governor Harrison and the judges associated with him were instructed
to enact "a law respecting slaves," that would be pleasing to the citizens of the
district of Louisiana. Thus in spite of the fact that the district of Louisiana
had been organized under the Ordinance of 1787, and with the clause prohibiting
slavery in full force, slavery was fastened upon it from the southern boundary to
the British line.
Another important event which occurred in the district during Harrison's governorship
was the Lewis and Clark expedition. Even before the Louisiana Purchase, President
Jefferson had sent a confidential message to congress ask- ing an appropriation
of twenty-five hundred dollars for the exploration of the Missouri river, and the
discovery of a passage from its head waters to the Pacific ocean. Congress voted
the appropriation as asked. An exploring party was organized under the command of
Captain Lewis and Clark. Arriving at St. Louis in December, 1803, the party planned
to spend the winter with Daniel Boone, on the Missouri river. But the Spanish governor,
not yet having received
HISTORY OF WEBSTER COUNTY
the official notice of the transfer of the province would not allow them to remain.
They therefore wintered on the east side of the Mississippi opposite the mouth of
the Missouri. From here they started out on their long journey, May 14th, 1804.
They ascended the Missouri river, and on the eighteenth of July, they reached the
western boundary of Iowa. They continued their course up the boundary river until
they came to the mouth of the Big Sioux river, August 21. Here occurred the only
tragic event of the whole voyage, — the death of Sergeant Charles Floyd. He was
buried on the top of the bluff over- looking the river. His comrades marked this
pot with a cedar post inscribed with his name and the date of his death, and in
his memory called it "Floyd's Bluff." Here, in 190 1, another generation erected
a lofty obelisk to his memory. The exploring party continued their course up the
Missouri to its source in the Rocky mountains, then crossing the divide to the Columbia,
they reached the shores of the Pacific ocean, November 16, 1805. Their long journey
was at an end.
On July 4, 1805, the district of Louisiana became the territory of Louisiana, and
President Jefferson appointed General James Wilkinson governor. The most important
events in his administration were the exploration by Lieutenant Zebulon Pike, of
the upper valley of the Mississippi river, and the estab- lishment of Fort Madison
in Iowa. The next change was when the people of Orleans territory, having organized
a state government and named it Louisi- ana, and the state being admitted into the
Union in April 1812, congress gave another name to the territory of Louisiana and
called it the territory of Missouri. William Clark of the Lewis and Clark expedition
was appointed governor and continued in office during the nine years of the existence
of the territory of Missouri. Edwin Hempstead, a native of Connecticut and a man
of high character, was chosen delegate to congress. He was especially inter- ested
in securing legislation for the support of schools.
On the eighteenth of July, 1812, congress declared war against England. The valley
of the Mississippi was the scene of incessant warfare. England made a desperate
effort to keep the Indian trade and the Indian country in the West in the hands
of the British fur companies. Red men fought against each other, now the ally of
the British, now the ally of the American. During the year 1816, peace was generally
established throughout the West. With the coming of peace, a great influx of immigration
into the territory of Missouri followed. The population doubled in five years.
Illinois became a state, December 3, 1818, much to the dissatisfaction of the people
of the Missouri territory who had long desired statehood for them- selves. They
therefore presented a memorial to congress, stating: "That their population was
but little less than one hundred thousand, was daily increasing with a rapidity
almost unequalled, and that the territorial limits were too exten- sive to admit
of a convenient government." They therefore asked that the boundaries of the territory
be reduced, and that within such new boundaries they be allowed to establish a new
state. One reason which the people of the Missouri territory advanced for the reduction
of their northern boundary was as follows : "The districts of the country that are
fertile and susceptible of cultivation are small, and separated from each other
at great distances by
HISTORY OF WEBSTER COUNTY
immense plains and barren tracts which must for ages remain waste and uninhabited.
These frontier settlements can only become important and respect- able by being
united, and one great object is the formation of an effectual barrier against Indian
excursions by pushing a strong settlement on the Little Platte to the west, and
on the Des Moines to the north." Today there is scarcely an acre of this land that
is not under cultivation and improvement.
Soon after the presentation of his memorial to congress, a bill authorizing the
people of Missouri to form a state government was introduced in the house of representatives.
On February 13, 1819, the bill being under discussion, James Tallmadge, Jr., of
New York made a motion to prohibit the further introduction of slaves into the proposed
state, and give freedom to all children of slaves born there after the admission
of the state into the Union, at the age of twenty-five. Heated debates followed.
Prohibition of slavery was declared unconstitutional. In the senate, Rufus King
of New York maintained the con- stitutional right and the duty of congress to prohibit
slavery in Missouri, Having been a member of the convention which framed the coiistitution
his words carried force and weight. Thomas H. Benton calls them, "the signal guns
of the controvers)% which was to follow." Yet they were spoken with no heat or passion.
The house of representatives passed the bill authorizing the people of ^Missouri
to form a state government but with a provision prohibiting further introduction
of slavery in its boundary. But the senate refused to con- cur in the prohibition
of slavery clause, and the whole bill came to naught.
The territory of Arkansas was formed out of the southern part of the ter- ritory
of Missouri, and a motion to prohibit slavery in its boundaries, was lost in both
houses of congress. The whole country became aroused over the question. The dark
shadows of the Civil war had even now begun to fall. The North and the South had
begun to take sides against each other. The North claimed that the territory of
the Louisiana Purchase should be free. The South insisted that it shauld be slave,
if the people of the territory so desired. The question was resumed the next congress.
On one side was Charles Pinck- ney of South Carolina. Opposed to him was Rufus King
of New York. Both had been members of the convention that framed the constitution
of the United States, and now from opposing sides sought to interpret its provisions.
The Alissouri Compromise with its temporizing measures was passed; and Missouri
became a state August 12, 1821.
Upon the admission of the of Missouri into the Union, the country to the north of
that state, and the rest of the Louisiana Purchase was left with- out law or government,
except the prohibition of slavery and laws to regulate the Indian trade. Traders
and army officers, however, still carried slaves into the territory.
Iowa at that time, was the home of a few Indian tribes, living in villages on the
banks of the rivers and streams. All told they were not more than ten thousand in
number. In the eastern and central part of the state were the Sacs and Foxes and
lowas. In the western part of the state were the Otoes, Pawnees and Omahas. In the
north were roving bands of Sioux. War and the hunt were the chief occupations of
the various tribes, although some agri-
HISTORY OF WEBSTER COUNTY
culture was carried on by the women and old men of the tribes. At Dubuque the Indians
mined small quantities of lead.
The Indian trade was monopolized by the American Fur Company, who reaped enormous
profits therefrom. In spite of the law prohibiting the sale of intoxicating liquors
in the Indian country, it was smuggled in, to be exchanged, together with gaudy
trinkets for valuable furs and lead ore. The foundations of the Astor millions were
made from the profits of this Indian trade.
Congress fostering the rich fur trade of the far west paid little attention to the
country between the Mississippi and the Missouri. Both President Mon- roe and President
Jackson in their annual messages to congress suggested that this country be made
a home for the northern Indians, and recommended the removal thereto of the Indian
tribes east of the Mississippi, with the estab- - lishment of industrial schools
for their education. Had these suggestions been carried out Iowa would have been
a reservation for the Indians of the North, similar to what- Indian Territory later
became for the Indians of the South.
But the Indians did not readily take to either civilization or industry. They preferred
war and the hunt. As their hunting grounds were more or less restricted, they often
came in conflict. The Sacs and Foxes were the hereditary foes of the Sioux and these
tribes were in constant warfare. Had the tribes remained at peace with each other
and with the United States they might have for a long time retained their Iowa homes.
There was no disposition on the part of the United States at that time to acquire
their possessions. Large tracts of lands east of the Mississippi were still unsettled.
There seemed no necessity, as there was no demand, for more land to be thrown open
to settlement. The constant warfare between the tribes, and their general condition,
however, made it seem best for the United States to intervene. Hoping to promote
peace between the various tribes and to establish permanent boundaries, Governor
Clark sent invitations to the various tribes from the Lakes to the Missouri to send
their chief men to a great council to be held at Prairie du Chien in the sum- mer
It was a great gathering. Three thousand were in attendance. The summer was s'pent
in feasts and councils. At last after many discussions the. warring tribes buried
the tomahawk; and in the smoke of the peace pipe, one hundred and thirty-four chiefs
made their mark approving the treaty. The treaty fixed the boundaries betfveen the
various tribes. No tribe was to hunt upon the ter- ritory of another without their
The dividing line between the Sacs and Foxes and the Sioux, as established by the
treaty, began at the mouth of the Upper Iowa thence up the river to the source of
its left fork, thence crossing the Red Cedar in a direct line to the upper fork
of the Des Moines, near Dakota City in Humboldt county, thence in a direct line
to the lower fork of the Calumet or Big Sioux, and down that river to the Missouri.
This line was called the "Neutral Line."
The Indians, however, could not keep their agreement. "Touching the goose quill,"
as they styled it, meant nothing to them. On the slightest provoca- tion they were
at war again. The Sioux still made war on the Sacs and Foxes.
Finallv another council of their chiefs was convened at Prairie du Chien,
HISTORY OF WEBSTER COUNTY
July, 1830, and it was decided to erect a barrier between them. On the north of
the "Neutral Line" the Sioux ceded to the United States a strip twenty miles wide,
and on the south the Sacs and Foxes ceded a similar strip. This was known as "Neutral
Grounds" or the "Neutral Strip." The southwest corner of this "Neutral Strip" was
about four miles below the present city of Fort Dodge. Later, in 1833, the "Neutral
Strip" was granted by the United States to the Winnebagoes in exchange for their
lands in Illinois and Wisconsin. Under the terms of the same treaty, the Sacs and
Foxes together with the lowas, Mis- sourias, Omahas, Otoes and bands of Sioux, joined
in ceding to the United States all their lands lying west of the watershed between
the Des Moines and Missouri rivers, eastward to the "Neutral Strip" and northward
to the present state of Minnesota. This was the first cession of Indian land in
Iowa. Twenty- one years later the Sioux made the last cession, and the Indian title
of the land of Iowa was extinguished, except the small reservation which is still
held by the Musquakie in Tama county. Yet Governor Clark, at the Prairie du Chien
council of 1825, had assured the Indian chiefs, that the "Great Father" wanted nothing,
"not the smallest piece" of their land. For this title the United States paid the
Indians a little over eight cents per acre.
In the popular mind Iowa was still looked upon as barren and uninhabitable. The
few white men who had "squatted" along its eastern portion were driven off by the
soldiers and their cabins burned. They were not even permitted to work the lead
mines at Dubuque. The Black Hawk war, however, was the immediate cause of immigration
turning to Iowa. At the close of this war the Indians were compelled to sell to
the United States a large tract of land along the Mississippi known as the "Black
Hawk Purchase of 1832." On the first lay of June, 1833. the United States troops
were withdrawn. Immigration rapidly spread over the territory. The settler outran
the government surveyor, and without law or license staked his claim and awaited
the official opening. Already the Iowa idea, of "get more land, to raise more corn,
to feed more hogs, to buy more land," had taken hold of the Iowa farmer. It was
the pioneer of the highest type that came. Lieutenant Albert Lea, in 1836, writes
thus of the early Iowa pioneers, "the character of this population is such as is
rarely found in our newly acquired territories. With very few exceptions, there
is not a more orderly, industrious, active, painstaking population west of the Alleghanies
than is this of the Iowa district." Up to this time the white men, who had come,
w'ere merely adventurers whose sole aim was making money. These pioneers came for
the purpose of building homes. They brought with them American institutions. No
sooner had they arrived than they began the erection of schools and churches. These
pioneers of the thirties had no legis- lative-made law in this new country. However,
they obeyed the higher law of God and applied the precepts of the Golden Rule to
their dealings with their fellowmen. There were some instances of strife and contention
among these early settlers for town sites, mill sites, choice belts of timber and
best land. There was the occasional claim jumper. There was the man, who would have
completely confirmed Calhoun's idea that the new Iowa country was peopled with rascals.
These were the exceptions. Good feeling generally prevailed. Rules and regulations
as to claims were agreed upon in the interest of fair
HISTORY OF WEBSTER COUNTY
dealings and mutual protection. Moreover, with but few exceptions, these regu- lations
were kept. As yet, the United States had given these pioneers no title to their
land. They had simply "squatted" beside stream, or in grove, or wherever a pleasant
homestead site appeared. In a strict interpretation of the law, these "squatters"
might be called trespassers. Yet no class of men were more law respecting. Since
there was no national protection for the claims they had staked out, they formed
organizations for mutual protection. These organizations were called land clubs
or claim associations. In all there were perhaps about one hundred of these during
the time Iowa was in the different stages of territorial development.
Crime was punished and justice was meted out as surely and quickly as though there
had been regularly appointed courts. The fact that Iowa was a sort of "no man's
land" did not deter the cause of right from prevailing. An instance of this is shown
in the trial and execution of Patrick O'Connor for the murder of George O'Keefe
in Dubuque. The citizens of Dubuque county appealed in vain to the governor of Missouri
and to the judge of the western district of Michigan territory ; but they each claimed
it was without their juris- diction. A citizen court conducted the trial with deliberation
and solemnity. A jury was empaneled. All judicial forms were observed. Sentence
was pro- nounced and the death penalty imposed within a month after the commission
of the crime — an example of speedy execution of justice.
In 1834, the territory was attached to the territory of Michigan for tem- porary
government. The citizens of the Iowa country were given the same privileges and
immunities and subjected to the same laws as the other citizens of Michigan territory.
Iowa for the first time became in reality a free terri- tory. By the terms of the
Missouri Compromise, slavery had been prohibited within its borders, yet this prohibition
had been a dead letter for fourteen years. Slaves had been carried into the territory
at will. But this transfer of the Iowa country to a free territory caused the importation
of slaves to cease. The pioneers in Iowa gladly welcomed the change in government.
To show their appreciation, they made the Fourth of July, 1834, a double holiday.
It was in honor of this occasion that Nicholas Carroll, an Irishman, who lived in
the vicinity of Dubuque, first unfurled the Stars and Stripes in Iowa. It is said
that a black woman, who was a slave, superintended the making of this flag.
Governor Mason called an extra session of the legislative council of Mich- igan
territory in 1834. At this session the council established the two counties of Dubuque
and Demoines, and constituted each a township, one Julien, and the other Flint Hills
(afterwards called Burlington). A county court was pro- vided for each county and
the laws then in force in Iowa county were extended to them. Iowa county at that
time, was the nearest organized portion of Michi- gan Territory to the new counties.
The same judge presided over the three counties ; and together they formed what
was known as the Iowa District. Later the name Iowa was applied to the new territory.
The first officers of Dubuque county were appointed September 6, 1834. It is said
they were men of fine character and ability. John King, who was appointed chief
justice of the county courts, in 1836, established the first newspaper in Iowa,
"The Dubuque Visitor." The officers of Demoines county were appointed in December,
HISTORY OF WEBSTER COUNTY
Like the officers of Dubuque county they were men of ability and strong char- acter.
WiUiam R. Ross, the county clerk, built in the city of Burlington, a Methodist church,
which he said, "was free for every order to preach in." This was afterward called
"Old Zion Church." In it was held the first, second and third Legislative Assemblies
of the Territory of Iowa.
Michigan was admitted as a state in 1836 and the Iowa country was again without
government. For a while there existed a Michigan State and a Mich- isran Territorv,
due to the fact that the state had a smaller territorial extent than the territory.
Andrew Jackson appointed John S. Horner, governor of the territorv. However, he
proved unworthy of the office. A council was organized with William Schuyler Hamilton,
son of Alexander Hamilton, as president. This council by a vote of eight to one,
asked President Jackson to revoke the commission of Governor Horner. This he declined
to do. The following plaintive petition was then sent to congress: "Thrown off by
Michi- gan in the formation of her new state, without an acting governor to enforce
the laws, without a competent civil jurisdiction to give security to our lives and
property, we ask the intervention of national aid to give us a new efficient political
existence. It has been decided by the Federal court, that the popula- tion west
of the Mississippi are not under its jurisdiction; and the monstrous anomaly is
presented, that citizens of the United States living in its territory should be
unprotected by its courts of civil and criminal jurisprudence." Congress delayed
action. Finally through the persistent efforts of the dele- gates of the Michigan
Territory, congress at last created the Territorial govern- ment of Wisconsin, April
The Territory of W^isconsin included the country between Lake Michigan and the Missouri
and White Earth rivers, north of the state of Illinois and Missouri. Provision was
made for a legislative body of two houses. Henry Dodge was appointed Governor of
the new territory. He took the oath of office the Fourth of July, 1836 at Mineral
Point, at a big celebration, which also celebrated the sixtieth anniversary of American
independence. A similar celebration was held at Dubuque. Here one of the speakers
said of Governor Dodge, "he has been our leader through two Indian wars, and is
now governor of the Territory and superintendent of Indian Affairs in the Northwest.
His experience as a frontier man and Indian fighter has pointed him out for these
George W. Jones was chosen the first territorial delegate to congress, and continued
in office until the formation of Iowa Territory. The first legislative assembly
fixed upon Madison as the capital of the new Territory with a proviso that a second
session and also a special session were to be held at Burlington in Des Moines county.
At this session Demoines was divided into the counties of Lee, Van Buren, Des Moines,
Henry, Louisa, Muscatine and Cook, — the last named was afterwards changed to Scott.
The first legislative assembly ever held on what is now Iowa soil was in Burlington
in the year 1837. At this session the county of Dubuque was divided into the counties
of Clayton, Fayette, Dubuque, Delaware, Buchanan, Jack- son, Jones, Linn, Benton,
Clinton, Scott, Cedar, Johnson and Keokuk. But the people of the Iowa country were
not long satisfied to be a part of the Wis-
HISTORY OF WEBSTER COUNTY
cousin Territory. They had an inherent longing for a government of their own. The
very first day, that the legislative assembly convened, a convention also met to
approve a petition to congress demanding the organization of a separate territory.
The petition was approved by both the convention and the legislative assembly. It
was sent to General George W. Jones the delegate in congress. He at once began to
work for the establishment of a territorial gov- ernment for the Iowa people, although
he lived on the east side of the Missis- sippi river, and if successful in his efforts
would remain a citizen of Wiscon- sin. At this time there was considerable dispute
over what the new territory should be named. The names Washington, Jefferson and
Iowa were most strongly advocated. After much discussion in the convention the name
Iowa w-as decided upon. It is also interesting to note how the people of Iowa came
to be called "Hawkeyes." "The Fort Madison Patriot," in the year 1836, published
the following: "If a division of the territory is effected we propose that the lowans
take the cognomen of "Hawkeyes :" — our etymology can thus be more definitely traced
than that of 'Wolverines,' 'Suckers,' and 'Hoosiers' and we can rescue from oblivion
at least a memento of the old chief." Through the diplomacy of George W. Jones,
a bill establishing Iowa Territory passed both houses of congress and was signed
by President Van Buren to take effect July 4, 1838. A census taken May of that year
gave Iowa Territory a popula- tion of 21,859. President Van Buren selected Brigadier-General
Henry Atkin- son to be the first governor of Iowa Territory. This choice was made
because of his intimate acquaintance with Indian Affairs in the Mississippi valley.
But General Atkinson preferred to retain his position as commander of the west-
ern division of the army and declined the oftice. The president then appointed Robert
Lucas. His commission was dated, July 17, 1838.
Robert Lucas seemed to have a genius for pioneering. He was born and brought up
in a pioneer settlement in A^rginia. Wlien a young man he moved to a frontier settlement
in Ohio. In his fifty-seventh year he had the courage to go forth again into a new
country. Robert Lucas had been twnce governor of Ohio and was well fitted for moulding
the government of a new territory. On his way to Iowa, Governor Lucas stopped at
Cincinnati, to purchase a library for the new territory, for which purpose five
thousand dollars had been appropriated by the Organic Act of the Territory of Iowa.
"• It was here that he made the acquaintance of Theodore S. Parvin, who came west
with him, and for a while acted as his private secretary. Parvin was one of the
founders of the Masonic order of Iowa, and was Grand Secretary of the Grand Lodge
of the state for many years. He was largely instrumental in the founding of the
Masonic Library at Cedar Rapids the largest of its kind in the world. The first
official act of Governor Lucas w'as the choosing of Burlington as the capital of
the Territory. The election to choose members to the First Legis- lative Assembly
was held September 10, 1838. This Assembly consisting of thirty-nine members convened
in the "Old Zion Church" at Burlington, Novem- ber 12, 1838.
On the first day of the session. Governor Lucas read his message to the legislature,
a message which was in many respects in advance of his time. In it, he declared
that the rights and immunities of the Ordinance of 1787 belonged
HISTORY OF WEBSTER COUNTY
to Iowa. He urged the compilation of a complete code of laws for the Terri- tory,
the establishment of a system of common schools, the necessity of a code of criminal
law, the organization of an efficient militia for defense against pos- sible Indian
attacks and the appointment of three commissioners to choose a permanent seat of
government. He arranged the two vices, gambling and intemperance, in the severest
terms. He said, "Could you in your wisdom devise w^ays to check the progress of
gambling and intemperance in this terri- tory, you will perform an act which would
immortalize your names and entitle dou to the gratitude of posterity." In speaking
of appointments he said, "I shall at all time pay a due respect to recommendations
but cannot conscien- tiously nominate to office any individual of bad moral character
or that may be addicted to intemperance or gambling if known to me." This w^as a
bold doc- trine to preach to a body of men, many of whom w^ere themselves addicted
to these vices. "Strict economy but not parsimony" was the financial policy of Governor
The members of the first legislative assembly were for the -most part young men.
Over a third of them were under thirty years of age. Governor Lucas was past the
prime of life. The disparity in the ages of Governor Lucas and the members of the
legislature was the cause of many disagreements. Governor Lucas felt that on account
of their youth the judgment of the legislators could not be trusted. This circumstance
coupled with the fact that the Organic Act of Iowa had put an absolute veto into
the hands of- the governor, — a veto, which sometimes was used too arbitrarily —
made a wide breach between the legislators and the chief executive. So intense did
the dissatisfaction become, that at one time, the legislature sent a petition to
the President of the United States, asking the removal of Governor Lucas. Their
petition however, was refused and Governor Lucas remained in office until a change
in the politics of the national administration made necessary the appointment of
The first legislative assembly for the most part adopted the recommenda- tions of
Governor Lucas. A commission was appointed to select a new site for the capital,
somewhere nearer the center of population than Burlington. This commission later
chose Iowa City. The code prepared by the assembly covered all the ordinary subjects
of legislation. Considering their lack of experi- ence, their work was remarkably
well done. The only discreditable act was the one concerning the rights of the negro
to settle in the territory. In this law the prevailing prejudice against the negro
is shown. No free negro could move into Iowa without giving bond of five hundred
dollars for his good behavior. If he failed to do this, his service could be sold
to the highest bidder. It also provided that an escaped slave should not be harbored
but should be returned to his owner. Any slave holder was authorized to come into
Iowa Territory to procure the arrest and the surrender to him, by an Iowa officer,
of any slave who had escaped from bondage and sought freedom on the Iowa soil.
In pleasing contrast to this, however, is the attitude shown by the supreme court
of Iowa in the case of Ralph, a colored man. Ralph had been a slave in Missouri,
and had belonged to a man named Montgomery. His master had made a written contract
with him to sell him his freedom for five hundred and
HISTORY OF WEBSTER COUNTY
fifty dollars, and to permit him to go to the Dubuque lead mines to earn the money.
Ralph worked industriously for several years, but was unable to earn enough to pay
the price of his freedom. Two Virginians, who knew of this agreement, volunteered
to deliver Ralph to his former owner for one hundred dollars. Montgomery accepted
the offer. Ralph was seized and taken to Belle- vue to be sent by steamer to jMissouri.
Alexander Butterworth, who had seen the kidnapping, hastened to the office of Thomas
S. Wilson, one of the judges of the supreme court, and demanded a writ of habeas
corpus, which Judge Wilson promptly granted. By this nieans, Ralph was returned
to Dubuque. The case was brought before the first supreme court of Iowa for trial.
The members of this tribunal were Judge Charles Alason, chief justice, and Judge
Joseph Williams and Judge Thomas S. Wilson, associate justices. After a full hearing,
the court unanimously decided, that Montgomery's contract with Ralph, whereby he
was permitted to become a citizen of a free territory, liber- ated him, as slavery
did not, and could not exist in Iowa. This opinion was just the reverse of the famous
Dred Scott Decision given by the United States supreme court eighteen years later.
In his message to the second legislative assembly, which met November 4, 1839, at
Burlington, Governor Lucas recommended the passage of an act pro- viding for the
calling of a convention to form a state constitution. The legis- lature adopted
this recommendation, and a proposition calling a constitutional convention, was
submitted to the vote of the people at the next election. But the people of Iowa
Territory did not feel quite ready to shoulder the expenses and burdens of statehood
and the proposition was defeated, by a vote of 937 for and 2,907 against.
At the third legislative assembly, which convened in Burlington, November 2, 1840,
several new offices of importance were created, one of them being the ofifice of
superintendent of public instruction. William Reynolds was the first appointee to
The election of President Harrison, the first national whig victory, was followed
in Iowa by rapid changes in federal appointments. Governor Lucas, who was a democrat,
was succeeded by a whig, John Chambers of Kentucky. Governor Chambers was a native
of New Jersey. During his childhood, his parents moved to Kentucky. Here he grew
to manhood, and served several terms in the Kentucky legislature. Later he represented
that state in congress. He was a warm personal friend of William Henry Harrison.
Governor Cham- bers brought to the governorship of the Territory of Iowa, the mature
judg- ment of a man past three score years, together with a wide experience in state
and national affairs. As superintendent of Indian Affairs of Iowa Territory, an
office held in connection with his governorship, he was most successful in conducting
the aff'airs of the office and negotiated a number of notable treaties with the
Indians. During his administration the Sacs and Foxes ceded all their lands in central
Iowa, and agreed to remove to Kansas. This cession was made September, 1842, and
with the throwing open to settlement of this large tract, immigration to the Des
Moines valley began.
Iowa was fortunate in the selection of her territorial delegates. Like the governors
they proved men of ability. William A. Chapman, the first delegate
HISTORY OF WEBSTER COUNTY  HISTORY OF WEBSTER COUNTY
to congress, was elected in 1838. Through his efforts Iowa territory secured a grant
of 500,000 acres as an appropriation for improvements. The income from this was
afterwards devoted to school purposes. In the controversy with the state of Missouri
over the southern boundary line, he ably defended the claims of Iowa Territory against
the encroachment of her southern neighbor. His successor, Augustus Caesar Dodge,
was the first man, born in the Louisiana Purchase, to sit in congress. His services
were of great value in securing pre- emption rights of settlers, extending surveys
of the public lands, establishing mail routes, postoffices, and a land ofifice at
Iowa City, and in obtaining a land grant for the purpose of aiding the territory
to improve the navigation of the Des ]\Ioines river ; a grant which afterwards caused
the river land troubles. It was largely through his etTorts that the difficulties,
over the admission of Iowa Territory to statehood, were adjusted. The city of Fort
Dodge received its name from Augustus Caesar Dodge and his father Henry Dodge, who
respec- tively at the same time represented in congress the territory of Iowa and
the territory of Wisconsin.
Governor Chambers in his message to the fourth legislative assembly, which convened
in Iowa City in 1841, renewed the recommendations of Governor Lucas concerning statehood.
Upon submission to the people in 1847, the proposition was again defeated. Two years
later it was submitted for the third time, and this time carried by a vote of nearly
two to one'. The constitutional convention met at Iowa City, October 7, 1844, and
continued in session until Novemberr. The general sentiment of the convention was
an favor of creating a large state with the Missouri river as the western boundary
and St. Peter's river as the northern. An extension to include the Falls of St.
Anthony was also advocated. "The State of Iowa," it was said, "could not have too
much water power." The boundaries as finally settled upon were the Mississippi river
on the east, the state of Missouri on the south, the ^Missouri river to the mouth
of the Sioux river on the west, and thence in a direct line from the mouth of the
Sioux river to the mouth of the Blue Earth river, thence down the St. Peter's river
to the Mississippi on the northwest and north.
Unexpectedly the question of boundaries became the bone of contention, first in
congress and afterwards in Iowa. In haste for admission into the Union, the constitution,
accompanied by a memorial asking admission, were presented to congress in December,
1844, nearly three months before the vote was to be taken. Congress objected to
the boundaries as prescribed by the constitution as creating too large a state.
The annexation of Texas, with a proviso for forming four additional states out of
it, was then pending. The northern members felt that more free states should be
created to keep the balance of power between the North and the South. In the house
of representatives the larger boundaries were supported by the delegate from the
territory, A. C. Dodge. The delegates from Ohio advocated keeping Iowa about the
size of their state. Samuel F. Vinton in a speech declared that, "it was the true
interest of the people of the JNIississippi valley, that new states should be of
reasonable dimensions." He appealed to the western members "'to check that legislation,
which had heretofore deprived the West of its due representation in the senate."
The result of these debates was to reduce the proposed bound-
HISTORY OF WEBSTER COUNTY
aries. The bill for statehood as finally passed fixed the western boundary at about
the present site of the city of Des jMoines, while the northern boundary extended
to the Blue Earth river. Assent to this reduction of boundaries was made a condition
of the admission of the state into the Union. When that assent was given, the president
was to announce the fact, and the admission of Iowa into the Union was to be considered
complete. It was arranged that Florida should be admitted at the same time as Iowa.
Florida, a slave state, had been waiting seven years to have a free state ready
to come into the Union with it; and now that Iowa applied for admission, it was
arranged that^he two states should come into the Union together under the same act.
Iowa rejected the condition imposed by congress and remained a territory. Even Texas
was annexed before Iowa came in. Strong as was their desire to come into the Union,
the desire for large boundaries conquered. It was in vain that Augustus Caesar Dodge,
fearing the predominance of the slave states in con- gress, plead with them to accept
the restricted boundaries and thus add another free state to the Union. As a vote
for the constitution would involve assent to the boundaries enacted by congress,
the people voted against the constitu- tion by a majority of 996 votes, and the
governor by proclamation announced its rejection.
In his message to the seventh legislative assembly Governor Chambers, advised the
calling of another constitutional convention. The assembly, however, in chagrin
and vexation, passed a law, over the governor's veto, to submit the rejected constitution
to another election, with a sophistical proviso, that, "its ratification was not
to be construed as an adoption of the boundaries proposed by congress." The people
were still confused over the issue and rather than go wrong, again rejected the
constitution, this time by a vote of 7,235 for and 7,656 against.
On the eighteenth of November, 1845, by the appointment of President Polk, James
Clarke succeeded John Chambers as governor of the territory. Clarke was a native
of Pennsylvania, but had come to Burlington in 1837 and established the "Iowa Territorial
Gazette."' The paper continues to the present day, the oldest newspaper now published
in Iowa. The eighth legislative assembly of Iowa Territory convened December i,
1845. It submitted to the people the question of another convention to frame a constitution.
The people voted in favor of holding such a convention ; and the convention met
]\Iay 4, 1846. A com- promise as to boundaries was agreed upon. Congress repealed
its former action, and in lieu of the boundaries it had prescribed, gave Iowa the
Missouri and Big Sioux rivers as her western boundary, and the parallel of forty-three
degrees and thirty minutes as the northern boundary. These constitute the boundaries
of the present state of Iowa. The constitutional convention in defining bound- aries
used the identical wording of the act of congress. Upon submission to the vote of
the people the constitution was adopted by a vote of 9,492 for and 9,036 against.
The election, under the new state constitution, was held October 26, 1846. Ansel
Briggs, a Vermont Yankee, a stage driver, a democrat, and a hater of banks and banking
was elected the first governor of the state of Iowa. The first general assembly
convened November 30, 1846, and on December 3, the territorial organization gave
way to that of the state.
December 15, 1846, the delegates from the territory of Iowa presented the
HISTORY OF WEBSTER COUNTY  HISTORY OF WEBSTER COUNTY
constitution of the new state to congress, and on the twenty-eighth of the same
month, President Polk signed the bill by which "The state of Iowa was admitted and
received into the Union." Thus Iowa, the twenty-ninth state in the Union and the
fourth state created out of the Louisiana Purchase, became the "First free state
in the Louisiana Purchase."