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Iowa History Daily: November 30 - Ephraim Adams & the Iowa Band

Iowa History Daily: On November 30, 1907, Ephraim Adams of the influential abolitionist “Iowa Band” of Congregationalist missionaries died. Critical in the establishment of Iowa College (later Grinnell College), Adams left a legacy of preaching the evils of slavery and alcohol during Iowa’s earliest years.

Born in New Hampshire, Adams expressed his views early. After waking out of Phillips Andover Academy because the school’s principal forbade students to join an antislavery society, he went on to graduate from Dartmouth and Andover Theological Seminary. Called by Asa Turner and the multi-denominational American Home Missionary Society to the Iowa Territory in 1843, Adams represents one of the 11 initial members of the Iowa band.

Ordained at the log cabin which passed for Lee County’s Denmark Academy, Adams expressed his hopes: “If each one of us can only plant one good permanent church, and all together build a college, what a work that would be!” For his first year in the field Adams preached at Mount Pleasant, and then went on to spend a decade in Davenport.

One of the founders of Iowa College (now Grinnell College), Adams served as the annually elected President of the Trustees several times during the college’s earliest years. A critically important fundraiser, the efforts of Adams and others helped ensure the success of the college. After his time at the college he went on to serve congregations in towns including Decorah, Eldora, and Waterloo before his death in 1907. #IowaOTD #IowaHistoryDaily #IowaHistoryCalendar


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