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"Setting Up a State"

"Setting Up a State." The Annals of Iowa 27 (1946), 246-247.

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In a bizarre but brief editorial from 1946, today's article comes from the Annals of Iowa and tries to focus on Iowa during the 1840s and 1850s. Although wide-ranging, scattered, and often strange, the article provides insights into the political climate, the removal of Indigenous peoples, and the general boosterish Iowa pride common to the people of the state.

The editorial opened with a brief description of the battle for Iowa's statehood, specifically concerning specific debates related to the borders of the proposed state. Additionally, the text focused on the final removal of the Sauk and Meskwaki by the Iowa Dragoons under Captain Allen. Of note, Keokuk is mentioned as standing at the south end of the Seventh Street bridge to say goodbye to the Des Moines River before being removed a western reservation. The author alluded to struggles convincing the Sauk and Meskwaki to leave the state, and one must wonder why they didn't include any reference to the return of the Meskwaki in 1857.

Finally, the article discusses Republican politics related to emancipation within the Capitol during the years immediately preceding the American Civil War.

"Politics were a-sizzling at the Raccoon forks of the Des Moines just a century ago. Not partisan politics but statehood politics. Iowa was a territory with nearly a hundred thousand people. Other territories had become states with a mere handful of voters. The people of Iowa felt themselves to be discriminated against. They wanted statehood, but they wanted it to be their kind of a state. The bigwigs at the national capital were bungling the job. A majority of Iowa voters were mad. They had sent to Washington the draft of a state constitution, with borders defined as running right across from the Mississippi to the Missouri. The political jugglers had cut off the Missouri slope and sent word that nothing farther west than forty miles from the Raccoon forks would ever be worth taking from the Indians. Iowa voters resented this." (246)

"In the meantime there was much buzzing about Fort Des Moines. Captain Allen and his dragoons were rounding up the Sacs and Foxes and moving them in bunches off to the southwest. Some of the Indians wanted to stay. Iowa was their beautiful land. They hid in the hills along the Des Moines river and went over to the Iowa and the Skunk and kept still. It took more than civil arguments to convince some of the red men that they would have to

depart forever from Iowa." (246)

"Chief Keokuk and his wife (or wives) stood upon the hill that is now at the south end of the Des Moines Seventh street bridge, and waved farewell to the beautiful valley that they had known for many years. The settlers were coming. Land buyers, speculators, promoters, adventurers—all home seekers. The rush was great when the doors were opened. The occupation of the Des Moines valley was completed in 1846. The state of Iowa set up in business." (247)

"Before the War of the Rebellion Des Moines was a small frontier town, where everybody knew everybody. The topics discussed on store boxes on summer evenings were popular sovereignty, Dred Scott and old John Brown. The political parties were about evenly divided." (247)


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