Did You Know? 1844.

1844 – The Drive to Statehood.
Did You Know – the audio version

In 1843, there was a strong upswing of Iowans wanting to pursue statehood. On April 5th, the people of Iowa finally voted, by a majority of 2,400 voyes, to form a State Constitution, which was one of the primary steps the U.S. Senate required in order to proceed. In that written constitution, proposed boundaries must be spelled out, the election process of officers must be decided, and how the state will make laws must be addressed as well.

On January 23, 1844, Governor Chambers signed all the paperwork, sending it off to Washington D.C. for President John Tyler’s signature, which he approved on February 12th. When it was all said and done, the U.S. Congress decided that they would approve Iowa statehood only if Iowans would ratify an agreement that redrew the lines of the state on the north, south and west.

According to these boundaries fixed by Congress, Iowa was to extend from the Mississippi River on the east to a line drawn north and south along the meridian of seventeen degrees and thirty minutes longitude west from Washington, D. C. It was to be bounded on the south by Missouri, and on the north by a line about forty-five miles north of the present boundary – in today’s southern Minnesota. In truth, the state of Iowa would have looked completely different than it does today had this proposal gone through (see map above).

A majority of the good people of Iowa hated these proposed boundaries, yet there were some heavy-handed politicians at the time who wanted statehood at all costs. Fortunately, three young statesmen – Enoch W. Eastman, Theodore S. Parvin and Frederick D. Mills, realizing the irreparable mistake this dismemberment of Iowa would be, organized an opposition to the acceptance of the Constitution with the proposed boundary and at once took the field to work for its rejection. The contest was fierce and bitter but patriotism and good judgment prevailed.

After voting on the revised constitution and rejecting it, Iowa remained a U.S. territory until 1846, when finally, these serious boundary issues were better resolved to the agreement of all parties.


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