On July 4, 1838, Iowa, which had been part of Wisconsin Territory since 1836, officially became a separate U.S. Territory, and President Martin Van Buren looked to Ohio, hand-picking Robert Lucas as Iowa’s first Territorial Governor.
Since Burlington, Iowa had been chosen in 1837 as Wisconsin Territory’s “temporary” capital – replacing Belmont, Wisconsin while a new capitol building was being constructed in Madison – Governor Lucas announced that this small river town located near the new territory’s southern border would remain the temporary capital until he could arrive in Iowa and “officially” call for a duly-elected Territorial Legislature to be formed.
Governor Lucas arrived in Burlington by steamboat in August, 1838 – and soon, Iowa Territory was looking for its new capital city – a planned community now called Iowa City.
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