Recalling pleasant things and taking the time to dwell on them.
A Letter From The 1st State Legislative Session – Iowa City.
Wright Williams – Born January 5, 1804 in Cayuga County, New York, Wright Williams married Phoebe Johnson in Shelby County, Indiana on September 10, 1829. Together, they came to Louisa County, Iowa in 1836, with Wright becoming the first county judge soon after. He was elected county commissioner in 1840 and held that office until September 30, 1844, when he became one of three Louisa County representatives to the first Constitutional Convention (1844) in Iowa City (see chart below). Read more here about the 1844 effort toward statehood.
When Iowa was finally admitted as a state in 1846, Wright Williams was chosen to represent Louisa County in both the First and Second State Legislative Assemblies (1846-1850).
Which brings us, now, to our rare postal cover and letter from January, 1848 (below) – just as the First Iowa State Legislative Fall/Winter 1847/1848 session was ending in Iowa City…
Allow me, now, to take you through our Wright Williams two-page letter, written from Iowa City to his brother-in-law Bruce Johnson back in Indiana, just as the fall/winter session of the First State Legislative Session was coming to a close. His words (below) are in bold italic and edited to make for easier reading. Along the way, I’ll add a few comments that offer some extra facts on each subject at hand. Enjoy!
Iowa City – Jan. 8th, 1848
Dear Sir. I will inform you that the General Assembly are again assembled at this place (Iowa City) and are once more maneuvering for Senators & Supreme (Court) judges.There is a change in the House since the last session of two Democrats in place of Whigs – one Whig having deceased and another resigned. The House now stands 19 Whigs & 19 Democrats & one independent. The Senate is decidedly Democratic. This will give them a majority on joint ballots. The seats of two of the Democrats are considered by the Whigs as vacated, the members, or rather former members, having removed from their districts, but in the face of all illegality, the probability is that they will come in and elect Senators and Supreme Judges. A resolution to convene in this Hall for that purpose on Tuesday next was offered by them on yesterday.
They are making preparations for celebrating – this (January 8) the anniversary of the great battle of New Orleans.
The Whigs of the State held a convention on the fifth inst (January 5, 1848) and appointed delegates to a national convention expressing a preference for Gen. Taylor’s nomination for the Presidency.
So now, Rep. Williams moves from politics to religion…
Arthur Miller holds a discussion with Mr. Westfall of the Universal Church at this city to commence on Monday the 10th inst (January 10, 1848). The question between them is – Do the scriptures of the Old and New Testaments teach the Universal salvation of the whole human family? Westfall affirms & Miller denies. Again – Do they teach the endless misery of any part of the human family? Miller affirms & Westfall denies. This discussion is to continue four days. I shall be pleased to hear as much of it as I can.
I will say that I left home on Sunday the second inst (January 2, 1848). The friends and connections were all well. Charles Williams wife died on the day before I left. I believe that I informed you in my last of the death of Lydia Ingham. She died on the 7th November. I saw Solomon in this place last evening. He is selling goods in a two horse wagon. As the bells are ringing for dinner, I will close. Please write soon. This session will probably not last more than a month, if so long I heard right from James and Manly. They are well.
Respectfully yours, Wright Williams
Kudos to Representative Wright Williams and his letter back home to Indiana in January 1848. Records show that the Fall/Winter session in Iowa City did end later that winter, but picked up again in the fall – finally ending the First Session in December. During the elections of 1848, Williams was re-elected and came to Iowa City once again for the Second Iowa State Legislative Sessions that extended into 1850. In closing, allow me to share what one biographer wrote of our letter-writer – Wright Williams…
Kudos to the amazing resources below for the many quotes, photographs, etc. used on this page.