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This webpage reproduces a chapter of
Iowa As It Is in 1856

N. Howe Parker

Chicago and Philadelphia, 1856

The text is in the public domain.

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Chapter 2
This site is not affiliated with the US Military Academy.

 p17  Chapter I

Early History and Accession of Territory — Organization — Boundaries, Area, etc.

For centuries past, until the year 1830, the Northwestern Territory, embracing all lands west of the Mississippi, of which Iowa is now a part, was in the undisputed possession of various tribes of Indians; and the cultivated fields of the open prairie, the bluff-site of magnificent residence, the ground upon which are now erected our halls of justice and houses of worship, was, but a few short years since, the battle-fields of numerous Indian tribes, contending for the possession of this beautiful and fertile soil, upon which each so freely shed the blood of their contending foes. The hills, valleys, rivers, and prairies of Iowa, have witnessed the most bloody conflicts ever fought by the savages of this continent, as the numerous bone-strewn battle-fields will testify.

The territory embraced within the bounds of Iowa has been purchased by four different treaties. The first was  p18 made in 1832 — commonly called "the Black-Hawk Purchase;" the second in 1836, the third in 1837, and the fourth and last in 1842.

The oldest settlement in the State is Dubuque; which, as a trading-post, is identified with the Frenchman whose name it perpetuates. At about the same period, in 1832, Galena was a village, and Fort Madison and Bellevue military posts. Early in the spring of 1833, several companies of whites crossed from Illinois into Iowa in the vicinity of Burlington. From this period the progress and extension of settlements have been rapid, and the population has increased with greater rapidity than in the history of previous territories.

In 1834, Congress attached this Territory to that of Michigan for temporary jurisdiction, and two large counties — Dubuque and Des Moines — were organized. Their aggregate population in 1836 was 1053; and during the same year Wisconsin was organized as a separate Territory, and exercised jurisdiction over "the District of Iowa."

The "Territory of Iowa" was organized on the 4th of July, 1838. Robert Lucas, a former Governor of Ohio, was Governor and Superintendent of Indian Affairs of the new Territory. During that year, the State was subdivided into sixteen counties, and contained a population of 22,860.

The first Legislature held in Iowa met at Burlington, in the fall of 1837, while our State was attached to Wisconsin, yet subject to Michigan in judicial matters.

On the 4th of July, 1838, Iowa was separated from Wisconsin by Act of Congress, passed June 12th, 1838.

 p19  In 1839, the General Assembly located the Seat of Government on the Iowa River, and called the place the "City of Iowa."

In 1843, the Territorial Legislature petitioned Congress for authority to adopt a State Constitution; which was granted at the next session; and on the 7th of October, 1844, the Convention assembled and adopted a Constitution, which was not approved by Congress. A second Convention was held in 1846, the limits restricted, an amended Constitution adopted; this was submitted to Congress and approved; and in December, 1846, the "State of Iowa" was admitted and christened as one of the glorious Confederacy.

The State of Iowa is situated between 40°30′ and 43°30′ north latitude, and between 90°20′ and 97°40′ west longitude; is bounded on the north by Minnesota Territory, east by the Mississippi River (which separates it from Wisconsin and Illinois), south by Missouri, and west by the Missouri River (which separates it from Nebraska Territory). The State contains an area of 56,000 square miles; being upwards of 200 miles wide from north to south, and upwards of 300 long from east to west. The State is divided into one hundred counties; eighty-five of which have been surveyed, and seventy regularly organized.

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Page updated: 3 Apr 13