The Nature of Iowa Territorial Politics
Rickman, W. Edward
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The problem. Although a number of works have been done on the history of the Iowa Territorial period, 1838-1846, there are no studies which attempt to analyze the development of politics during this period. The essential purpose of this thesis is to examine the nature of political development, the strength of political activity, the nature and influence of partisan politics, the specific development of politics on the various levels of government, and the relationship between territorial politics and national issues. Procedure. This study is primarily based on an intensive investigation into all of the original territorial papers available in the Iowa State Department of History and Archives, including the collection of newspapers for this period. Further research was done in the various historical journals which contain material relative to the period. General histories were used to compile cumulative data that had a bearing on political development. This material was then used to develop a narrative history of political development in Iowa Territory. Findings. Early political activity in Iowa Territory was not well organized and largely emanated from the former political experience of the settlers. Party organization was rather slow and sporadic with the first evidence of development in 1840. Political organization was primarily effected on the local level and was largely concerned with local issues. There is much evidence of the development of local oligarchies during the period. There was a major trend of many experienced politicians dominating the Territorial Council and showing real strength in the House of Representatives. All of the Iowa counties evidenced a rather consistent political party bias. Voting records indicate that partisan politics had a major influence on the development of a Constitution for statehood. The major doctrines of the two parties closely followed national party doctrines except on local issues where personal factions often developed.
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