Ideological Differences Between Whigs, Republicans and Democrats in Iowa, 1838-1860: Real or Illusory?
SubjectPolitical parties--Hisotyr--Iowa--19th century; Iowa--Politics and government--History--19th century
The problem. There has long been historical controversy surrounding political parties of the Jacksonian period. This thesis focuses on Iowa's political parties in the legislative process to determine whether there is ideological concensus or conflict on selected issues in the period from 1838 to 1860. Procedure. Issues of political interest were selected: banking, slavery, the Mexican War, the Compromise of 1850, the return of Jackson's fine and the dispute in Kansas. The thesis followed these issues through the legislative sessions 1838-1860. A study of voting behavior on the issues was compiled as indices of consensus or conflict. Findings. The voting behavior indicated considerable conflict in the areas of banking, the Mexican War, the Compromise of 1850, the Kansas dispute and the return of Jackson's fine; however, in the area of internal improvements, the parties found substantial common ground. Conclusions. The voting record on these issues appear to show that in areas of emotional intensity, slavery, the Mexican War, and banks, as well as in areas marked specifically for party loyalty, such as the return of Jackson's fine, party lines were clearly defined. Areas less traumatized by party rhetoric have a concensus based on sectional or county advantage. Overall parties do appear to be ideologically based and in conflict. Recommendations. Additional study of political parties could be profitably taken on issues such as the constitutional conventions, Indians, land policy, schools and the Des Moines River Improvement Commission. Additional scalograms could be compiled in several of these areas. A follow up on election statistics and individual members within party ranks would also be profitable.
124 leaves. Advisor: Charles A. Nelson