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The division of the Territory of Wisconsin and the organization of the Territory of Iowal was soon followed by the hope of an early admission into the Union. The first formal expression of this desire for Commonwealth organization is found in an act of the Legislative Assembly (approved, July 31st, 1840) which called for a vote of the people on the question of a constitutional convention. In August, 1840, the vote was taken, and resulted in the defeat of the proposition for a convention by a large majority.3 Two years later (1842) the same question was again submitted to a vote of the people;4 and again the proposition was defeated by a majority in every county.5 In these as well as in subsequent campaigns a leading argument against Commonwealth organization was, that such organization would throw the entire support of the new government upon the people of the Territory and thus increase greatly the burden of taxation. Finally, however, in accordance with a vote6 taken in consequence of an act of the Legislative Assembly (approved, February 12th, 1 PROPOSITIONS FOR A CONSTITUTIONAL
1 See No. V. of this series, p. 102. . See p. 135 of this number. 3 See p. 136 of this number. 4 See p. 137 of this number. 5 See p. 141 of this number. 6 See p. 147 of this number.
1844) 1 delegates were elected to the first constitutional convention which met at Iowa City on the 7th of October, 1844.2
The Constitution drafted by this convention (which may properly be termed the Constitution of 1844) 3 was submitted to the people of the Territory in April, 1845.4 In the meantime Congress passed an act (approved, March 3d, 1845) for the admission of Iowa into the Union on an equal footing with the original States.5 But the boundaries of the future Commonwealth as defined in this act of Congress were not the boundaries as prescribed in the first article of the Constitution. The difference was radical, giving rise to much dissatisfaction. Indeed, it is now generally conceded that their disapproval of the boundaries set by Congress led the people of the Territory to reject the Constitution at the April election.
The Constitution of 1844 had been rejected by the people. But those most anxious for Commonwealth organization secured, at an extra session of the Legislative Assembly, the passsage of an act re-submitting the Constitution “ as it came from the hands of the late Convention.” Furthermore, this act provided that the ratification of the Constitution “ shall not be construed as an acceptance of the boundaries fixed by Congress in the late act of admission, and the admission shall not be deemed complete until whatever condition may be imposed by Congress, shall be ratified by the people.” Thus the boundary question was again made a vital issue. At the August (1845) election the Constitution of 1844 was rejected a second time by the people of the Territory.
B. F. S. 1 See p. 143 of this number. 2 Journal of the Convention, p..3. 8 See p. 150 of this number for text of this Constitution. 4 See Act of the Leg. Ass'y of Feb. 12th, 1844, Sec. 8, p. 146 of this number. 6 See No. V. of this series, p. 123.
AN ACT TO PROVIDE FOR THE EXPRESSION OF THE OPINION
OF THE PEOPLE OF THE TERRITORY OF IOWA AS TO
SECTION. I. Be it enacted by the Council and House of Representatives of the Territory of Iowa, That for the purpose of obtaining the wishes of the people of the Territory of Iowa, as to preparatory steps for admission into the Union as a State, a poll shall be opened at each electoral precinct in this Territory at the time of holding the next general election for Delegate to Congress, members of the Council, and House of Representatives, &c. SEC. 2.
That it shall be the duty of the judges of election at every precinct in this Territory, at the time in the first section provided, to receive the ballots of all persons authorized by the laws to vote for Delegate to Congress, and safely deposite the same in a separate box for that purpose.
SEC. 3. That those voters who wish to call a convention to frame a constitution for their future government, will say on their ballot “ convention,” and those opposed to taking any preparatory steps will say "no convention."
” Sec. 4. That immediately after the polls are closed, it shall be the duty of the judges aforesaid to open and examine the ballots given as aforesaid, and upon a separate piece of paper set down truly and distinctly the number of votes given for and against the convention, and certify the same as judges of election for the precinct and county where the same are given.
SEC. 5. That it shall be the duty of the judges of election aforesaid to carefully seal up said list of votes, certified as aforesaid, and safely send the same, with the returns of the general election, to the clerk of the county commissioners court of the proper county endorsed,“ returns for and against convention."
Sec. 6. That it shall be the duty of said clerk, by whom said returns shall be received, within five days after their reception, (without breaking the seals,) to transmit them safely to the Secretary of the Territory of Iowa, who, in the presence of the Governor, shall break the seals of said returns, and examine and count the same, and then carefully file them in his office, and the Governor shall issue his proclamation declaring the number of votes given for and against the convention.
Sec. 7. The opening and examination of the said returns shall take place on the first Monday of November, in the year of our Lord eighteen hundred and forty.
Approved, July 31 1840.
-Reprinted from Laws of the Territory of Iowa, 1840, (Extra Session) Ch. 33, p. 46.
THE VOTE IN 1840 ON THE QUESTION OF A CONVENTION.
The votes given at the late general election for and against a State Convention, were against a Convention by a large majority.--The sentiments of the people of the Territory thus indicated, will necessarily preclude all further legislation on the subject at the present session. The people have, by their votes, expressed their preference for a Territorial Government for the time being.
-Reprinted from Journal of the House of Representatives of the Third Legislative Assembly of the Territory of Iowa, Þ. 12.—being an extract from the Governor's Message of Nov. 3d, 1840.
1 The August election, 1840.
We learn by the proclamation of the Governor, that, at the late election in this Territory, the vote for and against the Convention, stands thus: For a Convention 937; Against a Convention 2907.1
--Reprinted from The Iowa Standard, Vol. I., No. 6, Nov. 27th, 1840.
AN ACT TO PROVIDE FOR THE EXPRESSION OF THE OPINION
OF THE PEOPLE OF THE TERRITORY OF Iowa, UPON
SECTION 1. Be it enacted by the Council and House of Representatives of the Territory of Iowa, That for the purpose of obtaining the expression of the opinion of the people of the Territory of Iowa, upon the subject of the formation of a Constitution and State Government, a poll shall be opened at each electoral precinct in this Territory, at the time of holding the next general election for members of the Council and House of Representatives, &c.
SEC. 2. That it shall be the duty of the judges of elections, at every precinct in this Territory, to interrogate the several qualified electors when they approach the polls to vote, whether they are in favor or against a Convention, to which interrogatory the said elector shall answer simply “ Convention," or “ No Convention," and the clerks of said election shall thereupon write down his name in a column headed “ Convention," or "No Convention," in accordance with the vote of said elector.
1 Cf. Bloomington Herald, Vol. II., No. 39, July 29th, 1842. See also Judge Springer's address published in the Iowa Historical Record, Vol. XII., No. 3, p. 487.