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faith of their institutions, and affording them a market for their issues, without receiving any of the profits of the business. Who can hesitate about deciding this question? If bank paper must and will enter into and become a part of the currency of the State, (and no one can deny that such will be the case so long as the other States have banks and bank paper) common sense dictates that those issues should be subject to the control of our government, and emanate from institutions conducted by our own citizens of whose character and solvency we can know something. It becomes a principle of protection then, and self preservation unites with self interest in demanding that we provide a local currency of our own. Each State acts for itself in this particular, and as we can not control or forbid the action of our sisters, policy and duty dictate that we protect ourselves from the effects of their Legislation. We can only do this by placing ourselves upon an equality with them. If we provide a safe and sound State currency, as they have done, our capital can be employed as advantageously as theirs, and our institutions will act, not only as a check upon their banks, but drive out of our limits the notes of foreign institutions. Banks will draw capital to them, and no country needs the rhino more than this. The capital will come from the old States, where it is abundant, locate itself here, pay its proportion of public burdens and become an active instrument in breaking up our prairies. Treading fast in the footsteps of capital comes population. The industrious mechanic, the enterprising manufacturer, the hardy laborer, all follow capital. Where money is plenty there labor is amply rewarded, and all classes of society flourish.”
(6) Democratic Support of Constitution.
The democratic papers were all strong supporters of the Constitution, and strongly opposed banks by showing all the evil effects of bank mismanagement in the past; while for political purposes, they sought to drive the Whig press into
admitting that the Whigs were the party of banks. In making them take this stand they were unsuccessful. They also sought to show that if for no other reason the Whig party would oppose the Constitution because in the framing of it they had not exercised the controlling voice, and that in all probability they would not control the State Government under it. There were some quite strong appeals made to class distinctions by the press of both parties.
On the third of August, 1846, a majority of 456 votes in favor of the Constitution were cast.
The Whig and Democratic Reasons for Ratification. The Whigs explained its ratification by the people because they were “anxious to enter the Union,” and a small majority of voters were found who voted for it from motives of temporary expediency, believing that amendments could be made before any serious inconvenience could arise from some of the restrictions placed on the Legislature. In the main the Constitution was considered exceptionable; but by removing the facilities for amending it the “ hards” had fastened upon upon the people or Iowa the new-fangled policy of an exclusive metallic currency. They urged that no time should be lost in seeking to mend it at the earliest opportunity.
The Democrats pointed to the ratification of the Constitution of 1846 as being the voice of the people on the question of banks and the banking question.
And that now the people of Iowa would no longer be swindled by bad bank notes issued within her borders.
The relative ideas of the two parties are shown in the resolution passed at the Democratic Convention for the nomination of State Officers on September 24, 1846, and that of the Whig Convention, passed on September 25, 1846; both conventions were held at Iowa City.
DEMOCRATIC PLATFORM.: Resolved, That the separation of the public moneys from the banking institutions of the country, in the passage of the Independent Treasury Bill meets the approval of this Convention, and the recent vote of the people of this State, adopting the Constitution, is a decisive indication of pnblic sentiment against all banking institutions of whatever name, nature or description.
WHIG PLATFORM.2 Resolved, That we regard the adoption of the Constitution at the recent election by reason of the highly illiberal character of some of its provisions as an event not calculated to promote the future welfare and prosperity of the State of Iowa, and that it is our imperative duty to secure its speedy amendment.
The Attempts to Amend the Constitution of 1846, and Adoption of the Constitution of 1857.
On February 15th, 1847, the House of the First General Assembly passed upon its third reading H. R. File3 No. 89, providing for the calling of a Constitutional Convention for the amendment of the Constitution of 1846 so as to provide for the establishment of a banking system. On the next day in the Senate the motion4 to postpone indefinitely was carried by a vote of 10 yeas to 8 nays; one Democrat voting with the Whigs in the negative.
The leading Whig papers commenting upon this stated that the refusal of the Legislature to allow the people to vote for or against the Convention to amend the “Locofoco Constitution” was a bold position to assume; and that it came with ill grace from the party that pretended to be ultra-democratic in their politics. The closing of the editorial is: “But thank God, the people can speak without asking permission of their representatives and in the name of Liberty, we now call upon them to do it. Let every voter at every
i Fairall's Handbook of Iowa Politics, p. 18.
election, until their votes are regarded, put upon their tickets, convention or no convention, and let the Judges of Election dare not to certify to them.”
A plea' made by the friends of the Constitution of 1846 in voting against the above noted amendment was, that it was rejected in consequence of the belief that the people did not demand its passage; for if the people had wanted a Constitutional Convention they would have petitioned for it.
The agitation for the calling of a Constitutional Convention was kept up by the Whig papers during the year of 1847; accompanied in most cases with criticisms of the Constitution and the Democratic party. A typical editoriale is, in substance, as follows: “A majority of people are not opposed to banks. When the Constitution of Iowa was framed there happened to be a concurrence of events tending to elevate, in the scale of progressive democracy, the peculiar notions of Fanny Bright, and her subterranean proselytes. The test of Democracy was then, Free Trade, Hard Money, No Banks, No Corporations. No Christianity and no anything except Democracy, and that progressive.
“The people had been wearied with Territorial vassalage, and they adopted the Constitution, with the express understanding that the fooleries in it were to be expunged as soon as possible. They supposed that the First General Assembly would provide a vote upon it at the first election. They have been disappointed but they will not let another election pass without making “ Convention” or “ No Convention" a test question, unconnected with Whiggery or Democracy.”
The Whig papers,3 early in the year of 1848, called the attention of the voters to the fact that one of the issues of the August election would be the question of amending the Constitution of Iowa. That this should not be lost sight of and should be considered without reference to political parties. The most important amendment to be proposed was that in regard to corporations which was the work of “Locofocos;" but many of the old school Democrats would have been glad to have had an opportunity to vote for the provision for "Joint stock companies,” or to leave the matter to the discretion of the Legislature.
1 Iowa Capital Reporter, January 5, 1848. 2 Iowa Standard, September 15, 1847.
3 See Iowa Standard, April 4, 1848, and other Whig papers of this year.
Most of the counties where the Whigs were the predominant party adopted resolutions in the conventions, called for the election of delegates to the State Convention. The resolution' passed by the Whig Convention at Farmington, Van Buren county, on the 29th of April, is one of the more conservative ones. It is as follows:
Resolved, that the Constitution of the State imposed upon the people of this State by the wretched policy of a party preventing as it does and will, the influx of capital and enterprise into our young State and consequently the development of her inexhaustable mineral resources, her great agricultural wealth and manufacturing and commercial facilities is a burden to which the people will not long submit, and that we will sustain no man for the Legislature at the approaching election who will not pledge himself to vote for a law submitting the question to a vote of the people.
There were no resolutions in regard to the question of amending the Constitution passed at either the Democratic or Whig conventions of this year.
By the year of 1849, the question of amendment or no amendment of the Constitution in regard to incorporations had become of enough importance to receive the attention of both parties at their State Conventions.
In the resolution in regard to National affairs, "the paper policy” was decried by the Democratic Convention.3 In the Whig Convention4 two resolutions were devoted to the subject. These state what the welfare and interests of the
1 Iowa Standard, May 17, 1848. 2 Fairall's Handbook of Iowa Politics, p. 25. 3 Held at Iowa City, June 28, 1849. 4 Ibid, June 30, 1849. 5 Fairall's Handbook of Iowa Politics, p. 27.