Iowa Constitution and Race

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Time Frame: 1846

A re-enactment portrays a constitutional delegate expressing commonly held views of blacks in 1846.
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“The Path to Statehood,” The Iowa Heritage: Program # 3, Iowa Public Television, 1978.

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Transcript

The Constitution the Delegates would write would be very similar to other state constitutions written at the time, but there were some ideas that made it unique.

(banging of a mallet)

Delegation come to order. We will now hear from a select Committee on Admission of people of color as the same footing as white citizens. You may proceed Sir.

Mr. Chairman and fellow Delegates, although we do not favor the chaining of the black man with the shackles of slavery, we could never consent to open the doors of our beautiful state and invite him to settle our lands. The policy, the policy of the other states would drive the whole black population of the Union upon us. The people of Iowa do not want negros swarming among them…

Most Iowans did not believe in slavery. Many had come to Iowa Territory to escape the slave policies of their home states, but allowing the black man equal rights was a different matter. In the end, blacks were allowed to come to the state but not encouraged.

 


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