Iowa Government for the year 1848


Iowa was erected into a territorial government by act of Congress in June, 1838, and admitted into the Union in December, 1846.

Territorial Governors

Robert Lucas, appointed 1838
John Chambers, appointed 1841
James Clarke, appointed 1846

Governor under the Constitution

Ansel Briggs, entered upon office December, 1846.

Abstract Of The Constitution,
Done in Convention, May 18, 1846; adopted by the People, Aug. 3, 1846.

Every white male citizen of the United States, 21 years old, idiots, insane, or infamous persons excepted, having resided in the state six months, and in the county where he claims to vote twenty days, shall have the right of suffrage.

The sessions of the General Assembly, consisting of a senate and house of representatives, shall be biennial, commencing on the first Monday in December after their election.

Representatives shall be chosen for two years, on the first Monday of August; they must be 21 years of age, and have resided in Iowa for at least one year, and in their district at least thirty days previous to the election.

Senators, not less than one-third, nor more than one-half, as numerous as the representatives, must be 25 years of age; they shall be chosen for four years, one-half biennially.

The governor may refuse to sign a bill; but, if subsequently approved by two-thirds of the members of both houses, it shall become a law in spite of his objections.

The pay of members shall not exceed $2 a day for the first fifty days, and $1 a day for the rest of the session, with $2 for every twenty miles of travel.

In all elections by the assembly, the members shall vote viva voce, and the votes shall be recorded. Every law shall embrace but one object, which shall be expressed in the title.

No divorce shall be granted by the legislature.

A census of the state shall be taken within one year after the ratification of the constitution, and again in every subsequent two years for the term of eight years. After each census, members shall be apportioned among the several counties, according to the number of white inhabitants in each. The representatives shall not be less than 26, nor more than 39, till the white population amounts to 175,000; afterward they shall not be less than 39, nor more than 72. For the first ten years, the salary of the governor shall not exceed $1,000; of the secretary of state, $500; of the auditor, $600; of the treasurer, $400; and of the judges of the supreme and district courts, $1,000 each.

The governor shall be chosen, by a plurality of votes, for four years; he must be 30 years old, and have resided in the state for two years. If the governor, for any cause, be disabled, the secretary of state, and after him the president of the senate, and after him the speaker of the house, shall act as governor. A secretary of state, auditor, and treasurer, shall be chosen by the people, each for two years.

The supreme court shall consist of a chief justice and two associates, elected by joint vote of the General Assembly for six years, and until their successors are elected and qualified, two of whom shall form a quorum. This court shall have appellate jurisdiction only in all chancery cases, and correct errors at law under restrictions- provided by the General Assembly.

The judges of the district court shall be elected by the qualified voters of their respective districts, each for five years, and until their successors are elected and qualified. There shall be elected, in each county, one prosecuting attorney, and one clerk of the district court, each for two years, and until their successors are elected and qualified. Justices of the peace shall have jurisdiction in civil cases, where the amount in controversy does not exceed $100, and by consent of parties when it is below $500.

No state debts shall be created exceeding $100,000, except in case of war or insurrection, unless authorized by a special law, which shall provide for the payment of the interest, and of the principal within 20 years; which law shall be irrepealable, and, before going into effect, must be submitted to the people at a general election, having been published in at least one newspaper in each judicial district for three months preceding, and be approved by a majority of the voters.

No corporation with banking privileges shall be created, and all persons or associations shall be prohibited by law from banking or creating paper to circulate as money. Other corporations may be organized under general laws, with certain restrictions. The state shall never become a stockholder in any corporation.

A superintendent of public instruction shall be chosen by the people for three years. All lands granted by Congress to this state, all escheated estates, such per cent, as may be granted by Congress on the sale of the public lands in Iowa, shall constitute a perpetual fund, the interest of which, and the rents of the unsold lands, shall be applied to the support of common schools.

The assembly shall provide for a school in each school-district, for at least three months in each year; and all moneys received for exemption from military duty, and for fines imposed by the courts, shall be appropriated to support such schools, or the establishment of school libraries.

The money arising from the lease or sale of public lands granted for the support of a university shall remain a perpetual fund to maintain such an institution.

No person shall be incompetent as a witness on account of his opinions upon religion.

Whoever shall be engaged, directly or indirectly, in a duel, shall be for ever disqualified from holding office.

Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, unless for the punishment of crimes, shall ever be tolerated in this state.

To amend the constitution, the assembly must submit the question of a convention to the people at the next general election; and, if a majority are in favor thereof, the assembly shall provide for the election of delegates to a convention to be held in six months after the vote of the people in favor thereof.

Government for the year 1848

Ansel Briggs of Jackson Co Governor $1,000
(term expires December, 1850)
Elisha Cutler of Van Buren Co Secretary of State $500
Joseph T. Fales of Linn Co Aud. of Public Accounty $600
Morgan Reno of Johnson Co Treasurer $400
James Harlan of Johnson Co Sup. of Public Instruction $1,200
Lemuel B. Patterson of Johnson Co Librarian $150
Thomas Baker of Polk Co President of the Senate $4 per day
Jesse B. Browne of Lee Co Speaker of the H. of Rep $4 per day
John B. Russell of Muscatine Co Secretary of the Senate $2 per day
Silas A. Hudson of Des Moines Co Ch. Clerk of h. of Rep $2 per day

Board of Public Works

H. W. Semple, Pres.
Charles Corkery, Treas.
Paul Brattan, Sec.


Supreme Court
Joseph Williams of Muscatine Co Chief Justice $1,000
T. S. Wilson of Du Buque Co Associate Justice $1,000
J. F. Kinney of Lee Co Associate Justice $1,000
G. S. Hampton of Johnson Co Clerk Fees
Eastin Morris of Johnson Co Reporter

District Courts
George H. Williams of Lee Co Judge of 1st Circuit $1,000
James Grant of Scott Co Judge of 2nd Circuit $1,000
J. P. Carleton of Johnson Co Judge of 3rd Circuit $1,000
Cyrus Olney of Jefferson Co Judge of 4th Circuit $1,000

[American Almanac & Repository of Useful Knowledge for the Year 1848, V19, sub. by C. Danielson]

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