Franklin T Oldt.

History of Dubuque County, Iowa; being a general survey of Dubuque County history, including a history of the city of Dubuque and special account of districts throughout the county, from the earliest settlement to the present time (Volume 1) online

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Online LibraryFranklin T OldtHistory of Dubuque County, Iowa; being a general survey of Dubuque County history, including a history of the city of Dubuque and special account of districts throughout the county, from the earliest settlement to the present time (Volume 1) → online text (page 38 of 56)
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he himself was a Taylor Whig. Mordecai Mobley was a member
of the Whig executive committee of the state. He did not like
Taylor, who he said "smelt too strongly of the negro" to suit him
The divison here in the Whig ranks was due to the slavery ques-
tion. The Wilmot pro\'iso and "shall the Union be preserved?"
were important topics in 1850. General Jones in Congress op-
posed the pro\iso. The Democratic county central committee in
1850 was Ben M. Samuels. D. S. Wilson, John Fitzpatrick, F.
jNIangold, Benjamin Rupert. Thomas Hardie and William G. Stew-
art. Webster's speech against the Wilmot proviso attracted great
attention here; everywhere "save the Union" was the cry. People
sided for or against the great compromises of that year. The
Democrats nominated Hannibal Emerson for mayor, and the
Whigs nominated Peter A. Lorimier; the former received 183
and the latter 142; it was a strict party vote.

The Democrats at Iowa City nominated Stephen Hempstead,
of this county, for governor in 1850: after a sharp contest he won
on the eleventh ballot. Lincoln Clark was Democratic nominee
for Congress, and William H. Henderson, Republican nominee.
The Whigs favored the United States bank, paper currency, state
banks, charters to corporations, and opposed the existing state
constitution. Rev. James L. Thompson was the W hig nominee
for governor. Political questions at this time were the Utah bill,
Texas boundary bill, admission of California, fugitive slave law,
to make New Mexico a territory, and suppression of the slave trade
in the District of Columbia; these were called the "Compromise
Measures." The Whigs declared that the fugitive slave law was
a protective tariff for the property of the South. The Democrats
elected their county ticket in 1850. For governor, Hempstead re-
ceived 721, and Thompson 353; the Democratic majority averaged
about 330. Clark was elected to Congress ; there were then nine-
teen counties in this district.

The election of August, 185 1, was closer than usual in this
county, though the Democrats won generally by a reduced ma-

In 1852 J. H. Emerson (Dem. ) was defeated for mayor by
J. P. Farley (Whig) ; the latter had a majority of 9 votes in a
total of 442 ; the Democrats won the balance of the ticket by
greatly varying majorities.

"True our candidate for mayor has been defeated by nine votes,


but it is admitted upon all sides that his defeat is attributable to a
purely sectional cause — with reference to the cut (Waples) oppo-
site Waples' store. No one can regret the defeat of our candidate
for the mayoralty more than we do; yet we would rather he were
defeated a thousand times than lend himself to a local influence
which sought to control him." — {Daily Miners' Express, April
6, 1852.)

At this election the Whigs fought desperately in order to secure
prestige for the presidential campaign. Emerson was defeated by
the First ward.

"He refused to give an assurance before election that if elected
he would favor a diversion of the dredge boat from the main im-
provement and legitimate work contemplated in the contract to the
improvement of a cut (Waples) in the First ward to be done and
paid for by individuals."

Both parties, Whigs and Democrats, conducted stirring cam-
paigns on national issues in 1852. O'Connor, the famous Whig
orator of Muscatine, appeared here ; he spoke two and one-half
hours and made a strong appeal to Irishmen. In August, 1852,
the vote for secretary of state was 975 for McCleary (Dem.) and
563 Jenkins (Whig). Lincoln Clark (Dem.) for Congress re-
ceived 913, and J. P. Cook (Whig) 580.

"The Democracy have had one of the most brilliant triumphs
that ever crowned their efforts in this city. Never was a triumph
more signal and complete. Not a Whig is to be seen this morning.
The coons have taken to their holes." — (Daily Miners' Express,
August 3, 1852.) "Never within the history of the two parties in
Dubuque have the Whigs suffered such a Waterloo defeat."- —
( Same. )

General Dodge spoke here in October at a big Democratic meet-
ing. Speakers and newspapers were very abusive during the fall
campaign. The Miners' Express was so severe that Mahony, of
the Herald, ordered the exchange stopped. The result in Novem-
ber was as follows: Pierce electors (Dem.), 1,150: Scott electors
(Whig), 617; Hale electors (Free Soil), 6. Taylor and Dodge
townships returned small majorities for the Whigs ; all others were
Democratic. The aggregate vote in the county in August, 1852,
was 1,537, ^nd in November 1,773. The Democrats opposed th^
Maine liquor law — prohibition.

In 1853 the Whigs renominated J. P. Farley for mayor, and the
Democrats nominated B. J. O'Halloran. Even the Democrats said
there were too many Irish on the Democratic ticket and many of
them "knifed" their ticket. The result was the sweeping defeat
of the Democratic ticket. Farley (Whig) received 477, and
O'Halloran (Dem.) 186: the balance of the ticket was about the
same. It was said that the defeat of the Democratic ticket was
the defeat of the Jones clique. During 1852-4 there was a bitter


personal war lietween Mahony. of tlie Herald, and Merritt. of the
Express; in Mahony, Merritt met his match. The Herald con-
(Incted a caustic and bitter warfare against General Jones, who had
dictated Democratic policy here for so many years.

"If Mahony has an enemy lie is always certain to let it be
known through the columns of his sheet (Herald). The postmaster
he regards as his enemy and therefore none who know his dis-
position expect him to treat him with common civility, much less
common justice." — (Express, August 24, 1853.)

The August election in 1853 showed a considerable Democratic
loss all over the county, the Democratic majority being about 305.

"The leading men of Dubuque were from the southern states,
where they were educated in the habit of allowing things to ad-
vance or retrograde as nature or accident directed, but without any
efifort of theirs. If your merchants, your officeholders and other
prominent men were Yankees, the)i your town, your harbor and
business generalh' would present a different aspect from what it
does at present." — (Resident of Galena in Express, November 19,
1853.) "It is as lamentable as it is true that our business men in
town fail to exert that influence for the extension of their business
and the improvement of the city that they ought. They talk a great
deal but do little." — (Express, November 19, 1853.)

In February, 1854, the Kansas-Nebraska bill in Congress was
duly considered here. It was now seen that the compromise fight
of 1850 would ha\e to be waged over again. The Whigs and
Free Soilers united on Simeon Waters for governor and advocated
the Maine law. In March a meeting of Germans in Dubuque de-
nounced the Kansas-Nebraska bill. The Democrats nominated
for mayor Col. C. H. Booth and the Whigs renominated J. P.
Farley. Harbor improvement inxaded politics ; it was understood
that Farley represented an abandonment of the canal plan and
the substitution therefor of the filling up plan. The result was
497 votes for Farley and 290 for Booth.

On June 17, 1854, the Democracy assembled at the courthouse
and listened to addresses on the Nebraska bill from D. S. Wilson,
B. M. Samuels and Colonel McHenry. Wilson was a candidate
for the state senate. The Miners' Express said his speech "excited
and received the applause of the association." He declared himself
in favor of the bill. Mr. Samuels, candidate for the house, also
declared in favor of the bill, against an amendment to the state
constitution for the purpose of creating banks within the state and
opposed the Maine liquor law (prohibition). Colonel McHenry,
candidate for the house, followed in a similar strain and attacked
the Whig party in \'igorous style, calling them Abolitionists, Know-
Nothings and Woman's Rights men. The Observer denounced all
the speeches because all favored the repeal of the Missouri Com-
promise, wliich was affected by the Nebraska bill.


As a whole, Dubuque, with its large Catholic population, bitterly
opposed the Know-Nothings, whose object was to exclude all for-
eigners from participation in the government of the country. The
Observer did not hesitate to attack the Catholic church as an or-
ganization with caustic editorials (see Observer, July 8, 1854).
The Observer was really a Know-Nothing. It unwisely made it a
first consideration to assault the Catholic religious organization and
to publish everything tending to degrade that faith. The paper
did not long survive.

In 1854 Stephen Hempstead was Democratic candidate for the
national house and favored the Nebraska bill and opposed the
Maine liquor law. He was sure to secure a large German vote, it
was reasoned. Mr. Thorington, his antagonist, opposed the Ne-
braska bill and did not use strong drinks. He was a resident of
Scott county.

On July 28, 1854, an Anti-Nebraska mass meeting was held at
the court house with William Stratton as chairman and D. E.
Kirkup secretary. McNall, Vanduzee and L. H. Langworthy
were appointed a committee on resolutions, and J. C. Richards,
R. C. Waples, William Rebman, E. C. David and A. P. Wood a
committee to organize an Anti-Nebraska Club. Speeches were
made by Mr. McNall, A. P. Wood, L. H. Langworthy and Mr.
Nightingale. The resolutions adopted denounced in severe terms
the Nebraska bill.

On August 4, 1854, James W. Grimes, Whig candidate for
governor of Iowa, delivered a strong address on the political issues
of the day to a large Dubuque audience. The Observer said: "It
was not only logical and argumentative ; it was more — it was pow-
erful, eloquent and convincing. * * * j^jg peroration was
equal to any oratory of the kind we ever listened to in or out of
the state of Iowa." He was answered immediately by Ben M.
Samuels, who in turn was answered by Mr. Nightingale for Mr.
Grimes, who had become indisposed. Both well sustained their
party principles.

Another strong Anti-Nebraska meeting was held at the court-
house on August 4, 1854. The meeting was addressed by Chap-
line, Rebman. Barney, Moreland and Nightingale, Whigs and
Democrats. The meeting adjourned to meet again; various com-
mittees were appointed. At the next meeting the speakers were
William M. McNall. Wiltse, Chapline, Childs, Rebman and others.
Mr. Wiltse's speech was particularly noted for its logic, candor
and force.

At the August election, 1854, Dubuque county went Democratic
by about 450, Bates. Democratic candidate for governor, receiving
a majority of 432 over Grimes, Whig. The Whigs easily carried
the state.

Upon receipt in May, 1854, of a telegram that the Kansas-Ne-


braska bill had passed the Senate, the Democrats fired lOO rounds
from the cannon and held a jubilee meeting. The Tribune groaned
over the "ascendency of slavery" and lashed the Iowa senators
who voted for the bill : this paper severely opposed the fugitive
slave law. It published and circulated the following:


Constantly on Hand Negroes of All Ages; Boys and Girls, Men

and Women, for Sale at Low Prices.

Cash Paid for Horses, Cattle and Niggers.

Douglas for President.

George \V. Jones, Agent for Iowa.

"Give the South the right to do just as it pleases about slavery
and make it the duty of the non-slaveholding states to acquiesce
and no man can prevent the reopening of the African slave trade."
said the Tribune of September 6, 1854.

In November, 1854, many citizens went to Galena to hear
Stephen A. Douglas. In September George W. Jones and Peter
A. Lorimier had a personal encounter over political differences.
The "new-fangled" Republican party was divided in October by
the Democrats. In a lecture John Hodgdon said that the black
race was not susceptible to education and culture and that eftorts
on behalf of that race were "bogus philanthropy." The vote in
Dubuque county for governor in 1854 was: Bates (D.), 1,101;
Grimes (W. ), 669. Grimes was elected governor, to the great
regret of the Democrats of Dubuque.

"The term Abolitionist, according to the present Democratic
definition, appears to mean anybody who dares to open his lips
against the vile effort to naturalize slavery extension. It is very
important that these leading and easily understood political facts
should be perseveringly kept before the people ; for whenever they
have fairly understood the present true position of the government
and the Democratic party on the slavery question, except in a few
demagog-ridden, office-hunting, whisky-soaking places like Du-
buque, they have invariably subjected their dough-faced party
leaders to a most unlooked-for, overwhelming and inglorious de-
feat. * * * The fugitive slave act in its present odious form
makes bloodhounds of us or incarcerates us in a common jail if
we refuse to be put on the track of the fleeing slave. Our best
men have been laid aside for any common party tool, until the
floodgates of slavery have been thrown open in our very teeth,
until the passage of the Nebraska bill. The fugitive slave law
must be clianged : we have submitted to it until further forbear-
ance becomes criminal and ceases to be a virtue." {Tribune, Feb-
ruary 18, 1855.)


In the spring of 1S55 ''" political isms united to defeat the
Democrats here — Whigs, Know- Nothings, Native Americans, Free
Soilers. Abolitionists, Maine lawists, etc. They called their ticket
the "Peoples."

"Ne\er before had Dubuque so much reason to be proud of a
political victory as that aciiieved yesterday. All the isms com-
bined have been overwhelmingly defeated by the Democracy. Know-
Notliingism was grappled and cast into the dust. Bring out the
cannon and let the victory be celebrated." (£. and H., April 3,


John G. Shields ( D. ) was elected mayor over Mordecai Mobley
(R.) by 704 to 434; the balance of the city ticket was elected;
thus the Democrats were in control here for the first time in sev-
eral years. The Know-Nothings had lodges in this county in 1855.
"Look out for the Phismarinks — the lying Know-Nothings," said
the E.vpi'css and Herald. The Democrats carried the county in
August, 1855, the vote on candidate for county judge being:
Stephen Hempstead (D.), 1,196; William Johnson (R.), 509.

Late in November. 1855, the new Republican paper asked point-
edly for "the leaders of the Democracy here to define its position
on any of the great leading cjuestions of the day." This meant
that what was wanted were the views of the Express and Herald
in particular on the Kansas-Nebraska question, the new Republican
party, Know-Nothingism, state sovereignty and the principles to
be supported by the coming Democratic county and state conven-
tions. The latter paper postponed answer, but said : "One of the
principles of the Democracy is that the territory acquired by the
blood or treasure of the people of the United States belongs to the
people in common ; and the Democratic party will maintain in-
violate the rights acquired thereto by every citizen under the Con-
stitution." {E. and H., December i, 1855.)

In January, 1856, 250 persons signed a call for a meeting of
all persons in the city "who repudiating all other party attach-
ments, names and privileges and standing upon the broad plat-
form of resistance to slavery aggression, are willing to unite them-
sehes together in defense of the liberties of the country and to
co-operate as a Republican party." Among these names were
those of Know-Nothings, Whigs, Americans, Free Soilers, Aboli-
tionists, former Democrats, etc. The new party was called "Black
Republican" by the Democrats. But the Republicans denied they
had embodied all the diversified policies and principles of their
constituent factions It was stated that their organization was
based upon an unalterable determination to curtail the aggressions
of slavery. Fifty German citizens were among the number, but
several of them deserted later. The meeting was held at the court-
house and was largely attended. W. W. Hamilton was chosen
chairman and C. C. Flint and Dr. Hillgartner secretaries. The


chairman slated tliat the object was to organize tlie Repubhcan
party in Dubuque county. He stated that the party ojjposed the
Kansas-Nebraska act. The following citizens were appointed a
committee on resolutions : C. (]. Hawthorne, J. Bittman, L. A.
Thomas, William Churchill, A. \V. Hackley, C. Wullweber and
F. DeBerard. The following committee was appointed to report
names for delegates to the state and national conventions: W. M.
McNall, H. A. Wiltse, Dr. Minges and Mordecai Mobley. While
the committees were preparing their reports the meeting was ad-
dressed by Dr. Hillgartner in the German language, a Mr. Jones
from Maine, H. A. Wiltse, Dr. R. I. Thomas and others. Mr.
Jones declared that the question of slavery was the most impor-
tant of the times. Henry A. Wiltse made a very efifective speech,
enlivened with wit and softened with pathos. He declared that
the government was mainly devoted to the support of slavery and
that $50,000,000 was draw-n from the treasurj' every year
for the indirect aid of slavery schemes. The following were
chosen for delegates to the state convention: G. Hillgartner, |.
Bitman, C. C. Flint, W. Smith, D. U. Lee, C. Wullweber, T. H.
Lambert, W. N. Hamilton, J. A. Chapline, L. A. Thomas, W.
\'ande\er, T. J. Chew, G. L. ALathews, W. Rebman, Dr. W. John-
son and C. G. Hawthorne, who was also a delegate to the national
Republican convention. The resolutions were similar to those
adopted by all Republican conventions of that date. The follow-
ing were the Republican countv central committee: C. C. Flint,
A. W. Hackley, J. Bitman, William Churchill and F. E. Bissell,
D. A. Mahony, who had left the Express and Herald a few months
before, owing to differences as to its management and policy, be-
came again connected with it in June, 1836: his ability wa,s fully
recognized by the Democracy, which had missed his logic and
leadership and demanded his return. The Buchanan ratification
in June, 1856, was one of the most enthusiastic ever held here.
The Democrats were wide awake on national and local issues. The
institution of slavery was thoroughly discussed in the newspapers
in 1856 by D. A. ^lahony and Rev. J. C. Holbrook ; both were
logical, outspoken and severe, but courteous. D. N. Cooley be-
came a Republican at this time. The Sunday law and the Maine
law were denounced by the liquor interests of Dubuque at this

In 1856 the Democrats nominated for mayor David S. Wilson;
the Republicans nominated Henry S. Littleton; Wilson received
1,242 votes and Littleton 5,32. The whole county and city Demo-
cratic ticket were elected by about the same majority. Whitewater,
Taylor and Jefferson townships went Republican. For sheriff,
Hayden (D. ) received 1,454, and Johnson (R. ) 1,008; for the
.$40,000 loan 1,294, against the loan 558.

The presidential campaign of \H^6 was spirited in the extreme.


"Free soil, free speech, free schools and Fremont" was the cry
of the RepubHcans. Shiras, Davis, Gardner, Adams, Allison,
Thomas, Harvey. Stapleton, Hawthorne, Mobley and others were
among the Republican leaders. In August Snyder (D.) received
1,917 votes for Secretary of State, and Sells (R.)) 1,146 in Du-
buque county. There was war between the Express and Herald
and the Chicago Tijiics; the former supported the Buchanan wing
of the Democracy and the latter the Douglas wing. National is-
sues in 1856 were (i) Popular sovereignty; (2) territories to
legislate for themselves; (3) repeal of the Missouri compromise;
(4) Kansas-Nebraska act; (5) extension or non-extension of slav-
ery. The Republican having called from the Express and Herald
its opinion as to the repeal of the Missouri compromise, was an-
swered by the latter thus : "We have said time and again that the
repeal of that compromise was uncalled for, unnecessary and

In October, 1856, the Tribune, edited by A. W. Hackley, op-
posed with all the power of his argument the doctrine of "popu-
lar sovereignty." The Express and Herald called him "the Sage
of Bleeding Kansas," and combated his views with equal force and
persistence. The Democratic victories in several of the eastern
states was the occasion of great rejoicing and of an immense dem-
onstration on October 21, 1856. The combined forces of Repub-
licanism and Know-Nothingism, it was declared, had been signally
defeated^ with the outlook that Democracy would sweep Iowa as
w ell. The meeting was called by the Democratic Club committee
and the principal speakers were Colonel McHenry and Messrs.
Griffith and Richards. The Iowa Democratic electors were J. C.
Hall, James Grant, D. O. Finch and A. H. Palmer.

At the November election the Democratic electors received in
Dubuque county 2,427 votes; Republicans, 1,322 votes; Fillmore,
256 votes. All the townships were Democratic except Taylor,
which tied with seventy-four votes for each of the Democratic
and Republican electors, and Dodge, which gave twenty for the
Republicans and seventeen for the Democrats. The following
townships polled more votes for the Fillmore candidates than for
the Republican candidates: Prairie Creek, Center and Iowa.

"The great heart of the Democracy throbs in exultation over the
glorious victory they have achieved over the most dangerous po-
litical organization this country has ever seen. Dangerous — for
the purpose plainly seen through all their professions was to get
possession of the national government at whatever cost or sac-
rifice — dangerous, because they contended for no principle — for
no measure — for nothing but the spoils and power of ofifice."
(E. and H., November 26, 1856.)

"The great question contended for by the Republicans has been
answered : Popular sovereignty has been endorsed and approved


by the people of the great Republic." (E. and H., November 26,

In December, 1856, a bill was introduced into the state Senate
giving Negroes, Indians and Mulattoes the right to testify in cases
where white men were parties. It passed by nineteen to thirteen.
The Express and Herald of December 24 said: "If the Repub-
lican members of the general assembly are not proving good their
title to be called "black' Republicans, then we are mistaken. The
ne.xt proposition will be to allow Negroes, Indians and Mulattoes
to acquire citizenship with all the rights of the whites and the next
to court white daughters and have white wives."

At the presidential election in 1856 Dubuque county polled a
total of 4,005 votes. It was the second county in the state, Lee
having polled 4,588. Dubuque city polled 2,239 the most of any
city in Iowa.

A notable event in 1857 was the attack of the Times on Judge
Wilson. The latter was compared to Jeffries, the most infamous
of judges. The attack was purely political and was made upon
Chief Justice Taney as well. The Democratic county convention
was held at Centralia, July 11, 1857. John Stanton sensed as
chairman. There was a goodly attendance.

Resolutions were adopted, endorsing the action of the national
administration regarding Kansas and Utah, denounced the pro-
posed new state constitution as "not worthy the assent of the in-
telligent citizens of a free and enlightened commonwealth, propos-
ing as it does to establish an equality of position between the white
and the black races, a condition which if once adopted can never
be annulled, except through bloodshed and revolution; that we
view with utter abhorrence this scheme so traitorous to our race
and the sure harbinger of a demoralized amalgamation of the white
and black races." {E. and H., July 15, 1857.)

At the August election, 1857, the Democrats carried the county
by a larger majority than ever before. For county judge Stephen
Hempstead (D.) received 2,008 votes, and A. S. Chew (R.), 545;
the balance of the ticket ran about the same. On the question of
a new state constitution the vote was — for constitution. 2.023 ;
against constitution. 539. On the question of the new constitu-
tion with the word "white" stricken out the vote was — yes, 72 ;
no, 2,090: at this time Dodge was the only Republican township
in the county. In 1857 there were the Jones and the Wilson fac-
tions of the local Democracv. One faction bolted and held a con-
vention at Centralia, charging that the regular convention held at

Online LibraryFranklin T OldtHistory of Dubuque County, Iowa; being a general survey of Dubuque County history, including a history of the city of Dubuque and special account of districts throughout the county, from the earliest settlement to the present time (Volume 1) → online text (page 38 of 56)