State Historical Society of Iowa.

Applied history (Volume 2) online

. (page 20 of 50)
Online LibraryState Historical Society of IowaApplied history (Volume 2) → online text (page 20 of 50)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

bers of each house or by a direct vote of the electors.^*^**


1 Equity, Vol. X, p. 94. This quarterly, edited by Mr. C. F. Taylor, is
devoted to scientific politics and progressive government, recording the ad-
vance of the movement for direct legislation, proportional representation,
and the short ballot.

Wilson's The New Freedom, pp. 236, 237.

2 Lowell's Public Opinion and Popular Government, pp. 169-173.

3 Lowell's Public Opinion and Popular Government, p. 173.

4 Lowell's Public Opinion and Popular Government, pp. 164, 165, 199

^Equity, Vol. XV, pp. 34-47; The American Year BooJc, 1913, p. 69;
The American Political Science Review, Vol. VIII, pp. 251-253.

8 The American Year Book, 1913, p. 76 ; and the references in note 5

7 Lowell's Public Opinion and Popular Government, pp. 174, 203. For
the results of direct legislation in 1912, see Appendix B in Lowell's book.

8 So held in 38 Iowa 467, 84 Iowa 262, 137 Iowa 478, 479.

9 Laws of Iowa, 1868, p. 54; Laws of Iowa, 1876, p. 110; Laws of Iowa,
1884, p. 164; Code Supplement of 1907, p. 468; Aurner's History of Town-
ship Government in Iowa, pp. 43-45, 190. Mr. Aurner declares that "it is
clearly shown in the voting of taxes in aid of railroad construction that the
electors can not be trusted with complete freedom in such matters. . . .
From what occurred it is clear that the taxpayer needed protection against
himself, and the revision and repeal of laws which followed appear to have
had that end in view. Initiative on the part of taxpayers may have been
desirable; but hasty actions in the hope of possible advantages to the imme-
diate community .... must have suggested further legislation which
aimed to prevent a repetition of these occurrences, without taking away the
privileges of the elector."

See also Brindley's History of Taxation in Iowa, Vol. I, p. 276.

10 Code of 1873, p. 334.

11 Laws of Iowa, 1876, p. 150; Code Supplement of 1907, p. 668.

12 Code of 1897, p. 952.



13 Code of 1897, p. 263.

14 A statute of 1872 enabled one-third of the voters of the township to
force a popular vote upon the question of restraining stock from running at
large. By a law of 1882 townships might vote aid in the construction of
bridges, the estimated cost of which was not less than ten thousand dollars.
— Aurner's History of Township Government in Iowa, pp. 45, 52.

15 Code of 1851, p. 175. The original school law of 1847 has been modi-
fied by later legislation.— See Eevision of 1860, p. 360 j Code of 187S, p.
318; Code of 1897, pp. 933, 934.

16 Code of 1897, p. 965.

17 Constitution of Iowa, Article III, Section 30.

18 Aurner's History of Totvnship Government in Iowa, pp. 33, 36, 38.

laLoM-s of loiva, 1846-1847, p. 62; The Iowa Journal of History and
Politics, Vol. VI, p. 57.

20 Code of 1851, pp. 23, 24; Code of 1873, p. 54; Code of 1897, p. 237.

21 Code of 1851, p. 24; Code of 1897, p. 239.

22 Co(Ze of 1851, p. 24; Laws of Iowa, 1874, pp. 91, 92; Code of 1897,
p. 238.

23 14 Iowa 230, 231.

An act to protect crops against the invasion of stock was passed in 1868,
its last section providing that the act should be in full force in every county
where the voters, called upon by a majority of the board of supervisors,
chose to take advantage of the provisions of the act. The Supreme Court
followed Santo vs. The State (a case involving the application of a law
calling for a State-wide referendum) and declared that in each case the law
depended upon a popular vote for validity: since this was unconstitutional,
the law was "of force without regard to the vote which it provides shall be
taken to determine the question of its adoption by the people". Thus, the
court saddled the people of Iowa with a law not made by the General As-
sembly. The court was certainly not interpreting the legislature's intention
to establish local option in this matter. See Laws of Iowa, 1868, p. 204;
and the case of Weir vs. Cram, 37 Iowa 652, 653.

24 The language of the statute of 1857 was no doubt unfortunate, the
last section providing that "all acts and parts of acts now in force, coming
in conflict with the provisions of this act, are hereby repealed: Provided,
That the act entitled 'an act for the suppression of intemperance,' ap-
proved January 22d, 1855, be not and is not by this act repealed in any
county of this State, unless the people of such county by a vote taken as



herein provided, shall adopt this act. ' ' — Laws of Iowa, 1856-1857, pp. 382,

The use of the word "repeal" and of the expression "adopt this act",
in fact the wording of the whole section is loose, but the intention of the
legislature is clear as day: a county referendum in favor of the question of
"license" certainly would not "repeal" the prohibitory law which was
State-wide, nor would the people thus adopt the new law, the language of
the General Assembly to the contrary notwithstanding. The people's action
would abrogate the effect of the prohibitory law and thus virtually establish
a system of local option. It may be that the justices in GeebricTc vs. The
State allowed their prejudices in favor of prohibition to get the better of
their reasoning, as suggested in Oberholtzer's The Referendum, Initiative,
and Becall in America (2nd edition), p. 323. It must be admitted that the
last section of the act of 1857, as stated above, is objectionable if it means
that the people of a county or all the counties could elect to abrogate the
effect of the prohibitory law of 1855 and thus forever cut off their right to
return to it if they desired.

25 Geebrick vs. The State, 5 Iowa 496, 499.

26 The State vs. Weir, 33 Iowa 135. The statute of 1870 in the Laws of
Iowa, 1870, p. 83, is also poorly drafted, and the court believed that it fell
' ' completely within the principles and reasoning of Geebrick vs. The State ' ',
but the justices seem to have allowed precedent to lead them into error.

27 Code Supplement of 1907, p. 534.

28 For a discussion of the Iowa Supreme Court 's vacillating policy see
Oberholtzer's The Referendum, p. 322. Geebrick vs. The State seems to
have been reversed in The State vs. Forkner, 94 Iowa 1, 16.

29 94 Iowa 24, 26, 32, 33.

30 Revision of 1860, p. 38; Code of 1897, p. 216.

31 Revision of 1860, p. 51 ; Code of 1897, p. 231.

s2Laws of Iowa, 1870, p. 140; Code Supplement of 1907, p. 648.

33 Laws of Iowa, 1870, p. 187; Code Supplement of 1907, p. 86.

34 Laws of Iowa, 1886, p. 70; Code of 1897, p. 234.

35 Laws of Iowa, 1890, p. 37; Code Supplement of 1907, p. 680.

36 Code of 1851, pp. 103, 104, 105, 106, 107, 108.

S7 Laws of Iowa, 1866, p. 157; Laws of loiva, 1868, pp. 78, 79; Code of
1897, pp. 269, 270.

38 Laws of Iowa, 1858, pp. 347, 349; Code of 1897, pp. 271, 272, 276, 278.


soBevision of 1860, p. 371; Code Supplement of 1907, p. 666. ,

40 Laws of Iowa (Extra Session), 1862, p. 23; Code of 1897, p. 278.

41 See above, footnote 9.

42 Laws of Iowa, 1882, p. 123 ; Code of 1897, p. 360.

43 Laws of Iowa, 1872, p. 18 ; Code of 1897, p. 305.

44 The statute in the Code Supplement of 1907, p. 129, is a development
of the idea contained in the Laws of Iowa, 1872, p. 80. See also Laws of
Iowa, 1888, pp. 16, 31; Laws of Iowa, 1896, p. 23; Laws of Iowa, 1900, p.
10; Laws of Iowa, 1909, p. 36.

Electors in cities of the first class have a right to vote on the question
whether a contract or contracts approved by the city council in relation to
the purchase and construction of waterworks shall be adopted. — Code Sup-
plement of 1907, p. 142.

45 See references in footnote 44 above ; Laws of Iowa, 1890, p. 19 ; Code
Supplement of 1907, p. 199.

*^ Laws of Iowa, 1882, p. 63; Laws of Iowa, 1886, pp. 13, 119; Laws of
Iowa, 1894, p. 33; Code of 1897, p. 323.

4T Code Supplement of 1907, p. 159; Code of 1897, p. 329. The General
Assembly in 1913 authorized the people of Waterloo to petition and author-
ize the construction of a business men's coliseum and convention hall over
the Cedar Eiver. — Laws of Iowa, 1913, p. 358.

48 Code Supplement of 1907, pp. 218, 219; Laws of Iowa, 1909, pp. 53,
58; Laws of loiva, 1911, p. 37.

The initiative was first invoked at Des Moines on the 7th of March, 1910.
The proposition of municipal ownership of the street-car system was sub-
mitted to the voters on March 28th.

Eesort to a popular vote in order to enact municipal law was held not to
conflict with the provision of the Constitution vesting all legislative authority
in the General Assembly since this constitutional provision has no application
to the legislative power of city councils. Nor is the referendum destructive
of republican government. — Eckerson vs. The City of Des Moines, 137 Iowa
452, 482, 483, 484.

49 Constitution of Iowa, Article I, Section 20.

50 Constitution of Iowa, Article I, Section 2.

51 Shambaugh 's The Constitution of the State of Iowa (1902), pp. 12-
15. For the early history of popular ratification in Iowa see Lobingier's
excellent work on The People's Laiv, pp. 273-277.

52 For the right of the voters to revise or amend their fundamental law


consult the Constitutions of Iowa in Shambaugh's Documentary Material
delating to the History of Iowa, Vol. I, pp. 135-272 ; or Horack 's Constitu-
tional Amendments in Iowa in the Iowa Historical Becord, Vol. XV, No. 2,
pp. 452, 454-464.

53 Iowa Historical Eecord, Vol. XV, No. 2, pp. 472-475; Shambaugh's
The Constitution of the State of Iowa (1902), pp. 15-17. For a discussion
of proposed constitutional amendments in Iowa see the writer's articles in
The Iowa Journal of History and Politics, Vol, VII, pp. 266-283, Vol, VIII,
pp. 171-210.

54Horack's The Government of Iowa (1911), p. 28.

55 Laws of Iowa, 1858, pp. 125, 215; Laws of Iowa, 1860, p. 97; Revision
of 1860, pp. 269, 281.

56 The vote was 25,000 for and 22,000 against the law. See The Iowa
Journal of History and Politics, Vol. VI, pp. 63, 73, 78, 79.

57 Santo vs. The State, 2 Iowa 165, 203, 224, 228, 229.

58 Willoughby 's The Constitutional Law of the United States, Vol. II,
p. 1325.

59 See the writer 's article on proposed constitutional amendments in The
Iowa Journal of History and Politics, Vol. VIII, pp, 197-199,

For State party platforms see the Iowa Official Register for the years
1907 to 1914, See also Eciuity, Vol. XII, p, 150, Vol, XIII, p, 25,

60 House Journal, 1911, pp. 281, 413, 498, 501,

61 Equity, Vol. XIII, p. 75, Vol. XIV, pp. 106, 143. For a skeleton his-
tory of the amendment see House Journal, 1913, p. 2956; and Senate Jour-
nal, 1913, p. 2734. The amendment as originally introduced contained
provision for reserving to the legal voters of every city, town, and munici-
pality initiative and referendum powers as "to all local, special and
municipal legislation of every character in and for their respective munici-
palities. ' ' — House Journal, 1913, p. 191.

62 The original amendment also contained the words ' ' public safety ' '. —
See House Journal, 1913, p. 190.

63 An amendment to the original resolution to reduce the number was
defeated, and an amendment to insert "Congressional Districts" was
adopted.— See House Journal, 1913, pp, 876, 1408, 1409.

64 Mr. Kulp 's resolution made the initiative and referendum on constitu-
tional amendments the same as on ordinary statutes. — See House Journal,
1913, pp. 475, 1411.

At the present time it takes the people of Iowa at least three years to
amend their Constitution.


65 Laws of Iowa, 1913, pp. 423-425.

66 The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science,
Vol. XLIII, p. 144.

Eead Wilson's The New Freedom, pp. 55-78, 242, on the influence of
"gentlemen" or "aristocrats" in American government.

67 Lowell's Public Opinion and Popular Government, p. 143. President
Wilson in The New Freedom, pp. 123, 124, declares: "I think it will become
more and more obvious that the way to purify our politics is to simplify
them, and that the way to simplify them is to establish responsible leader-
ship. We now have no leadership at all inside our legislative bodies, — at
any rate, no leadership which is definite enough to attract the attention and
watchfulness of the country." On the people's part there is a growing de-
mand "for responsible leadership, for putting in authority those whom they
know and whom they can watch and whom they can constantly hold to
account. ' '

For a good discussion of the citizen's responsibility, see North American
Eeview, Vol. CXCVIII, pp. 149-153.

68 Taft's Popular Government, pp. 38, 39.

69 Taft's Popular Government, pp. 40, 41.

70 Lowell's Public Opinion and Popular Government, pp. 131-135, 145.

71 Kales 's Unpopular Government, pp. 19, 21, 37, 39, 40, 42, 48, 120, 121.
Mr. Taft in his Popular Government, pp. 21, 49, 52, 53, urges lightening the
voter's burden so as not to discourage his political activity. See also The
Political Science Quarterly, Vol. XXIII, pp. 597, 598.

72 Taft 's Popular Government, pp. 68, 70.

73 Proceedings of the American Political Science Association, 1913, p. 153.

74 For all these expressions as used by such writers as William H. Taft,
Nicholas M. Butler, A. Lawrence Lowell, Ellis P. Oberholtzer, Charles M.
Hollingsworth, Henry C. Lodge, Governor O'Neal of Alabama, and Con-
gressmen McCall and Sutherland, see their writings or EqUity, Vol. XIV, pp.

Members of the legal profession still cling tenaciously to the doctrine of
innate or natural rights which places in theory a limit upon the despotism
of the majority. Accordingly, they declare that if the so-called sovereign
people are permitted to pass whatever laws they please, unrestrained by any
power, human or divine, legislation will become an expression of the popular
will for the time being, whereas law at all times should be an expression of
reason applied to the relations of man with man and of man with the State.
They urge that under no circumstances should our liberty be supplanted by
license, lest might should become right.


75 Tor the statement of these arguments the writer is largely indebted to
Wileox's Government by All the People, pp. 36-104. See also Kales 's
Unpopular Government, pp. 120, 121.

76 For these arguments against the referendum see Wilcox 's Government
by All the People, pp. 139-148.

77 This is the statement made by a resident of Oregon who is friendly to
the new experiment.

78 Taf t 's Popular Government, pp. 46, 48.

79 National Municipal Beview, Vol. Ill, p. 265.

80 See Wilcox's Government by All the People, pp. 231-265; North
American Beview, Vol. CXCVIII, pp. 153-160 ; The Nation, Vol. CXCV, pp.
324, 325.

siTaft's Popular Government, pp. 45, 53, 56, 57; Lowell's Public
Opinion and Popular Government, pp. 208, 209, 211.

82 Taf t 's Popular Government, pp. 93, 94.

83 So declares Mr. Eichard W. Montague, a graduate of the Law College
of the State University of Iowa and a long-time resident of Portland,
Oregon. See his recent article on The Oregon System at Worh in the
National Municipal Beview, Vol. Ill, pp. 256-283.

»i National Municipal Beview, Vol. Ill, p. 266; Equity, Vol. X, p. 105;
The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, Vol.
XLIII, pp. 71-73.

85 Beard and Shultz's Documents on the Initiative, Beferendum, and
Becall, p. 19.

86 Wilson's The New Freedom, p. 234. In 1912 the people of Oregon
defeated a proposition initiated to abolish the State Senate: they are to
vote upon it again in 1914. See The Annals of the American Academy of
Political and Social Science, Vol. XLIII, pp. 71, 74.

87 Lowell's Public Opinion and Popular Government, pp. 155-157;
Equity, Vol. XIII, p. 62.

88 Wilson's The New Freedom, p. 115. Read especially what he has to
say on "Bosses" and the Oregon system, pp. 224—226.

89 Mr. Ford in The Annals of the American Academy of Political and
Social Science, Vol. XLIII, p. 71.

90 Wilson's The New Freedom, pp. Ill, 112, 113, 114, 119, 120, 125, 129,
130, 131; Popular Science Monthly, Vol. LXXXIV, pp. 375-381.

President Lowell of Harvard University in his Public Opinion and Pop-


ular Government, pp. 139, 140, 141, believes that people exaggerate the faults
of their legislators : ' ' "We suffer, no doubt, from a lack of experience in our
public bodies; but we suffer also from a self-confidence that causes everyone
to think himself capable of forming a valuable opinion on every subject, and
not less from a general lack of mutual confidence in one another. This last
is a highly important matter, for it lies at the root of much of our evil-
doing in politics, in business, and in daily life."

81 Lowell's Fublic Opinion and Popular Government, pp. 157-159;
Equity, Vol. XI, p. 14.

^2 Equity, Vol. XIV, pp. 63, 65; Beard and Shultz's Documents on the
Initiative, Eeferendum, and Recall, pp. 22-24; Wilson's The New Freedom,
pp. 228, 229, 235. President Wilson believes there are States where it is
perhaps premature to discuss the initiative and referendum at all.

S3 Equity, Vol. X, p. 94, Vol. XII, p. 146, Vol. XV, pp. 7, 8; Beard and
Shultz's Bocuments on the Initiative, Eeferendum, and Recall, p. 33; Wil-
son's The New Freedom, p. 239.

The notion that the electors will be eternally busy voting on measures
referred to them under the new regime is, of course, quite wrong; for elec-
tions, generally speaking, take place, as before, at the regular time.

Arguments for the initiative and referendum may be found excellently
presented in Wilcox's Government hy All the People, pp. 104-12-8, 149-164,

94 Equity, Vol. XIV, pp. 136, 137.

»5 The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science,
Vol. XLIII, pp. 43, 142; Wilcox's Government by All the People, pp. 104-
112, 272-280, 290-298. See also the speech of Mr. Jonathan Bourne, Jr., in
the United States Senate on May 5, 1910.

96 Such is the opinion of Mr. Charles D. Mahaffie, a Portland lawyer, in a
letter to the writer. See also Equity, Vol. XII, pp. 19, 20.

97 National Municipal Review, Vol. Ill, pp. 266-268.

98 Equity, Vol. XIV, pp. 59, 62, 66; National Municipal Review, Vol. Ill,
p. 267.

99 That Oregon is the crank 's paradise and the happy home of hobbyists,
extremists, and fanatics is a statement frequently made, but huge majorities
against their plans have squelched their foolish agitation. — National Munic-
ipal Review, Vol. Ill, p. 265, and for Oregon's record see pp. 271-278; also
Political Science Quarterly, Vol. XXVI, pp. 432, 442. As to Switzerland's
record see Lowell's Public Opinion and Popular Government, p. 168; and
The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, Vol.
XLIII, pp. 110-145.


100 For the record of all States down to 1910 and 1912 see The Annals of
the American Academy of Political and Social Science, Vol. XLIII, pp. 89-
103; and Lowell's Public Opinion and Popular Government, pp. 368-398.

101 National Municipal Beview, Vol. Ill, p. 268 ; Equity, Vol. XIV, pp.
136, 137; Beard and Shultz's Documents on the Initiative, Referendum, and
Becall, pp. 38, 39, 41, 48.

Mr. Lowell has made a study of percentages of votes in elections. — See
Public Opinion and Popular Government, pp. 368-398. See also The Annals
of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, Vol. XLIII, pp.
89, 94-97, 101, 102, 103, 212.

Mr. Allen H. Eaton in The Oregon System, pp. 48, 49, asserts that the
people "have undeniably used discretion in their decisions", but he does not
hesitate to point out a few disadvantages. Too many measures are sub-
mitted; trick measures slip in through deceitful headings or titles; some
measures are subsequently repeated in the face of overwhelming defeat;
general ignorance of certain measures is due to the multiplicity of measures
on the ballots and to their complicated and technical character; the voters
cut down expenses in certain communities with which they are not familiar;
and too many local measures get on the ballot. Mr. Eaton's remedies may
be found on pp. 148-156.

102 The writer is chiefly indebted to Mr. C. F. Taylor 's Equity, Vol. XV,
pp. 22-33, for what he believes to be the essentials of an efficient initiative
and referendum system.

103 In South Dakota the emergency clause has been used in forty-three
percent of the laws passed. — See Lowell's Public Opinion and Popular
Government, p. 175.

104 In Wisconsin there are to be no circulating petitions until a bill sub-
mitted to the legislature has been defeated. The reason for such a system is
that the people want to avail themselves of their legislative reference library,
drafting department, the cooperation of university experts, and improved
committee methods. — See The American Political Science Beview, Vol. XXV,
p. 590.

105 Eor the numbers required in the different States see Equity, Vol. XV,
pp. 34r-4:7. In California the number is five percent on referendum petitions
and five or eight percent on indirect and direct initiative petitions respec-

106 Mr. Taylor 's model amendment prohibits any State court from de-
claring unconstitutional any measure made law by the people.

107 See a stricture on this point in The Nation, Vol. CXCV, p. 325.

108 It will be noticed that the proposed systems of Iowa, Minnesota, and
Wisconsin depart in many particulars from the simplicity and directness of
the Oregon plan. — See The American Year BooTc, 1913, p. 76.







The literature on the equal suffrage movement has
become voluminous in recent years. The question has
been discussed from every conceivable point of view. In
the preparation of this paper, the writer is chiefly in-
debted for the historical account of the movement to
volume seven of the Woman Citizen's Library series.
The affirmative arguments have been drawn largely from
an article by Professor George Elliott Howard of the
University of Nebraska, which recently appeared in the
Woman Voter. The negative arguments have been taken
from many magazine articles besides the sourqes indi-
cated in the Notes and References following the text.

The purpose of this brief paper is not an exhaustive
discussion of the subject of woman suffrage: its aim is
rather to present clearly some of the main considerations
on equal suffrage which it is thought will be of interest
and value in connection with the proposed constitutional
amendment which is now pending in Iowa. Moreover,
these pages are not intended as an argument for or
against the adoption of the proposed amendment.

The author acknowledges most of all his indebtedness
to the editor of this series, Professor Benjamin F.
Shambaugh, for many helpful suggestions and for a
critical reading of the manuscript.

Frank E. Horack

The State Historical Society op Iowa
Iowa City Iowa



The suffrage is a legal institution: that is, the right to
vote is defined and guaranteed by law. Moreover, the
suffrage is so fundamental in any political community
that its definition and the provisions for its exercise are
regarded as organic or constitutional. Thus, in the
United States the right to vote is defined and the con-
ditions of its exercise are prescribed, for the most part,
in the State constitutions. The problem of the 'suffrage
is, therefore, a question which demands the attention of
the people of the several States.^

Whatever may have been the historical origin of the
suffrage or the theoretical basis of its definition in the
past, the right to vote is now justified in the same way
that other legal and political rights are justified. The
notion that certain citizens or a class of individuals have
an inherent or natural right to vote not possessed by
other citizens or classes of individuals is no longer ten-
able. The precise definition and limitations of the
suffrage at any particular time in a given community are
questions to be determined largely by expediency and
social justice.

Present-day interest in the suffrage is largely cen-
tered upon ''manhood suffrage" and "equal suffrage."
Manhood suffrage confines the right to vote to men;
while equal suffrage would extend this right equally to
both men and women. In the definition of either prin-



ciple certain qualifications — such as citizenship, age,
residence, and the like — are taken for granted.

The movement for equal suffrage is neither new nor

Online LibraryState Historical Society of IowaApplied history (Volume 2) → online text (page 20 of 50)