History of Iowa From the Earliest Times to the Beginning of the Twentieth Century/4/Preface
A STATE or Nation is in a large degree what its people make it. If they are ignorant, indolent, or bigoted the institutions of the land in which they live will partake of these characteristics. Had Iowa remained a Spanish possession and become settled by immigrants from that Nation, they would inevitably have planted upon its soil many of the institutions, laws and customs of the mother country. The influence of its early inhabitants would have been stamped upon its laws, educational institutions, social condition and religious tendencies. Its status in the beginning of the Twentieth Century would not have been dissimilar to that of New or Old Mexico, or the South American nations. But fortunately the far-seeing wisdom of the Jefferson administration at the beginning of the Nineteenth Century ordained a better destiny for Iowa. The acquisition of Louisiana by the Republic of the United States more than doubled the extent of its territory and preserved its vast domain from European occupation for all time, dedicating its millions of acres to homes for our growing population. Almost immediately after the acquisition of the Louisiana Purchase the most adventurous people of the then western States and Territories began to seek homes in the new possession. Spanish and French rule was ended and the self-reliant young men of the new Nation, which had recently won independence from the strongest government of Europe, began to cross the Mississippi River and gradually dominated the new Territory. The Indians were crowded farther westward by adventurers and home-seekers and before the middle of the Nineteenth Century new States were coming into the Union, created from the wild lands of the Louisiana Purchase.
The first settlers in the Black Hawk Purchase were largely from the immediate valley of the Ohio River and Missouri. Many came to a land dedicated by the Missouri Compromise to freedom from slavery, because of its dedication to freedom. They preferred homes where labor was honorable and bore no badge of abject servitude to a class exempt from toil.
While many of them retained prejudices imbibed from environment in early life, which found expression in legislative acts in pioneer years, as the immigration from New England, New York, northern Ohio and Michigan increased, the policy of local government and free schools gradually became engrafted upon the statute books. Race prejudice was slowly overcome, liberal support was given to education by public funds, a sound banking system devised and the restrictions to corporations so modified as to encourage works of internal improvement. The pioneers found a vast domain of wild prairie and woodland, fertile soil, navigable rivers, abundant water power and a genial climate. The foundation was here for a great and prosperous State. It devolved upon them to develop its boundless resources, frame a Constitution and a system of laws.
How well and wisely the people of the Nineteenth Century who occupied Iowa, accomplished this mission, has been partially recorded in the preceding volumes of this history. The generations to come will want to know more of the lives of the leaders in the work of founding the State which, in the opening years of the Twentieth Century, has attained a position among the members of the Union which by general consent is regarded as creditable to its architects. While it would be impracticable to give even a brief sketch of the thousands who have contributed to the founding and development of Iowa in the various lines of useful work, a few hundred who have perhaps been most prominent have been selected for this volume as representative men and women in various lines of work.
Realizing the importance of having the counsel of some of the most competent citizens of the State in making these selections, several years ago the author consulted General George W. Jones, Ex-Senator James Harlan, Judge George G. Wright and Theodore S. Parvin, who kindly assisted in designating the persons who should not be omitted. Since that time as others have attained prominence, Charles Aldrich and William H. Fleming have assisted in making additions to the list first selected.
Lawmakers, State and National, including those who have been chosen to execute, construe and administer the laws, occupy a large place in history. Educators, journalists, reformers, authors, artists, scientists and founders of benevolent and reformatory institutions have attained eminence in our State. Military achievements in the wars which have called our citizens from peaceful pursuits, both by officers and private soldiers, have brought additional honors to Iowa people.
In the representative citizens of these different classes selected for biographical sketches, the reader may follow the brief record of nativity, educational opportunities, occupation and special work which has brought the various individuals into public notice. It is especially interesting to observe what a large majority of those who have attained State-wide prominence in every line of useful work, belonged to the middle classes who have relied entirely upon their own industry, perseverance and personal determination for the success achieved. Nearly all have been workers, rising slowly step by step, attaining the positions sought without the aid of wealth or influential friends. Thousands of others are yearly pursuing a similar course with a prospect of equal success. Upward of six hundred of the most prominent people of the first half century of our State are here represented in brief biography; a few have left no attainable data from which such sketches can be prepared, and a few have failed to furnish such data, though still living. If other editions of this work shall be demanded, additions to the biographical volume will be made from those who are continually coming into prominence.