Open main menu

History of Iowa From the Earliest Times to the Beginning of the Twentieth Century/4/Samuel A. Howe

SAMUEL A. HOWE, pioneer educator, was born in Vermont in 1808. He early removed to Ohio and engaged in teaching where John Sherman and William T. Sherman were among his pupils. He resolved to secure a liberal education and defrayed the greater part of his expenses through Athens University by work about the institution. After completing his literary studies he turned his attention to law, but soon abandoned this and began teaching. He established a reputation as an educator and inspirer of youth, as we find General Sherman saying on his march to the sea:

“Professor Howe I consider to be the best teacher in the United States. I am more indebted to him for my start in life than to any other man in America.”

Ex-Governor Alvin Saunders of Nebraska wrote to Mr. Howe's son: “It is to the kindness of your father that I am indebted for much of the success of my life.” In 1841 Professor Howe removed to Iowa and located near Mount Pleasant, teaching in a log school-house the following winter. In 1843 he removed his school to Mount Pleasant and there being no other accommodations it was located in the upper room of the old log jail. In 1844 the school was temporarily removed to the Cumberland Presbyterian church and the following year was transferred to the Academy building erected for the purpose, where it still remains, having an unbroken record of over fifty years of continuous existence, making it probably the oldest continuously operated school in the State. After the dissolution of the Whig party Professor Howe became a Free Soiler. In 1848 he became a stockholder in the only antislavery paper in the Northwest, the Iowa Freeman. During the presidential campaign of 1856 it was one of the most influential advocates of the principles of the Republican party. He was a firm believer in woman suffrage, temperance, the abolition of the death penalty and was strongly opposed to land monopoly. During his early advocacy of abolition of slavery he suffered much persecution, having property destroyed and was finally mobbed by pro-slavery ruffians on the streets of Mount Pleasant. Professor Howe defied persecution, hatred, loss of property and social ostracism and stood firmly by his principles through life. He died in Mount Pleasant, February 15, 1877.