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History of Iowa From the Earliest Times to the Beginning of the Twentieth Century/4/Stephen Hempstead

STEPHEN HEMPSTEAD, second Governor of the State of Iowa, was born at New London, Connecticut, on the 1st of October, 1812. In 1828 his father removed with his family to Missouri where he made his home on a farm near St. Louis. In 1830 Stephen procured a position as clerk in a store at Galena, Illinois, and when the Black Hawk War came he enlisted in an artillery company and served until peace was restored. He then entered college at Jacksonville where he remained until 1833 when he began the study of law. In 1835 he was admitted to the bar and the following year opened the first law office in the new town of Dubuque. When Iowa Territory was established in 1838 Mr. Hempstead was elected to the Council of the First Legislative Assembly. He was made chairman of the judiciary committee when but twenty-six years of age. At the second session Mr. Hempstead was chosen President of the Council. In 1844 he was elected one of the delegates to the First Constitutional Convention and was appointed chairman of the committee on incorporations. In 1845 he was again chosen to the Council of the Seventh Legislative Assembly and in the Eighth he was again elected President of the Council. In February, 1848, he was appointed one of the commissioners to revise the laws of the State. His colleagues were Charles Mason and William G. Woodward. They prepared and reported the Code of 1851 which was approved by the General Assembly and enacted into law. In 1850 Mr. Hempstead was nominated by the Democratic State Convention for Governor, was elected over the Whig candidate, James L. Thompson, and served four years. After the expiration of his term, Governor Hempstead returned to Dubuque where he served as county judge and auditor until 1873. He died on the 16th of February, 1883. Governor Sherman issued a proclamation enumerating the valuable public services of Governor Hempstead and had the flag displayed on the State House at half-mast in memory of the departed statesman. Although not a brilliant man, Governor Hempstead was a sound lawyer, an intelligent and influential legislator who gave the State valuable services in framing the early laws of the Territory and State. His administration as Governor was alike creditable to himself and to the State.