Union; they show in recent years a tendency toward greater centralization—in boards, however, rather than in individual officers. The constitution now in force was adopted in 1857, the constitution of 1846 having been superseded chiefly on account of its prohibition of banking corporations. The present one admits of amendment by a vote of a majority of the members of both houses of the legislature, followed by a majority vote of the electors in the state voting on the amendment; and by this process it was amended in 1868, 1880, 1884 and 1904. The present constitution also provides that the question, “Shall there be a convention to revise the constitution and amend the same?” shall be submitted to the people once every ten years (beginning with 1870), but the affirmative vote taken in accordance with this provision has hitherto been small. The suffrage now belongs to all male citizens of the United States at least twenty-one years of age who shall have resided in the state for six months, and in some one county sixty days preceding an election, except idiots and persons insane or convicted of some infamous crime. The franchise was conferred on negroes by an amendment adopted in 1868. Prior to 1904 elections were annual, but by an amendment of that year they became biennial.
The central executive and administrative authority is vested in a governor, a lieutenant-governor, an executive council, several boards and a few other officers. The governor and the lieutenant-governor was elected for a term of two years, and the qualifications for both offices require that the incumbents shall be at least thirty years of age and shall have been for two years immediately before their election residents of the state. Under the Territorial government when first organized the governor was given an extensive appointing power, as well as the right of an absolute veto on all legislation, but this speedily resulted in such friction between him and the legislature that Congress was petitioned for his removal, with the outcome that the office has since been much restricted in its appointing power, and the veto has been subjected to the ordinary United States limit, i.e. it may be overridden by a two-thirds vote of both houses of the legislature. Members of boards of regents or trustees of state institutions are for the most part elected by the General Assembly; railway commissioners are elected by the state electors; while in the case of the few appointments left for the governor, the recommendation or approval of the executive council, a branch of the legislature, or of some board, is usually required. He, however, is himself a member of the executive council as well as of some important boards or commissions, and it is in such capacity that he often has the greatest opportunity to exert power and influence. His salary is $5000 per annum (with $600 for house rent and $800 as a member of the executive council). The executive council, composed of the governor, secretary of state, auditor of state and treasurer of state, all elected by the people for a term of two years, has extensive powers. It supervises and audits the accounts of state departments, directs the taking of the census, transfers cities from one class to another in accordance with census returns, constitutes the board for canvassing election returns, classifies railways, assesses railway and other companies, constitutes the state board of equalization for adjusting property valuations between the several counties for taxing purposes, supervises the incorporation of building and loan associations, appoints the board of examiners of mine inspectors and has many other powers. Among other state boards the more important are the board of railroad commissioners, the board of control of state institutions, the board of health, and the board of educational examiners.
The state legislature, or General Assembly, composed of a senate and a house of representatives, sits biennially at Des Moines. Senators are elected for a term of four years, one from each of fifty senatorial districts, the term of one-half expiring every two years. Senators must be at least twenty-five years of age and residents of the state for one year at the time of election. Representatives are elected for a term of two years, one from each of the ninety-nine counties, with an additional one from each of the counties (not exceeding nine) having the largest population; the ratio of representation and the apportionment of the additional representatives from the larger counties is fixed by the General Assembly. The qualifications for representatives differ from those for electors only in that they must have been residents of the state for one year at the time of election, the disqualification of negroes for sitting in both senate and house having been removed by an amendment adopted in 1880. No bill can pass either house without the assent of a majority of all the members elected to that house; the governor is allowed three days (Sunday excepted) in which to veto a bill.
The state judiciary consists of a supreme court of six judges and a district court of fifty-three judges, from one to four in each of twenty districts. The supreme court has three sessions a year, while each district-court judge is directed to hold at least one session a year in each county of his district, and no two district-court judges may sit together on the same case. The supreme court has appellate jurisdiction in chancery cases only, but may correct errors at law in other cases. The district court has general, original and exclusive jurisdiction in all matters civil, criminal and probate not expressly conferred on an inferior court, and may hear appeals from inferior courts, boards or officers.
For purposes of administration and local government the state is divided into ninety-nine counties, each of which is itself divided into townships that are usually 6 m. square. The township may be divided into school districts and highway districts, but in these matters option has resulted in irregularity. Each county has its own administrative boards and officers; and there are two justices of the peace and two constables for every township. The board of supervisors, consisting of not more than seven members, elected for a term of three years, has the care of county property and the management of county business, including highways and bridges; it fixes the rate of county taxes within prescribed limits, and levies the taxes for state and county purposes. The officers of the township are three trustees, a clerk and an assessor. The trustees are elected for a term of three years, the clerk and assessor for two years. All taxable property of the state, that of corporations for the most part excepted, is assessed by the township assessor.
The municipal corporations are civil divisions quite independent of the county and township system. They are divided into cities of the first class, cities of the second class and towns, besides a few cities with special charters. Cities of the first class are those having a population of 15,000 or over; cities of the second class are those having a population of 2000 but less than 15,000; all other municipal corporations, except cities with special charters, are known as incorporated towns. In all these cities and towns a mayor, council and various officers are elected, and also a police judge in cities of the first class where there is no superior court. By a law of 1907 cities with a population of 25,000 or more may adopt a commission form of government, with a mayor and four councilmen elected at large on a non-partisan ticket.
Under the laws of Iowa a wife enjoys property rights equal to those of her husband. The expenses of the family, including the education of the children, are chargeable alike upon the property of either or both. Otherwise, the wife may control her property as if single, and neither is liable for what are clearly the debts of the other. In case of the death of either, one-third of the property of the deceased becomes that of the survivor. A homestead cannot be conveyed or encumbered without the consent of both husband and wife, if held by a married man; and a homestead, to the value of $500, is exempt from liability for debts postdating the purchase, unless for improvements on the property. A petition for a divorce may be presented after a residence within the state of one year immediately preceding, and a decree may be granted against the defendant if judged guilty of adultery, desertion for two years without reasonable cause, habitual drunkenness, such inhuman treatment as to endanger the life of the plaintiff, or if convicted of felony after marriage. In 1882 an amendment to the constitution was passed prohibiting the manufacture and the sale of intoxicating liquors within the state. In April 1883 the Supreme Court pronounced this amendment invalid on the ground of irregularity in recording it, whereupon the legislature provided for a like prohibition in an ordinary statute. But attempts to execute this were so unsuccessful that it has been succeeded by a law imposing what is known as the “mulct tax,” which requires the payment of $600 in quarterly instalments for a licence to sell such liquors and places a lien for the whole amount on the real property in use for the business. One-half the proceeds goes to the county and one-half to the municipality or township in which the liquor is sold. The exceptional dependence of Iowa on eastern markets has given more than ordinary prominence to railway legislation, and the conflict of interests between the railways and the shippers has agitated the state for forty years, various attempts being made to regulate freight rates by legal enactment. In 1888 an elective commission was established with