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June 2013 Policy Study, Number 13-4


Mal-apportionment and the Miracle of Iowa


The Early Years in Iowa



After a “false start” in 1844-45 with a constitutional convention, a congressional resolution, and a negative vote of the people, a second try resulted in Iowa coming into the Union as the 29th State on 28 December 1846.[37] The Constitution was revised in 1857 and the state divided into 99 counties so that anyone could ride a horse-drawn buggy or wagon to the county seat, do business, and return home in daylight.[38] This Constitution provided for a House of Representatives of no more than 100 members, with a maximum of four counties per district, and a Senate of no more than 50 members.[39]


Early elections for both state and federal officers were dominated by the Democrats, but the slavery issue and the Civil War turned the state solidly Republican. Population was first concentrated on the eastern side of the state as people flowed into Iowa from the east and south on rivers like the Ohio and Mississippi, and eventually on railroads which crossed the state from east to west. As the population shifted to the western portions of the state, the Capitol was moved from Burlington to Iowa City, and then to its current location in Des Moines.[40]


At the federal level, the Iowa delegation to the House of Representatives consisted of two from admission in 1846 until after the census of 1860 which increased Iowa’s congressmen to six, with another bump to nine after the 1870 census.[41] Word was spreading fast about the superior quality of Iowa farmland, just as waves of immigrants from Holland, Norway, Sweden, Germany, Denmark, and other parts of Europe were seeking freedom and personal improvement by coming to the new land. Another increase to eleven representatives followed the 1880 census. That number persisted until very slow population growth in Iowa combined with faster growth in other states, and a fixed number of 435 members in the House of Representatives, resulted in decreases in the Iowa House delegation to nine (after 1930 census), eight (after 1940 census), seven (after 1960 census), six (after 1970 census), five (after 1990 census), and four (after the most recent census in 2010).[42]




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