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1890 Biographical and Historical Memoirs of Story County, Iowa

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Lucas seemed disposed to make free use of it, and the independent Hawkeyes could not quietly submit to arbitrary and absolute rule, and the result was an unpleasant controversy between the executive and legislative departments. Congress, however, by act approved March 3, 1839, amended the organic law by restricting the veto power of the governor to the two-thirds rule, and took from him the power to appoint sheriffs and magistrates.

Among the first important matters demanding attention was the location of the seat of government and provision for the erection of public buildings, for which Congress had appropriated $20,000. Gov. Lucas, in his message, had recommended the appointment of commissioners with a view to making a central location. The extent of the future State of Iowa was not known or thought of. Only on a strip of land fifty miles wide, bordering on the Mississippi River, was the Indian title extinguished, and a central location meant some central point in the Black Hawk purchase. The friends of a central location supported the governor's suggestion. The southern members were divided between Burlington and Mount Pleasant, but finally united on the latter as the proper location for the seat of government. The central and southern parties were very nearly equal, and in consequence, much excitement prevailed. The central party at last triumphed, and on the 21st day of January, 1839, an act was passed, appointing Chauncey Swan, of Dubuque County ; John Ronalds, of Louisa County, and Robert Ralston, of Des Moines County, commissioners, to select a site for a permanent seat ofgovernment within the limits of Johnson County.

Johnson County had been created by act of the Territorial Legislature of Wisconsin, approved December 21, 1837, and organized by act passed at the special session at Burlington in June, 1838, the organization to date from July 4, following. Napoleon, on the Iowa River, a few miles below the future Iowa City, was designated as the county seat, temporarily.

Then there existed good reason for locating the capital in the county. The Territory of Iowa was bounded on the north by the British possessions; east by the Mississippi River to its source ; thence by a line drawn due north to the northern boundary of the United States; south, by the State of Missouri, and west, by the Missouri and White Earth Rivers. But this immense territory was in undisputed possession of the Indians, except a strip on the Mississippi, known as the Black Hawk Purchase. Johnson County was, from north to south, in the geographical center of this purchase, and as near the east and west geographical center of the future State of Iowa as could then be made, as the boundary line between the lands of the United States and the Indians, established by the treaty of October 21,, 1837, was immediately west of the county limits.

The commissioners, after selecting the site, were directed to lay out 640 acres into a town, ' to be called Iowa City, and to proceed to sell lots and erect public buildings thereon, Congress having granted a section of land to be selected by the Territory for this purpose. The commissioners met at Napoleon, Johnson County, May 1, 1839, selected for a site Section 10, in Township 79 north of Range 6 west of the Fifth Principal Meridian, and immediately surveyed it and laid off the town. The first sale of lots took place August 16, 1839. The site selected for the public buildings was a little west of the geographical center of the section, where a square of ten acres on the elevated grounds overlooking the river was reserved for the purpose. The capitol is located in the center of this square. The second Territorial

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