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1890 Biographical and Historical Memoirs of Story County, Iowa

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Iowa City, January 19, 1857. The new constitution framed by this convention was submitted to the people at an election held August 3, 1857, when it was approved and adopted by a vote of 40,311 " for " to 38,681 " against," and on September 3 following was declared by a proclamation of the governor to be the supreme law of the State of Iowa.

Advised of the completion of the temporary State house at Des Moines, on October 19 following, Gov. Grimes issued another proclamation, declaring the city of Des Moines to be the capital of the State of Iowa.

The removal of the archives and offices was commenced at once and continued through the fall. It was an undertaking of no small magnitude; there was not a mile of railroad to facilitate the work, and the season was unusually disagreeable. Rain, snow and other accompaniments increased the difficulties; and it was not until December that the last of the effects -the safe of the State treasurer, loaded on two large "bob-sleds "-drawn by ten yoke of oxen, was deposited in the new capitol. It is not imprudent now to remark that, during this passage over hills and prairies, across rivers, through bottom lands and timber, the safes belonging to the several departments contained large sums of money, mostly individual funds, however. Thus, Iowa City ceased to be the capital of the State, after four Territorial Legislatures, six State Legislatures and three constitutional conventions had held their sessions there. By the exchange, the old capitol at Iowa City became the seat of the university, and except the rooms occupied by the United States district court, passed under the immediate and direct control of the trustees of that institution.

Des Moines was now the permanent seat of government, made so by the fundamental law of the State, and on the 11th of January, 1858, the Seventh General Assembly convened at the new capital. The building used for governmental purposes was purchased in 1864. It soon became inadequate for the purposes for which it was designed, and it became apparent that a new, large and permanent State house must be erected. In 1870 the General Assembly made an appropriation and provided for the appointment of a board of commissioners to commence the work. The board consisted of Gov. Samuel Merrill, ex-officio, president; Grenville M. Dodge, Council Bluffs ; James F. Wilson, Fairfield; James Dawson, Washington; Simon G. Stein, Muscatine; James O. Crosby, Gainsville ; Charles Dudley, Agency City; John N. Dewey, Des Moines; William L. Joy, Sioux City; Alexander R. Fulton, Des Moines, secretary.

The act of 1870 provided that the building should be constructed of the best material and should be fire proof; to be heated and ventilated in the most approved manner; should contain suitable legislative halls, rooms for State officers, the judiciary, library, committees, archives and the collections of the State agricultural society, and for all purposes of State government, and should be erected on grounds held by the State for that purpose. The sum first appropriated was $150,000; and the law provided that no contract should be made, either for constructing or furnishing the building, which should bind the State for larger sums than those at the time appropriated. A design was drawn and plans and specifications furnished by Cochrane & Piquenard, architects, which were accepted by the board, and on the 23d of November, 1871, the corner-stone was laid with appropriate ceremonies. The cost of the capitol is fixed, in round numbers including the grounds, at $3,000,000.

Page 63 of 460

© 2012 Mark Christian
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