Logo by Ginger Cisewski
Opening up the West! Dubuque - The Key City 1865 - 1900
After the Civil War, railroads, the economy, and the agrarian movement dominated the public consciousness. The growth of railroads west of the Mississippi encroached on river shipping, and led to pressure from shippers and the new Granger movement for regulation. In response, Iowa passed (and then repealed) regulatory legislation that withstood court challenge from the railroads.
The farmers' organization known as "The Grange" had been founded in 1867 to promote social, cultural, and educational activities for farmers, but it soon became a vehicle for airing economic grievances. Spurred by concern over rapid drops in farm prices, local Grange organizations grew rapidly in Iowa and the Midwest during the 1870s. The wild expansion of economic speculation - especially in railroad enterprises - led to the panic of 1873, which was followed by an economic depression that lasted through most of the decade. Iowa's problems were compounded by great hordes of grasshoppers that descended on the state is 1873 and in subsequent years.
The legislature was progressing and the debate over the death penalty was driven in part, by the public's concern about crime and lawlessness. Lynchings and incidents of frontier violence continued into the last half of the nineteenth century. On July 21, 1873, a train was derailed and robbed west of Adair, Iowa; the bandits escaped with about $3,000. When the Des Moines newspaper reported the robbery the following morning, it wasn't yet known that the robbers were none other than the notorious Jesse James and his gang.
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