# History



"Now ask the Legislature to do its duty"

This column by Daniel G. Clark about Alexander Clark (1826-1891) first appeared in the Muscatine Journal.

People my age look back and exclaim how fast time flies. We reflect on what we learned as children and how that shaped who we became.

This column is published on my 72nd birthday. Were I born only 72 years earlier—in 1878—and growing up in Muscatine, I could have witnessed firsthand the oratory of our famous “colored” neighbor Alexander Clark. As an 11-year old, I could have attended the sendoff celebration when he departed for Liberia as the new U.S. consul, one of the highest honors accorded any Black person in 19th century America.

I like to believe I’d have felt proud of our town—Clark’s chosen home since 1842—and proud of our state where his achievements had been important and lauded.

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What we might learn from Hoover and Truman

Herb Strentz was dean of the Drake School of Journalism from 1975 to 1988 and professor there until retirement in 2004. He was executive secretary of the Iowa Freedom of Information Council from its founding in 1976 to 2000.

This post about Presidents Herbert Hoover and Harry S Truman is driven in large part by concern about what Iowa may become under the anti-public education agenda that Governor Kim Reynolds spelled out in her Condition of the State speech on January 10. The Republican-controlled legislature then rushed to pass the governor’s school voucher plan.

Consider, too, that President Joe Biden might sum up the State of Union on February 7 as “perilous.”

Risks are inherent in systems of self-governance, but perhaps we can find some ray of hope in the lives and public service of two U.S. presidents who weren’t fully appreciated, despite all their meritorious actions.

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The U.S. economy is broken. Time for a New West!

Richard Sherzan (full bio below) is a lifelong Democrat now living in Coralville, who supports the principles of individual freedom, dignity, and happiness, which were advocated by John F. Kennedy, Robert F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King Jr., and Cesar Chavez.

I. Where are we? Economic underinvestment and economic decline

In my view, the Biden-Harris economic policies represent the same, old, outdated, and weak policies, which have spurred America’s economic decline since the 1970s. They helped Donald Trump win the 2016 presidential election on a promise of an “America First” approach. 

New economic ideas and actions are needed, not only for the Democratic Party’s future political success, but for the American people to have a strong and prosperous 21st-century economy.

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Worthy to be trusted with the musket

This column by Daniel G. Clark about Alexander Clark (1826-1891) first appeared in the Muscatine Journal.

In the Muscatine Journal archive can be found several reports of Civil War service by a regiment of “colored” soldiers. Next time I will examine their role in making post-war Iowa the place Ulysses S. Grant would call the “bright radical star.”

January 16, 1863: “THE AFRICAN REGIMENTS.—Some of the African regiments, upon the organization of which the President has determined, will be employed to guard the banks of the Mississippi after it shall have been opened by our fleets and armies.”

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A typo cast in stone

This column by Daniel G. Clark about Alexander Clark (1826-1891) first appeared in the Muscatine Journal.

According to Portrait and Biographical Album of Muscatine County, Iowa (1889), Editor-publisher John Mahin “was secretary and manager of the Soldiers’ Monument Association of Muscatine County which erected the beautiful shaft to the memory of the heroes who fell in the cause of Union and freedom upon Southern battle-fields, and which now ornaments the court-house square of Muscatine.”

Author Lee Miller, while researching his 2009 book, Crocker’s Brigade, “noticed a conspicuous disparity between the number of names displayed on the memorial and the actual number of Muscatine County soldiers who died during the Civil War.” (Blurb on his second book, Triumph & Tragedy, 2012.)

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