# Slavery

John Brown at West Liberty

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

Cedar County was one of John Brown’s favorite stops on several trips through Iowa, 1855 to 1859, but he set foot in Muscatine County only once.

You can read about it on a marker outside the historic West Liberty depot. Following are passages from three other sources.

Continue Reading...

John Brown was here

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

October 16, 1859—John Brown led a raid on the federal arsenal at Harpers Ferry, Virginia. His arrest and trial are big news, his December 2 execution high drama.

December 16—Edwin Coppoc of Iowa executed along with three fellow raiders.

(Note: All quotations from the Muscatine Journal of 1859. Coppock and Coppic are deemed less common spellings.)

Continue Reading...

Judge Cloud’s dilemma

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

Back to the story of Jim White and the slave catcher at Bloomington, Iowa—now Muscatine—in 1848.

It’s a story I started telling about 20 years ago, relying on the version told a century after the events by “well known attorney and raconteur” William D. Randall (as he was described in the Muscatine Journal, where he was once the city editor).

My first tellings were a trolley-tour narration in which my Alexander Clark bit was brief and entertaining. I told my riders that Clark helped free “Jimmy,” then recruited Black soldiers for the Civil War and integrated Iowa schools and got famous as an orator and ended up as ambassador to Liberia.

Continue Reading...

Steve King "distinguishes" himself again

Congressman Steve King showed us again on Tuesday why Esquire magazine named him one of the 10 Worst members of Congress last year. It wasn’t his hyperbole regarding the American Clean Energy and Security Act (which in King’s view “will cost millions of Americans their jobs.”) Lots of Congressional Republicans are making equally ridiculous claims.

On Tuesday King distinguished himself as the only member of the U.S. House to vote against placing “a marker acknowledging the role that slave labor played in constructing the Capitol” in a “prominent location in the visitor center’s Emancipation Hall.” This was not a partisan resolution; 399 members of Congress voted yes, including certifiable wingnuts such as Minnesota’s Michele Bachmann.

King released a statement explaining his vote, and I’m posting it after the jump in case other Bleeding Heartland readers can make more sense out of it than I can. He claims the resolution acknowledging slave labor “was used as a bargaining chip” in negotiations over a Republican-sponsored resolution “Directing the Architect of the Capitol to engrave the Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag and the National Motto of ‘In God We Trust’ in the Capitol Visitor Center.” King objects:

Our Judeo-Christian heritage is an essential foundation stone of our great nation and should not be held hostage to yet another effort to place guilt on future Americans for the sins of some of their ancestors.

Reading King’s statement reminded me of Esquire’s observation:

King believes himself to be clever, and his list of idiot declarations is probably the longest in Washington.

Maybe someone else can find logic in King’s vote on Tuesday. As far as I’m concerned, and I have said this before, he’s like school in the summertime: no class.

UPDATE: Iowa Democratic Party chair Michael Kiernan released the following statement on Thursday:

   “Iowans have a rich history of embracing diversity and of leading the nation in support of civil rights for African Americans. Years before the Civil War, Iowa Courts determined there would be no place for slavery in our state. Nearly a century before ‘Separate But Equal’ was deemed unconstitutional by the United States Supreme Court, we in Iowa desegregated our schools, opening opportunities for children and families without regard to race. And in the years since, our elected officials and courts have protected these rights, which we hold so dear. This is a tradition we can be proud of.

   But Congressman Steve King has flown in the face of our history of inclusion, and of progress. This vote is an embarrassment to his constituents, and to Iowa. Congressman King has once again showed that he is out of touch with Iowa values, and he must be held accountable for this vote. Iowans deserve better.”

SECOND UPDATE: King spoke with Radio Iowa about his reasons for casting this vote.

Continue Reading...