JB Grinnell - Slaves, Free Blacks, and American Indians

Slavery and Free Blacks

Missouri Compromise


Set Mason-Dixon as determining line for new territories and states status in regard to slavery.

The Auction Block


"On my second street walk I saw a family in chains, coming over from the Island slave-pens, where it was said there had been an auction block sale of humanity [...] All seemed to be dumb in the shadow of the great outrages. There was an open alliance of politicians and the Church, to keep still, little less shameful than the league to uphold slavery itself. A free pulpit - there was none[...]"

Tappan Project

1852 - 1854

A notice appears in National Era, looking for participants to "collect, with a view to publication in this country and England, the principle mutilations anidexpurgations of English and American publications by American publishers, booksellers,authors, tract and Sunday School Societies, ec- clesiastical assemblies & committees & c. for the purpose of securing sales in slave states, or the favors of ecclesiastical & political parties & persons in authority, with a discussion of the principles connected with such conduct. It is believed that a full statement of these mutilations and expurgations will astonish the American people and the civilized world."

Grinnell, who was serving as minister at NY Congregational Church, becomes involved as superintendent. In two years of research before going west to Iowa, JB finds 17 hymns that had one or more verses expunged because they contained anti-slavery references.

JB examines historian George Bancroft's History of the United States, as new editions contained justifications of slavery, and original editions were VERY rare. "Pains must have been taken to destroy it," JB surmised. "It was shocking that an American author would expunge his own work at the behest of the Slavepower."

The compilation of research findings, initially JB's job, fell to Tappan because JB left for Iowa. Final project never took on cohesive form, but snippets of research and exposition published in newspapers and journals.

Town of Grinnell settled


His own town finally gave JB opportunity to create his own community, with his resistance to slavery as central tenet of culture.
For largest contingent of the new population, 60 colonists from Searsport, Maine became far the largest in the original populus of Grinnell, Iowa. Their devout religiosity helped reinforce some of JB's reforms, and became chief motivation for abolition stance.

Kansas-Nebraska Act


Affectively repealed Compromise of 1820, and set slave status for new states as contingent upon "Popular Sovereignty" (right of citizens to choose). It also opened up possibility of Transcontinental Railroad, and consequent railroad networks.

Lincoln Receives Iowa land


As recognition of his service in the Black Hawk War, Abe Lincoln recieves parcel of land: "The northwest quarter of the southwest quarter of Section 20 in Township 84 North, Range 15 West." The land is 6 miles NW of Toledo, near Tama.

Grinnell Develops relationship with Mesquakie


The Mesquakies came to his attention during his 1856 cam- paign in the form of a charge that "he who would shelter black runaway slaves would favor the Indians, petitioning the state to remain here on their old hunting grounds." Alerted to the wishes of the Mesquakies, Grinnell recalled, "on investigation [I] became their friend." When some of his constituents brought him a petition calling upon the law makers to grant the Mesquakies the right to buy land, Grinnell supported it.

University relocates to Grinnell


"Though Iowa was a free state, racial prejudice ran deep. Furthermore, as a river town, Davenport depended on trade with the South and did not want to be branded as hostile to its trading partners.
The new Congregational colony of Grinnell would provide a much more friendlier environment.
When the dust settled, however, both the parties from Grinnell and those from Davenport came to realize that neither had the financial, material, or personnel resources that had been optimistically proffered during their “courtship.” Thus the enrollment of the school’s first freshman class was delayed until 1861; and by then the nation was heading into its Civil War, which would soon deplete the college of both students and faculty.

JB hosts John Brown in Grinnell


After Harper's Ferry, Brown was turned away by the Quaker community in Tabor. Left with few options while on the lam, he arrived unannounced at JB's door, and was given hospitality and a platform to speak.

Approx. two weeks later, tensions between abolitionist majority and oppositional minority came to head with armed standoff in front of public school, about whether to allow escaped slaves into school.

George Magoun inaugurated as first President


Under the leadership of head trustee George Magoun, the college affirmed the traditional New England curriculum of Greek, Latin, and mathematics. Magoun was inaugurated as the school’s first president in 1865; in passing over Oberlinite and abolitionist Leonard Parker in favor of Magoun, the trustees, perhaps inadvertently, showed that the era of militant evangelical reform was drawing to a close.

13th Amendment Passes

Jan 31, 1865

Abolishes slavery and involuntary servitude, except as punishment for a crime.

Debate over Freedman's Bureau act of 1866


JB pivotal in debate about and formation of Freedman's bureau, as well as greater federal role in support and relief in South post-war. 1866 bill added a section securing permanent title to land confiscated by General William T. Sherman around Savannah, and allowed three million acres of public land in Florida, Mississippi, and Arkansast o be homesteaded, and directed the bureau to "provide or cause to be erected suitable buildings for asylums and schools" for "refugees and freedmen dependent on the Government for support."Another section guaranteed civil rights to "negroes, mulattoes, freedmen, refugees, or any other persons" and prohibited any state criminal law from punishing such persons more severely than white persons.
Democrat response was that the law, and Republican line in general, was becoming too "pro-black." In response, JB stated, " "It is said that this is a partial bill, and I have this to say in regard to the objection: that during the administration of General Fisk, in the district of Tennessee and Kentucky, seven and a quarter greater supplies were meted out to the white people under his bureau than to the colored freedmen." Grinnell argued that the object of the bill "is to reach those in want, the white mountain refugee and the ex-colored soldier and slave, with his family ...." Congressman Samuel W. Moulton of Illinois declared that "the very object of this bill is to break down the discrimination between whites and blacks."

JB also quoted in regard to questions about the right to bear arms, as a sign of citizenship. JB said, "A white man in Kentucky may keep a gun; if a black man buys a gun he forfeits it and pays a fine of five dollars, if presuming to keep in his possession a musket which he has carried through the war."

President Johnson vetoes bill, Congress overrides veto, signing continuation of Bureau into law.

JB Grinnell joins fight for Mesquakie annuity support


After decade w/o the US Gov. paying the annuity, community survived by "hunting and begging, two occupations that annoyed their white neighbors."

"Tama and Marshall County citizens bombarded Washington with petitions begging relief; the Iowa legislature demanded action, Con- gressman Grinnell joined the struggle, and in 1866 Congress ordered the Indian Office to establish an agency at the Tama County settlement of the Mesquakies, appoint an agent, and pay their annuity money.3' While this authorization did not explicitly recognize the Mesquakies, it did quite obviously recognize the existence of a distinct band of the "Sacs and Foxes" who were separated physically from the rest of the "united tribe."

14th Amendment Passes

June 13, 1866

Reversal of that portion of the Dred Scott v. Sandford decision that declared that African Americans were not and could not become citizens of the United States or enjoy any of the privileges and immunities of citizenship.

JB on the Back-to-Africa ACS movement


Opposed to Congressional funds for ACS, saying "I give them credit for their motives, and for such good accomplished. But sir, the times have changed; we are living in a new era. We now have no money to spend in this direction for such good accomplished. I am opposed to the appropriation of $50,000 for this purpose, in the first place, because we have no money to spare; and secondly, because I believe that those who have heretofore desired to leave our country will desire now to remain with us. . . . the colored people who have migrated to Liberia would not desire to go there now, in this year 1867, if they wiped out the institution of slavery. Ay sir, when they have learned in Liberia of the passage of the reconstruction bill, which places the negro, from a slave and the servant of a master for fifty year, upon an equality with the proud oppressor, they will rather throw up their hands and thank God, and wait for the vessel that shall bring them back to their native land."

Clark v. Board of Directors


“On September 12, 1867, 12-year-old Susan Clark was denied admission to Muscatine's Second Ward Common School Number 2 because she was black. Her father, Alexander Clark, brought a lawsuit to allow admission of his daughter to the public schools. In 1868, the Iowa Supreme Court held that "separate" was not "equal" and ordered Susan Clark, an African-American, admitted to the public schools. This effectively integrated Iowa's schools 96 years before the federal court decision, Brown v. the Board of Education in Topeka, did the same thing on a national scale.

15th Amendment passes

Feb 26, 1869

Prohibits the denial of suffrage based on race, color, or previous condition of servitude.

George A. Gates named second President


George A. Gates was inaugurated as second president in 1887 and the Rev. George Herron was hired as professor of “Applied Christianity.” With this leadership, the college achieved notoriety as a venue of social reform, in the new era of the Social Gospel.

American Indian relations

Saukenuk Village Tensions


When Chief Black Hawk and his Sauk returned from hunting trip, they found white settlers occupying their village (near present day Rock Island, Ill.) Black Hawk threatened violence, settlers appealed to Ill. Gov. John Reynolds. Gen. Edmond Gaines charged with retaking village.

Sauks forced to Iowa, Corn Treaty signed

June 1831

Gaines' troops pushes Sauks to Iowa side of Mississippi. Corn Treaty of June 30, 1831 bans Sauks from east side of MI river w/o permission of US government. Chief Black Hawk expected to recognize rival Keokuk as leader, and allow construction of roads and forts on Sauk land. Because of relocation, too late for crops, and famine strikes community following winter.

Black Hawk Purchase Treaty


Opened eastern edge of Iowa territory officially for settlement.

Military response to Black Hawk return

April 1832

Black Hawk states peaceable intentions to grow corn in Ill. Gov. calls 1600 Illinois Militiamen, who pursue Black Hawk's followers. Black Hawk sends peace flag to meet soldiers. One warrior shot, two taken prisoner, as intentional sign of war.

Slaughter of Sauk

August 1, 1832 - August 2, 1832

In close pursuit, Sauk try to surrender and cross into Wisconsin. In attempt to cross river, fired upon. Approx 300 reached other side, only to be killed by Sioux enemies.

Treaty of 1842

October 1842

Under tremendous pressure to move from settlers, Sauk and Mesquakie cede all Iowa land for $1 million and land in Kansas. Mesquakie never adhere to treaty, continue to live in previously surrendered areas, argues for separation as separate tribe from Suak.

Last Indian land purchased


By 1851, all land previously controlled by American Indian tribes in Iowa was either taken or bought by non-Indians, be they US government, state government, or railroad-involved corporations.

Mesquakie Purchase


Returning to land they had been forced to flee from, the Mesquakie bought the land of Tama, an option unavailable to most American Indian communities, as their status as non-citizens federally banned them from buying land. This land became the only remaining decent-sized American Indian community in Iowa remaining.