The Debates of the Constitutional Convention of the State of Iowa
Iowa has had three constitutional conventions, all held in Iowa City. The first was in 1844, the second constitution was drafted in 1846, and the third was in 1857, which drafted the document still used today (although greatly amended).
Each of the conventions had central disputes which were the subject of debate. Unfortunately, as the records of the 1844 and 1846 conventions are fragmentary, the full extent of the discussions is unknown. In the course of the 1857 convention there were many arguments over matters which may not be guessed by looking at the mere words of the document, including the role of race in all aspects of life in Iowa.
The latest constitution was drafted over 39 days from January 19, 1857 through March 5, 1857. It was narrowly approved at a referendum in August and went into effect by proclamation of the governor on September 3, 1857.
Since that time, Iowa's Constitution has been amended 46 times but the basic document still remains. It is now one of the older state constitutions in America.
You can read and search the debates that took place during the drafting of the third constitution in the scanned versions of the two volume set: The debates of the Constitutional Convention of the state of Iowa, assembled at Iowa City, Monday, January 19, 1857. Being a full and complete report of the debates and proceedings, by authority of the Convention; accompanied, for purposes of reference, by a copious index of subjects, and remarks of members thereon. W. Blair Lord, reporter.
NOTE: The files for these scanned volumes are large and may take a few minutes to completely download.
Fragments and press comments of the 1844 and 1846 Constitutional Conventions of the state of Iowa.
Benjamin F. Shambaugh edited and compiled three volumns of documents relating to the history of Iowa and its founding.
Or you can read or download the Constitution of the State of Iowa as of the 1998 General Election.
The Constitution of Iowa adopted in convention March 3, 1857
The Constitution of Iowa adopted in convention November 1, 1844
For more information about Iowa’s Constitution, read: THE DRAFTING OF IOWA'S CONSTITUTION, By Steven C. Cross, secretary of the senate, Iowa General Assembly, 1975-1978.
Additional digital state documents may be found at Iowa Publications Online.