wood, Loughridge and Rankin; while the Democrats were led by Trimble, Neal and Pusey. In the House, James F. Wilson, E. E. Cooley, Thomas Drummond, T. W. Jackson and George W. McCrary made aggressive war on the encroachments of slavery, while the courtly Lincoln Clark, D. A. Mahoney, M. B. V. Bennett and I. C. Curtis appeared as defenders of Pierce, Buchanan and the Dred Scott decision.
The Kirkwood resolutions were passed by a strict party vote. Other resolutions on the subject of slavery brought out long and exciting political debates; partisan feeling was often intense and the discussions heated and bitter. Protests and counter protests were entered upon the journals. It is a notable fact that the average age of the members of this Legislature was under forty; there were some venerable men and experienced legislators, but the large majority were in the vigorous fighting years of youth and inclined to be impulsive; but their acts in the inauguration of a new State policy, comformable to the radical changes made by the new Constitution, have stood the severe tests of nearly half a century of trial, under which great progress in material, educational and intellectual development has been attained.
Lathrop’s “Life of Governor Kirkwood” says: “Never in the history of the State has there been an abler General Assembly than the Seventh, which was the first one to meet at Des Moines, the new Capital, when the State was leaving its youthful condition and entering upon that of incipient manhood. It was the first to assemble under the new constitution, adapting laws to its new provisions, enacting them for the creation of banks, passing upon measures for the relief of the people from great financial embarrassment—reorganization of our system of popular education in which it had the assistance of such eminent educators as Horace Mann and Amos Dean—remodeling the judiciary system, settling the problem of the Des Moines River Improvement enterprise—rescuing our magnificent school fund from waste caused by an unfaithful public officer—providing for a more prompt collection of taxes, and building up our reformatory, charitable and higher educational institutions. To perform these labors there were in the Senate such men as Rankin, Brigham, Coolbaugh,