Little Bit O’ History
Spain claimed all of the western part of North America in the early 1600’s, but only explored it in part and never settled most of it. In 1800 Spain sold much of the North American territory to France with the understanding that France would not under any circumstances sell that land to the United States. Almost before the ink was dry on that deal, Napoleon sold the Louisiana Territory to the United States (1803), and Iowa was part of that territory.
From the 1830’s on Americans began to colonize Iowa, and in 1846 Iowa became a state with a constitution which banned slavery. During the Civil War Iowa was heavily represented in the battlefields fighting against slavery, for the Union, and for the rule of law. Initially Iowa emerged as an agricultural powerhouse, feeding the growing nation. Iowa still engages in large agribusiness operations, but the population has shifted to an urban one with manufacturing and finance as major businesses.
Fabulous Facts About Iowa
- 1/5th of the corn grown in the United States comes from Iowa.
- 1/10th of the total food produced in the United States comes from Iowa.
- 90% of Iowa land is cultivated.
- Iowa has the highest literacy rate in the United States at 99%
- The Iowa State Fair attracts more than 1 million visitors each year.
- President Herbert Hoover was born in Iowa.
- State Nickname: Hawkeye State
- State motto: “Our liberties we prize and our rights we will maintain.”
- Quaker Oats is based in Iowa.
- Iowa gets more tornadoes than any other state.
Geography of Iowa
Color an Iowa Map. Include the major cities, label the rivers, and label the bordering states. For an alternative activity you can use the Iowa map as a weather map and show the hot and cold fronts that form a tornado.
- Find out where the state nickname came from.
- The Iowa State Fair is famous partly for the food stalls . . . you can get ANYTHING fried on a stick.
- Find out how tornadoes form and why Iowa has so many.
- How is the Iowa State government set up? Though most states are very similar in their organization, they aren’t the same. Compare Iowa to your home state.
- The physical geography (or what the land is like) is important as well. Learn why Iowa has such great farm land.
- Iowa farms are laid out in an almost perfect grid. This is not accidental. It’s actually part of a plan that Thomas Jefferson came up with to govern the nation in ever smaller increments, as close to the people as possible. Most of his plan never became reality, but the township grid system dominates the Midwest to this day.