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Encyclopedia Dubuque


"Encyclopedia Dubuque is the online authority for all things Dubuque, written by the people who know the city best.”
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Affiliated with the Local History Network of the State Historical Society of Iowa, and the Iowa Museum Association.


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BLACK CODE. In the years before the CIVIL WAR , many Iowans did not feel AFRICAN AMERICANS should be treated the same as whites. Laws were passed to keep African Americans from settling here.

Iowa legislators in 1838 and 1840 passed laws known as Iowa's Black Code. One law stated that no black person could come into the state without a certificate of freedom proving that the person was not a runaway slave. (1)

The "Act to Regulate Blacks and Mulattoes," included bills that limited the rights of African-Americans. They were not allowed to vote, serve in the military, or testify in court against a European-American person. African-American children were not allowed to attend Iowa's schools and interracial marriage was made illegal. African-Americans often had to organize their own cemeteries because it was illegal to bury African-Americans in some cemeteries. Racist laws encouraged European-American Iowans to discriminate against African-American Iowans. Without legal protection, they experienced prejudice and unfair treatment for decades. (2)



1. Schwieder, Dorothy; Morain, Thomas; Nielsen, Lynn. Iowa--Past to Present. Ames: Iowa State Press, 2002, p. 121

2. "Laws and African American Iowans," Iowa Pathways, Online: http://www.iptv.org/IowaPathways/mypath.cfm?ounid=ob_000250