Washington Evening Journal

Fairfield Ledger   Mt. Pleasant News
Neighbors Growing Together | Nov 20, 2017

Displaying the Constitution

Nov 13, 2012
Gary Stephenson of Fort Dodge gained the support of the Washington County Board of Supervisors to raise funds for a 1934 lithograph of the United States Constitution to be placed in the county courthouse.

Gary Stephenson of Fort Dodge gained the support of the Washington County Board of Supervisors to raise funds for a 1934 lithograph of the United States Constitution to be placed in the county courthouse.

Comments (3)
Posted by: Glen Peiffer | Jan 08, 2013 04:13

Mansfield, Arabella "Belle" Babb
(May 23, 1846–August 1, 1911)

The first woman in the United States to pass the bar examination and the nation's first female attorney—was born in Des Moines County, Iowa. Her father left the family in 1850 to join the California gold rush and was killed in a tunnel cave-in in 1852. After his death, her mother, still living in Des Moines County, decided to move the family to Mount Pleasant, Iowa, to provide better educational opportunities for Belle and her brother, Washington. Belle graduated from Mount Pleasant High School in 1862, then entered Iowa Wesleyan University in that same town in the fall of that year. Washington had enrolled at Iowa Wesleyan in the fall of 1860, but left in 1863 to enlist in the Eighth Iowa Cavalry. After the war, he reenrolled at the college and completed his B.A. in the same class (1866) as his sister, with Belle the valedictorian and Washington the salutatorian. Belle accepted a position teaching at Simpson College in Indianola, Iowa, and Washington continued his education in the field of law.

After a year at Simpson, Belle returned to Mount Pleasant to pursue a master's degree at Iowa Wesleyan, while reading law in her brother's law office in Mount Pleasant. She continued to read law after marrying, in 1868, John Mansfield, an Iowa Wesleyan graduate and professor. In June 1869 she passed the bar exam even though the Iowa Code limited those taking the test to "any white male person."Upon appeal, a court ruling stated that "the affirmative declaration that male persons may be admitted, is not an implied denial to the right of females," and Judge Francis Springer officially certified Belle at the Henry County courthouse in Mount Pleasant.

Belle Mansfield did not devote her life to the legal profession, however. She completed her M.A. at Iowa Wesleyan, then gave public lectures on women's rights, was an officer in the Iowa Peace Society, completed a second B.A. in law at Iowa Wesleyan, became a professor of English literature at the school, and toured Europe with her husband during the 1872-1873 academic year to gather material for a new science curriculum he was preparing for Iowa Wesleyan.

The Mansfields were especially active in the women's rights movement. In June 1870 Belle was the temporary chair and permanent secretary of the first Iowa Women's Rights Convention, which was held in Mount Pleasant. In August 1870 she was elected president of the Henry County Woman Suffrage Association, part of the state group, and her husband was elected secretary.

In 1879 John Mansfield accepted an offer to become professor of natural science at Asbury University (now DePauw University) in Greencastle, Indiana. Belle resigned her position at Iowa Wesleyan to accompany her husband to Indiana.

After a nervous collapse in 1884, John went to California for treatment. Belle worked to support the couple and pay the medical expenses. She lectured around the country, served as principal of Mount Pleasant High School (1884-1885), and taught mathematics at Iowa Wesleyan (1885-1886). After her husband's death she returned to DePauw University in the fall of 1886. There she served as preceptress of the Ladies Hall (1886), registrar (1886-1893), and dean of the School of Art and Music (1893-1911).

She and her husband had no children. On retirement, she moved to the home of her brother, Washington, in Aurora, Illinois, where she died within months of her retirement. She was buried in the Forest Home Cemetery in Mount Pleasant, Iowa.
Sources This biographical sketch draws on research done by Louis A. Haselmayer, Iowa Wesleyan College; various issues of the Mt. Pleasant Journal; and documents in the archives at Iowa WesleyanCollege.

Posted by: Glen Peiffer | Dec 11, 2012 11:07

I hope people take the time to read article.

Posted by: Glen Peiffer | Dec 10, 2012 11:37

Thomas Sowell

by Thomas Sowell

Politics is not the only place where some pretty brassy statements have been made and repeated so often that some people have accepted these brassy statements as being as good as gold.

One of the brassiest of the brass oldies in the law is the notion that the Constitution creates a "wall of separation" between church and state. This false notion has been so widely accepted that people who tell the truth get laughed at and mocked.

A New York Times piece said that it was "a flub of the first order" when Christine O'Donnell, Republican candidate for senator in Delaware, asked a law school audience "Where in the Constitution is the separation of church and state?" The question draw gasps and laughter" from this audience of professors and law students who are elites-in-waiting.

The New York Times writer joined in the mocking response to Ms. O'Donnell's question, though admitting in passing that "in the strictest sense" the "actual words 'separation of church and state' do not appear in the text of the Constitution." Either the separation of church and state is there or it is not there. It is not a question of some "strictest" technicality.

The First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States begins, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion." There is absolutely nothing in the Constitution about a "wall of separation" between church and state, either directly or indirectly.

That phrase was used by Thomas Jefferson, who was not even in the country when the Constitution was written. It was a phrase seized upon many years later, by people who wanted to restrict religious symbols and has been cited by judges who share that wish.

For more than a century, no one thought that the First Amendment meant that religious symbols were forbidden on government property. Prayers were offered in Congress and in the Supreme Court. Chaplains served in the military and presidents took their oath of office on the Bible.

But, in our own times, judges have latched onto Jefferson's phrase and run with it. It has been repeated so often in their decisions that it has become one of the brassiest of the brass oldies that get confused with golden oldies.

As fundamentally important as the First Amendment is, what is even more important is the question whether judges are to take it upon themselves to "interpret" the law to mean whatever they want it to mean, rather than what it plainly says.

This is part of a larger question, as to whether this country is to be a self-governing nation, controlled by "we the people," as the Constitution put it, or whether arrogant elites shall take it upon themselves to find ways to impose what they want on the rest of us, by circumventing the Constitution.

Congress is already doing that by passing laws before anyone has time to read them and the White House is likewise circumventing the Constitution by appointing "czars" who have as much power as Cabinet members, without having to go through the confirmation process prescribed for Cabinet members by the Constitution.The Constitution cannot protect us and our freedoms as a self-governing people unless we protect the Constitution. That means zero tolerance at election time for people who circumvent the letter and the spirit of the Constitution. Freedom is too precious to give it up in exchange for brassy words from arrogant elites.


If you wish to comment, please login.