Phone: (515) 758-2115
David Connon is an independent researcher and writer. He stumbled on to Confederates from Iowa while researching the Iowa Underground Railroad. During the season, he works as a historical interpreter at Living History Farms. A great-great-grandson of two Union veterans, his blog is Confederates from Iowa: Not to defend, but to understand.
The Propaganda Campaign in Iowa during the Civil War
While troops fought in the South, Republicans waged a propaganda campaign in Iowa. They expertly demonized Democrats. Republicans were so successful that they controlled the state government for decades after Appomattox. David Connon will share this story, focusing on one Iowa Democrat whose name became a byword for traitor.
Iowans who fought against the Union
Most Iowans think that the state was solidly pro-Union during the Civil War. After all, some 76,500 residents fought for the North. In reality, Iowa Democrats formed a spectrum of dissent. The majority of Democrats opposed abolishing slavery (and yet favored the Union war effort); the minority sympathized with the South. Out of this group, at least 60 Iowa residents served the Confederacy. This talk will focus on four or five of them. David Connon will explore their motivations and describe their pre-war, war-time, and post-war experiences. After each soldier’s story, he will invite audience members to share their observations.
Josiah Bushnell Grinnell and the Iowa Underground Railroad
“Preacher,” “congressman,” “negro-stealer”: Josiah Bushnell Grinnell was called all of those things during his life. He was called a negro-stealer because he participated in the Iowa Underground Railroad. J.B. Grinnell and other Grinnell residents helped at least 37 fugitive slaves who passed through their town before the Civil War. But some residents opposed this work. David Connon will tell a story of racism, noble actions and conflict. He will highlight abolitionist John Brown’s visit to Grinnell, and Grinnell’s first riot over the presence of fugitive slaves in the public school.