• Ricki King

When did the news of the end of the civil war or war of rebellion reach Iowa?

Updated: Jun 20

Hint: It was not in June.


Juneteenth is based on when Texas slaves heard of the surrender which was on June 19th. The Texas slaves did not know they had been set free two and a half years earlier on 1 January 1863 with Lincoln’s proclamation.


I thought I could do a quick Iowa newspaper search using rebellion, secession, Robert E. Lee or war to easily find the answer. I was wrong by a long shot. None of those keywords found anything. So, I narrowed the search to between 1862-1866. This also turned up nothing. I tried narrowly it even further using April 1865 still nothing. To find anything I had to find an Iowa newspaper printed in April 1865 and go page by page. I chose the Muscatine Daily Journal dated 10 April 1865 the day after Google states the war ended. There was no option for the Muscatine Journal dated 9 April 1865.


I was shocked to see the surrender was not front page news with bold letters in large type. No, the surrender was second page news and only a paragraph. The news seemed to be an after thought to the newspaper editor John Mahin. The editor had his priorities and knew where his money was coming from and it was advertising. Hence, the front page was all advertising. On the same page mentioning the end of the war were stories about the progress of the fighting.


The first mention of the war ending in the Muscatine, Iowa paper.


“Lee’s Surrender,” Muscatine [Iowa] Daily Journal, 10 April 1865; digital image, NewspaperArchive (https://newspaperarchive.com/ : accessed 18 June 2019), p. 2, c. 1.

When did the end of the civil war or war of rebellion reach Iowa? April the 10th the day after the signing of the surrender in Appomattox not in June. Food for thought should all states celebrate Juneteenth or just Texas?

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