Josiah Bushnell Grinnell

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Josiah Bushnell Grinnell
Josiah Bushnell Grinnell - Brady-Handy.jpg
Member of the U.S.HouseofRepresentatives
from Iowa's 4th district
In office
Preceded byDistrict created
Succeeded by William Loughridge
Personal details
Born(1821-12-22)December 22, 1821
New Haven, Vermont, U.S.
Died March 31, 1891(1891-03-31) (aged 69)
Grinnell, Iowa, U.S.
Resting place Hazelwood Cemetery
Political party Republican
Occupation Politician, minister, Underground Railroad conductor

Josiah Bushnell Grinnell (December 22, 1821 – March 31, 1891) was a U.S. Congressman from Iowa's 4th congressional district, an ordained Congregational minister, founder of Grinnell, Iowa and benefactor of Grinnell College.

Iowas 4th congressional district

Iowa's 4th congressional district is a congressional district in the U.S. state of Iowa that covers its northwestern part. The district includes Sioux City, Ames, Mason City, Fort Dodge, Boone and Carroll; it is currently represented by Republican Steve King, who has been in office since 2013.

Grinnell, Iowa City in Iowa, United States

Grinnell is a city in Poweshiek County, Iowa, United States. The population was 9,218 at the 2010 census.

Grinnell College liberal arts college in Iowa, United States

Grinnell College is a private liberal arts college in Grinnell, Iowa. It was founded in 1846 when a group of New England Congregationalists established the Trustees of Iowa College. Grinnell is known for its rigorous academics, innovative pedagogy, and commitment to social justice.


Grinnell was born in New Haven, Vermont, in 1821. He studied the Classics and graduated from Auburn Theological Seminary in New York City in 1847. He held pastorates in Washington, D.C., and New York City before moving to Iowa. Grinnell was the young man to whom Horace Greeley is quoted as having given the famous advice, "Go West, young man." Grinnell was also involved in railway building and was instrumental in the move of Grinnell College, known at the time as Iowa College, from Davenport to the newly established town of Grinnell.

New Haven, Vermont Town in Vermont, United States

New Haven is a town in Addison County, Vermont, United States. The population was 1,727 at the 2010 census. In addition to the town center, New Haven contains the communities of Belden, Brooksville, New Haven Junction and New Haven Mills.

Classics Study of the culture of (mainly) Ancient Greece and Ancient Rome

Classics or classical studies is the study of classical antiquity. It encompasses the study of the Greco-Roman world, particularly of its languages and literature but also of Greco-Roman philosophy, history, and archaeology. Traditionally in the West, the study of the Greek and Roman classics was considered one of the cornerstones of the humanities and a fundamental element of a rounded education. The study of classics has therefore traditionally been a cornerstone of a typical elite education.

Auburn Theological Seminary organization

Auburn Theological Seminary, located in New York City, trains leaders who are working on progressive social issues. Auburn Theological Seminary offers workshops, provides consulting, and conducts research on faith leadership development.

In Iowa, Grinnell was elected to the Iowa Senate, where he served from 1856 to 1860. At the same time, he studied law, was admitted to the bar in 1858, and set up his legal practice in Grinnell. He was a delegate to the 1860 Republican National Convention that nominated Abraham Lincoln for President.

Iowa Senate upper chamber of the Iowa state legislature

The Iowa Senate is the upper house of the Iowa General Assembly, United States. There are 50 seats in the Iowa Senate, representing 50 single-member districts across the state of Iowa with populations of approximately 60,927 per constituency, as of the 2010 United States Census. Each Senate district is composed of two House districts. The Senate meets at the Iowa State Capitol in Des Moines.

1860 Republican National Convention

The 1860 Republican National Convention, also known as the 2nd Republican National Convention, was a nominating convention of the Republican Party of the United States, held in Chicago, Illinois, from May 16 to 18, 1860. The gathering nominated former U.S. Representative Abraham Lincoln of Illinois for President of the United States and Senator Hannibal Hamlin of Maine for Vice President.

Abraham Lincoln 16th president of the United States

Abraham Lincoln was an American statesman, politician, and lawyer who served as the 16th president of the United States from 1861 until his assassination in April 1865. Lincoln led the nation through the American Civil War, its bloodiest war and its greatest moral, constitutional, and political crisis. He preserved the Union, abolished slavery, strengthened the federal government, and modernized the U.S. economy.

Grinnell was also a 'conductor' on the Underground Railroad and was associated with John Brown. [1] He provided shelter to John Brown in 1859 after Brown's anti-slavery raids in Kansas and Missouri. [2]

Underground Railroad network of secret routes and safe houses established in the United States during the early to mid-19th century, and used by African-American slaves to escape to freedom

The Underground Railroad was a network of secret routes and safe houses established in the United States during the early to mid-19th century, and used by African-American slaves to escape into free states, Canada and Nova Scotia with the aid of abolitionists and allies who were sympathetic to their cause. The term is also applied to the abolitionists, both black and white, free and enslaved, who aided the fugitives. Various other routes led to Mexico or overseas. An earlier escape route running south toward Florida, then a Spanish possession, existed from the late 17th century until Florida became a United States territory in 1821. However, the network now generally known as the Underground Railroad was formed in the late 1700s, and it ran north to the free states and Canada, and reached its height between 1850 and 1860. One estimate suggests that by 1850, 100,000 slaves had escaped via the "Railroad".

John Brown (abolitionist) American abolitionist

John Brown was an American abolitionist who believed in and advocated armed insurrection as the only way to overthrow the institution of slavery in the United States. He first gained attention when he led small groups of volunteers during the Bleeding Kansas crisis of 1856. He was dissatisfied with the pacifism of the organized abolitionist movement: "These men are all talk. What we need is action—action!" In May 1856, Brown and his supporters killed five supporters of slavery in the Pottawatomie massacre, which responded to the sacking of Lawrence by pro-slavery forces. Brown then commanded anti-slavery forces at the Battle of Black Jack and the Battle of Osawatomie.

Abolitionism in the United States Movement to end slavery in the United States

Abolitionism in the United States was the movement before and during the American Civil War to end slavery in the United States. In the Americas and western Europe, abolitionism was a movement to end the Atlantic slave trade and set slaves free. In the 17th century, enlightenment thinkers condemned slavery on humanistic grounds and English Quakers and some Evangelical denominations condemned slavery as un-Christian. At that time, most slaves were Africans, but thousands of Native Americans were also enslaved. In the 18th century, as many as six million Africans were transported to the Americas as slaves, at least a third of them on British ships to North America. The colony of Georgia originally abolished slavery within its territory, and thereafter, abolition was part of the message of the First Great Awakening of the 1730s and 1740s in the Thirteen Colonies.

In 1862, after the 1860 census increased the number of U.S. House seats in Iowa from two to six, Grinnell ran for the newly created seat representing Iowa's 4th congressional district. The Fourth District was then a diamond-shaped configuration of twelve counties that included Newton and Iowa City, and ran from the Missouri border to the southern edge of Waterloo. [3] After winning the Republican nomination and the general election in 1862, he served in the Thirty-eighth Congress. In 1864 he won re-election, serving in the Thirty-ninth Congress. On June 14, 1866, he was assaulted by fellow congressman Lovell Rousseau for insulting him and his home state of Kentucky during a House debate.

Lovell Rousseau General in the Union Army during the American Civil War

Lovell Harrison Rousseau was a general in the Union Army during the American Civil War, as well as a lawyer and politician in Kentucky and Indiana.

Kentucky State of the United States of America

Kentucky, officially the Commonwealth of Kentucky, is a state located in the east south-central region of the United States. Although styled as the "State of Kentucky" in the law creating it, (because in Kentucky's first constitution, the name state was used) Kentucky is one of four U.S. states constituted as a commonwealth. Originally a part of Virginia, in 1792 Kentucky became the 15th state to join the Union. Kentucky is the 37th most extensive and the 26th most populous of the 50 United States.

Grinnell lost the Republican nomination for a third term, losing by thirteen votes to Judge William Loughridge in June 1866. [4]

William Loughridge American politician

William Loughridge was a pioneer attorney, judge, and three-term United States Congressman from Iowa.

After his service in Congress, Grinnell resumed the practice of law. He was also interested in the building of railroads, becoming a director of the Rock Island Railroad, and receiver of the Iowa Central Railroad (later the St. Louis & St. Paul Railroad). He also served as president of the Iowa State Horticultural Society and of the First National Bank in Grinnell.

He died of throat disease, complicated by asthma, at his home in Grinnell on March 31, 1891. [5] He was interred in Hazelwood Cemetery.


Articles on his life and his obituary are available from the online resources from Drake Library in Grinnell, Iowa. Many additional materials are available in the Grinnell Room Archives at Drake Library.

See also

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  1. Articles on J.B. Grinnell's Underground Railroad activities Archived 2007-07-05 at the Wayback Machine . and his association with John Brown Archived 2007-07-05 at the Wayback Machine . can be found in these PDF articles.
  2. "Tidbits: Did You Know". American Profile. 2007-07-15.
  3. Iowa Congressional District Maps, 1847-2013 Archived 2008-06-30 at the Wayback Machine ., accessed 2009-06-07.
  4. "The Congressional Nomination in the Fourth District," Davenport Daily Gazette, 1866-06-18, at p. 2.
  5. Grinnell, Josiah Bushnell; Henry W. Parker (1891). Men and Events of Forty Years. p. 456.
U.S. House of Representatives
New district Member of the  U.S. House of Representatives
from Iowa's 4th congressional district

Succeeded by
William Loughridge