Convention Member Gideon Smith Bailey

Convention Member
Born in the State of Kentucky on June 3, 1809, and came to the "Black Hawk Purchase" in 1837, locating on the west bank of the Des Moines River in Van Buren County. He was a physician but from boyhood had taken a deep interest in public affairs. When the Territory of Iowa was established in 1838, Dr. Bailey, then a young man of twenty-eight was chosen one of the members of the First Legislative Assembly. He was the author of the first school system established in the Territory. As chairman of the committee on schools he framed a bill, which became a law on the 24th of December, 1838, providing for public schools in each county free to all children between the ages of four and twenty-one. The bill also provided for the building of schoolhouses. Dr. Bailey was reelected to the House of the Second Legislative Assembly and in 1840 was elected a member of the Council where he served two terms. In 1844 he was a member of the First Constitutional Convention. In 1845 he was appointed by the President United States Marshal for Iowa. In 1857 he was elected to the State Senate, serving in the Seventh and Eighth General Assemblies. This honored pioneer lawmaker, who helped to frame the first statutes and first Constitution, has long been the only survivor of the earliest legislators and has lived to witness the marvelous development of the educational system he helped to found in the First Territorial Legislature of Iowa. He was for forty years one of the trusted leaders of the Democratic party of the State.