The Devil Went Down to Iowa and Other Stories
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Supreme Court in However, the only casualties of the conflict were a few hollow trees full of honey. These trees according to legend were chopped down by an angry tax collector, sparking the entire conflict and providing its name: The Honey War. The Honey War is a vivid historical example of how conflicts arise from attempts to place boundaries on the landscape and claim ownership of natural resources. While locals initially found the Honey War a laughing matter, it foreshadowed deeper and darker conflicts to come.
Kirk Ferentz | The Gazette - Cedar Rapids, Iowa City
In the s and 40s Missouri was a slave state; Iowa Territory was not. Iowa Territory was managed—like all U. Territories—by the federal government, but Missouri was a state testing its ability oppose the federal government. In the years since Danny first told me about the Honey War, I tried several times to write an essay about it—but I was always disappointed with the results.
An map of the states of Iowa and Missouri. Image from Wikimedia Commons. But I could tell there was a full song behind it. This song would be my opportunity to tell the story from the inside, to breathe life back into the events, to make listeners feel a bit like they too were present for the Honey War. Perhaps if we spent more time studying the successes of everyday citizens in averting violent conflicts, we would think differently not only about our past but also about our future. Snow accumulates on top of the granite marker commemorating the Honey War. Photo by Jacob Grace, The story of the Honey War is so connected to landscape that I wanted to try performing the song in a location that had significance to the story.
The events of the Honey War all took place near the eastern boundaries of Missouri and Iowa, but the roadside markers near my home in northwest Missouri were some of the only physical remnants of the event that still exist on the landscape. The fact that it began snowing on the day I recorded the song, hearkening back to the snowy final days of the Honey War, was a lucky coincidence. Did you serve in that Honey War, well buddy so did I, Camped out along the border where they sent us all to die.
Along the border, taxes were a matter of debate.
But for Iowa Governor Robert Lucas the dispute was black and white. They both issued proclamations that the nation had their back, 8 And mobilized militias to prepare for an attack. They ordered tax collectors to collect or repossess, And those poor tax collectors had to go and do their best.
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Iowa sheriff Henry Heffleman was riding on his route. When Gregory later returned, for his mission could not fail, Heffleman he captured him and hauled him off to jail. We locals met in Monticello to try to set things right. All of us being neighbors we hoped to avoid a fight.
But we could not agree and things all went from bad to worse. Tempers flared, we traded threats and parted with a curse. Eight hundred Missourians mobilized at Waterloo. We drank a lot of whiskey as the winter winds they blew. Armed with beat up muskets and a spare pitchfork or two, 9 We had to loot a store when our camp ran out of food. At a last-minute meeting in Palmyra , things were dire.
Tom Anderson stood up and his eyes were blazing fire. Send them home to their families. Send them home in this inclement season. Send them home to those praying for them. Send them home to those that need them.
75 years of quirky results
And in the name of the God of Mercy and Justice, gentlemen, Let this monumental piece of absurdity, this cruel blundering have an end. They signed some things with Iowa to put the war on hold, And sent their fastest messenger to our camp out in the cold.
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We were freezing on the border when we heard the war was through, So we drank up all our whiskey just to celebrate the news. Someone shot a deer and hung two halves from evergreens.
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