Iowa deserves a woman on Capitol Hill

By Dubuque Telegraph Herald


Itís high time Iowa was represented by a woman on Capitol Hill, even if sheís made of marble.

Though Iowa has never elected a woman to Congress, some Iowa lawmakers are making an effort to get gender balance in the Capitolís National Statuary Hall.

Each state is allowed two statues there, and Iowaís have always been two men.

In 2011, Iowa officials agreed to replace a statue of Sen. James Harlan with one of Nobel Peace Prize winner Norman Borlaug.

Now, itís time to replace the other statue ó Civil War-era Gov. Samuel Kirkwood ó with a worthy Iowa woman.

Thatís just what Iowa Rep. Mary Mascher, D-Iowa City, has in mind.

Itís time every Iowan knew the name of Arabella Mansfield, the nationís first female attorney. Mansfield was born in Burlington and lived in Mount Pleasant when she passed the bar in 1869. She was chairwoman of the first Iowa Suffrage Association Convention in 1870, which sought equal voting rights and educational opportunities for women.

When Christie Vilsack was first lady of Iowa in 2008, she donated money to create a 9-foot-tall statue of Mansfield, which was placed at Iowa Wesleyan College, where the lawyer taught. Vilsack said she had grown up in Mount Pleasant without ever hearing about Mansfield.

Hereís an opportunity to tell about one of those hidden treasures of history ó a woman who was a pioneer in many ways, yet was seldom recognized.

Lawmakers should get behind Mascherís effort to finally send a woman to Washington.


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