Foreign Investors

The 1980s witnessed considerable legislative and political struggle to protect Nebraska farmers

from corporate and foreign investors. In 1889, the verdant farmlands of the state looked like

choice pickings for English bankers. Not all Nebraskans viewed this potential influx of capital

as a good thing. This article in the Arlington Defender sounded the warning.

“‘E. W. Thomas of New York intends establishing somewhere in the west the headquarters of

an English syndicate of capitalists for which he is acting as agent. It is the purpose of the

syndicate to buy all the available first class mortgages upon farm property in several of the

western states, including Nebraska.’

“This is an associated press dispatch, and some people are so blind as to rejoice over the

prospect of English capitalists investing in this country. European capitalists are continually

looking around for some place to invest in bonds and mortgages. They know the power of

bonds and mortgages to enslave the people. There is a certain kind of slavery they are in favor


“They dislike the kind of slavery which existed a few years ago in the southern states, for there

is too much bother connected with it and it is not as profitable as the kind that exists in Europe

and is being planted in America. They are in favor of an improved kind of slavery, and this

buying of mortgages all over these western states is the last chapter, save one, in the infamous


“The last chapter will be read in a few years when the papers in every county will be crowded

with sheriff’s sales and the European lords take possession of the soil of Columbia and establish

landlordism and tenantry in ‘Free America.’ The saddest reflection then will be that men knew

their duty, but were too timid and stupid to do their duty, and instead of using the only weapon

within their reach to beat back the invaders of human liberty they walked up to the polls each

year and cast ballots which helped to bring this very state of things about. ‘What fools we

mortals be!’

“A secret circular sent out to English bankers reads as follows: Slavery is to be abolished and

chattel slavery to be destroyed. This we are in favor of, for slavery is but the owning of labor,

and carries with it the care of the laborer; while the European plan, led on by England, is capital

control of labor by controlling wages. This can be done by controlling the money. To do this,

bonds must be used as a banking basis. It will not do to allow the greenback, as it is called, to

circulate as money any length of time, for we cannot control that.”

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History Nebraska was founded in 1878 as the Nebraska State Historical Society by citizens who recognized Nebraska was going through great changes and they sought to record the stories of both indigenous and immigrant peoples. It was designated a state institution and began receiving funds from the legislature in 1883. Legislation in 1994 changed History Nebraska from a state institution to a state agency. The division is headed by Interim Director and CEO Jill Dolberg. They are assisted by an administrative staff responsible for financial and personnel functions, museum store services, security, and facilities maintenance for History Nebraska.
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