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The Double Holiday

May 30, the traditional Memorial Day, is a time for us to remember the dead. We especially

honor those men and women who have given their lives in the defense of their country.

There’s another reason that May 30 is worthy of note to Nebraskans, as this 1894 Western

Newspaper Union story explains:



“The annually recurring Memorial Day is nowhere more patriotically observed than in Kansas

and Nebraska. When the call came for volunteers, those young territories were among the

first to respond, and the regiments they furnished fought with bravery and gallantry inferior to

none. They were essentially loyal territories, and their few thousand inhabitants furnished

more recruits to the population than many New England and Middle states. Then too,

Nebraska and Kansas are largely settled by the veterans of the civil war and their

descendants.



But aside from feelings of gratitude to the fallen, and of reverence to departed comrades,

Memorial Day possesses a peculiar interest for the citizens of Nebraska and Kansas. It was a

most felicitous chance that placed Memorial Day on the anniversary of the Nebraska and

Kansas bill, for it is certainly fitting to observe the last sacred rites of our civil war on the

anniversary of one of the material factors in preparing the nation for that war. The bill did

more than organize two frontier territories; it pushed aside the compromises of the past, and

joined slavery and freedom in mortal combat.”



The Kansas-Nebraska bill ignored the tenets of the 1820 Missouri Compromise, which

insured that new states north of Missouri would be free states and those south would allow

slavery. This new bill allowed citizens of the territory themselves to chose, and so was

opposed by anti-slavery forces.



“The effects of the bill seem scarcely conceivable. Party lines were then in reality drawn on

the slavery or bondage of the negro. The indignation shown in the north was only equalled by

the joy manifested in the south, widening the sectional breech. After a short period of

political unrest, the remnants of the whig and democratic parties who opposed the Nebraska

bill were compelled to unite in a new permanent party whose chief tenet was opposition to

slavery.”



This new party was the Republican Party which elected Abraham Lincoln. And as the old

saying goes, “the rest is history.”


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Other Publications

The Bachelors’ Protective Union of Kearney

When the Bachelors' Protective Union gave a gala reception for two of its newly married, former members and their brides in March of 1890, the social club for young, ...

U.S. Weather Bureau in 1890s Nebraska

The U.S. Weather Bureau was established by an act of Congress on October 1, 1890. It took over the weather service that had been established in the office of the Chief ...

Canning the Way to Victory

During American participation in World War I the U.S. Food Administration, under the direction of Herbert Hoover, launched a massive campaign to persuade Americans to ...

The Shoemaker’s Ashes

"Edward Kuehl, one of the most peculiar characters that ever lived in Omaha, or anywhere else, was found dead in his bed last night in the back room of his place of ...

Crazy Horse Surrender Ledger Foreward

Red Dog, an Oglala Lakota who lived at the Red Cloud Agency, Nebraska, 1876-77 (Nebraska State Historical Society RG2955.ph).   In the summer of 1876, following the ...

Darryl F. Zanuck

Darryl F. Zanuck Darryl F. Zanuck (1902-1979), a native Nebraskan, produced some of Hollywood's most important and controversial films. He helped found 20th Century Fox ...

The Burlington’s Profitable Pork Special

Nebraska railroads were much concerned with developing an adequate economy in the areas they served. The Burlington, for example, had a long history of caring for the ...

Bungalow Filling Stations

After the giant Standard Oil Company was broken into thirty-four separate companies in 1911, the newly independent Standard Oil of Nebraska dominated the state's market ...

The Bull Fight

This is the perfect time of year for a visit to the old fishin' hole. But a group of fisherfolk from Plainview discovered that this bucolic pastime sometimes has ...

Buffalo Soldiers West

African-American soldiers on the western frontier are the focus of an exhibit at the Nebraska History Museum in Lincoln. Buffalo Soldiers West, on loan from the Colorado ...

Protection for Buffalo

The extermination of the buffalo on the Plains occurred largely between 1870 and 1885. The Nebraska State Journal of Lincoln on February 1, 1874, editorialized in vain ...

Buffalo Hunting

In late October 1877 young Rolf Johnson and three friends left their homes in Phelps County, Nebraska, for a buffalo hunt in northeastern Colorado. The hunt was not very ...
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