Morton tried to keep slavery legal in Nebraska before the Civil War, showed questionable loyalty to the US during the war, and tried to keep black men from voting afterward. But is it fair to pass judgment on people of the past? Here's what we can learn from one of Nebraska’s leading statesmen.
Arbor Day founder and longtime History Nebraska member J. Sterling Morton proposed the creation of an "arboreal bureau" to be managed by us in 1886.
Arbor Day began inauspiciously as one of a number of efforts to encourage the planting of trees in barren Nebraska. The State Board of Agriculture had offered a prize of $50 for the best and largest grove of timber planted in 1870, and $25 for the second best and largest.
Cass School students in Omaha plant trees as part of an Arbor Day program in 1901. NSHS RG2991-11-2
Arbor Day parade float at Nebraska City in 1917. The bust at the front of the float depicts J. Sterling Morton, founder of Arbor Day. NSHS RG2991-2-3.