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.
In honor of Arbor Day, Nebraska History associate editor Jim Potter examines part of the political career of Arbor Day founder J. Sterling Morton. Some dramatic anti-J. Sterling Morton sentiments appeared in the May 23 issue of the Republican Nebraska Herald, published in Plattsmouth. Under the headline “Not Ashamed of It,” the article reported Morton’s recent speech in Plattsmouth when he had asserted that he was unashamed of his political record.
In the racially segregated military that followed the Civil War, one of the first Cavalry regiments for black soldiers was headquartered in Nebraska for more than a decade. These soldiers played a notable role in social and military changes of the late 1800s. In the Spring 2014 issue of Nebraska History, Brian Shellum tells the story of the Ninth Cavalry Regiment, which fought discrimination as well as Indians on the Great Plains.