J.Sterling Morton

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.

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.

Cass School students in Omaha plant trees as part of an Arbor Day program in 1901. NSHS RG2991-11-2

J. Sterling Morton and his newspaper staff in Nebraska City on May 29, 1899. NSHS RG1013-PH30-11 (at left).

 

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.

J. Sterling Morton, for whom Morton County was named, about 1859. NSHS RG1013.PH1-6

April 22, 1832: J. Sterling Morton is born.

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