Nebraska statehood

Did you know that we got our state motto due to a post-Civil War controversy over Black voting rights?

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.

Image of Nebraska's first capitol

First Nebraska State Capitol, constructed in Lincoln from 1867 to 1868. NSHS RG1234-1 On March 1, 1867, President Andrew Johnson reluctantly signed the proclamation declaring Nebraska’s statehood. The signing ended the life of a territory which thirteen years earlier had been organized amid controversy.

Fall-2010-CoverDue to the great demand for the Fall/Winter 2010 issue of Nebraska History, we have posted the entire issue on our website.

President Abraham Lincoln was shot on the evening of April 14 one hundred and forty-five years ago. He died early in the morning on the following day. Among the items found on his desk after his untimely demise was the certificate proclaiming Alvin Saunders territorial governor for Nebraska. The document, on exhibit at the Nebraska History Museum in Lincoln, may be evidence of one of the last pieces of business the doomed president transacted. Just less than two years later, Nebraska would become a state, and its new capitol would be named in honor of the slain president.

On March 5, 1860, a majority of voters in Nebraska territory cast their ballots against statehood.  Many Nebraskans felt it was time for the territory to become a state, but even more feared statehood would result in higher taxes.

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