Letter/IconHE BUTLER faction in pressing the impeachment of Gillespie was only playing a game of tit for tat; and its organ, the State Journal, made the most of its opportunity to take the right side of a technical question of the controversy:
   The two houses, in the absence of a quorum, having failed to do the only thing they had a constitutional right to do, viz: to adjourn from day to day and dispatch the sergeant-at-arms after absentees, are dead as a doornail and can no more meet on the "2d Tuesday in January, 1872," or any other time, of their own motion, than a cow can jump over the moon. They cannot adjourn over twenty-four hours unless a Sunday intervenes, when they can make it forty-eight.
   Nevertheless, the excommunicated legislature, or, rather, a part of it, did reconvene on Tuesday, January 9, 1872. There were eight senators present at the opening of the session, and three of those who had been elected to fill vacancies were admitted. Only twenty-three members were present when the house was called to order. Each house could muster a quorum for ordinary business, but it was easy for the senate to fall short of the two-thirds necessary to go on with the trial of the auditor. Corrupt and despotic procedure, incident to the attempt to remove the capital, demoralized and divided the fourth territorial legislature. Sectional animosity arising out of the actual removal which largely justified itself by exposure of the rottenness of the successful capital cabal, together with unbridled, though rather small-bore, political ambitions, produced a like state of anarchy at this adjourned session of 1872. The Butler faction approximately localized in the South Platte section, longing for a more comprehensive state constitution -- and with particular regard to more offices and larger salaries -- and unwilling to follow again the slow course of regular procedure, was bent on the remarkable scheme of reviving by legislative enactment the constitutional convention which had surely become extinct by its own act of adjournment without day.
   On the second day of the session a bill authorizing the convention to reconvene passed the senate by a vote of 8 to 2, and on the following day it passed the house, 21 to 9. The next day -- January 12th -- the senate concurred in an amendment by the house; on the 15th Acting Governor James vetoed the bill; on the 17tb the senate passed it over the veto by a bare constitutional majority -- 8 to 4 -- but on the 19th the house failed in its attempt by a vote of 12 to 21. The veto message set forth that in section 1, under the title "Amendments," the constitution provided that a majority of the two houses of the legislature might call a convention to revise or change that instrument whenever they should deem it necessary, and thereupon the proposal of the joint resolution in favor of holding a convention passed February 15, 1869, was adopted by a meager vote at the general election in October of that year; that by authority of the act of March 27, 1871, delegates to the convention were elected and convened June 13, 1871, and after fifty-eight days labor "ceased to exist" as a body by an adjournment, sine die, and were resolved back to the body of the people. The constitution prepared by this convention was rejected at an election held according to a provision in the instrument itself.
   Section 1 of Article 9 of the constitution,



which the short-cut device of the legislature would have avoided, provided that if a majority of both houses of the legislature should deem it necessary to call a convention to revise or change the constitution, they should recommend to the electors to vote for or against a convention at the next election of members of the legislature, and if a majority of the electors should vote for a convention, then the legislature, at its next session, should provide for calling it. The population at that time was very unstable, and since no method had been prescribed for filling vacancies, it is probable that many districts would have been without representation at the proposed second sitting of the convention which must have occurred nearly a year after the delegates had been elected. Inasmuch as the method of procedure in question is incorporated in substance in the present constitution, according to the contention of the revivalists of 1872, of whom the State Journal was evangelist, the convention of 1875 is a perpetual body whose powers are merely dormant and capable of being reinspired into action at the call of any legislature. That venerable body, thus reassembled by the omnipotent legislative fiat, might well recur to the apostrophe of St. Paul (or Alexander Pope): "0, grave, where is thy victory!" Mr. Estabrook's contention that this was "the next legislature" which had power to call the convention and therefore had power to recall it, was merely ingenious and scarcely to be taken seriously.
   On the 19th a conference committee of the two houses reported a resolution to adjourn sine die on the 24th, at 11 o'clock p. m. The house adopted the report the same day, but a motion in the senate to concur under suspension of the rules was defeated, and in the regular order the question lay over one day. The senate remained in fruitless session all night, but on the morning of the 20th, during a call of the house, Sheldon moved to adjourn until December 31st. Thereupon Scofield raised the point of order that no business could be transacted while the call was pending, which the president overruled. On the question, "Shall the decision of the chair stand as the judgment of the house?" there was an even division, Abbott, Cropsey, Metz, Sheldon, Thomas, and President Hascall votinge (sic) aye, and Hilton, Linch, Larsh, Scofield, Tennant, and Tucker, no, which, it was asserted, of course defeated the affirmative side of the question according to the rules of the senate and all other legislative bodies. But political assemblies, especially when under factional incitement, seldom hesitate to live up to the venerable maxim that where there's a will, there's a way; and with Hascall in the chair that was an easy task -- as easy as it had been in former not more or less halycon days, with Hanscom presiding on the floor. On the same day, the acting governor, with good reason, construing this contrary action as a constitutional "case of disagreement between the two houses in respect to the time of adjournment," interposed the following message:

SpacerState of Nebraska, Ex. Chamber,
January 20, 1872.
To the Honorable the Speaker of the House of Representatives:

    WHEREAS, The House of Representatives adopted a resolution to adjourn sine die on the 24th inst., in which the senate failed to concur and adopted a resolution to adjourn until the 31st day of December, 1872: And whereas, no reasonable hope is entertained that the longer continuance in session of this legislature will result in the adoption of any measures which have for their object the public good.
   Now, Therefore, I, William H. James, Acting Governor of the State of Nebraska, under and by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution, do hereby declare this legis]ature adjourned without a day.

   Having declared the senate adjourned, Hascal dropped out, and on the evening of the 20th, Hilton was elected president pro tem. On Monday, the 22d, the senate, ignoring the action of the acting governor, took up the conference report in regular order and adopted it. With the exception of Kennedy of Douglas, only the old guard of the Butler faction -- Hilton, Linch, Larsh, Scofield, Tucker; and Tennant -- were present. In attempting to prorogue the legislature without day, the acting governor exceeded his constitutional au-

SESSIONS OF 1871-1872


thority, which was as follows: "In case of disagreement between the two houses, in respect to the time of adjournment, the [the governor] shall have power to adjourn the legislature to such time as he may think proper, but not beyond the regular meetings thereof."
   On the 22d the rump remnant of the senate also agreed to a preamble and joint resolution, declaring the office of governor vacant, and that the two houses should fill the vacancy on the 24th, When the house met at two o'clock in the afternoon of the 22d, its journal was missing, but it was found in the auditor's office with the governor's adjournment message, which had not been regularly received, "attached by some other hand than that of the clerk who made up the journal; and it was forthwith expunged from the record." The attempted sessions of the 23d were a farce, and the meetings of both houses on the 24th expired of imbecility. On the 23d, the acting governor illustrated the efficiency of the vaunted "checks and balances" of our constitutions by shutting off the coal supply from the legislative chambers.
   The most important of the few enactments of the session of 1871 was a law providing for a constitutional convention which should meet on the second Tuesday in June of that year. The law provided that fifty-two delegates to the convention, one from each senate and representative district, should be chosen on the first Tuesday of May, and that the delegates and the secretaries of the convention should receive $3 a day and the same mileage that was allowed members of the legislature. A herd law was enacted which held owners of cattle, horses, mules, sheep, and swine responsible for all damage done by them upon cultivated lands.
   In a memorial which recited that Nebraska had never received more than the 500,000 acres of public lands, given on admission as a state, while not less than one million acres had been given to foreign corporations and an equal amount for the endowment of agricultural colleges, Congress was asked to grant lands to aid in the construction of a railroad from Lincoln to Denver, and another from Brownville to Denver; also in aid of the Omaha and Northwestern, and the Fremont, Elkhorn and Missouri Valley lines. Because, owing to the great depression in business, preëmptors of lands could not pay for them, Congress was asked to extend the time of payment to three years from the time of filing. Congress was petitioned also to grant 90,000 acres of land for the endowment of an agricultural college -- 30,000 acres for each senator and representative -- under the act of July 2, 1862; to reimburse citizens of the state for losses on account of Indian depredations during the last eight years; and for the removal of the national capital to the great basin of the Missouri valley.
   At the adjourned session of 1872 only fourteen acts, none of much importance, were passed. By one of these, Guy A. Brown was appointed a commissioner to revise and compile the laws of the state, a work in which he continued for many years until his death; an act appropriated, annually, $3,000 to the state board of agriculture, and $2,000 to the state horticultural society, "for the sole purpose of advancing, developing, and making known the agricultural and horticultural capacities of the state"; and another appropriated $4,500 out of the insane asylum fund to be used for the erection of a temporary hospital in place of that recently destroyed by fire.
   Thomas F. Hall, chairman of the ways and means committee, which had been directed by the house to investigate the condition of the state treasury, on the fifth of June reported the resources of the treasury as follows: tax levy of 1870, general fund, $122,500; general fund 1870, delinquent, $60,500; levy of 1870, sinking fund, $26,800; sinking fund delinquent, $18,000. The report estimated that there would be a shortage of $100,000 in collections of these nominal resources. There were $9,000 uninvested in the permanent school fund; $73,000 invested in United States, and Union Pacific bonds; and $73,000 due the state from insurance companies. The liabilities of the state were as follows: general fund, $200,000; interest on bonds and floating indebtedness, $25,000; outstanding warrants, general fund, $130,000; building



fund, $40,000; territorial bonds belonging to school fund, $36,300; loan of university fund (to pay impeachment expenses), $16,000; total, $447,300, leaving a balance of indebtedness, 219,500. The warrants were fifteen per cent below par value.
   By the state treasurer's report it appears that the amount received into the treasury from January 21, 1869, to January 11, 1871, was $893,268.66. This report was largely a statement of grievances. Owing to the financial depression, farmers were scarcely able to realize prices for their crops exceeding the cost of production, consequently nearly all the taxes of 1869 and a large part of the levies of former years remained uncollected. "Besides this, wealthy railroad corporations, operating lines of railroad within the borders of the state, and, doubtless, fully able at any time to meet the demands upon them for taxes assessed, are delinquents, proposing, as is supposed, by the power of their wealth and influence, to override the just demands due the state for the protection afforded by law to their rights and privileges, thereby casting the whole burden of the state government upon the less powerful."

   The year 1871 in Nebraska was one of gloomy poverty -- morally and economically; its only resource, agriculture, was as yet doubtful and undeveloped. Prices of products which, owing to imperfect transportation to long distant markets, were normally low, were pressed by the impending industrial panic down to an unprofitable scale. As we have seen, official speculation and factional strife had demoralized and almost destroyed social order. This very bad condition was illustrated and made worse by the incendiary burning of the insane asylum on the 17th of April.
   One inmate perished in the fire. Ten convicts escaped from the penitentiary during the night of the conflagration, and it was charged, though without proof or probability, that they were let loose to assist in kindling it. The leading republican, but anti-administration, organ summed up the case as follows:

    The lunatic asylum ought to have been a substantial public building and an honor to the state. By law the expense was limited to $50,000, but the state officers took the responsibility of increasing it, until the amount actually paid was about $150,000. The main building was 72x90 feet, and five stories high, with a four story wing running northward, 42x80, making a total frontage of 170 feet. A brick structure of this size, and costing so much money, should have been something for every Nebraskan to be proud of. But this asylum did not excite emotions of that sort, being so badly put together that visitors were fearful it would fall while under its roof. . . The builder of this matchless specimen of architecture was one Joseph Ward. An attempt was made to burn it several months ago, by placing combustibles in the roof, but failed . . . Of the grand delivery of penitentiary convicts, we have too few facts to justify comment. But ten convicted criminals are certainly at large . . . What a history the capital has furnished of late. The state officers charged with peculating and speculating -- Impeachments, queerly handled -- Burning of a Lunatic Asylum and Lunatics -- and winding up with the quiet departure of one-third of the convicts in the Penitentiary. Surely it is about time for a constitutional Convention that will build for the state anew, and let it start again with a clear record. The chief care of the compilers of the constitution of 1866 was to make it a password to statehood; and so they craftily contrived that it should resemble the territorial organic act as closely as practicable. The judicial system for the state was the exact counterpart of that of the territory; there was no change in the number of the members of the legislative houses; the number of executive officers was not increased and their salaries were kept down nearly to the old beggarly level; and against the emotional sentiment for negro enfranchisement with which the republican party was possessed, its devotees in Nebraska opposed the ancient and reactionary restriction to white suffrage. This concession was calculated to weaken or subdue the opposition of the democrats who lacked the stimulus of prospective senatorships and high federal offices which temporarily stifled the principles and stultified the philanthropic professions of 4 the expectant republicans. But by 1869 the partisan emoluments of the change to statehood



had been seized and the dominant Butler faction felt that its new capital, which was an outgrowth of admission, was now established so that it might safely proceed to enlarge it powers, privileges, and emoluments through a new Constitution of broader scope. The malcontents insisted that the state was "hampered by the want of courts, by the need of proper grades in the judiciary and by the picayunishness and general meanness that breathes throughout our organic law." Every fourth year two general elections were necessary because the constitution fixed the time of the state election earlier than that of the national election; the supreme court, en banc, "sit on their own decisions"; the code "is a conglomerated patchwork, it is neither the Ohio nor the New York code, which are radically different from foundation to turret, but is a compromise between the two with a lot of loose rubbish culled from all the rest of the states thrown in."

    The constitution of 1871 was in the main a replica of that of Illinois which had been adopted the year before, and the long session of the convention was chiefly occupied in rather tedious discussion over proposed changes of the Illinois pattern, but very few of which were made. The spirit of the Granger movement, at that time becoming rife in the north central states, was positively and plentifully reflected in the Illinois constitution; and since the principal debates in the Nebraska convention were devoted to questions of that class they served to disclose the attitudes of the members toward the new and progressive doctrines and also to disseminate them among the people with the recommendation or approval of many of the most influential citizens and political leaders.
   The convention is subject only to the secondary liability of an endorser for the long preaching preamble which it copied verbatim from its Illinois model. The Illinois bill of rights was also copied with few and unimportant changes. Five sections were added defining treason; guaranteeing the right to a writ of error in cases of felony; requiring the passage of property exemption laws; establishing the same rights of property for aliens as for native citizens; and reserving to the people all rights not delegated by the constitution. The section regulating eminent domain was amplified, and through the persistency of Mason there was added the radical provision that compensation for taking or damaging property, except in time of war or other public exigency or for roads which should be open to the public without charge, "shall in every case be without deduction for benefits to any property of the owner." In the Illinois constitution this question of damages was left to be ascertained by a jury, "as shall be prescribed by law"; and the Nebraska constitution of 1875 has only the simple provision that, "the property of no person shall be taken or damaged for public use without just compensation therefor." There was no counterpart of the robust, radical democrat, Mason, in the convention of 1875.
   The article relating to corporations in the constitution of 1871 differs from that of the Illinois constitution only in permitting counties and municipal subdivisions to make donations to them after a proposal to make such grants had been submitted to the electors of the district or division to be affected and approved by three-fifths of those voting upon the question, and in the addition of a few precautionary restrictions. The provision of the constitution of 1871 and of its Illinois original that "the legislature from time to time shall pass laws establishing reasonable maximum rates of charges for the transportation of passengers and freight on the different railroads in this state," was changed in the constitution of 1875 by substituting the merely permissive "may" for the mandatory "shall." While this change was of no practical importance, because there is no power except its own will which can compel a legislative body to this or that action, yet it foreshadowed the complete subserviency to the railroads which has distinguished the political history of the state.
   That the committee on railroad corporations were willing to report the Illinois article indicates that the inspiriting influence of the Granger sentiment had reached across the Missouri; and the thunder tones of Mason



reveal that the idea of control was clear and insistent. The bold heroics employed by the chief justice in opposing public donations to railroads are not improved upon by the stump speeches or in the judicial harangues of the present anti-corporation heyday, which neither cost courage nor inspire caution:

    There was a time when the name of king was hateful to the whole American people. When our forefathers rebelled against British tyranny they came to couple in their minds, with their dislike of oppression, an aversion to the very title under which tyrannical power had been personified. But now we bear constantly of railroad kings -- just as if railroad kings were any less odious than political kings! We want no kings of any kind in America -- neither political kings nor railroad kings! If the power of the great railway corporations be not curbed and repressed and lessened, and that right speedily, we fear it will be difficult to preserve the liberties of the people in opposition to them. Stich aggregations of capital are always naturally and inherently unfavorable to popular instincts and rights. We do not say that the collection and concentration of capital may not sometimes be made to contribute to the public good, but then it should be regulated and controlled by the strong hand of law. It should also be vigilantly and always watched as liable at all times to assume the character of a public enemy. Our great railway corporations already elect state legislatures. These legislatures make laws and exercise more or less power over state judges. At any election of president they may be able to turn the scales in favor of the one candidate or the other. Presidents appoint federal judges, and thus the national courts may be reached. The railway power is the most dangerous power existing in the country today; to make this fact generally realized is the first step toward effecting the reduction of that power.
   Robinson skilfully argued that each case of voting aid to railroads and other partially public enterprises was one of expediency to be decided in some fair way by the people themselves and that there was no difference in principle between taxing private property to aid in building railroads and in doing the same thing to maintain public highways or public schools.
   Now relative or conventional necessity is but another term for expediency. So if the proposition is to have any force at all strict necessity must be meant . . . A small amount of travel, a low state of commerce would not demand a railroad, while it might demand a highway. Again, travel and trade might be so low as to make even a highway unnecessary. In the one case it would he expedient to build a railroad, in the other to build a highway. This, I think, is sufficient to show that the quality of the necessity which ought to enter into the purpose of taxation is wholly conventional and the question whether not the tax ought to be levied for a given purpose, wholly a question of expediency. Where a tax is levied upon all for a purpose which is exclusively for the benefit of a portion of the community, that is wrong; but that case is not this case nor resembles it.
   There was an ostentatious anti-monopoly demonstration also in the long and heated discussion over the liability of stockholders in banking corporations. The committee on banking reported the section of the constitution of Illinois which provided for a liability of an amount equal to the stock held in addition thereto the provision of the present constitution of Nebraska. This convention discussed at length a proposed section providing for the compulsory attendance at the public schools of children between the ages of eight years and sixteen years and for establishing a reform school. The usual arguments in favor of compulsory education were advanced by Estabrook, Lake, Manderson, Neligh, Vifquain, and Wakeley, and the familiar arguments against it by Kirkpatrick, Maxwell, Newsom, and Robinson. Apparently owing to the fact that the proposal for compulsory education was complicated with that for a reform school which certain members feared might lead to unwarranted expense, the section was separately submitted to the popular vote.
   A proposal to insert a section providing that lands granted within the state by the United States to railroad corporations should be subject to taxation as soon as the grant became effective provoked an aggressive discussion in which Boyd's voice alone was heard in opposition. At Judge Mason's instance, the subject was referred to the judiciary committee, with Estabrook, Sprague, and Wakely added



for information as to the legal power of the convention to reach the desired end. A less definite section than that proposed was adopted.
   There was a stirring discussion of Philpott's proposal to add to the section of the bill of rights which made the usual exclusive provision for the grand jury system a proviso that "the grand jury system may be abolished by law in all cases." Estabrook, always progressive, said, "it does seem to me that the occasion for the grand jury has gone," and Lake, Majors, Maxwell, Strickland, and Thomas also supported the amendment, while Campbell, Manderson, Mason, Myers, Wakeley, and Wilson opposed it. Mason, as usual, spoke to the principle involved, contending emphatically that the alternative method of accusation by information placed an undemocratic and dangerous power in the hands of one man. The dispute resulted in a compromise by which it was left to the courts to impanel grand juries in their discretion -- substantially the provision of the Illinois constitution and the present constitution of Nebraska. The convention frequently set out on an original departure from its Illinois copy but seldom got far astray.
   The report of the legislative committee provided that the first Senate under the new constitution should have twenty-five members and the first house of representatives, seventy-five. This precipitated a heated debate, and the number was reduced to nineteen for the senate and fifty-seven for the house. In both cases it was left to subsequent legislatures to fix the number of members, but it should not exceed thirty-three for the senate or one hundred for the house. Delegates from the western counties clamored for the larger number so that they might have effective representation. The more conservative members insisted first the chambers would not accommodate the proposed numbers and that the expense of so large a body would be too great.
   Lake warned the convention that a feeling of opposition to the constitution throughout the state had already been engendered on account of its extravagant provisions which might defeat its adoption. He pointed out that there were only two important objects in reforming the constitution, the first to create an independent supreme court and perhaps add one more judicial district, and the second to consider the question of extending county and municipal aid to railroads; but, be complained, "we are getting up a constitution which will require a much larger expenditure of money in order to carry out its provisions properly than is expended in many of the older states."
   The various petitions relating to the liquor traffic were referred to a special committee of which Oliver P. Mason was chairman. Judge Mason made a long report which was chiefly an arraignment of the traffic, and it stopped short of recommending absolute prohibition only because the committee feared that it would not be a practicable remedy for the evils which the report portrayed. "Had your committee the evidence that a prohibitory liquor law would be sustained by the vote of a majority of the legal voters of the state, they would earnestly recommend to this convention the adoption of the inhibitory principle . . . but not having this evidence before us and realizing that such a law unsanctioned by the people might be productive of evil and not good," the committee proceeded to recommend an article directing the legislature to pass a local option law essentially the same as the measure later favored by prohibitionists and which came near being adopted at the session of 1911. The question was compromised by submitting the prohibition provision separately and simply authorizing the taxing of liquor dealers in the article on revenue and finance.
   The proposal to confer the right of suffrage upon women caused a rather one-sided debate in which Estabrook and Manderson argued for the affirmative in extended and able speeches. Manderson saw the early advent of the expanded suffrage in the agitation then going on in England. ". . Meetings are being held in every city and town and some of the foremost men and women of that country are advocating the measure. They are knocking at the doors of parliament, and we are told that not many months will elapse



ere this [right] will be extended to woman." The fact that just such a demonstration is now stirring English politics coupled with the fact that Wakeley's statement in the convention that he wanted women to have the right to vote whenever they demanded it and favored the submission of the question to them alone expresses the present common sentiment of men toward the question and indicates that there has been but little change in its status in the intervening forty years. Estabrook stated that in the opinion of able constitutional lawyers the fourteenth and fifteenth amendments conferred the right to vote upon women, and he cited the recent favorable expression of Jeremiah S. Black and Michael C. Kerr, leading democrats, as the basis of his belief that woman suffrage would soon be adopted as an issue of the democratic party. But neither of the national party conventions of 1908 seriously thought of favoring woman suffrage. The convention evaded the question by shifting it on to the people by the convenient separate submission device.
   The clause affecting the taxation of church property was the most important provision of the constitution because it was chiefly responsible for its rejection by the people; and yet it was adopted after thorough discussion and was probably just and fair. Mason precipitated the debate by a motion to strike the word "religious" from the section reported by the committee which classified the property usually held exempt from taxation.
   A section reported by the committee, which provided that "the capital or seat of government shall remain at the city of Lincoln," precipitated a lengthy and heated debate. Boyd moved an amendment which provided that it should remain in Lincoln until 1880 and thereafter until it should be removed by a law designating some other place to be approved by a vote of the people. Estabrook, Hascall and Myers, all of Omaha, and Kirkpatrick and Stevenson advocated the original section, while Philpott of Lancaster county, Mason, and Wakeley supported Boyd's amendment which was carried. The constitution cured the uncertainty as to when the functions of an impeached officer should cease by providing that no officer shall exercise his office after he shall have been impeached and notified therof until he shall have been acquitted. This amendment was carried into the constitution of 1875 though that instrument lodged the power of impeaching in both houses instead of the House of Representatives alone and the authority to try the impeached officerin the supreme court instead of the senate.
   The constitution was rejected at the election held September 19th, by a preponderance of 641 votes. While some of the objections urged against it were legitimate, yet they were not of sufficient importance to warrant its repudiation; but they were used to increase and justify the factional and sectional prejudices and to cover the corporation hostility, which together mainly inspired the opposition.
   Owing to the adverse conditions in which Nebraska was first occupied by white settlers, the plea of poverty became a habitual state of mind which has long outlived the economic fact which produced it. The chief objection to statehood in 1860 and in 1866, and to the adoption of the constitutions of 1871 and 1875 was that they would be too expensive. This now venerable obsession reduced salaries of public officers to the level of beggary in the first constitution, to inadequacy in the two subsequent constitutions, and still keeps certain of the state institutions in penny wise and pound foolish starvation. And so economy was the war cry against adoption of the constitution. It was objected that it was better fitted for a state of half a million, than for one of only 175,000 people; that the salaries of executive officers were too high; that the number of members of the legislature was too large, and that their compensation was unnecessarily increased from $3 to $4 a day, and no limit was fixed to the length of the sessions. By defeating the constitution the state would save annually $17,000 in judicial and $10,000 in executive salaries; $10,000 in extra expense of census taking; and $60,000 by avoiding a special session of the legislature. At an anti-constitution public meeting held in Omaha, August 29th, the statement



was made that the salary provided for judges of the supreme court in the proposed constitution --$3,500 -- was the highest of a list of salaries paid such officers in twenty-three states. Judge Oliver P. Mason spoke in favor of adoption at this meeting.
   The fact that the recently adopted constition (sic) of Illinois had been drawn on freely for material by the Nebraska convention was used as an argument in favor of the approval of its work. It was said that it contained "nearly all the wholesome reforms embodied in the new constitution of Illinois, which is acknowledged to be the best in the United States," and was ratified by a majority of more than 100,000 votes. Although the proposed constitution was bitterly assailed, on the other hand its friends were alike active, and the arguments in its favor were promulgated with ability and industry. Printed copies of the instrument, preceded by an address which explained and moderately extolled its merits, and underwritten by a committee composed of Chas. F. Manderson, chairman; John C. Campbell, David T. Moore, Eleazer Wakeley, Enos F. Gray, Alexander S. Stewart, and Charles A. Speice, were distributed to voters. Friendly speakers and newspapers also enlivened the thirty days' campaign.
   Encouragement of railroad building had thus far been the prime article of economic and political faith in Nebraska; and, therefore, railroad interests would naturally be inclined to nip in the bud the presumptuous heresy that was propagated in the regulatory provisions. Other corporation interests had reasons of their own for joining the railroads in opposition to adoption. But while these considerations contributed toward rejection, it was chiefly due, no doubt, to the general public disapprobation and distrust of the political status. The spectacle of the impeachment proceedings and the succeeding political anarchy, which just then filled the public eye, were well calculated to produce a restive public disposition. While sentiment for and against the constitution was not clearly defined by the old Platte river sectional line, yet the vote of the North Platte section was 4,932 against and 2,068 for; while that of the South Platte was 5,918 for and 3,695 against, and eighteen of the twenty-two North Platte counties gave majorities against, and ten of the sixteen South Platte counties for adoption. The vote of the four North Platte counties that favored the constitution, with the exception of Cuming, was very small. It is significant also that the decidedly democratic counties of Dakota, Platte, and Sarpy were almost unanimous, and Dodge was strongly against the constitution.
   The vote on the five sections submitted separately follows; Liability of stockholders, 7,286 for, 8,580 against; municipal aid to corporations, 6,690 for, 9,549 against; compulsory education, 6,286 for, 9,958 against; submission of prohibition proposition, 6,071 for, 1,060 against; woman suffrage, 8,502 for, 12,676 against.

Previous Page
Table of Contents
General Index
Next Page

© 1999, 2000, 2001 for the NEGenWeb Project by Pam Rietsch, Ted & Carole Miller.