ing his name John M. Thurston said that Hayward's friends had pressed his candidacy for the office against his wishes. John L. Carson of Nemaha county and Joseph W. Gannett of Douglas, were nominated for regents of the State University. Charles H. Gere was a strong competitor of these nominees. William M. Robertson of Madison county was chairman of the committee on resolutions. The platform omitted reference to silver and congratulated the country on the successful resumption of specie payment, insisting that its credit and promises must be kept as good as gold. A ruby "bloody shirt" plank was inserted. There must be no concessions to unrepentant rebels, and fear of the treasonable utterances of rebel brigadiers in Congress was expressed, and protection of votes in the South was demanded. There were pleasing signs of returning prosperity which had been waited for since 1873.
   The greenback convention was held in Lincoln October 2d. Allen Root of Douglas county was chairman of the convention and L. C. Pace of Lancaster county was an active member. John Saxon of Jefferson county was nominated for judge of the supreme court, and Thomas Gibson of Douglas and J. H. Woodward of Seward, for regents of the State University. Delegates were present from fifteen counties. Captain W. H. Ashby of Gage county, at one time or another an ardent member of every one of the parties, was chanticleer (sic) of this convention.
   The democratic state convention, held in Lincoln, September 9th, nominated Eleazer Wakeley of Omaha, for judge of the supreme court and Alexander Bear of Madison county and Andrew J. Sawyer of Lancaster, for regents of the University. Stephen H. Calhoun of Nebraska City was chairman of the committee on resolutions, which complained that the republican administration made treaties with the Indians only to violate them, thus turning the enraged savages loose on unprotected settlers. They denounced, also, the republican policy of keeping a standing army to intimidate voters in the South. The platform lacked specific declarations as to state affairs. The Daily State Democrat -- September 12th, approved the policy of leaving a declaration on the motley question to the next national convention -- not a sound precept.
   The democratic convention for electing delegates to the national convention was held at Columbus, April 1, 1880. Dr. George L. Miller still adhered to the fortunes of Samuel J. Tilden and strongly favored his remoination (sic). General Victor Vifquain, editor of the Daily State Democrat, was opposed to this course and had a strong following. At the Lancaster county convention, held March 30th, to choose delegates to the state convention, the supporters of Tilden were defeated. It was estimated that about three-quarters of the delegates at Columbus favored the Miller-Tilden combination. The 257 votes in the convention were divided among the leading aspirants for delegates to the national convention as follows: J. Sterling Morton, 211; Dr. George L. Miller, 200; J. W. Pollock, 188; James E. North, 157; F. A. Harmon, 127; Richard S. Molony, 131, and they were declared to be the choice of the convention. From motives of policy, instructions for Tilden were not forced, as J. Sterling Morton and some others of the delegates were not primarily for him. The fact that a special train for carrying delegates to this convention left Lincoln at 8 o'clock in the morning, March 31st, and ran to the terminus of the Lincoln & Northwestern railroad, from which passengers were taken in carriages the remainder of the distance to Columbus -- eight miles -- illustrates the incomplete condition of the capital city's railway connection at this time.
   The republican convention for electing delegates to the national convention was held at Columbus, May 19, 1880. There was a very heated controversy in the convention between the Blaine and Grant factions, which in the election for delegates divided, nearly two-thirds being against Grant.
   Though the preponderating sentiment probably favored Blaine and was certainly decidedly anti-Grant, the convention formally refused to instruct delegates to support the favorite. Though the progressive and reactionary cleavage between the two factions was not uniform, yet the Blaine partisans as a rule



represented a progressive element, as will appear by an inspection of the names of the candidates. Senator Paddock was, quite strangely, for Grant. When Garfield became president there was rather a petty controversy between Senator Paddock and Senator Saunders along this line. Saunders supported Garfield in the row with Conkling over the New York appointments and thereby won an advantage over Paddock in Nebraska appointments. When, however, Saunders procured the appointment of St. A. D. Balcombe for United States marshal, Paddock retaliated by defeating his confirmation.
   The republican state convention was held at Lincoln, September 1st. Charles A. Holmes of Johnson county was temporary and permanent chairman. George W. Collins of Pawnee, John M. Thurston of Douglas, and James Laird of Adams, were nominated for presidential electors. Edward K. Valentine of Cuming was nominated for Congress by acclamation, and Thomas J. Majors of Nemaha, was nominated for contingent member of Congress. All of the state officers excepting the auditor, commissioner of public lands and buildings, and superintendent of public instruction, were renominated by acclamation. The commissioner and the superintendent of public instruction were dropped because they had been in the customary two terms, and Leidtke, the auditor, was defeated on account of charges against him for retaining insurance fees. John Wallichs was nominated in his place, A. G. Kendall for commissioner, and W. W. W. Jones for superintendent of public instruction. James W. Dawes was retained as chairman of the state committee. The platform declared that national sovereignty is the fundamental principle upon which the perpetuity of the nation rests; that the principle of home rule as enunciated by the democratic party was but the cautious expression of the Calhoun doctrine of state's rights; denounced the seizure of the polls by democratic officers in Alabama; congratulated the state in its general prosperity and rapid increase of population and wealth; pledged the party to the support of such legislation by Congress and the state legislature as might be necessary to effect a correction of the abuses and prevent extortion and discrimination in charges by railroad corporations; and appealed to war democrats to join with republicans "in defense of national integrity and the nation's purse." There was an incipient recognition of the now rather obtrusive railroad issue but expressed only in glittering generalities. The alarmist part of the declaration was still depended upon as a blind to real home issues. William McAllister of Platte county innocently introduced a set of resolutions favoring an expression of the preference of voters for candidates for the office of United States senator, in accordance with the provisions of the constitution and the law of 1879 applicable thereto. The resolution was laid on the table by a vote of 294 to 77.
   The democratic state convention was held at Hastings, September 29, 1880. Frank P. Ireland of Otoe county was elected temporary chairman and Nat. W. Smails of Dodge, temporary secretary. The temporary organization was made permanent. James I,. Boyd of Douglas county, Victor Vifquain of Saline, and Beach I. Hinman of Lincoln, were chosen as candidates for presidential electors, Boyd receiving 219 votes; Vifquain, 180; Hinman, 133. Robert R. Livingston of Cass county was nominated for member of Congress and Thomas W. Tipton of Nemaha, for governor, receiving 190 votes against 40 for Robert A. Batty, of Adams. Stephen H. Calhoun of Otoe was nominated for lieutenant-governor; Dr. George W. Johnston of Fillmore, for secretary of state; D. C. Patterson of Wayne, for auditor; Frank Folda of Colfax, for treasurer; E. H. Andrus of Buffalo, for commissioner of public lands and buildings; Dr. Alexander Bear of Madison, for superintendent of public instruction; and George E. Prichett of Douglas, for attorney-general. In the mutations of local factions which peculiarly affected the two most prominent democratic leaders, Dr. George L. Miller was left at home this time but J. Sterling Morton was prominent in the convention. Charles H. Brown, and James Creighton of Omaha, vigorously opposed the nomination of Tipton for governor because he was not a full-fledged demo-



crat, but they were overwhelmingly overruled. At the election of 1880 Valentine, republican candidate for member of Congress, received 52,647 votes; James E. North, democratic candidate, 23,634; Allen Root, greenback, 4,059. For governor, Nance, republican, received 55,237; Tipton, democrat or fusion, 28,167; 0. T. B. Williams, greenback, 3,898. Thomas J. Majors, candidate for contingent member of Congress, had no opposition and received 52,985. The republican candidates for district attorney in all of the six districts were elected. It was a republican clean sweep of about two to one.
   The ninth legislature convened in the sixteenth session and the seventh regular session January 4, 1881, and finally adjourned February 26th, the fortieth day of the session. By a provision of the new constitution the house of representatives comprised eighty-four members and the senate thirty until the year 1880, when the legislature was authorized to fix the number, which should not exceed one hundred in the house and thirty-three in the senate. The, senate comprised twenty-seven republicans and three democrats, the latter being John D. Howe and George W. Doane of Douglas county and Thomas Graham of Seward. Edmund C. Carns, lieutenant-governor, was president of the senate, and John B. Dinsmore of Clay, temporary president. The members of the house comprised seventy-five republicans, eight democrats, and one independent. H. H. Shedd, of Saunders county, was speaker. The legislature at this session adopted the maximum number for each house.
   The struggle for the United States senatorship, though significant, was not sanguinary like the last against Hitchcock; but it was like the last in having the field, including the Bee, against the incumbent. While Beatrice was Senator Paddock's actual or nominal residence, he was for business and political purposes regarded as the son of Omaha, and so as a Union Pacific rather than a Burlington man; Van Wyck, according to his territorial location, was counted pro-Burlington. Notwithstanding that the Burlington had become more important and politically stronger since the last senatorial election when the Journal favored Hitchcock, yet its interest and habit lay in the support of the powers that were, so it mildly upheld Paddock. Evidently the South Platte organ did not then apprehend what an anti-monopoly archangel was being entertained unawares in Van Wyck. The first joint ballot yielded Paddock, 39; Archibald J. Weaver of Richardson county, 15; Van Wyck, 13; judge Elmer S. Dundy of Richardson, 12; Oliver P. Mason of Lancaster, 9; George W. Post of York, 8; John F. Kinney of Otoe, democrat, 8. There was no material change in the result of the ballots until the seventeenth, by which Van Wyck was elected with 68 votes, Paddock holding 36, Kinney 4, and 4 going to Governor Albinus Nance. The total membership of the legislature was 114 -- the senate containing 30 members, the house 84 -- and 112 voted, so that 57 were necessary to a choice. Sixty-three of Van Wyck's supporters were republicans, so he was not dependent for success upon the four democrats and one independent who voted for him on the last ballot. Franse of Cuming and Lehman of Platte voted for Paddock on the last ballot. The contest being the usual Nebraska spectacle of the field against the incumbent, Van Wyck, partially because he was the most positive political figure of the field, and partially because he was in closest touch with the incipient insurgency of the time, was the most practicable instrument for the main operation. Besides, Burlington politics had the advantage of Union Pacific in its more homespun quality. This was victory number two for the Bee.
   Van Wyck brought ripe political experience to his highest office. He was a member of the House of Representatives from the tenth district of New York in the 35th, 36th, 40th, and 41st congresses -- from 1859 to 1863, and from 1869 to 1871. He came to Nebraska in 1874 and settled in Otoe county as a putative farmer. He at once plunged into politics in the new field, and was a member of the constitutional convention of 1875, and of the state senates of 1877 and 1879. He did not long survive his political end, dying at Washington October 24, 1895. He was at least the most conspicuous, and one of the most useful



of all Nebraska's federal senators, and, up to that time, in practical statesmanship the ablest. As his term progressed he became obtrusively aggressive on behalf of tariff reform and corporation control. While he could not make much practical impression on the stone wall which capitalism in Congress then presented against assaults on its prerogative, yet he effectually stirred up an aggressive antimonopoly temper, especially in his adopted state. Of course, in the circumstances, opprobious (sic) epithet was the principal weapon used against him, demagogue being the common name and "Crazy Horse" the less polite specific one. But what moving appeal to the masses is not demagogic? Demand governs supply in politics as in all ordinary business; and until intelligent thinking, sincerity, and honesty have spread apace demagogy will be an important attribute of statesmanship. The Gladstones, McKinleys, Roosevelts, Bryans, La Follettes are masterful leaders chiefly because they are masters of the art of demagogic appeal, though they may be more sincere and especially more chaste and gentlemanly about it than was Van Wyck. For he was uncomely in every aspect. His body was ill-proportioned, his movements awkward, his voice raucous, his smile disenchanting; yet unusual physical and mental force, a firm grasp of the vital issue and aggressive courage in its presentation were perhaps advantageously manifested through those unlovely media to the peculiar constituency he must affect. In short, his principles, arguments, and methods anticipated those of our present "progressive" leaders; and since he persistently and consistently presented them, and at first out of season, the charge of insincerity or demagogy is secondary if not inconsequential: That Van Wyck and Rosewater were wise in preferring to achieve reform through the overhauled machinery of the old party rather than risk it to a necessarily very crude new machine, at least cannot be disproved. A considerate view of political cause and effect discloses that, whatever his insincerity and inconsistency, on the whole, Van Wyck deserved well of his Nebraska constituency.
   An appropriation of $1,000 was made to furnish a block of Nebraska stone to be placed in the Washington monument at the city of Washington, the stone to bear a coat of arms of the state and such other inscriptions as the board of public lands and buildings might consider appropriate. Extension of time to September 1, 1882, for the construction of the west wing of the capitol was granted. One hundred thousand dollars was appropriated for building the east wing, and an option for furnishing plans and specifications at one and one-half per cent of the contract price was given to William H. Wilcox, architect of the west wing.
   The Slocumb act was perhaps a more progressive and effective license law than any that had preceded it. The legislature of 1877 appropriated $10,000 to be expended on a revision of the general laws of the state, and John H. Ames of Lincoln, Alexander H. Conner of Kearney, and Stephen H. Calhoun of Nebraska City, were appointed commissioners to do the work. The time allowed for completing the revision -- to January 1, 1878 -- was too short. They began the work May 15, 1877, and reported it to the legislature of 1879. The task of revising the license law was allotted to Mr. Ames, so that he was the author of the Slocumb act which was passed substantially as he drafted it. The most important departures from preceding laws of its class consisted in giving licensing boards discretionary power to grant license "if deemed expedient," thus explicitly recognizing and establishing the local option principle, and the increase of the license fee which tended to greatly reduce the number of saloons. The Slocumb law required a minimum fee of $500 except for cities with a population of over ten thousand in which the minimum is $1,000; whereas the old law required a minimum fee of $25 and a maximum of $500 except for incorporated cities and towns which might require an additional sum of not more than $1,000. By the Slocumb law there is no restraint as to the maximum amount of the fee which is left to the option of the several municipalities. Under the high minimum license it has been impracticable to es-



tablish saloons outside of incorporated towns where they are under direct police surveillance. The high degree of adaptability of the law is illustrated by the fact that no important changes were ever made in it. In 1897 a law was passed giving incorporated villages and towns the right to direct popular local option. The only important addition to the Slocumb law is the act of the legislature of 1909 limiting the open hours of saloons from seven o'clock in the morning until eight o'clock in the evening.
   The republican state convention for 1881 met at Lincoln, October 5th. It was called to order by James W. Dawes, chairman of the state committee. George H. Thummel of Hall county, was temporary and permanent chairman, and Datus C. Brooks, editor of the Omaha Republican, was chairman of the platform committee. Samuel Maxwell was nominated for judge of the supreme court on the first ballot, receiving 253 1/2 votes, against 86 1/2 for C. J. Dilworth, 39 for 0. B. Hewitt, and 15 for Uriah Bruner. L. B. Fifield and Isaac Powers were nominated for regents of the State University, and James W. Dawes was chosen for chairman of the state committee, receiving 275 votes against 136 cast for Charles 0. Whedon. Though this was the off year in national politics the platform wholly ignored state questions but eulogized Garfield and Arthur.
   The democratic state convention for 1881 was held at Omaha, October 13th. William H. Munger of Dodge county was nominated for judge of the supreme court, and S. D. Brass of Adams and Dr. Alexander Bear of Madison for regents of the State University. The platform declared for free trade, honest money, economical and efficient administration of state and national affairs, and for the amendment of the so-called Slocumb law or else its unconditional repeal.
   The ninth legislature convened in the tenth special session May 2, 1882. It finally adjourned May, 24th, the thirteenth day.
   Governor Nance, in his message to the legislature, stated that the session had been called for the purpose of apportioning the state into three congressional districts; to amend the act of March 1, 1881, regulating the duties and powers of cities of the first class; to assign the county of Custer to some judicial district; to amend the law entitled "Cities of the second class and villages"; to provide for the payment of expenses incurred in suppressing the recent riots at Omaha and protecting the citizens of the state from domestic violence; to give the assent of the state to the provisions of the act of Congress to extend the northern boundary of the state of Nebraska; to provide for the expense of the special session. There was legislation upon all of these propositions.

   The governor said that the act of Congress approved February 25, 1882, authorized the election of two additional representatives in Congress, to which the state was entitled under the census of 1880. He recited that on the 9th day of March he was officially notified by Mayor James E. Boyd, of Omaha, that a formidable riot was in progress in that city and he was requested by the mayor to furnish a military force to protect the people of Omaha from mob violence, the civil authorities being powerless. On the same day he received a telegram signed jointly by the mayor and sheriff of Douglas county alleging that the civil authorities were powerless to protect peaceful laborers and that United States troops were absolutely necessary to restore order. Another despatch of the same purport was signed by a large number of business men of Omaha. Thereupon the governor at once placed the Nebraska National Guards under orders to be held in readiness for duty, and he made a formal requisition upon the president of the United States for troops to aid in suppressing domestic violence. The president responded to the requisition of the governor and, on the morning of the 11th of March, a force of United States troops and state militia, numbering about 600 men, reached Omaha and were placed under the mayor's orders. On the arrival of the troops, laborers who had been compelled by an infuriated mob to abandon work, resumed it. "The rioters, were overawed by the unexpected display of military force but were not subdued. For several days their riotous demonstrations con-



tinned and the troops, both state and national, were subjected to every form of insult and abuse. The final restoration without great loss of life was largely due to the forebearance of the soldiers under the most exasperating circumstances. Gradually the violence of the mob subsided and the troops, being no longer required, were withdrawn." The governor highly commended the soldierly conduct of the Nebraska National Guard which was under the command of General L. W. Colby. Moore of York offered a resolution declaring that it was dangerous to the peace and welfare of the state to establish the precedent of making appropriations to pay the expense of calling out troops without making careful inquiries as to its necessity and instructing the committee on ways and means to make careful inquiry as to the cause of the late labor riot in Omaha and the necessity of calling out troops to establish peace. The resolution was adopted. The committee on claims, to whom the resolution was referred, reported that the riot was of a dangerous character and required military interference. A communication. from Mayor Boyd stated that in his opinion 500 policemen could not have protected men at their work and the result showed that 500 militia could scarcely more than maintain their ground, and unless the regular federal troops had been present there would have been a bloody collision between the rioters and the militia. In a communication to the committee, Governor Nance said that the mob had driven laboring men from their work on the Burlington & Missouri railroad grounds, severely injuring some of them, and laborers at the smelting works had been compelled to join the rioters. Many business men in the city were terrorized by threats of a boycott, and the city was in subjection to the will of the mob. The governor insisted that it was necessary to employ military force to stop lawless proceedings and to enforce the right of every individual to work.
   The trouble centered in a strike for better wages by laborers on a large grading enterprise in the grounds of the Burlington & Missouri railroad company at Omaha, but it sympathetically extended to other industries. All reasonably conducted attempts to improve labor conditions by methods of this kind are now regarded as legitimate, the vexatious question turning on the distinction between fair and unfair methods. It is significant that the Omaha papers excepting the Bee, the Lincoln Journal, and the state government were distinctly biased in favor of the railroad company, the Bee alone giving the other side a hearing. That the labor side was probably guilty of improper violence is another phase of this very grave and perplexing question.
   The committee of the house appointed at the regular session to investigate charges of bribery and corruption, found that in regard to the charge against J. C. Roberts, member of the house from Butler county, there was a conflict of testimony, Lieutenant-Governor Carns testifying that during the sixteenth session, Roberts, who was chairman of the house committee on railroads, made demand upon him [Carns] for the sum of $5,000 to procure his [Roberts's] influence upon the subject of railroad legislation. Roberts, on the other hand, testified that Carns approached him and offered him $5,000 if he would use his influence as a member of the house to assist the railroad companies. The testimony of both men was partially corroborated, but the committee was unable to decide which of the two was telling the truth. The committee said that if the allegation of Carns was true, then Roberts was guilty of a criminal offense against the laws of the state, and that if the allegation of Roberts was true then Carns had been guilty of gross impropriety in neglecting to report the whole transaction to the house at the time of its occurrence and therefore deserved the censure of the house.
   The testimony adduced was voluminous and tended to incriminate both the accused men as well as others incidentally. Franse of Cuming county, offered a resolution declaring that the charges against Roberts were not sustained. McShane of Douglas offered a substitute as follows:

   WHEREAS, From said testimony it appears that Honorable E. C. Carns, Lieutenant Governor of the state of Nebraska, acted in the ca-



pacity of bearer of a proposition between the high contracting parties; and,
   WHEREAS, Said J. C. Roberts, according to his own testimony, did not indignantly resent the said proposition and report to the house; therefore be it
   RESOLVED, That the said Hon. E. C. Carns, Lieutenant Governor of Nebraska, and Hon. J. C. Roberts, member of the House of Representatives, have merited the solemn censure of this House.

    McShane's substitute was lost by a bare majority of 31 to 32. After many dilatory motions had been disposed of the report of the committee as amended by Franse, finding that the charges were not sustained, was agreed to.

Previous Page
Table of Contents
General Index
Next Page

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