Letter/IconN anti-prohibition convention was held at Omaha, September 11, 1882. James Creighton of Omaha was president of the convention and C. A. Baldwin of Omaha, Peter Carberg of Lincoln, James Donnelly of Ashland, Gus Kirkow of Fremont, James E. North of Columbus, constituted the committee on resolutions. Letters were read from General Charles F. Manderson and J. Sterling Morton expressing sympathy with the objects of the convention. A set of the old time, perfunctory resolutions were adopted, including a declaration that, "We will not support any man for any office who will not satisfactorily pledge himself to oppose any and all attempts to force upon the people a prohibitory law."
   A greenback convention was held in Lincoln, September 7, 1882. Levi Todd of Cass county was chairman. The platform declared that class legislation had exempted from taxation a large amount of the wealth of the county in the hands of the rich; denounced national banks, including the well worn complaint that they drew double interest under the law; demanded that the government should issue all money, and that it should all be legal tender; that freight tariffs should be regulated by law; denounced the appropriation of public lands to private corporations; declared that all important offices should be filled by direct vote of the people; for equal pay for equal labor for both sexes; condemned the action of the last legislature for preventing the people from expressing themselves on the temperance question. L. C. Pace was chosen chairman of the central committee. A committee of thirty-five was appointed to meet at Hastings September 27th. This committee conferred with the antimonopolist state convention, and the two parties united on a ticket and a platform. E. P. Ingersoll of Johnson county, president of the State Farmers' Alliance, was nominated for governor; D. B. Reynolds of Hamilton, for lieutenant-governor; Thomas J. Kirtley of Franklin, for secretary of state; Phelps D. Sturdevant of Fillmore, for state treasurer; John Beatty of Wheeler, for auditor; John Barnd of Buffalo, for attorney-general; J. J. Points of Douglas, superintendent of public instruction; Charles H. Madeley of Adams, commissioner of public lands and buildings; Thomas Bell of Otoe, regent. Dr. S. V. Moore of York county, and Moses K. Turner of Platte, were nominated for members of Congress in the second and third districts respectively. Jay Burrows and Edward Rosewater were members of the resoltuions (sic) committee.
   The Omaha Bee of September 29th was defiant against the corporation control of the republican party.
   The republican state convention for 1882 was held at Omaha, September 20th. Nathan K. Griggs of Gage county was temporary and permanent chairman and Charles H. Gere was chairman of the committee on resolutions. The platform indulged only in glittering generalities, covering nothing specifically. On the first ballot to nominate a governor, James W. Dawes of Saline county received 121 votes; George W. E. Dorsey, 108; Samuel J. Alexander, 88; John B. Dinsmore, 48; Henry T. Clark, 22; W. J. Irwin, 18; Champion S. Chase, 9; Milton J. Hull, 5. Dawes was



nominated in a break-up on the third ballot, and Charles H. Gere for regent of the University. George W. E. Dorsey was chosen chairman of the state committee. There was an open break at this time against Senator Van Wyck by the regulars, including the State Journal. The prohibition convention met at Lincoln, September 13, 1882. Ex-Senator Thomas W. Tipton was a member of the committee on resolutions. They declared in favor of the submission of a prohibition amendment and against voting for any candidate of either party who did not favor it. The democratic state convention for 1882 was held at Omaha, September 14th. J. Sterling Morton was nominated for governor; Jesse F. Warner for lieutenant-governor; Charles J. Bowlby, secretary of state; Phelps D. Sturdevant, treasurer; James C. Crawford, attorney-general; Henry Grebe, commissioner of public lands and buildings; C. A. Speice, superintendent of public instruction; John M. Burks, regent of the State University. The platform denounced the issue of free passes to public officers and demanded legislation against it, and denounced railroad interference with political conventions.
   The republican ticket was successful again as a matter of course. Dawes received 43,495 votes against 28,562 for J. Sterling Morton, although the latter ran about 2,000 votes ahead of the general ticket. Ingersoll, the antimonopoly candidate, received 16,991 votes, and Phelps D. Sturdevant, candidate for treasurer on the democratic and antimonopoly tickets, was elected, receiving 46,132 votes against 42,021 for Loren Clark, his republican opponent. It seems probable that a generally successful combination of progressives, such as that of 1894, might have been made, though perhaps the Omaha Bee's aggressive opposition to Clark caused his defeat. Successful insurgency then would have hastened reform and avoided the revolutionary radicalism caused by inconsistent delay. The woman suffrage amendment was defeated by a large majority, the vote being 25,756 for and 50,693 against. In the first congressional district, Archibald J. Weaver, republican, received 17,022 votes; John I. Redick, democrat, 12,690; ----- Gilbert, antimonopolist, 3,707. In the second district, James Laird, republican, received 12,983; S. V. Moore, antimonopolist, 10,012; Harman, democrat, 3,060. In the third district, Edward K. Valentine, republican, 11,284; Moses K. Turner, antimonopolist, 7,342; William H. Munger, democrat, 9,932.
   The tenth legislature convened in the eighteenth session and the eighth regular session, January 2, 1883, and finally adjourned February 26th, the forty-second day. Alfred N. Agee, lieutenant-governor, was president of the senate, and Alexander H. Conner of Buffalo county was temporary president. George M. Humphrey of Pawnee county was speaker of the house of representatives. The senate comprised fifteen republicans, eleven democrats, five antimonoplists, one greenback, one republican-antimonopolist. The house comprised fifty-two republicans, twenty-nine democrats, eleven antimonopolists, four republican-antimonopolists, one independent republican, two independents, one greenback-antimonopolist. This remarkable variation illustrated a somewhat blind rebellion against the old party allegiance which was to assume effective form seven years later.
   On the first joint ballot for United States senator Charles F. Manderson received 6 votes; Alvin Saunders, 14; Alexander H. Conner, 6; J. Sterling Morton, 16; Joseph H. Millard, 13; John M. Thayer, 11; John C. Cowin, 10; J. H. Stickel, 9; Charles H. Brown, 7; James W. Savage, 5; James E. Boyd, 5. Cowin and Millard each commanded one of the two republican votes of Douglas county. Charles F. Manderson was elected on the seventeenth ballot, receiving 75 votes against 17 cast for James E. Boyd, democrat; 14 for J. Sterling Morton, democrat, 5 for Charles H. Brown, democrat; 20 for J. H. Stickel, antimonopolist. Stickel of Thayer county -- received all antimonopoly, greenback, and independent votes except five. The democrats who ought then to have been making hay, as the antimonopoly or progressive sun was just beginning to shine, by developing a consistent and persistent progressive policy, blind to the signs of the times,



gave their principal support to two strong, but ultra-conservative or reactionary men -- J. Sterling Morton and James E. Boyd; and so permitted or forced the over-radical and unstable populists a few years later to reap the ripened progressive harvest which they themselves might have garnered. On the republican side Douglas county had the call from the first. In the seventeen successive assaults its four strongest aspirants killed off one another so that the weakest took the prize. In sixteen ballots Cowin, Millard, Saunders, and Thayer held remarkably uniform and nearly equal support, Millard slightly leading and Cowin slightly at the rear. Eight was Manderson's favorite figure and highest, until increased to ten on the next to the last ballot. In point of deportment, at least, he was the fittest among the republican rivals and at least their peer in ability. As to the political principles and social temperament, he was precisely antipodal to the rising spirit of democracy which already presented an almost formidable front and an ominous menace to the dominant bourbonism of both of the old parties. While Stickel was not the equal of his principal opponents in ability, he was either more conscientious or more socially sympathetic, or both, than any of them. Strong leaders are more often prompted by and led into progressive social movements than they are initiators of them.
   Inasmuch as the east and west wings of the capitol were completed, the legislature authorized the board of public lands and buildings to take bids for razing and removing the old capitol from the grounds. The construction of the main part of the new capitol, according to plans already submitted by William H. Wilcox, at a cost not exceeding $450,000, was authorized. The State Historical Society was recognized "as a state institution" and $500 was appropriated for its maintenance. The counties of Brown, Cherry, Custer, Hayes, Wheeler, Sioux, and Loup were constituted. All voted in 1884, except Hayes, which followed in 1885. The old Ponca reserve -- between the Niobrara and Missouri rivers west to the extension of the line between range 8 and range 9, west -- was added to Knox county, the act to take effect when the president should declare the Indian title extinguished and the voters of the county should accept the addition. An act was passed authorizing counties to adopt township organization by a majority vote. The number of judicial districts was increased from six -- the number fixed by the constitution and not to be changed before 1880 -- to ten. The old third district, comprising Douglas, Sarpy, Washington, and Burt counties, was not changed. Five hundred dollars was appropriated toward erecting the monument to Abraham Lincoln at Springfield, Illinois, in place of the appropriation of 1869, which had not been drawn against because the monument was not yet completed. The sum of $13,640.50 was appropriated to reimburse the Nebraska City National bank on account of a judgment "unjustly collected" by the state for a sum of money received by Acting Governor William H. James in behalf of the state and converted to his own use. Here the legislature arbitrarily and doubtless improperly overruled the court; now a common complaint is heard against the courts for overruling the legislatures, state and national. A grant of three thousand dollars was made to John W. Pearman for "military services," presumably in campaigning against Indians as a major in the Second regiment, Nebraska cavalry, in 1862. The appropriation was to be paid from a balance of $7,077.55 remaining of the amount paid to the state by the United States for expenses incurred in repelling Indian hostilities. The sum of $6,824.14 was appropriated toward the expense of prosecuting "I. P. Olive and others for murder, and William Lee for assault with intent to murder, and Tip Larue, John Kinney, and Henry Hargraves for murder." Joint resolutions were passed to amend section 4, article 3, of the constitution so as to fix the salary of each member of the legislature at $300 for the full term of two years in place of $3 a day, and increasing the length of the session from forty to sixty days; also to amend section 1, article 5, so as to provide for an elective board of railway commissioners; asking members of Congress from Nebraska to procure the passage of bills abolishing all



tolls on railroad bridges across the Missouri river, so that products might reach consumers as cheaply as possible; demanding such action by heads of departments or legislation by Congress as would compel railroad companies to take out patents on land grants so that they might be taxed; demanding settlement of the "Kneeval's Land Claims" against patentee settlers. The claims arose through a grant to the St. Joseph & Denver railroad company and many had been rejected. Congress was urged to repeal the duty on barbed wire for fencing and the material from which it was made. The request passed the house by a vote of 65 to 2 -- and the two were farmers. The vote in the senate for free trade was 28 to 2. That these two farmers and the other two direct dependents upon farming in Nebraska should have voted to continue the enforced payment by the people of Nebraska of an enormous gratuity to the manufacturers of this necessity of Nebraska life, will now seem strange to almost all Nebraskans alike, who have come to resent the payment of such bounties to any manufacturer whatever.

   Governor Nance, in his message, made the statement that the railroad commission system had been adopted in about twenty states. He referred especially to the progress in regulation of railroads in the states of Illinois and Iowa. It appeared from the report of the commissioners of Illinois for 1881 that "the right to fix reasonable maximum rates for the transportation of freight and passengers by railroads, either by direct statutes or by officers created by law, is no longer seriously questioned." But these hints, even, were incongruous and premature.
   A bill to create a board of railroad commissioners passed the house by a vote of 62 to 31. The senate refused to take it from the general file by a vote of 12 to 12. The act provided that three of the executive officers of the state should be commissioners, but they should employ secretaries to do the actual work. The commissioners were authorized to fix maximum freight rates. Lyman H. Tower, a democrat and banker at Hastings, made a minority report which included all the now familiar archaisms against the constitutionality of the bill. Four bills prohibiting the use of free railroad passes were introduced in the senate and two in the house. Four of these six bills sought to confine the prohibition to officeholders. Five bills for the regulation of rates were introduced into the senate and fourteen into the house. One of these was aimed at sleeping car rates. In addition, a bill defining the liabilities of common carriers, three memorials to Congress affecting railroads, and one to Colorado and another to Kansas, seeking coöperation in procuring railroad reform, were introduced. All this heroic endeavor resulted in the passage of only three memorials to Congress.
   According to the message, the bids for the east wing of the capitol were submitted July 12, 1881, as follows: Butler and Krone, $98,490; Robert D. Silver, $86,400; W. H. B. Stout, $96,800. The total cost of the west wing was $83,178.81; of the east wing, $408,247.92 That the contract was let to Stout in July, 1881 -- though far from the lowest bidder, was a matter of course and is explicable only on the ground of corrupt political preference. The west wing was begun in 1879 and finished by the close of 1881. The east wing was accepted by the board of public lands and buildings, December 1, 1882.
   The republican state convention for 1883 was held at Lincoln September 26th. Church Howe was both temporary and permanent chairman. Manoah B. Reese was nominated for judge of the supreme court on the ninth ballot; Francis G. Hamer was his principal opponent. Hascall of Douglas county announced at the beginning of the balloting that Lake was not a candidate for renomination unless it should occur that the convention could not agree upon any of the candidates who had been presented. This string of Lake's pulled out mischief for Hamer. On the first ballot Reese had 83 votes, Hamer 97, Edwin F. Warren, of Nebraska City, 79. The third ballot gave Hamer 121, Reese, 92, Warren, 80; the sixth, Hamer 142 1/2, Reese, 103 1/2; Warren, 103. On the ninth ballot, it being apparent that Lake had absorbed Warren's strength, Hamer turned the delegates of his own county to Reese, whereupon a stampede



followed and Reese's nomination was made unanimous. Milton J. Hull of Clay county and John T. Mallaieu of Buffalo, were nominated for regents of the University for the long term, and for the short term, Jesse M. Hiatt of Harlan county and Edward P. Holmes of Pierce, in place of Isaac Powers and L. B. Fifield, who had resigned.
   The platform favored a constitutional amendment providing for a railroad and telegraph commission without stating the method of choosing it; demanded that all railroad land grants not strictly earned be forfeited; declared that public lands must not be monopolized for cattle ranges, but left open for settlers; for a tariff so adjusted as to favor and protect domestic industries and encourage immigration of laborers to perform the services we need on our own soil, paying tribute to our own government, rather than the importation of products of labor that is tributary to a foreign and perhaps hostile government. This tariff plank probably stands unique among creations of its kind. George W. I,. Dorsey was continued as chairman of the state committee.
   The democratic convention for 1883 was held at Omaha August, 29th. James W. Savage was nominated for judge of the supreme court; James M. Woolworth of Douglas and E. R. Daniels of Madison, regents for the long term. The platform was characteristically J. Sterling Morton's. It declared that all tariff taxes except to support the government "ought to be utterly abolished"; approved the regulation of the sale of intoxicating drinks in the interest of good order, "but the prohibition of the manufacture and sale of such drinks within the state is contrary to the fundamental rights of the individual and to the fundamental principles of social and moral conduct." Such interference would be neutralized by interstate commerce sanctioned by the United States constitution. The platform declared further: "Democrats of Nebraska denounce all railroads within the state which elect or attempt to elect, influence or attempt to influence delegates to political conventions, members of the legislature and senators or members of Congress . . . We assert the right of the legislature to control the railroads but we deny the right of railroads to control the legislature. We demand the enactment of a law which shall, under severe penalties, forbid the issuance of passes or free transportation of any kind whatsoever by any railroad in Nebraska to any person holding either an elective or appointive office or any other official position under the constitution or laws." It commended Sturdevant, the democratic treasurer, for voting to let the capitol contract to the lowest instead of the highest bidder and condemned letting it to Stout, because his leased convict labor competed with free, honest labor. The bid of Robert D. Silver, a responsible builder, was $41,187.25 under Stout's.
   Judge Savage, with the support of the democrats and antimonopolists and of the Omaha Bee, received 47,795 votes against 52,305 cast for Reese. The republican regents were elected by far larger majorities.
   The first republican convention of 1884, held at Lincoln May 1st, was called to order by George W. E. Dorsey, chairman of the state committee, and Edward K. Valentine of Cuming county was temporary chairman and Ray Nye of Dodge, temporary secretary. The temporary organization was made permanent. John M. Thurston of Douglas county; Nathan S. Harwood, Lancaster; John Jensen, Villmore; George A. Brooks, Knox, were elected delegates at large to the national convention -- Thurston by acclamation. George W. Post of York county was chairman of the platform committee. The resolutions declared for a tariff so adjusted as to encourage home industries without being burdensome to the people and denounced attempts of the democratic house of representatives to make indiscriminate reductions. The resolutions were characteristically lacking in specific statement and state questions were ignored. A motion to declare a preference for James G. Blaine as a candidate for president was tabled by a vote of 220 to 207. The Omaha Republican was the only prominent newspaper in the state that stood for Blaine instructions.
   The democratic convention for choosing delegates to the national convention of 1884

Previous Page
Table of Contents
General Index
Next Page

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