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times an economic and then a political one. The gist of the farmers' complaint was summed up in one sentence which asserted that "the farmers worked harder and more hours than the artisans, had poorer food and clothing and fewer privileges,--while the men who handled the farmers' products were better off than either farmers or mechanics and were rapidly getting rich." August 15, 1873, there were two hundred and sixty-five granges in Nebraska, and the order was growing fast.

     An illustration of their aims is found in the resolutions adopted by Peru Grange, Thomas J. Majors, Secretary, in the autumn of 1873. The resolutions "request the State Grange to effect a plan by which the price of grain and stock can be regulated all over the United States so that we may live whilst employed in agricultural pursuits, and that we buy no goods from merchants who denounce our order." Women took an active part in the work and discussions of the grange. No grange could be organized without a certain number of women

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The Oldest Apple-tree in Nebraska. Planted in 1856. Ft. Calhoun

and the result of their influence was to bind inseparably the influence of the home with that of the grange.

      The grangers did not lack for grievances. One of them was the refusal of the Union Pacific and Burlington railroads to pay taxes on their land grant lands.

      The railroads claimed that until the United States issued patents for their lands to the company the title had not passed and taxes could not be levied. The settlers replied that the companies were selling the lands every day, guaranteeing the title and as soon as a settler bought a tract it was at once taxed in his hands. They further alleged that the companies had mortgaged some of these very lands and that if they had title enough to mortgage they had title enough to tax. A meeting of county commissioners was held at Lincoln, August 7, 1873, at which York, Clay, Hamilton, Fillmore, Gage, Kearney, Adams, Lancaster, Saline, Seward, and Butler Counties were represented. It was resolved to engage coun-



sel to fight these land tax cases. Meanwhile the United States Supreme court in a similar case in Kansas had held that the land was not subject to tax for two reasons: First, because the company had not paid the fees and received their patents; Second, because if the land was sold for taxes and the title acquired by a tax purchaser it might defeat the provision of the land grant act which provided that under certain conditions the land should revert back to the public for settlement. The editor of The Lincoln State journal dared to pronounce this decision in the United States Supreme Court: "Sheer nonsense which would defeat any tax ever being collected on the land." Many of the counties had issued bonds and warrants based on calculations including the taxes on these lands. They now found themselves unable to meet their obligations and their paper greatly depreciated.

      The revenue system of the state was a failure. The Omaha Herald of August 22, 1873, declared that for four years one-third of all the property owners in the state had refused to pay taxes. More than half the Otoe county real estate was delinquent for taxes prior to 1873. Single individuals owed from $2,000 to $3,000 for taxes. The county and municipal bonds which had been so lavishly voted to aid railroad and other schemes were now an intolerable burden.

      When the legislature met in 1873 Governor Furnas told them that there were $300,000 taxes delinquent and more than that of local taxes, that there was great stringency in money and a meagre price for farm products. The legislature was advised to authorize a constitutional convention. There were two factions in the Legislature. One of them wanted to comply with the constitution then in force which provided a plan for making a new constitution,--requiring two years time. The other faction from the western counties of the state were determined not to wait that long. They proposed framing a constitution immediately and submitting it at once to the people regardless of what the old constitution said. They pointed out that while some counties in the eastern part of the state had three or four members to the Legislature the same population further west had only part of one. The radical party prevailed and passed a bill for a hurry-up constitution, which Governor Furnas vetoed. A new bill was passed which provided for the submission to the people of the question whether a convention should be called to frame a new constitution. This could not be voted upon--under the old constitution--until the fall election of 1874, when it carried by a vote of 18,067 in favor to 3,880 against.

      Another cloud appeared upon the horizon, a cloud of grasshoppers. In July 1874, the air was suddenly filled with uncounted millions of the flying insects. Corn fields disappeared from sight and in their stead stood a dreary waste of little sticks. The gardens were devoured, fruit trees destroyed and even railroad trains stopped by this avalanche of locusts. The sod corn which was the settlers main reliance in the western part of the state was a complete loss. There was real destitution in the sod houses and dug-outs along the border.

     The Nebraska Relief and Aid Society was organized, with Alvin Saunders as treasurer, and disbursed over $68,000 in relief. Congress appropriated $130,000 for relief and seed which was distributed by United States army officers. Bills were passed permitting homesteaders to leave their claims without losing them. With



all these forms of organized aid the memory of "grasshopper days" will always be associated in the minds of those who lived through them as the hardest times in Nebraska history. The state was newer in development than it was twenty years later when it passed through a similar hard times experience, there was far less accumulated capital, railroads were more remote and the normal, conditions of life more severe than they have been since.

     These hard times years were also marked by the appearance of that remarkable social manifestation,--the ''Woman's Crusade"--in Nebraska. Beginning in Phillsdale, Ohio, it spread like an autumnal prairie fire and soon bands of praying and singing women were visiting Nebraska saloons, pleading with the proprietors and customers to abandon their practices. The incidents of that movement might alone make an interesting volume. When the bands of praying women disappeared from the saloon corners their place was taken by the

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Scene at Milford, Nebraska

"Red Ribbon" revival meetings which stirred every Nebraska community. In the years 1877 and 1878 the leader of the Red Ribbon work in Nebraska,--John B. Finch, one of the most gifted public speakers ever heard on any platform,--received 50,000 signatures to the temperance pledge and raised $20,000 to found public reading rooms as counter attraction to the saloon. From this time there was an organized political prohibition movement in the state.

     When the legislature of 1875 met it faced these conditions: The state's floating debt reached $432,000. Delinquent taxes due the state were $599,000. The previous legislature had appropriated $600,000, and if all the taxes had been paid there would have been only $400,000 to meet the appropriation. The local debts of the state were estimated at $4,500,000. The incoming governor, Silas Garber, insisted upon rigid economy. Bills to remove the capital were again numerous. The legislative ses-

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@ 2002 for the NEGenWeb Project by Pam Rietsch, Ted & Carole Miller