- History of Nebraska
The history of the U.S. state of
Nebraskadates back to its formation as a territoryby the Kansas-Nebraska Act, passed by the United States Congresson May 30, 1854. The Nebraska Territorywas settled extensively under the Homestead Actduring the 1860s, and in 1867was admitted to the Union as the 37th U.S. state.
Late Cretaceous, between 65 million to 99 million years ago, three-quarters of Nebraska was covered by the Western Interior Seaway, a large body of water that covered one-third of the United States. [Laukaitis, A. (2005) [http://www.journalstar.com/articles/2005/11/08/local/doc436fe9088322a451284873.txt "'Tower Of Time' pays tribute to animals, people of Missouri River"] "Lincoln Journal Star". 11/8/05. Retrieved 8/30/07.] The sea was occupied by mosasaurs, ichthyosaur, and plesiosaurs. Additionally, sharks such as " Squalicorax", and fish such as " Pachyrhizodus", " Enchodus", and the " Xiphactinus", a fish larger than any modern bony fish, occupied the sea. Other sea life included invertebrates such as mollusks, ammonites, squid-like belemnites, and plankton. Fossil skeletons of there animals and period plants were embedded in mud that hardened into rock and became the limestone that appears today on the sides of ravines and along the streams of Nebraska.
As the sea bottom slowly rose,
marshes and forests appeared. After thousand of years the land became drier, and trees of all kinds grew, including oak, maple, beechand willow. Fossil leaves from ancient trees are found today in the state's red sandstone rocks. [ [http://www.tcdne.org/HistoryofNE.htm "History of Nebraska"] , Twin Cities Development Corporation. Retrieved 8/30/07.] Animals occupying the state during this period included camels, tapirs, monkeys, tigers and rhinos. The state also had a variety of horses native to its lands. [(1962) "Nebraska's Prehistoric Horses" University of Nebraska State Museum.]
During the last
ice age, continental ice sheets repeatedly covered eastern Nebraska. The exact timing that these glaciations occurred remain uncertain. Likely, they occurred between two million to 600,000 years ago. During the last two million years, the climate alternated between cold and warm phases, respectively called " glacial" and " interglacial" periods instead of a continuous ice age.Richmond, G.M. and D.S. Fullerton, 1986, "Summation of Quaternary glaciations in the United States of America", Quaternary Science Reviews. vol. 5, pp. 183-196.] Clayey tills and large boulders, called " glacial erratics", were left on the hillsides during the period when ice sheets covered eastern Nebraska two or three times. During various periods of the remainder of the Pleistocene and into the Holocene, the glacial drift was buried by silty, wind-blown sediment called " loess".
As the climate became drier grassy plains appeared, rivers began to cut their present valleys, and present Nebraska topography was formed. Animals appearing during this period remain in the state to this day. [ [http://www.tcdne.org/HistoryofNE.htm "History of Nebraska"] , Twin Cities Development Corporation. Retrieved 8/30/07.]
European exploration: 1682-1853
Several explorers from across Europe explored the lands that became Nebraska. In 1682
René-Robert Cavelierclaimed the area first when he name all the territory drained by the Mississippi Riverand its tributaries for France, naming it the Louisiana Territory. In 1714 Etienne de Bourgmonttraveled from the mouth of the Missouri River in Montanato the mouth of the Platte River, which he called the "Nebraskier" River, becoming the first person to approximate the state’sname.
In 1720 Spaniard
Pedro de Villasurled an overland expedition that followed an Indian trail from Santa Feto Nebraska. In a battle with the Pawnees Villasur and 34 members of his party were killed near the juncture of the Loup and Platte Rivers just south of present-day Columbus, Nebraska. Marking a major defeat for Spanish control of the region, a monk was the only survivor from the party, apparently left alive as a warning to the colony of New Spain. With the goal of reaching Sante Fe by water a pair of French-Canadianexplorers named Pierre and Paul Mallet reached the mouth of what they named the Platte River in 1739. They ended up following the south fork of the Platte into Colorado.
In 1762 the Treaty of Fontainebleau led France to cede lands west of the Mississippi Riverto Spain, causing the future Nebraska to become part of New Spain. In 1795
Jacques D’Eglisetraveled the Missouri River Valleyon behalf of the Spanish crown. Searching for the elusive Northwest Passage, D'Eglise did not go any further than central North Dakota.
Jean-Baptiste Truteauestablished a trading post 30 miles up the Niobrara River. A Scotsmannamed John McKayestablished a trading post on the west bank of the Missouri River in 1795. The so-called Fort Charles was located south of Dakota City, Nebraska.
The United States purchased the
Louisiana Territoryfrom France for $15,000,000 under terms of the Treaty of Parisin 1803. What became Nebraska was the property of the United States for the first time. In 1812 President James Madisonsigned a bill creating the Missouri Territory, including the present-day state of Nebraska. Manuel Lisa, a Spanish fur trader, built a trading post called Fort Lisain the Ponca Hillsin 1812. His effort befriending local tribes is credited with thwarting British influence in the area.
The U.S. Army established Fort Atkinson near today’s Fort Calhoun in 1820 in order to protect the area's burgeoning fur trade industry. In 1822 the
Missouri Fur Companybuilt a headquarters and trading post about nine miles north of the mouth of the Platte River and called it Bellevue, establishing the first town in Nebraska. In 1824 Jean-Pierre Cabannéestablished Cabanne's Trading Postfor the American Fur Companynear Fort Lisa at the confluence of Ponca Creek and the Missouri River. It became a well-known post in the region.
Moses P. Merillestablished a mission among the Otoe Indians. The Moses Merill Missionwas sponsored by the Baptist Missionary Union. In 1842 John C. Frémontcompleted his exploration of the Platte River country with Kit Carsonin Bellevue. He sold his mules and government wagons at auction in there. On this mapping trip, Frémont used the Otoe word Nebrathka to designate the Platte River. Platte is from the French word for "flat", the translation of Ne-brath-ka meaning "land of flat waters." [(2007) [http://www.omahahistory.org/History%20at%20a%20Glance%209-2007.pdf "History at a glance"] , Douglas County Historical Society. Retrieved 2/2/08.]
Kansas-Nebraska Actof 1854established the 40th parallel northas the dividing line between the territories of Kansasand Nebraska. As such, the original territorial boundaries of Nebraska were much larger than today; the territory was bounded on the west by the Continental Dividebetween the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans; on the north by the 49th parallel north(the boundary between the United Statesand Canada, and on the east by the White Earthand Missouri rivers. However, the creation of new territories by acts of Congress progressively reduced the size of Nebraska.
February 28, 1861, Colorado Territorytook portions of the territory south of 41° N and west of 102°03' W (25° W of Washington, DC).cite web | date = February 28 1861| url = http://www.colorado.gov/dpa/doit/archives/territory.pdf | title = An Act to provide a temporary Government for the Territory of Colorado | format = Thirty-sixth United States Congress| accessdate = December 27 | accessyear = 2006] On March 2, 1861, Dakota Territorytook all of the portions of Nebraska Territory north of 43° N (the present-day Nebraska- South Dakotaborder), along with the portion of present-day Nebraska between the 43rd parallel northand the Keya Paha and Niobrara rivers (this land would be returned to Nebraska in 1882). The act creating the Dakota Territory also included provisions granting Nebraska small portions of Utah Territoryand Washington Territory— present-day southwestern Wyoming, bounded by the 41st parallel north, the 43rd parallel north, and the Continental Divide. On March 3, 1863, Idaho Territorytook everything west of 104°03' W (27° W of Washington, DC).
Alvin Saundersguided the territory during the American Civil War(1861-1865), as well as the first two years of the postbellumera. He worked with the territorial legislature to help define the borders of Nebraska, as well as to raise troops to serve in the Union Army. No battles were fought in the state, but Nebraska raised three regiments of cavalryto help the war effort, and more than 3,000 men served in the military.
capitalof the Nebraska Territory was at Omaha. During the 1850s there were numerous unsuccessful attempts to move the capital to other locations, including Florence and Plattsmouth. [(nd) [http://www.rootsweb.com/~neresour/andreas/douglas/douglas-p4.html History of Douglas County] , Andreas' History of the State of Nebraska. Retrieved 7/13/07.] In the Scriptowncorruption scheme, ruled illegal by the United States Supreme Courtin the case of " Baker v. Morton", local businessmen tried to secure land in the Omaha area to give away to legislators. The capital remained at Omaha until 1867when Nebraska gained statehood, at which time the capital was moved to Lincoln, which was called Lancaster at that point.
1867 - 1950
A constitution for Nebraska was drawn up in
1866. There was some controversy over Nebraska's admission as a state, with some controversy over a provision in the 1866 constitution that restricted suffrageto whitevoters; eventually, on February 8, 1867, the United States Congressvoted to admit Nebraska as a state provided that suffrage was not denied to non-white voters. The bill admitting Nebraska as a state was vetoed by President Andrew Johnson, but the veto was overridden by a supermajorityin both Houses of Congress. [ [http://www.kancoll.org/books/andreas_ne/territory/territory-p8.html#veto Part 8] , Andreas' History of the State of Nebraska]
Under the original constitution, the
Nebraska Legislaturewas bicameral. However, following a 1931visit to Australia, Nebraska legislator George Norriscampaigned for the abolition of the bicameral system, following the example of the Australian state of Queenslandwhich had adopted a unicameralsystem ten years previously; he also argued that the bicameral system was based on the "inherently undemocratic" British House of Lords. In 1934, a state constitutional amendment was passed introducing a single-house legislature, and also introducing non-partisanelections (where members do not stand as members of political parties). [ [http://www.nebraskalegislature.gov:8080/web/public/history History of the Nebraska Legislature] at the Nebraska Legislature official site.]
World War II
Second World WarNebraska was home to several prisoner of warcamps. Scottsbluff, Fort Robinson, and Camp Atlanta(outside Holdrege) were the main camps. There were many smaller satellite camps at Alma, Bayard, Bertrand, Bridgeport, Elwood, Fort Crook, Franklin, Grand Island, Hastings, Hebron, Indianola, Kearney, Lexington, Lyman, Mitchell, Morrill, Ogallala, Palisade, Sidney, and Weeping Water. Fort Omahahoused Italian POWs. Altogether there were 23 large and small camps scattered across the state. [(nd) [http://www.nebraskastudies.org/0800/frameset_reset.html?http://www.nebraskastudies.org/0800/stories/0801_0143.html "POWs Far from the Battleground"] . NebraskaStudies.org. Retrieved 7/6/07.] In addition, several U.S. Army Airfields were constructed at various locations across the state.
History of Omaha
History of North Omaha
Moses Merill Mission
Forts in Nebraska
Landmarks of the Nebraska Territory
Native American tribes in Nebraska
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