Tags: US State Facts | Nebraska History | Cornhusker State | Prairies

Nebraska History: 8 Events That Shaped the State

Image: Nebraska History: 8 Events That Shaped the State
Image of US Postage stamp, 4c, Homestead Act of 1862, 1962 issue. (wikimedia/commons)

By    |   Friday, 27 Feb 2015 01:26 PM

Nebraska is known for its prairies, cattle-grazing areas and farming production. The Great Plains cover most of Western Nebraska. The frontier of the Old West helped to form a lot of Nebraska history.

These eight events that played important roles in shaping the state of Nebraska:

1. Nebraska was part of the Louisiana Purchase in 1803. It was within the territory purchased from the French that covered the Dakotas to the North and Louisiana to the South. Lewis and Clark explored eastern Nebraska during the 1804-1806 expedition. The U.S. acquired western Nebraska in a treaty after the 1848 Mexican War.

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2. The Kansas-Nebraska Act passed by Congress in 1854 organized the Nebraska Territory and opened the land areas west of the Missouri for settlement. Before then the Indian Territory had been open to travel in Nebraska by whites, but not settlement.

3. The Homestead Act of 1862 gave settlers permission to claim up to 160 acres of land for free in eastern Nebraska. A proclamation signed by President Andrew Johnson granted Nebraska statehood in 1867, the same time the Union Pacific railroad system was completed across the state.

4. Nebraska took the lead in conservation by holding the first American Arbor Day in 1872 following a proposal by J. Sterling Morton for a holiday to plant trees. Some one million trees were planted on the first Arbor Day in the U.S., although the idea had been celebrated in other countries since the early 1800s. Other states followed Nebraska in establishing an Arbor Day.

5. The population of Nebraska grew significantly following the Kincaid Act of 1904. This increased homesteads from 160 acres to 640 acres.

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6. In 1937, Nebraska made history by adopting the single-house legislative system and is the only state with a unicameral legislature. The idea was promoted by Sen. George Norris as a nonpartisan and efficient way to handle state issues, eliminating the conference committee meetings and competitiveness of bicameral legislatures.

7. World War II helped bring Nebraska out of economic distress caused by the depression and dust storms that damaged the farming industry. Because of the state's safe location inland, military airfields and ammunition industries were developed there. Industrial growth in agricultural equipment continued after the war.

8. Nebraska history was altered because of challenges to the state's farming industry and economy in general starting in 1999. A wildfire in the Sandhills of Nebraska damaged 74,840 acres of land and destroyed 25,000 trees. This was followed by severe drought conditions in 2000 that affected farming production.

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Nebraska is known for its prairies, cattle-grazing areas and farming production. The Great Plains cover most of Western Nebraska. The frontier of the Old West helped to form a lot of Nebraska history.
Nebraska History, Cornhusker State, Prairies
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2015-26-27
Friday, 27 Feb 2015 01:26 PM
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