Sen. Norris

Sen. George William Norris, Nebraska's famous son.

During the Ice Ages, Glaciers swept over the eastern half of Nebraska, leaving it hilly with a humid climate. The western half of the state remained flat, part of the Great Plains, great for wheat.

Thousands of years before the Europeans showed up, the Omaha tribe of Native Americans was one of several tribes that inhabited what is now Nebraska.

The Omaha people called the area “Ni Bthaska,” which means Flat River, their name for the Platte River.

In 1860, the U.S. government forced the tribes onto reservations and opened large tracts of land for agricultural development. The first wave of settlers gave the territory the populations necessary to apply for state hood.

Nebraska became a state on March 1, 1867.

One of Nebraska’s favorite sons was Senator George William Norris, an Ohio boy.

After receiving his law degree he moved to Nebraska in 1883. He first settled in the little town of Beaver City, began a family and practiced law.

In 1900 he moved his family and his practice to the larger town of McCook, where he became interested in politics.

Norris joined the Republican Party and, in 1902, was elected to the House of Representatives. He served in the House until 1913 when he was elected to the Senate. He served in the Senate for five terms.

He lost the election in 1942 and retired. He died two years later.

What made Norris so special was that President Kennedy mentioned him in a favorable light in his book “Profiles of Courage.”

And President Franklin Roosevelt’s praise?

Norris was pro-union, against Roosevelt’s packing of the Supreme Court, was suspicious of Wall Street and wars, and favored liberal causes. He was an isolationist until he viewed the atrocities committed by the Japanese Army upon the Chinese civilians in 1937. He supported the Tennessee Valley Authority and wanted electric power generation under federal control. He voted against the entry into the First World War, voted against the League of Nations and was quick to criticize the presidential administrations of Harding, Coolidge and Hoover.

This earned him the title of “the son of a wild jackass.”

In the town of McCook the main north-south street has his name, as do several schools across the stat and a legislative building in the state capital.

George Norris is quoted as saying of the free press, “Publicity is the greatest cure for evil which may exist in government.”

Written using Internet sources.

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