Nebraska Territory

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Territory of Nebraska
Organized incorporated territory of the United States





Location of Nebraska Territory
Capital Omaha
Government Organized incorporated territory
Governor List
 •  Kansas–Nebraska Act May 30, 1854
 •  Colorado Territory formed February 28, 1861
 •  Dakota Territory formed March 2, 1861
 •  Idaho Territory formed March 3, 1863
 •  Statehood March 1, 1867

The Territory of Nebraska was an organized incorporated territory of the United States that existed from May 30, 1854, until March 1, 1867, when the final extent of the territory was admitted to the Union as the State of Nebraska. The Nebraska Territory was created by the Kansas–Nebraska Act of 1854. The territorial capital was Omaha. The territory encompassed areas of what is today Nebraska, Wyoming, South Dakota, North Dakota, Colorado, and Montana.


An enabling act was passed by Congress in 1864. Delegates for a constitutional convention were elected; this convention did not produce a constitution. Two years later, in 1866, a constitution was drafted and voted upon. It was approved by 100 votes. However, a clause in this constitution that limited suffrage to "free white males" delayed Nebraska's entry into the Union for almost a year. The 1866 enabling act for the state was subject to a pocket veto by President Andrew Johnson. When Congress reconvened in 1867, it passed another bill to create the state of Nebraska, on the condition that Nebraska's constitution be amended to remove the suffrage clause. This bill was also vetoed by President Johnson. Congress then overrode his veto.

Early settlement

Several trading posts, forts and towns were established in the Nebraska Territory from the early 19th century through 1867, including Fontenelle's Post founded in the present-day site of Bellevue in 1806. It was first mentioned in fur trading records in 1823. Fort Lisa, founded by Manuel Lisa near present-day Dodge Park in North Omaha was founded in 1812, although Lisa had earlier founded posts further up the Missouri in Montana and North Dakota.

Nebraska Territory, $1 City of Omaha 1857 uniface banknote. The note is signed by Jesse Lowe in his function as Mayor of Omaha City. It was issued as scrip in 1857 to help fund the erection of the Territorial capitol building at Omaha.[1]

Fort Atkinson, was founded on the Council Bluff in 1819; in 1822 Cabanne's Trading Post was founded nearby on the Missouri River. Mormon settlers founded Cutler's Park in 1846, and the town of Bellevue was incorporated in 1853. Nearby Omaha City was founded in 1854, with Nebraska City and Kearney incorporated in 1855. The influential towns of Brownville and Fontanelle were founded that year as well. The early village of Lancaster, later called Lincoln, was founded in 1856, along with the towns of Saratoga, South Nebraska City and Florence.[2]

Early press

Early print media in the Nebraska Territory served the dual purposes of sharing the news and promoting the area for settlement. In 1860 the Territory had twelve weekly publications, one biweekly and one monthly, with a combined circulation of 9,750. After statehood in 1867 the newspaper industry expanded greatly.[3]

Pioneer print media in the Nebraska Territory[4]
Name Print period Location Notes
Nebraska Palladium and Platte Valley Advocate 1854–55 Bellevue Edited by Thomas Morton
Arrow Omaha
Nebraska News Nebraska City
Nebraskian 1854–64 Omaha
Nebraska Advertiser 1856 Brownville Edited by Robert W. Furnas
Huntsman's Echo 1858 Near Shelton Edited by Joseph E. Johnson, this paper was influential with Oregon Trail pioneers.
Nebraska Republican 1858 Omaha The first paper in the Territory to have mechanical presses, this was later succeeded by the Omaha Republican, and in 1871 absorbed the Omaha Tribune.
Nebraska Farmer 1859 Brownville Robert W. Furnas also published the first agricultural newspaper in the Territory.
Peru Orchardist Peru
Daily Telegraph 1860 Omaha
Nebraska Deutsche Zeitung 1861 Nebraska City Published by Frank Renner, this German language paper was circulated nationally and in Germany. It is credited with bringing many German settlers to the Territory.
Daily Herald 1865 Omaha Edited by George L. Miller, this paper was influential in bringing the Union Pacific to Omaha.

Early military posts

With a variety of early fur trading posts, Fort Atkinson, founded in 1819, was the location of the first military post in what became the Nebraska Territory, as well as its first school.[5] Other posts in the Nebraska Territory included Fort Kearny near present-day Kearney; Fort McPherson near present-day Maxwell; Fort Mitchell near present-day Scottsbluff; Fort Randall, in what is now South Dakota; and Fort Caspar, Fort Halleck, Fort Laramie, and Fort Sanders, in what is now Wyoming.


Site No. JF00-072: Nebraska–Kansas state line at intersection of Nebraska counties Thayer and Jefferson and Kansas counties Washington and Republic.

The Nebraska Territory's original boundaries (as specified by its Organic Act) included much of the original Louisiana Purchase; the territory's boundaries were:

Subsequent territory creation

Upon creation, the territory encompassed most of the northern Great Plains, much of the upper Missouri River basin and the eastern portions of the northern Rocky Mountains. The Nebraska Territory gradually reduced in size as new territories were created in the 1860s.

The Colorado Territory was formed February 28, 1861 from portions of the territory south of 41° N and west of 102°03′ W (25° W of Washington, D.C.) (an area that includes present-day Fort Collins, Greeley and the portions of Boulder north of Baseline Road, in addition to portions of Kansas Territory, New Mexico Territory, and Utah Territory).

March 2, 1861, saw the creation of the Dakota Territory. It was made of all of the portions of Nebraska Territory north of 43° N (the present-day Nebraska–South Dakota border), along with the portion of present-day Nebraska between 43° N and 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 Territory and Washington Territory—present-day southwestern Wyoming bounded by 41° N, 110°03′ W (33° W of Washington, D.C.), 43° N, and the Continental Divide. These portions had not been part of the Louisiana Purchase; rather, they had been part of Oregon Country and became part of the United States in 1846.

On March 3, 1863, the Idaho Territory was formed of all the territory west of 104°03′ W (27° W of Washington, D.C.).

See also


  1. City of Omaha, Nebraska. "Bank Note, City of Omaha, $1; Scrip, 1857". Lincoln, NE: Nebraska State Historical Society. Retrieved October 4, 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. Federal Writers Project. (1939) Nebraska. Lincoln, NE: Nebraska State Historical Society. p 49.
  3. Federal Writers Project. (1939) Nebraska. Lincoln, NE: Nebraska State Historical Society. p 134.
  4. Federal Writers Project. (1939) Nebraska. Lincoln, NE: Nebraska State Historical Society. p 133.
  5. (n.d.) World Almanac for Kids: Nebraska: Education.

External links

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