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tension in Nebraska with unexampled zeal, and thus
Having given the treasury balance as $343,018 at the end of his first term, it was now, in 1883, $472,114. Inasmuch as $92,984 were due the State as interest and rentals, on sales and leases of school lands, he recommended that school land contracts be cancelled in cases of default, believing that persons had beeч holding these lands for speculative purposes. On schools he said:
The school attendance in 1882 was 115,546, an increase of 14,770 over the number in attendance the previous year. The total value of school property is estimated at $2,054,049. The fund derived from this endowment has increased from year to year, in about the same proportion as the increase of population, consequently the increase per capita has not materially changed.
The friends of the University were congratulated that distracting questions were beng settled in indication of enlarged usefulness and prosperity. His previous message gave the Normal school 275 students while the one of 1883 reported 318. The state library numbered 21,487 volumes. The attendance upon the institute for the deaf and dumb, during his administration had increased from seventy-five to one hundred and twenty, at an expense per capita of $3.29 for maintenance per week. The patronage of the institute for the blind remained about stationary, and at a cost of $5.33 per person per week. There had been no special increase in the number of penitentiary convicts and the number of deaths annually, there being but one during his incumbency. Under the fostering care of Governor Nance's administration the Reformatory came into existence and had received thirty-seven inmates. On retiring he said in its behalf:
The tendency of the reform school to repress and prevent the commission of crime is indisputable and if supported on a liberal scale it will prevent large expenditures for the punishment of hardened criminals. If viewed only from a humane standpoint the school should have every encouragement, as it enables the State to rescue a large number of children from vicious surroundings and give them the advantage of a good education, together with well established habits of industry.
The Home for the Friendless also dates back to 1881:
The legislature of 1881 provided for the erection of a home for the friendless, and made an appropriation for that purpose, subject to the conditions specified in the act, in compliance with which the institution has been located at Lincoln.
Conceding the great advantages to the State, by virtue of the stimulus imparted to settlement and traffic by railroad construction, the governor gave prompt consideration to the comparatively new question of legislative control:
In the state of Illinois every phase of the question has been under consideration during the past twelve years, and by means of a board of Railroad Commissioners, equitable rates of transportation have been established and many of the abuses complained of corrected. I also invite your attention to the laws of Iowa providing for the organization of a board of railway commissioners and to their subsequent reports and proceedings. The general results in that State have justified the acts of the legislature creating that board. The reports of the commissioners, both of Illinois and Iowa, contain a mass of valuable information, bearing upon every feature of the question, and may be studied with profit by all who are interested in securing impartial legislation upon this subject in our own State.
After giving information relative to many items of business and enforcing many duties upon the legislators, Governor Nance came to his final conclusion:
As my official term is about to close, I recall with pleasure the kindly relations which I have sustained toward those who occupy official positions throughout the State. To the state officers and heads of state institutions with whom I have been associated during the past four years, I
tender my sincere thanks for their earnest co-operation and
During the summer and fall of 1882 an active canvass of the State was made in behalf of the "rights of suffrage," an amendment to the constitution being submitted to extend the right irrespective of sex. The discussion which followed the passage of the amendment was participated in by most of the distinguished orators of the United States, such as Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Mrs. Sewell, Mrs. Hinman, and numerous others. As early as 1856, by invitation of members, that pioneer worker, Mrs. Amelia Bloomer of Iowa, presented the cause before the legislature of Nebraska. The rejection of the amendment by the vote of 1882 argues nothing against the willingness of the people to keep step with the onward march of progress. All preliminary acts have been passed and heartily approved by them, and although they declined a place at the head of the column, they will finally occupy it. Already they have made woman the equal of man in the marriage contract and the divorce court, in trade and transferring and holding property, in the collection of wages, and the right to bring suit at law, whether married or single, and in the professions and trades, and clerical positions, limited only by ability, inclination, and taste. On the assumption that they who are specially interested in a subject shall be allowed to discuss and control it, they have provided for women's votes in school meetings. Presently old-fogyism, prejudice, and ignorance, will cease to control, and the honestly conservative will decide that the rights of women to influence through the ballot should be conceded in county and state. The vote in behalf of the amendment was 25,756 and against it, 50,693. The manufacturers of spirituous liquors, the
retailers, and many of the drinkers, were a united phalanx against it, on the ground that the ballot of women would be directed against the traffic and in behalf of sobriety, pure morals, and better government.
As the high license or Slocumb liquor law was approved and signed by Governor Nance, it seems appropriate that the events preceding it should be recorded among the results of his administration. During the early administration of the Territory, Nebraska could claim a devoted band of temperance workers. But while a large element of the population consisted of single men and families holding only temporary residences, with recent immigrants from lands unacquainted with restrictive or prohibitory legislation, even a reform in a license system was difficult of accomplishment. So early as 1861, an act was passed to amend one of 1858 requiring "an applicant for license to pay for the use of the school fund not less than $15.00 nor more than $200.00 at the discretion of the county commissioners." As the population became more settled and homogeneous, permanent associations were established. Delegates from thirteen local lodges organized the “Good Templars" in 1867, and in 1881 the local bodies numbered 113 with a membership of 5,000. The organization of the Temple of Honor and the Red Ribbon Clubs date back to 1877. This revival of interest, much accelerated by the splendid services of John B. Finch, antedated the failure to pass a prohibition bill in 1879. In 1881 the legislature, declining to pass a proposition for an amendment of the state constitution in favor of prohibition, did finally enact what was known as the "Slocumb Law," in honor of its originator, Hon. C. B. Slocumb of Jefferson county, which was approved by Governor Nance February, 1881. In order to secure some semblance of prohibition, the law made it a penal offense to sell or give away intoxicating liquors in any precinct or township where thirty freehold petitioners could not be found; and in any case made it discretionary with county boards to decide the expediency of granting license. A prohibition county could thus elect a board to carry out their will. It prohibited utterly the sale to "minors, appren
tices or servants under twenty-one years of age; and to Indians, insane persons and idiots and habitual drunkards." The same principle was applied to the protection of about fifty-five days in
year, on Sundays and election days. The advocates of reform had contended, that the support of paupers, criminals, insane, and poor and the robbery of wives and children and community were largely due to the traffic in liquors and should not be borne by the unoffending and helpless, through public taxes and social charities. This proposition was conceded by provisions, that the retailer should pay all damages resulting to the community or individuals, and support all paupers, widows and orphans made so by the traffic; and pay for all civil and criminal prosecutions growing out of it.
The amount of license was to be not less than $500 nor more than $1,000, and a bond in a penalty of $5,000 was to be given, with which to defray legal damages and costs. It was made a crime to treat or give away liquors to be drunk in any saloon or place where they were sold, or to obstruct the view of doors or windows with screens, paint, blinds, or other articles. This law, under which the traffic was to live, if it existed at all, was the most fearful commentary on its infamy ever published, and was only accepted by the craft as more desirable for them than legislative prohibition. But the almost utter impossibility of putting its provisions in practice, and the interested protection extended the saloon by unscrupulous politicians, and the paralysis of morals from replenished school treasuries, caused the friends of temperance to desire another effort at legislative prohibition. In 1885, an act passed the legislature, providing that after the first of January, 1886, "No certificate shall be granted to any person to teach in the public schools of the state of Nebraska, who has not passed a satisfactory examination in physiology and hygiene, with special reference to the effects of alcohol upon the human system." This was considered a valuable acquisition to reform literature. All necessary preliminaries having been arranged, a prohibitory amendment proposition was voted upon in November, 1890, but failed to receive a majority endorsement.