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was as fair as it is now the soil as productive and climate as favorable, but the conditions which engender real value were absent. No profitable return could be obtained from farming, stock-raising or any other pursuit for which this state is now so pre-eminently well adapted. No market existed for products. A generous harvest meant only a condition in which it would be more profitable to burn corn for fuel than wood or coal, which was frequently done, and stock-raising was even

unpromising. The outside world existed then as it does now, but an impenetrable barrier existed between that world and this virgin soil. For all practical purposes, except the sustenance of its limited population, the country may as well have been a desert. It was only when there was brought to its aid the power of capital-another name for the condensed surplus labor of the world--that these conditions changed. Railroads have supplied the missing links which have made possible the magnificent development of the present. The per capita of circulation has diminished, but the per capita of valuable things has immensely increased. The leaven of imported capital has leavened the loaf until the volume of home capital greatly exceeds the imported. It makes no difference what the per capita of circulation may be—wealth and prosperity can only come from productive resources, and if these do not exist the money will prove as "sounding brass and tinkling cymbals” only.

It requires no elaborate reasoning to show the truth of this statement, aside from its demonstration in the sad experience of the past. A commodity or thing to operate any of the functions

money must possess value in the estimation of those who so use it. This value may be partly intrinsic in itself, as a useful commodity, or may result entirely from some use given by law or by prevailing confidence and general consent. This confidence may be misplaced and its circulation may arise from a false assumption or conception of


value, just as a counterfeit will circulate or a bank note which will never be redeemed. For the time being, any of these kinds of money will pass from hand to hand, and perform one of the monetary functions, that of “a medium of exchange,” equally as well as the best of coins, and if the issue is not excessive, the character of the money may not greatly affect prices. But when men become producers of capital by accumulating a surplus over and above expenses, the test of a good money is applied. Using the terms supplied by Professor Jevons, good money must also be a "storage of value” and a “standard for deferred payments.” If the use given by law is abated or the volume issued is in excess of the use the test of value conveyed in these two expressions can not be sustained, and the money immediately sinks to what its real value may be. Whether we like it or not, gold is the only commodity used for money which can fulfill this rigid test, arising from the universal estimation of its value, in which it has been held among all nations from the earliest recorded ages, and in which estimation it continues to be held, and we have every reason to believe will so continue for many ages to come. Other money may be as good as gold, but can only be so when exchangeable for it, and none can be better. Large per capita circulation of a currency which depends for its value upon a temporary legislative sanction and use, or upon a temporary whim of man, can mean nothing as indicative of wealth and prosperity. It supplies a medium of our own invention to serve a temporary purpose of “swapping” with each other, property or commodities, the difference of the exchange forming a species of lottery in which the winners are those who succeed in converting their holdings into something valuable, and the losers as usual the holders of the blanks -in this case the money used.

But it can be further demonstrated that a large per capita of the best money is not of itself an indication of general wealth and prosperity.

1. Should the money largely have accumulated into the hands of a few-say with the Rothchilds, or the Goulds, Vanderbilts and Rockefellers--this would not be considered prosperity.

2. When the circulation seems properly distributed, among all classes of the population--the question of actual ownership must be taken into consideration. If the money is borrowed and the circulation arises from the proceeds of either individual or municipal debt, the element of wealth is still absent in the per capita circulation. We can easily conceive a community possessing large money resources and parting with money to another community which lacks capital in the prosecution of desired enterprises. For the time being the increased per capita would appear in the debtor community and a decreased per capita in that of the creditor, but no one would say that the former was the wealthier community.

3. Still another condition may exist in which the per capita may be large and carry with it no element of national progress and prosperity. There may be social or political influences which impede, if they do not prohibit all business enterprises, and in consequence the money is hoarded and conserves no public good. This is generally the result of wars and financial panics, but will also follow injudicious legislation or defective enforcement of the laws.

This leads us to the final conclusion that a large volume of money of the best quality in general circulation, simply indicates activity in business, just as large bank clearings so indicate, but the currency being sound, the results of this activity in the production of new capital is absolutely assured. Capital cannot be manufactured by law or by personal whims and no amount of fiat money can produce the healthful activity from which capital is evolved. Activity of a kind will be caused by such money but there must inevitably follow the “dark night" of Governor Black and all the labor and time producing the activity will be found to have been expended in vain, and the condition of the community worse than if it had never occurred.



(Delivered before the State Historical Society Jan. 9, 1894.)

I deem it proper at the outset to define briefly the scope of this paper. Of simple historical narration but little will enter into my exposition of this subject. Instead of going into the incidents and controversies, the factional fights and jealousies which have existed in Nebraska cities from the very beginning of their careers, I propose to omit all allusion to social development or political domination and to confine myself solely to a sketch tracing the growth of that governmental organization to which has been given the administration of local affairs. My paper then, so far as it constitutes history at all, is a history of legislation-an attempt to trace the evolution of our city governments from the comparatively simple machinery of the early days to the complicated system which prevails in cities of the metropolitan class today.

A word too, may be necessary as to the method which I have pursued. The materials have been sought in the constitutions, laws, and statutes of this State. My purpose being, however, as I have just explained, to trace the development of our system of municipal government. I have considered it unnecessary to analyse each and every city charter and the many amendments made thereto because in very many cases, the changes are immaterial for my purposes. It is enough to examine the simplest and

earliest city charters and to follow up the changes relating always to the cities of the highest class. This shows the highest development of municipal government in Nebraska at each successive period of time, although at the same time, the smaller cities may have been administered under statutes belonging, in character at least, to an earlier period.


Municipal government being the creation of a higher or more central government, could not exist in Nebraska until after the territorial organization. The Kansas-Nebraska law in 1854, vested all legislative powers conferred by it in the governor and legislative assembly of the Territory. This, according to legal construction, included the power to grant charters of incorporation to local communities. But, although the first election proclamation of Governor Cuming mentions Omaha City and Brownville among the list of election precincts, and although a later proclamation fixing the judicial districts for the Territory named Omaha City, Bellevue, Nebraska City and Florence as the places where court should be held, yet no true municipal government existed until the legislature at its first session passed an act approved March 2, 1855, incorporating Nebraska City, Omaha City, the territorial capital, remaining unincorporated until two years later.

From the territorial legislature the power to incorporate municipalities passed naturally to the state legislature as its successor. One significant innovation was brought out by the adoption of the constitution of 1866, in that it did away, once and for all time with the pernicious system of granting special charters to cities and commanded the legislature to provide for the organization of cities and incorporated villages by general laws only, requiring it, moreover "to restrict their powers of taxation, assessment, borrowing money, contracting debts and loaning their credit so as to prevent the abuse of such power." This provision,

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