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Nebraska Territory

Territory of Nebraska
Organized incorporated territory of the United States

 • TypeOrganized incorporated territory
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
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Unorganized territory
Washington Territory
Colorado Territory
Dakota Territory
Idaho Territory

The Territory of Nebraska was an organized incorporated territory of the United States that existed from May 30, 1854,[1] 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.


Historical population
Source: 1860;[2]

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

William Walker (1800–1874), a leader of the Wyandot people and a prominent citizen of early-day Kansas. Elected provisional Governor of the Nebraska Territory July 23,1853.
$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.[3]

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 River in Montana and North Dakota. 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.[4]

Early press

The first newspaper published in the terrain that would become Nebraska was a weekly military journal stationed at Ft. Atkinson that was published for five years, from 1822 to 1827, before the fort was closed.[5] Thirty years later the Nebraska territory was settled and print media served the dual purposes of sharing the news and promoting the area for settlement. In 1854 the Nebraska Palladium[5] was the first paper to be published in the territory; however, it would last less than a year. These territorial newspapers were efficient but rough and many of the papers folded under quickly changed owners, or consolidated with other publications. By 1860 the Nebraska 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.[6]

The front page of the December 6, 1854 issue of the Nebraska Palladium, the first newspaper to be published in the Nebraska Territory
The front page of the May 4, 1857 issue of the Nebraska Advertiser founded by Robert Wilkinson Furnas, in Brownville, Nebraska Territory
Pioneer Print Media in the Nebraska Territory[7]
Name Print period Location Notes
Nebraska Palladium and Platte Valley Advocate July 15, 1854 –55 Bellevue Edited by Thomas Morton
Nebraskian 1854–64 Omaha
Bellevue gazette October 23, 1856 – Oct. 1858 Bellevue, Douglas, Nebraska Published by S.A. Strickland & Co.[8]
Dakota City Herald July 15, 1857 –1860 Dakota City, Nebraska Published by John L. Dailey
Nebraska Advertiser June 7, 1856 – July 16, 1909 Brownville Edited by Robert W. Furnas[9]
Huntsman's Echo 1858–1861 Wood River, Buffalo County 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 Edited by Robert W. Furnas the Farmer was the first agricultural publication in Nebraska and continues to be one of the state's longest running journals
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.[10] 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: The Nebraska–Kansas state line at the intersection of Nebraska counties Thayer and Jefferson and Kansas counties Washington and Republic
Map of the territory of Nebraska and seal of the Nebraska Territory

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. ^ 10 Stat. 277
  2. ^ Forstall, Richard L. (ed.). Population of the States and Counties of the United States: 1790–1990 (PDF) (Report). United States Census Bureau. p. 3. Retrieved May 18, 2020.
  3. ^ City of Omaha, Nebraska. "Bank Note, City of Omaha, $1; Scrip, 1857". Lincoln, NE: Nebraska State Historical Society. Retrieved October 4, 2015.
  4. ^ Federal Writers Project. (1939) Nebraska. Lincoln, NE: Nebraska State Historical Society. p 49.
  5. ^ a b Walter, Katherine. "Nebraska Publishing". Nebraska Newspapers. University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
  6. ^ Federal Writers Project. (1939) Nebraska. Lincoln, NE: Nebraska State Historical Society. p 134.
  7. ^ Federal Writers Project. (1939) Nebraska. Lincoln, NE: Nebraska State Historical Society. p 133.
  8. ^ Walter, Katherine. "About Bellevue gazette". Nebraska Newspapers. University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
  9. ^ Walter, Katherine. "About Nebraska Advertiser". Nebraska Newspaper. University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
  10. ^ (n.d.) World Almanac for Kids: Nebraska: Education Archived February 10, 2007, at the Wayback Machine.

41°00′N 110°03′W / 41.000°N 110.050°W / 41.000; -110.050

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Nebraska Territory
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