Nebraska, in 1867, was the first state
admitted to the Union after the Civil War.
Its admission was delayed because the proposed constitution limited
voting rights to "free white men." Congress was not
willing to admit a new state that restricted black suffrage.
When the proposed constitution was revised and statehood achieved
in 1867, Nebraska began the challenge of living up to the state
motto: "Equality Before the Law."
This motto is unique among the fifty
states. It reflects the post-Civil
War years of the 1860s and relates to the granting of political
and civil rights previously denied to black men.
Nebraska's Entrance into the Union. Carving on the north façade of the Nebraska
Capitol. Photograph by Richard Hufnagle ca. 1964.
State flag that Governor Norbert
Tiemann sent to Hollis Stabler in 1969. Stabler, a member of
the Omaha Tribe of Nebraska, was serving as a Ranger in Vietnam.
Just one year earlier, the passage of the Indian Civil Rights
Act of 1968 reconciled inconsistencies between tribal government
provisions and rights guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution.
Equality Before the Law.
West pylon flanking the north entrance
to the Nebraska State Capitol. Photograph by Richard Hufnagle,
This 1872 photo of the first
state capitol building shows the front façade, which
faced the west (now 14th Street).
Thomas P. Kennard, Nebraska's first
secretary of state, built this house to proclaim his belief in
the newly-established Lincoln as Nebraska's capital city. Restored
as the Nebraska Statehood Memorial in 1967 for the state's centennial,
this historic site is available for educational tours.