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, ca. 1964.
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.