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Thomas J. Majors

Thomas J. Majors (1841-1932) of Nemaha County was a pioneer soldier and farmer who served in the Nebraska territorial and state legislatures; in Congress; and as lieutenant governor from 1890 to 1894. He narrowly missed being elected governor in 1894 during a confused campaign centering around the silver issue in which Fusion gubernatorial candidate Silas Holcomb defeated both Democrat Phelps D. Sturdevant and Republican Majors.

Majors was born in Jefferson County, Iowa, in 1841. At the age of eighteen he took a stock of goods from his father's store to Peru, Nebraska, to start his own business. He served in the First Nebraska Volunteer Infantry throughout the Civil War and was mustered out at Omaha in 1866.

After returning to his home in Peru Majors served in the territorial and later the state legislature. It was chiefly through his efforts that the State Normal School (now Peru State College) was located at Peru in 1867. After its establishment, Majors attended the school as a student for one year.

Majors was elected as a Republican to the Forty-fifth Congress as a contingent (or additional) member but did not present his credentials. He was subsequently elected to the Forty-fifth Congress to fill the vacancy caused by the death of Representative Frank Welch and served from November 5, 1878, until March 3, 1879; he was reelected a contingent member to the Forty-sixth and Forty-seventh Congresses, but the House of Representatives, on February 24, 1883, disallowed Nebraska's claim to an additional member and refused to seat him.

In 1890 Majors was elected lieutenant-governor and was reelected in 1892. In 1894 Majors was nominated for governor. The Democratic state convention that year split over the silver question and fused with the Populists to nominate Silas A. Holcomb for governor. Administration Democrats (who supported President Grover Cleveland and the gold standard) bolted the convention and nominated a state ticket of their own headed by Phelps D. Sturdevant. With the combined support of the Populists and many Democrats, Holcomb defeated Republican Majors, 97,815 votes to 94,613; Sturdevant got only 6,985.

Thomas J. Majors. Nebraska State Historical Society Collections.

The Thomas J. Majors Homestead in Nemaha County, now on the National Register


(July 2009)



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