University Charter: An Act To Establish the University of Nebraska

View the University Charter, dated February 15th, 1869, which established the University of Nebraska.

According to Robert Manley's Centennial History of the University of Nebraska, Augustus F. Harvey wrote the charter in 1869 for the Nebraska State Legislature. In an 1889 letter, Harvey wrote: "I began it while a member of the first State Legislature, modifying and rewriting it as far as possible to suit the then [existing] conditions." (Beihn, 6)  

According to Harvey's letter, he asked State Senator Benjamin F. Cunningham to introduce it through a bill in the state senate on February 11, 1869. The charter went for review to the Committee on Education under the supervision of Charles H. Gere.

At the time the Nebraska legislature consisted of both a House and a Senate, which both passed the bill that included the charter. Harvey noted: "There was practically no struggle to get the charter through. Some objection was made by some who did not realize the word University should be construed to mean an aggregation of schools; some objected who thought the charter embraced too much. A little fight developed in some quarters under an idea that some other town than Lincoln out to have it, although the constitution provision located it at Lincoln." (Beihn, 8)

On February 15, 1869, Nebraska Governor David C. Butler signed the bill that initiated the work of creating a university in Lincoln, Nebraska.

The charter included the creation of a Board of Regents, with 12 members, to oversee the development of the university. The first meeting of the Board of Regents took place on June 3, 1869, when plans for a building and elections for the office of president, secretary, and treasurer took place. (Regents' Report, 1871, 4) The second BOR meeting included laying the cornerstone for University Hall. Classes at the University began on September 7, 1871.



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