Centennial History of The University of Nebraska


Frontier University 1869-1919

This edition is limited to 250 copies signed by the author of which this is number 152


FEB. 15, 1869.

Robert N. Manley

[signed] Robert N. Manley

Centennial History

of the

University of Nebraska

1. Frontier University, 1869-1919

[charcoal drawing of University Hall, gates]

Centennial History

of the

University of Nebraska

1. Frontier University (1869-1919)

Robert H. Manley

University of Nebraska Press Lincoln

Publishers on the Plains


Copyright 1969 by the University of Nebraska Press

All rights reserved

Library of Congress Catalog Card Number 69-11776

Manufactured in the United States of America

Dedicated to the memory of

Mamie J. Meredith


James L. Sellers

two devoted University teachers, who more than

any other persons of my acquaintance, represented

the spirit of the University of Nebraska


The history of the University of Nebraska reflects and parallels in countless ways the history of the great state which brought it into being and which it has served throughout the century of its existence. Like the proud story of the pioneers, this volume devoted to the University's first fifty years is an inspiring record of steadfast purpose in the face of adversity and of continuing achievement despite what at times seemed insuperable odds. It will bring to the reader a new understanding of the diverse and complex elements which have gone into the shaping of a great institution of higher learning and a fresh appreciation of the University's myriad contributions to the economic, social, and cultural development of Nebraska and its geographical region.

In presenting this first of two volumes of the University's history, we wish first of all to express our deep gratitude to Mrs. Martha McKelvie, whose generous gift in memory of her late husband provided for its writing and publication, and will also make possible the second volume. Mrs. McKelvie is the widow of Samuel R. McKelvie, former Governor of Nebraska, publisher of the distinguished Nebraska Farmer, and recipient of an honorary degree from the University of Nebraska in 1951. Governor McKelvie was a lifelong supporter of the University, and Mrs. McKelvie has pursued this interest avidly and has participated actively in the planning for this centennial year. We wish also to thank the following members of the University of Nebraska Centennial History Committee for their support and guidance: Harold Anderson, Burt James, Bennett S. Martin, Dr. Leon S. McGoogan, Mrs. Martha McKelvie, Albert T. Reddish, Joe W. Seacrest, Arthur Sweet, Walter W. White, Warren C. Wood, Elwood N. Thompson, Chairman, and James C. Olson, Secretary.



It is fortunate that an institution such as the University of Nebraska celebrates a centennial. For a brief moment the pace of campus activity slackens as members of the University community attempt to discern the forces which over the years have shaped the institution. The historian's task, however, is a difficult one. For most of its existence the University has struggled to meet immediate needs; there has been neither money nor time for the building of an archives. The fact that the University is a vast institution further complicates the historian's task. Moreover, the University is seen differently by different people. Members of the faculty tend to view it in terms of distinguished colleagues, interesting research projects, personal feuds, or a specific department. To members of the administration the University often seems to be akin to an iceberg. Only a small portion of the structure--the administrative machinery- extends above the waterline in full public view. To many alumni the story of the University unfolds in the accounts of undergraduate pranks and victorious football teams. The University, of course, is much more than the sum of these viewpoints, and it becomes the task of the historian to identify the major themes of the University's life and to cast light upon them. This volume recounting the University's first fifty years can provide an outline of events; it can help create a sense of the University's past among faculty, students, and alumni; it can provide a blueprint for future study. But it can make no claim to completeness. While it is earnestly hoped that no major movement has been overlooked and no important person ignored, omissions have undoubtedly occurred. I apologize for these oversights. I am sorry, for example, that devoted members of the nonacademic staff who keep the school functioning from day to day have not received due acknowledgement-- persons such as Kate Field, the granddaughter of Chancellor Fairfield, who served her entire professional life in the registrar's office; or Maude M. Melick, who was for thirty years secretary to the dean of the College of Engineering; or John Chowins, the remarkable deaf-mute who for nearly half a century held the post of master mechanic for the engineering and scientific departments. Clerks, secretaries, janitors, professors, deans, legislators, newspaper editors, citizens-- all have played a role in building and shaping the University. Many persons and groups contributed directly and indirectly to this history. While the University Centennial Committee initiated the project, members of the administration and the faculty have exhibited a continuing interest in the project and offered encouragement. Mrs. Martha McKelve generously provided ix

funds to underwrite the research and writing of the history. Mr. E.N. Thompson, class of 1933, and Dr. James C. Olson, former Vice Chancellor for Graduate Studies and Research and Dean of the Graduate College, now Chancellor of the University of Missouri at Kansas City, read the manuscript and offered many helpful suggestions. During the research phase several graduate students in the Department of History provided assistance. I acknowledge the work of Jerry Berbert, James Vivian, Edwin Wach, and Douglas Bakken. University librarians and the staff of the Nebraska State Historical Society gave tireless and helpful assistance. Dr. C. Edward Cavert suggested the title for this volume. I am also indebted to Fred and Adelloyd Williams, class of 1900, who assembled materials for a history of the University and whose files were most helpful. And I wish to thank the scores of persons who responded to my inquiries either in personal interviews or by letter. Finally, it should be noted that while I am indebted to many persons for their help in gathering material for this volume, the interpretations and opinions are entirely my own.

Robert H. Manley

Scottsbluff, Nebraska



Foreword by Chancellor Clifford M. Hardin vii

Preface ix

I. THE BEGINNING (1854-1884)

1 Education in Pioneer Nebraska 3

2 Locating and Chartering the University 12

3 The First Chancellor and the First Years 21

4 The Responsibilities of the University 33

5 Religion and the University 47

6 The Fairfield Administration 54

7 The Removal of Chancellor Fairfield 69


8 A Crucial Decade 79

9 The University's Expanding Responsibilities 89

10 The Industrial College 100

11 The 1890's: A Time of Decision 111

12 Public Education and Academic Developments 126

13 Agricultural Education in the 1890's 138


14 The Golden Years 147

15 The Academic Scene, 1900-1909 160

16 A New Day for Industrial Education 174

17 An End and a Beginning 186

18 Academic Trends, 1909-1917 198

19 The Wartime University 212

20 After Fifty Years 229


21 Days of High Intellectual Adventure 237

22 Riots and Other Forms of Diversion 257

23 Campus Organizations and Activities 273

24 Yay, Team! 290


Publisher's Afterword 307

Appendix I: The Charter 309

Appendix II: Regents and Chancellors, 1869-1919 313

Appendix III: University Buildings, 1871-1920 315

Sources 317

Publisher's Acknowledgment 325

Index 327

Illustrations follow pages 84, 148, 180, and 276

Part 1

The Beginning (1854-1884)


Education in Pioneer Nebraska

During the first decades of the nineteenth century, a colorful procession of explorers, traders, soldiers, and adventurers crossed the Missouri River and headed west. An amazing country lay before the eye in variegated patterns of brown and dusty green, the horizon appearing to blend into the sea of grass. An undeniable beauty marked the unbroken western prairie; but while eastern visitors might in moments of poetic introspection confess the beauty of the grasslands, they concluded that the land was unattractive, forbidding, and worthless. In the popular view the Great Plains was a part of the Great American Desert, and in the 1850's at the eastern approaches to this "desert" the frontier stalled. Not until after the Civil War were technological ad psychological adjustments made which enabled frontiersmen, accustomed to the well-warned, forestered East, to occupy the plains. The reasons for entering the region became more compelling than the reasons for staying out; and frontier promoters, quick to perceive the latent possibilities of this last frontier, insisted that the plains could be farmed, that great fortunes awaited the bold and the resourceful. The insatiable hunger of the pioneer American for land and opportunity-which in large measure were synonymous-produced a determination to conquer the plains. The idea of the Great American Desert was discredited, and the settlement of America's prairie frontier got under way with the creation of Nebraska Territory in 1854.

While it is difficult to generalize about the motives which brought people west, it is obvious that many prospective settlers came in search of personal advancement. J. Sterling Morton, destined to be one of Nebraska's most important political and agricultural leaders, during the territorial period. Algernon S. Paddock, who represented Nebraska in the United States Senate for two terms, emigrated to the Territory at the urging of his cousin who told him that a resourceful person could quickly realize his fortune in the new land. But it would be wrong to paint the portrait of all Nebraska pioneers in hues of unrestrained materialism. Few denied their interest in wealth and position, but nearly all hoped that their movement to the frontier contributed to the advancement of their society and their nation. To develop a wilderness region previously the haunt of wild animals and savage Indians seemed to them a service of some consequence, and all earnestly hoped that their children would benefit from the development of this new land. Thus the social history of the Nebraska frontier, like the history of any frontier region, is the story of the incessant conflict between.


materialism and idealism. Nowhere is this conflict better illustrated than in the attitudes held by the Nebraska pioneers towards education.

The Territorial Experience

Certain that prospective settlers would want adequate educational opportunities for their children, Nebraska promoters and boomers devoted substantial portions of their promotional literature to the subject of schools. But the boomers misread the settlers' minds. Initially, their consuming desire was to gain possession of some land or to participate in a promising town speculation scheme. Education could wait. The promoters nonetheless continued to hold out promises of educa-tional advantages in Nebraska; and in an effort to fulfill these promises the Territorial Legislature, meeting in its first session in Omaha, enacted a general school law in March, 1855. The law provided that the territorial librarian was to be superintendent of public instruction; that each county would elect a county superintendent, who would organize the districts on petition of the district voters; that teachers would be hired by a district board; and that schools would be supported by a tax of three to five mills on the dollar. But the debate which accompanied the writing of Nebraska's first school law shows clearly that many legislators were interested in the law principally as it would promote the settlement of the Territory. Schools brought settlers, so by all means let there be settlers, and the quicker the better. The school law accomplished little. In 1857, two years after its enact-ment, the territorial superintendent of public instruction stated: "Judging from the meagre materials handed over to me by my predecessor, and from the few County reports received up to this date, I am painfully convinced that the interests of education, and the value of good common schools, have to secured that attention which their importance demands."

T. B. Cuming, Nebraska's second territorial governor and boomer extra-ordinary, deprecated the lack of interest in education. In December, 1857, he told the legislature that the first education law "has been rendered virtually a dead letter." In response to his demands that action be taken, the legislature set up a committee, which reported, in October, 1858, that the present system did not provide sufficient funds to secure qualified personnel, or the means for collecting funds. They recommend a new bill and again emphasized that schools were necessary to attract settlers. This session of the legislature enacted a second school law, copied almost verbatim from the Iowa law, which ostensibly corrected some of the defects of the first and which remained in force until after Nebraska became a state. It was difficult to gauge its effectiveness, for the depression which followed the Panic of 1857 had fallen with devastating effect upon the Territory. Settlers deserted the country in droves; banks which had been established upon hope rather than specie collapsed; infant businesses were prostrate. Nevertheless, by the end of 1859 twenty-nine common schools-- that is, district elementary schools-- were operating in the Territory. All were located within a few miles of the Missouri River, the educational frontier not having moved very far out onto the prairies as yet. The effort still fell far short of what was required: Only 277 children out of an estimated 4,767 of school age had access to a common school.

Letters sent to the territorial superintendents by local school officials illustrated the problems. Members of a board in Burt Country reported that only a fraction of the district school tax had been collected. The tax levy for the district, as set by the board, was to have realized $911.57, enough to support a school, but only a small portion of that amount had been gathered. Many settlers refused to pay the school tax, and others maintained that they were destitute and unable to pay. Also in this county, as in others, there existed a peculiar problem-- that of


collecting taxes levied against property within the boundaries of paper towns. For example, the town lots in Hudson City, a promoter's paper town, were taxed to provide three hundred dollars. The promoter refused to pay the taxes and of course no one yet lived in the town, so this portion of the levy was uncollectable. The district board of Eight Mile Grove Township School in Cass County was frustrated on another font. "Our school law is too complicated," the board's president complained. "A common clod hopper cannot understand it, even the lawyers cannot agree upon it." This board urged the legislature to write a school law in the plainest of languages so that the common people could understand it. Optimistic school reports came only from Nebraska City, where several elementary schools were in operation. However, they were so-called subscription schools operated for the benefit of children whose parents were willing and able to pay tuition. The schools appeared to be doing an adequate job and no one had to pay taxes for their support, so there was little pressure to establish public schools in Nebraska City.

In every school district in the Territory the principal problem was lack of money. Since taxes could not be collected, the settlers wanted to know when government lands would be available for the support of schools. Many were under the impression that the federal government, which set aside two sections of land in each township for the endowment of schools, had promised active financial support for local common schools. The federal law was very ambiguous, and Nebraska lawyers tended to believe that only states were eligible to receive school lands. A further element of confusion came from the chaotic land situation in Nebraska. Vast expanses of Nebraska prairie lay in the hands of speculators, and tax levies against such properties were ignored. Millions of acres had not yet been surveyed and offered for patent. Hence, great tracts of land in Nebraska escaped taxation at a moment when money was desperately needed to establish a school system. But the financial barriers to frontier education were not the only obstructions. Even where taxes could be collected, there seemed to be little genuine interest in education; a highly mobile population, such as inhabited Nebraska Territory, was not likely to be interested in schools. "Nothing is more essential to the welfare of civil society than free schools." Governor Alvin Saunders said in his speech to the 1861 legislature. Noting that no permanent school fund had been provided, he urged the legislators to enact measures "to render our school system effective."

An astute and reliable observer, Governor Saunders found few bright spots in Nebraska's educational situation. He was annoyed by the discrepancy between the speeches delivered in the legislature extolling the virtues of education and the actions taken by that body. Yet territorial lawmakers ignored such criticism just as they tended to ignore the many problems, the legislators gave their attention to the formation of colleges and universities. This campaign to bring higher education to the frontier came at a time when only a fraction of Nebraska's children attended elementary school. But the frontier spirit of optimism and promotion could not be curbed.

The Day of Paper Colleges

During Nebraska's territorial years-from 1854 to 1867-at least twenty-three seminaries, colleges, institutes academics, and universities were chartered by the Nebraska Legislature. Although several governors tried to dissuade the legislators from chartering such institutions, the lawmakers, responding to the pressures of promoters and speculators, could not be deterred. The greater number of these


institutions never came into existence, and remained paper colleges until the expiration of their charters, but for a brief period the game of college-making was played with great enthusiasm. There was a blank charter form, with spaces for insertion of the proposed institution's name, a list of trustees, and the place of incorporation. This standardized form relieved the legislators of wearisome duties and expedited the "founding" of colleges.

Promoters eagerly took advantage of the legislature's willingness of grant charters. At least four characters for a "university of Nebraska" were issued. One of these projected universities was included in the plans of the Nebraska Colonization Company, organized in Quincy, Illinois. From the outset the company's leaders envisioned a university in conjunction with the new town they were promoting. When their advance agents arrived in Cass County in September, 1854, they laid claim to an area on the Elkhorn. In early 1855 they surveyed the tract, setting apart 112 acres for "Nebraska University." At the same time, company representatives secured a charter for the proposed school from the legislature. Although the university came into legal existence on February 28, 1855, it did not begin operation until October 20, 1858; lack of adequate funds plagued it from the outset, and in 1859 it went under. Residents of Brownville opened a college in 1857, and Nebraska City and Plattsmouth had plans for colleges which came to nothing. Columbus promoters in 1860 secured a charter for a university, and in 1864 the legislature chartered the Nemaha Valley and Normal Institute in Pawnee City. Prospects for the latter seemed favorable, for the institute was the first in the state that already had a building when the charter was granted. The charter granted in 1865 to the Johnson County Seminary indicated that the applicants had given some thought to its uses: rooms in the seminary building would serve as the county courthouse, thus saving much tax money for the residents of that county. But with one exception the colleges chartered by the Territorial Legislature proved to be either premature or promotional. The one exception was the Peru Seminary and College, chartered in 1860, which became Peru Normal School (later Peru State Teachers College) by an act of legislature in 1867.

Although the campaign to establish paper colleges eventually verged upon the ludicrous, it would be wrong to assume that there was no genuine interest in higher education in the Territory. Many of the Territory's foremost leaders were graduates of eastern colleges, seminaries, and academics. Their interest in education, particularly in higher education, transcended commercial and speculative goals. Once the uncertain years of the territorial era had passed, this concern provided the foundation for important developments in the field of higher education.

Nebraska and the Morrill Act

In 1860 federal census takers counted only 28,841 persons in Nebraska Territory. Small wonder that money was hard to find for educational ventures. Lacking local financial resources, Nebraskans early turned to the federal government for assistance. Memorial after memorial flowed from the Nebraska Legislature requesting federal funds or federal land grants for the support of educational institutions chartered by the Territory. While these memorials drew no response from Washington, it was the federal government which eventually provided the real impetus for higher education in Nebraska. The instrument of this encouragement was the famous Morrill Land-Grant College Act of 1862. The concept of federal aid to education embodied in the Morrill Act was not new. Thomas Jefferson and other leaders had drafted legislation, such as the Ordinances of 1785 and 1787, which defined the federal government's land policy and provided for the



political development of the region. They wanted to make settlement in the West attractive, and they thought that providing public lands for the support of schools would promote the end. In this way a precedent was provided for that many landgrant schemes which appeared in the nineteenth century.

In the decades preceding Civil War, agricultural leaders and educational reformers called upon Congress to support the creation of colleges devoted to teaching agricultural and mechanical subjects. The upshot of this long and strenuous campaign was a bill introduced into Congress in 1857 by Representative Justin S. Morill of Vermont. Morrill's original bill, which provided parcels of public land for the endowment of these so-called land-grant colleges, passed both houses of Congress by a narrow margin, only to be vetoed by President Buchanan, who was acutely sensitive to the states' rights and southern wings of his Democratic party. Not until June, 1862, with southerners removed from Congress, could the bill be enacted into law.

The Morrill Act was designed "to promote the liberal and practical education of the industrial classes in the several pursuits and professions of life." This meant that the colleges to be established under the law would emphasize agricultural and mechanical studies, although traditional courses were not to be ignored. Each state accepting the provisions of the act was to receive thirty thousand acres of land from the public domain for each senator and representative in the federal Congress. For states which no longer had public domain within their borders, the act provided for the issuance of land scrip-certificates which could be sold by the states without public land and redeemed by the purchaser in any section of the country where public lands remained. Thus the public domain, particularly in the West, would provide financial support for colleges in states where the public domain was exhausted. Many Americans had doubts about the value of agricultural and mechanical education, and westerners had very pronounced views concerning the land provision of the act.

Morrill can hardly be classified as an original thinker. His bill brought together a number of separate ideas that had existed in the country for a considerable time. The long-debated question of who actually originated the land-grant college concept need not detain us; what matters is that the Morrill Act committed the federal government to a program of aid to higher education at a critical time. As the nation expanded westward and as material wealth increased, the need for more institutions of higher learning was obvious. In the long run the burden of supporting the new land-grant colleges fell almost entirely upon the states, but the federal grant was of crucial significance in inducing the states to create colleges and universities.

The reaction of many Nebraskans to the Morrill Act demonstrates that educational legislation can never be considered separate from circumstances of the time. Reaction in the Territory was colored by politics and by economic considerations. For example, word of Buchanan's veto of the original Morrill bill was received by Democrats in the Territory with approval. On March 9, 1859, The Nebraskan, a Democratic newspaper published in Omaha, remarked that while the proposal undoubtedly was popular in the East, it would "have been suicidal to the interest of the new states and territories." Sustaining the President's veto upon the grounds that the Morrill bill exceeded federal authority and encroached upon the powers of the state, the editor also said that the bill, with its land scrip provision, would place much of Nebraska's rich lands "beyond the reach of honest settlers." The measure deserved to be vetoed by the courageous Buchanan, who possessed the nerve "to boldly forbid such a wrong to our people." Agreeing that the land scrip provision represented a danger to western interests. J. Sterling Morton, editor of the Nebraska City News, voiced another objection. In an edi


torial published March 12, 1859, he completely rejected the idea of agricultural education:

One of the most visionary, impractical and useless schemes for the political self-aggrandisement that was ever thought of, is this of building agricultural colleges all over the country. They are a sinecure, perfectly useless absolutely detrimental. We want the sturdy bone and sinew, the strong arms and stout beard, to cultivate our soil, not gentleman farmers, kid-gloved, cologne-scented pampered gentry, with a smattering of science--with a strong compounded laziness. Agricultural colleges have been tied and have resulted in miserable . . . failures.

The degree to which criticism was prompted by selfish considerations is impossible to determine. The western spokesmen argued that the land scrip would take the land from the hands of the settlers and give it over to eastern speculators. Nothing aroused western ire more quickly than the thought that western lands would pass into the possession of eastern capitalists. Even so, the western attitude was slightly hypocritical, for while men of the West bewailed the inroads of east-ern speculators, they were not greatly exercised by schemes which permitted the frontiersmen themselves to grab off a piece of land for speculative purposes. It is indeed likely that many of those who objected to the issuance of agricultural college scrip feared that easterners would beat them to the best land. By 1862 a growing resentment against withdrawal of any lands from public entry could be detected in the West, and upon this basis many opposed the Morrill Act.

Although by 1862 the Congressional situation had altered sufficiently to permit the passage of the bill, the skepticism of the western settlers did not diminish. Nebraska Democrats evolved more sophisticated arguments against the Morrill concept--editor Morton, for example, in June, 1862, insisted that the Morrill Act was part of a project designed to turn Nebraska into a colonization area for "free niggers"--but the most vehement attacks still were launched against the land scrip provision. Democratic editors predicted that vast portions of Nebraska's lands would be withdrawn from the reach of honest settlers should the bill be enacted; and even stalwart Republicans pointed out the paradoxical action of Congress, which, on the one hand, enacted the Homestead law that provided "free homes for free men," and, on the other, enacted the Morrill bill, which was generally construed as an open invitation to speculation in western lands. Years later H. J. Dobbs, in his history of Gage County, wrote about "the predatory effects of the Agricultural College Land Grant Act . . . . more than half of Gage county's fair domain gone increase the educational facilities of the wealthy eastern states and line the pockets of speculators in college scrip."1

The controversy over land scrip to the contrary notwithstanding, it is surprising how little discussion of the Morrill bill appeared in Nebraska newspapers. Two very important questions appear not to have been raised at all: First, did the settlers want the federal government to assume the role of benefactor for state colleges? And second, would the financial arrangements outlined in the Morrill bill prove adequate to the task of providing educational opportunities for "the agricultural and industrial classes"?

Despite the propensity of twentieth-century westerners to deprecate federal activities, the prairie pioneer seldom resented federal laws drawn to help him overcome the problems of frontier existence. In nineteenth-century Nebraska


1 Adverse reaction to agricultural scrip was particularly noticeable in Gage and Nuckolls counties, where between 1881 and 1886 a wealthy Irish immigrant, William Scully, purchased sixty-five thousand acres of land. Residents of the two counties said that Scully used agricultural scrip to build his holdings.


only the conservative wing of the Democratic party-the so-called Boubons-led by J. Sterling Morton of Nebraska City and George Miller, publisher of the Omaha Herald, consistently opposed all federal programs, but their attitude was not widely shared. The rugged individuals who inhabited the Nebraska frontier had little use for the philosophy of states' rights. The Republican party, which by 1862 controlled territorial politics, wanted the assistance of the federal government in developing the West. The role of government in encouraging the rise of big business was widely acknowledged. Western Republicans believed that the farmer-the "real wealth-producer"-deserved the same consideration from Washington. Pragmatic frontier farmers anxious to break the sod and get their crops into the rich earth were willing to use any means, including federal programs, to help them develop their prairie holdings. In the final analysis, many Nebraskans ignored the Morrill Act because they were too busy maintaining their precarious hold on the harsh land; some rejected the measure out of hand as an unwarranted expansion of federal paternalism into the affairs of the people of the nation; and others accepted it as they had other federal statues which attempted to assist in the development of the nation. It must be remembered that in the early 1860's, under Lincoln's leadership, Congress passed a number of significant pieces of legislation: the Pacific Railroad Act; an act establishing a Department of Agriculture; the Morrill Act; and, finally, the Homestead Act. All of these seemed to portend benefits for the settlers, and the western Republican accepted them as a just reward for the risky business of settling the wilderness. Second thoughts there would be in time about federal programs, but in the 1860's the pioneers were eager to share in the largesse distributed by Washington.

It is hard to answer even tentatively the second question: did the land-grant system offer adequate financial support for agricultural and mechanical colleges? In Nebraska, advocates for the Morrill Act argued with great sincerity that the ninety thousand acres of land given to the state would prove sufficient for the establishment of a university or agricultural college, or both. And if this endowment was inadequate, there were other available resources- for example, Governor Saunders pointed out that the federal government usually bestowed upon new states seventy-two sections of land to help endow a state university. For Saunders here was one reason to press for immediate statehood. Proponents of the Morrill plan were agreed that the statehood grant combined with the Morrill grant would constitute a firm financial basis for a state university. This kind of sanguine reasoning underminded opposition to the Morrill Act in Nebraska. After all, if the state university was not going to cost any money, why oppose it? Later, when the administrators of the University of Nebraska came to the legislature for tax funds, opposition materialized. After all, had not the people been told that no tax funds would ever be required to support the state institution? And for years there persisted the widespread feeling that the leaders of the University of Nebraska had squandered and misused the federal grant.

If Nebraskans generally had been acquainted with the provisions of the Morrill Act, this unfortunate misunderstanding would never have arisen. The average citizen believed that the lands given to Nebraska by the federal government were to be sold, and the revenue used to maintain the land-grant university. This was only partly true, since under the law the money realized from the sale of the lands was to be placed in a permanent endowment fund. Only a small portion of the land revenues and the income from the investment could be used to support the college. Hence, the income available to the land-grant colleges


2: Under an act of Congress of April 19, 1864, the future University of Nebraska eventually received 46,080 acres.


seldom exceeded 5 per cent of the fund. More discouraging, insofar as the land grant was concerned, was that the time could hardly have been less propitious for the sale of land. State officials who had the responsibility for selling the Morrill lands found the market inundated with homestead claims, railroad lands, and state lands, to say nothing of the agricultural college scrip issued by eastern states which could be used to redeem public land within Nebraska. Astute observers saw the difficulty at once. As a Lincoln newspaper, the Nebraska Commonwealth, argued, if the Morrill lands were sold cheaply, the revenue would not be sufficient to endow a state university. And yet who could expect a settler to purchase college lands when vast expanses of cheaper lands, and even great tracts of free homestead lands, were available?

Yet it must be noted that the Nebraska legislators, into whose jurisdiction the selection and disposition of the Morrill lands fell, did not act precipitately. Many states chose their lands as quickly as possible and sold them at the going market price. As a result, they realized inconsequential amounts of money from their Morrill gifts. In Nebraska, partly by design and partly by accident, the course of action was different. After the legislature accepted the provisions of the Morrill Act, no one knew precisely what the next step should be. In 1867 the legislature set up the machinery required to select public lands, but four years passed before anything was done. Political upheavals during the administration of Governor David Butler undoubtedly delayed the selection of the Morrill lands; and only after the impeachment of Butler in June, 1871, could the matter be given attention. At this point the men who were to stake out Nebraska's agricultural college land grant found that much of the best land in the eastern part of the state had already been taken. Laboring under the most trying circumstances imaginable, the commissioners finally succeeded in laying claim to Nebraska's ninety thousand acres, but most of the property lay in the northeastern portion of the state far from railroads and was usually of inferior quality.3 In 1867 the legislature placed a five-dollar-per-acre minimum price upon the college lands, increasing it to seven dollars in 1873. Although the lands did not pass into the market until the 1880's, the eventual result was most satisfactory. Nebraska's grant increased in value as a result of the steadily rising land market. While immediate returns were deferred, Nebraska ultimately realized a return of $8.37 an acre on these lands, well above the amount received by other states. In handling her land grant, Nebraska acted wisely and well.

Yet it must be emphasized that in the 1860's there was no general understanding of the actual financial arrangements ordained by the Morrill Act. Editors continued to say that the federal lands constituted an unparalleled boon for the new state. The comments of the editor of the Omaha Republican in July, 1869, are typical: "Nebraska is the only state in the Union that builds her State House, her University and Insane Asylum without taxing the people one cent, and has resources enough left, in Lincoln lots alone, to build a Penitentiary and other public edifices." Political figures for years argued along similar lines. In 1878 Senator Paddock, in an address at the Nebraska State Fair, said that "the liberal endowment by the Federal Government of two sections of land in each township for our schools, together with the additional grant of about 135,000 acres for a State University and an Agricultural College--all protected from undervaluation and fraudulent sale by careful restrictions in the Constitution of the State--secure


3 The counties in which the grant lands were located and the amounts secured are as follows: Burt, 640 acres; Cedar, 25,405.47 acres; Cuming, 960 acres; Dakota, 640 acres; Dixon, 2,240 acres; Knox, 33,491.20 acres; Pierce, 10,114.56 acres; Wayne, 15,648.98 acres. The total came to slightly less than the authorized 90,000 acres.


to us, forever, educational privileges of the highest order, with the smallest possible burdens."

The most obvious result of the Morrill Act, then, was to convince many Nebraskans that tax funds would never be required to support the land-grant university. Despite this serious misunderstanding, however, the Morrill Act stimulated intense interest in higher education, and steps were taken to create a state university. With the end of the Civil War an exciting era dawned in Nebraska Territory. The frontiersmen faced new problems - statehood, the location of the new state capital, and the establishment of the University of Nebraska.



Locating and Chartering the University

With the end of the Civil War political observers in Nebraska knew that it was just a matter of time the Territory was admitted to the Union. Although most Nebraskans looked forward eagerly to statehood, its attainment would pose some difficult problems. First, there was the matter of the location of the state capital. After the creation of the Territory a struggle for power had been waged among the towns which sprang up along the west bank of the Missouri River. Omaha rapidly outstripped the other communities and was designated the territorial capital on December 20, 1854. Political contention then polarized into a struggle between the North Platters and the South Platters- those who lived north of the Platte and lined up with Omaha, and those who lived south of that broad, muddy river. Of course there were exceptions, but as a rule South Platters and North Platters took opposite sides on important issues. After 1865 more settlers moved into the South Platte than the North Platter region. With increased population came political dominance, and by the statehood year of 1867 the South Platters had the upper hand. They decided that Omaha should be stripped of the capital and a new location chosen somewhere in the South Platter region.

In the 1867 session of the legislature the South Platte faction had its day. After a long and bitter battle, a bill was enacted providing for the relocation of Nebraska's capital city. This so-called removal bill created a special commission consisting of the governor, the secretary of state, and the state auditor to seek out a suitable capital site. It also contained the stipulation that the state university and state agricultural college, "united as one educational institution," were to be located in the new capital. In order to provide funds for the construction of state buildings there, the commissioners were empowered to see lots not yield the hundred thousand dollars to the state by the federal government could be sold at not less than five dollars an acre.

The removal bill passed with little opposition. Even the newspapers of the North Platte faction were strangely silent. Perhaps the editorial brigade, which had been feeding a steady diet of propaganda to their readers for some months, were relieved to have the tiresome issue at last resolved. However, George W. Frost, a member of the House Committee on Ways and Means, issued a minority report in June, 1867, after the committee's endorsement of the removal proposal. He said that the question of capital relocation had not been adequately discussed, and that the people were either uninformed or misinformed; he felt that the


legislature was deciding the matter too hastily, that the people would want to delay the establishment of the state university and agricultural college until "we have the means at hand to make them what they ought to be-an honor and blessing to the people." As for the university and agricultural college, Frost said: "Another remonstrance which will be presented is, that the question has not yet been fully discussed, nor has the time come to discuss it, whether the University and Agricultural College should be united, or should be different institutions, wholly separated in their organization. Some of the best minds prefer the one course and some the other...."

How these "best minds" reached agreement cannot be definitely established from existing records, but it was decided that Nebraska, unlike the majority of states (which had both a state university and a state agricultural college), was to have a single institution combining the two functions. We may assume that politics influenced the decision to some degree. We know, for example, that before the meeting of the 1867 legislature, J. Sterling Morton suggested cooperation with the Omaha delegation: Omaha would retain the capital and Nebraska City, Morton's home town (and Omaha's old enemy), would receive the state university. But evidently the old animosity won out, for Morton rejoiced when the university and agricultural college were located in Lincoln. Another story, amusing as well as revealing, describes the logrolling that attended the enactment of the removal bill. One advocate for removal, Representative A. B. Fuller from Ashland, sought to interest William Daily and T. J. Majors, both members of the legislature from Nemaha County, in a plan to move the capital out of Omaha. Fuller said to Daily, "See here, Daily, you have a school at Peru with a plot of land, buildings, etc. If you will pull for removal I will see that Peru gets the normal school>" Daily replied that he would have to talk with an official of the Methodist Church, to which the school property had been offered. Learning that the Methodists would relinquish their claims, Daily threw his support to Fuller's scheme, and Majors eventually came over also. Then, "after it had been decided to make a Normal School at Peru, Mr. Majors came to Mr. Daily saying, "What is a Normal School, Bill?" Daily replied with a puzzl[ed], "Dammed if I know." Consequently they both were obliged to ask Mr. Fuller what a Normal School was," and were told it was a teacher training school.

Despite such political maneuvering, the Nebraska lawmakers did not have many alternatives in regard to the location of the state university and the agricultural college. Few legislators wanted to award the institutions to Omaha, and every attempt to locate one or the other in an eastern Nebraska town was defeated on the floor of the legislature. Moreover, there was one very crucial factor affecting the legislature's ultimate decision: in Nebraska only two struggling colleges- at Peru and at Fontenelle- were then in existence. The importance of this factor can be seen by contrasting the situation in Nebraska with that in Iowa or Kansas, where a number of colleges already had been established at the time of the Morrill bill's enactment. All these colleges, naturally enough, were eager to obtain the support provided by the act, and the battle over the spoils had to be resolved by a political compromise- the state university was located in one town and the state agricultural college in another. But in Nebraska no legislator seriously considered expanding the colleges at Peru and Fontanelle into state institutions because of the political repercussions likely to follow. Also, both colleges were situated in the extreme eastern part of the new state, and a more central location was universally desired. Although there were a few who had misgivings, as Frost's report indicates, once it had been decided where to establish the new capital, the decision to locate the state university and the state agricultural college in Lincoln followed almost as a matter of course. This decision presupposed that the two


institutions would be combined in a single university. Thus, instead of having to divide her resources to support two separate institutions, Nebraska could devote her available means to the creation and maintenance of a single school. It was a most momentous development. As for the new capital, the commissioners could hardly have found a less likely spot for a major city. The town of Lancaster which stood on the site, selected in the summer of 1867, consisted of a handful of shabby buildings housing less than a hundred people. Herds of antelope pranced where in later years O Street, Lincoln's main commercial thoroughfare, would run. But the commission

ers insisted that the location possessed important advantages. Vigorously pushing the development of the new capital, they surveyed the city lots and arranged for their sale. The proceeds from the sales were to finance the construction of state buildings, including those to house the university, and in an effort to force up prices the commissioners planted men to shout bids at appropriate intervals. Questionable tactics, but they brought money into the state coffers, and work began on the state capitol. In 1869, two years after Lincoln was designated the capital city, the legislature moved from Omaha into its new quarters. At the time of the legislature's move to Lincoln, the city was still a raw frontier village, most of its streets unpaved and municipal water and sewage sys

tems totally unknown. Four square blocks on the north edge of the town had been set aside for the university campus; and although the location appeared to be a satisfactory one, the commissioners overlooked that the campus stood almost directly in the line of the railroads which were expected to build into Lincoln. There were better locations for the campus readily available. In the words of Miss Edna D. Bullock, an early graduate of the University of Nebraska; "The commissioners . . . must have selected the location of these four blocks when blindfolded. No good angel whispered to them of seats of learning set upon the hills. The gentle slopes of the Antelope valley were ignored, and a site bordering on Salt Creek valley and inevitably in the path of railroads, then imminent, was chosen." No single decision made in the first hectic days of Lincoln's history occasioned so much later comment as the unfortunate location of the campus.

The University Charter

Meeting for the first time in the new capitol in Lincoln, the legislature accepted and ratified all actions taken by the commission, even though some of them were at best extralegal. The legislature authorized the commissioners to sell the remaining city lots in Lincoln and earmarked the revenue for the construction of the various state buildings, including a university building. Governor David Butler urged the lawmakers to take immediate action in regard to the state university. Under the terms of the Morrill Act, Nebraska had only three years after the proclamation of statehood to accept the provisions of the act, and only two additional years in which to erect a building and open a land-grant university. Two significant education measures were enacted by the 1869 legislature: one brought a thorough overhauling of Nebraska's general school laws; the second created the University of Nebraska. Augustus F. Harvey, a prominent resident of Nebraska City, wrote the University's Charter during the early days of the 1869 session. Aware that land values were rising, he assumed that the landed endowment would soon provide enough money "to start the university upon at least a college basis." Although he stated that he had no model for the Charter, Harvey could not have been wholly unaware of what was happening in other states where public universities and land-grant colleges had already been founded. Compari

son of the University of Nebraska's Charter with those of other western univer



sities indicates that Harvey drew ideas and inspiration from the charters of the University of Minnesota, the Illinois Industrial School (later the University of Illinois), and the Iowa Agricultural College at Ames. Over the past twenty years these state institutions had marked out the guidelines for a new approach to higher education, and Harvey tapped the body of accumulated philosophy and experience. The Charter written by Harvey provided for a university rather than a col

lege, and Harvey had to spend some time explaining to his legislative colleagues how a university differed from a college. Nevertheless, it is clear from his own testimony that his plans were not definite. The idea of the University, he later wrote in a letter, "was somewhat inchoate, but my prime object was to get the institution at work as early as possible with as high a grade as the finances would permit, and then improve upon the general foundation as experience warranted or indicated modification." Harvey showed the completed Charter to State Superintendent S. D. Beals and to the clerk of the House, a Mr. Bowen, and he also summoned into consul

tation a number of friends of the University from Lincoln, Omaha, and Nebraska City. Having secured their approval, he then presented the document to Senator Benjamin F. Cunningham of Richardson County, who introduced the Charter, in bill form, in the Senate on February 11, 1869. On the same day the bill, entitled "An Act to Establish the University of Nebraska," went to the Committee on Education under the chairmanship of Charles H. Gere, editor of Lincoln's Daily State Journal.1 Gere, a staunch supporter of higher education, was destined to be one of the University's most outstanding regents. On February 12, Gere's committee reported the measure back to the Senate floor with minor modifica

tions, and it passed the Senate the next day and was sent to the House. In the House the rules were suspended so that the bill could have its first and second readings. Time was running out and the proponents of the Charter wanted action taken before adjournment. On February 15, 1869, the bill was approved by the House Committee on Schools, and passed a voice vote on the House floor. It was then sent to Governor Butler, who signed the measure that same day. According to Harvey, only a few members of the legislature opposed the Charter. Some objected because they felt that the Charter, which provided for the creation of six colleges and more than fifty chairs, attempted too much. Others, still bewildered by the name "university," required intensive briefing before they realized what Harvey's bill entailed. And there were a few legislators who objected because Lincoln was to have the state university. Most important, in the light of later developments, was the concern expressed by several legislators that the University would be biased in favor of a single denomination, the most likely being the Christian Church, to which Governor Butler belonged. Others feared that the University might fall under the influence of atheists. Despite these points of contention the Charter passed with only slight modification and in a surprisingly congenial atmosphere. The unanimous vote given the Charter in both houses of the legislature attests to the efficient manner in which the passage of the proposal was managed. As for the Charter itself, its provisions represented a continuation of, rather than a deviation from, traditional educational principles. Even though the University was to be endowed in great part by the Morrill land grant, which ostensibly was to be used to set up an institution given over to instruction in "agricultural and the mechanic arts," the first paragraph of the Charter stated, "The object of such institution shall be to afford to the inhabitants of this State, the means of


1 Later called the Nebraska State Journal.


acquiring a thorough knowledge of the various branches of literature, science, and the arts." The University was to consist of six colleges: the College of Ancient and Modern Literature, Mathematics and the Natural Sciences; the College of Agriculture; the College of Law; the College of Medicine; the College of Practical Science, Civil Engineering and Mechanics; and the College of Fine Arts. The latter, however, was to be established only when the income from the University’s endowment reached one hundred thousand dollars annually. Control of the University was placed in the hands of the Board of Regents, whose twelve members included nine elected by the legislature. The remaining three positions were held by the governor, who was president of the Board, the state superintendent of public instruction, and the chancellor of the University. From the first judicial district the governor appointed John C. Elliot of Otoe County, Robert W. Furnas of Nemaha County, and David R. Dungan of Pawnee County. Representatives on the Board from the second district were the Reverend J. B. Maxfield of Cass County, A. B. Fuller of Saunders County, and Champion S. Chase of Douglas County. William B. Dale of Platte County, William G. Olinger of Burt County, and F. H. Longley of Washington County represented the third judicial district. Regarding this first group of regents, C. H. Gere commented, "A great weight of responsibility rests upon the shoulders of the Board of Regents, and . . . upon their action . . . depends much the future prosperity and the intellectual status of the institution." Editor Gere reminded the people of Nebraska that as yet few state universities had fulfilled the expectations of the people. Most of them in fact lagged far behind private colleges. Diligent care and constant support would be needed if the University of Nebraska was to achieve the intellectual standing which its most outspoken supporters sought for it. Few of the regents were overly optimistic. All appeared to understand that a great task lay before them. Of immediate concern was a decision regarding the aims of the University. Among interested Nebraskans a few wanted to stress the practical approach, with a view to producing the professional people so urgently needed by a frontier society. Others believed that the University would do well to concentrate its efforts upon the production of stalwart citizens well versed in the history and traditions of the nation. Some felt that the single most important function of the University was to exist as a beacon to future immigrants. To say the least, these broad and very general ideals did not indicate a well-defined educational policy, but the circumstances which attended the founding of the University left little time for philosophical discussion. There were many, many practical problems at hand that needed immediate attention. The philosophizing would have to wait, and in the meantime the University would be erected upon the guidelines provided in the Charter. The impact of Nebraska's frontier experience would in time bring modifications in the ideas and structure of the University, but these changes could not have been predicted in 1869. In all honest it must be noted that the larger number of Nebraskans, striving to make a living on the prairies, probably did not even know that the University of Nebraska had been chartered. Those who did may well have thought that it would be a long trip for their children from a sod house to the ivy-covered halls of the University.

The Controversy over University Hall

The ease with which Charter passed through the legislature was not a

portent of the University's immediate future. Almost from the outset the insti

2 The first Board members, for the years 1869-1871, were appointed by the Governor. The first elected Board of Regents held office from 1871 to 1873. The incumbent governor was always ex officio president until 1876.


tution faced an uphill fight. In the early 1870s drought and grasshopper plagues brought Nebraska's farmers to the verge of destitution, and there were many Nebraska who felt that public funds should not be spend on a luxury such as a university. A constant barrage of criticism emanated from Omaha, still smarting over the removal of the capital to Lincoln. Because a group of men can seldom speak with a firm voice, the Board of Regents had difficulty justifying the founding of the University and answering criticism. It was most unfortunate that from 1869 to 1871, when the first chancellor was appointed, the University possessed no single spokesman.

Some of the criticism was justified, and it could be argued - as the Omaha newspapers continually did - that the University was unnecessary and premature. The editor of the Omaha World Herald in January, 1871, considered the University "an expensive as well as an empty, luxury"; and he deplored that the residents of Douglas County were expected to contribute $13,488.69 for the "needless educational dance." At this time he said, Nebraska needed a university "about as much as a cat needs two tails." But criticism was not by any means limited to Omaha. In Nemaha City one speaker told a teachers' institute that the University should be converted into a normal school since the state badly needed teachers. It was absurd to contemplate the creation of a university in an undeveloped frontier area. "A state university ought to mean something more than a sham and a waste of money. The Nebraska State Teachers Association shared the view that the University was premature; and during its 1870 convention, it adopted a resolution that the resources of the state should instead by directed toward the perfection of the lower levels of public education. During the 1871 legislative session, the State Journal reported that some lawmakers "are arguing that the State university should no be opened because there are no students. It is a great oversight of the Regents that they have not collected a few hundred students here prior to electing a faculty and getting ready to ring the first bell."

The criticism would have been much less effective had not the issue been at hand around which all opponents of the University could rally their forces. The circumstances surrounding the construction of the University building afforded the critics a field day, for Governor Butler and the Commissioners of Public Buildings clearly exceeded their legal authority in matters pertaining to the building. The legislature had authorized one hundred thousand dollars for the building, the money to be derived from the sale of city lots in Lincoln. The legislature also has said that all plans for the building would have to be approved by the Board of Regents prior to actual construction. While it is impossible to determine what happened, it is apparent that the Commissioners of Public Buildings and Governor Butler allowed the expenditure of a sum in excess of the hundred thousand dollars and countenanced other irregularities. Just where the regents fit into the confused sequence of events cannot be determined. However, we do know that on June 3, 1869, the Board approved the general plan submitted by M.J. McBird of Logansport, Indiana, but suggested "such modification of the external design as may seem to [the architect] desirable." Years later, in 1910, John C. Elliot, a member of the first Board of Regents, recalled that the Board submitted a plan for the building to Governor Butler for his approval, but the approval was "seemingly not forthcoming." Butler presented a radically different plan to the regents, which they rejected. They expected him to use their plan, but "the construction of University hall proceeded according to the plans formulated by Governor Butler and his architects."


Although state law specified that the construction of the building could not begin until the regents had accepted the final plans, the commissioners let a construction contract before their approval had been secured. These earnest men, who had gone out on a limb so often in the past, were eager to have the building go up as quickly as possible. They feared that the University would not be opened in time to claim the ninety thousand acres of land offered under the Morrill Act. The commissioners also hoped that the construction of a large, ornate university building would stimulate interest in Lincoln and bring about a sharp rise in the value of the town's real estate. On August 18, 1869, the contract for erection of the building was let to Silver and Son for $128,480 - $28,480 beyond the legal maximum. None of the regents seemed troubled, for the commissioners had assured them that the sale of Lincoln lots would undoubtedly exceed one hundred thousand dollars. It was expected that the legislature would approve the additional expenditure, but to be on the safe side the commissioners summoned some leading citizens to Lincoln and explained what had been done. Others, unable to attend the meeting, were consulted by the letter. In the end the Board members assumed they had received popular approval of their actions. Instead, as soon as it was known that the regents and the commissioners had exceeded the appropriation set by the legislature, criticism of the University and all connected with it reached a new intensity. Interestingly enough, the most outspoken critic was Robert W. Furnas, editor of the Nebraska Advertiser and a member of the Board of Regents, who said that the Governor and the other commissioners had clearly exceeded their authority. Responsibility for the nefarious actions rested with the commissioners, Furnas said, although a number of regents had gone along with them without protest. Gere answered Furnas through the editorial columns of the State Journal. He asserted that the Brownville editor was making a mountain out of a molehill; no appropriation for the building had as yet been made by the legislature, so there was no concrete evidence that the hundred-thousand-dollar, yet he insisted that the amount of money spent upon the building was of slight significance. The important thing was to get a building suitable for the use of the University and one which would not have to be "pulled down and built over."

The argument eventually developed into a personal feud between Governor Butler and Furnas, a dispute which enlivened Republican party politics through this hectic period. Butler and Furnas both actively sought the leadership of the state party, and the argument over the University provided a catalyst for a conflict which had been long in the making. Charges and counter charges flew thick and fast. Furnas insisted that at not time had the Board authorized the expenditure of funds in excess of a hundred thousand dollars. In October, 1870, the argument between Butler and Furnas came to a climax. Butler asked Furnas to resign from the Board of Regents, writing to him that "the Educational interests of the State, - in my opinion, - require this, and other changes in the Board." The "other changes" meant the removal of the Reverend J. B. Maxfield, who also had been extremely critical of Butler's actions. Enraged by the Governor's request, Furnas replied that he would not resign and that they only disagreement between them had been on the matter of the University building. He added that Butler, who had received the Republican nomination over Furnas by only three votes, was turning upon the man who had actively supported him in the gubernatorial contest. "Now, as soon as the Governor is fully satisfied of his election," said Furnas in the Nebraska Advertiser, "he offers this insult by asking [me] to resign." Butler's supporters said that Furnas had never given his wholehearted support to the University, and this was true. Many critical editorials appeared in the Nebraska


Advertiser, and Furnas's paper had not even carried a story about the founding of the University. Repeatedly Furnas made public statements to the effect that he considered the University a bad investment, and he predicted its early demise. However, there is no record that Furnas, at regents' meetings, ever raised any objections to the policies pursued by the Board. It is clear, then, that this was essentially a political quarrel between two ambitious men. In the meanwhile work on the building continued. McBird's plans called for a substantial four-story building, styled in "Franco-Italian" architecture. The cornerstone was laid on September 23, 1869, the ceremonies being conducted under Masonic auspices with Major D. H. Wheeler as master of ceremonies. A brass band from Omaha, which had made the trip to Lincoln in special carriages, enlivened the proceedings. At the grand banquet in the evening--provided by "the good ladies of Lincoln" and "enjoyed by fully a thousand people"--the main address, on the subject of "Popular Education," was given by Attorney General Seth Fuller, and afterward there was a dance that lasted from ten o'clock until four in the morning. Citizens of Lincoln donated nearly two thousand dollars to pay for the band and the banquet. Erection of the building proceeded slowly, for Lincoln was many miles from any major point of supply and no railroads yet entered the city. Lumber had to be carried from Nebraska City over primitive roads. Contractors paid ten dollars a cord for firewood to burn the bricks, and the wood had to be brought twenty miles. Even the job of finding suitable stone for the steps to the main entrance proved difficult until a quarry was located fifteen miles east of Lincoln. But the work progressed. The walls were started on April 7, 1870, and in the following eighty-two working days a million and a half bricks were manufactured and put into place. On January 10, 1871, the Board of Regents visited the building and expressed their entire satisfaction with it. "To us," the regents reported, "the building appears to be well constructed and substantial, and that its general plan, as well as the details, are eminently well fitted to answer the purpose for which the same was erected." Governor Butler, similarly impressed, told the legislature, "Our University building is a source of pride to the citizens of our State, and is a model, not only in architectural beauty, but in its internal arrangement ...." For a frontier community, the building shortly to be named University Hall, was indeed an imposing structure. Built on a low hill to the north of the business heart of the city, it never failed to impress visitors to the capital, especially if they happened to be young people from some rural area about to enroll in the Uni

versity. One student, born and reared in a sod house, remembered that "the old red brick main building was as beautiful as the Parthenon, and O Street, though built of wood and sun-dried bricks, could not have been surpassed in attractive

ness by the marble palaces of Rome." Another visitor to Lincoln wrote: "The State University building is brick, but is to be painted a beautiful light color, and as the corners and foundations are of brown stone, the cornice and other visible wood-work brown, the building when completed will present a fine appear

ance.... It is a large, roomy structure, and worthy the noble purpose for which it is intended." University Hall was three stories high, exclusive of basement and mansard. The chapel was 42 feet by 60 feet, with a gallery; there were twenty recitation rooms; a reading room; rooms for the literacy societies, music, and painting; a cabinet,3 laboratory, and armory; a ladies' reception room; and a printing office.

________________ 3 The name designating the room that housed a collection of geological, botanical, and biological specimens, the forerunner of the natural science museum. The regents had established a museum on June 14, 1871.''


But its splendid brick facade concealed structural weaknesses. Like many other state buildings, University Hall went up hastily and the materials used were frequently of inferior quality. The historian Albert Watkins has written that all the public buildings in pioneer Nebraska "were remarkable in being of a uniform structural type, all of them had to be propped up or burned down to keep them from falling down." So it is not surprising that in the spring of 1871, even before the building was completed, it was widely rumored that University Hall was unsafe for occupancy. The regents said that "from actual and repeated [personal] examinations" they were fully satisfied that the building was "perfectly safe and substantially constructed"; but to satisfy the people of the state they engaged three professional builders to examine it. The inspectors reported that the building "is entirely safe for the present as it now stands. It will probably continue to be safe for many years to come." The probability could be made a certainty by repairs to the foundation, including replacement of "imperfect materials." The cost of these repairs was $747. With the question of the structural soundness of University Hall momen

tarily resolved, the regents expected public criticism to cease, but Robert Furnas chose this moment to launch another attack upon Governor Butler's management of University affairs. The Governor, he charged, had tried to extort ten thousand dollars in cash from Mr. Silver, the contractor, and a like sum from the archi

tects. The accusations received a generous play in the state's press, and in 1871 the legislature ordered an investigation of Butler's activities as governor. The Omaha Herald, a Democratic newspaper violently opposed to him, said that the investigation was throwing some light upon the machinations of "Butler and his forty thieves" and revealing the "utter inefficiency, lawlessness and total deprav

ity" which had marked Butler's administration. The Herald maintained that every state institution, including the University, had suffered because the Gover

nor had not selected the state lands. When the investigation into Butler's conduct in office resulted in impeachment proceedings against him, several references were made in the articles of impeachment to his alleged mishandling of University affairs. While Butler's political foes were trying to remove him from office, matters of the utmost urgency pertaining to the University were ignored. This was called to the attention of the legislature by Charles H. Gere, who urged its members to forget partisan politics long enough to attend to several items of business that should not wait. As yet no provision had been made to select the ninety thousand acres of land due Nebraska under the Morrill Act, and meanwhile the best lands in the state were being taken up. With every passing day the prospect of a mag

nificent endowment for the University faded. When his words went unheeded and the attack on Butler intensified, Gere reproved some legislators for their single-mindedness in bringing the Governor to justice when the legislature itself had flouted the law by authorizing the expenditure of seventeen thousand dollars from the University fund for other state purposes. Throughout all the wild political dispute the question of University Hall continued to come up. Periodically cries arose that the building had been found to be unsafe, and invariably they were followed by the demand that the University be permanently closed. Funds which were needed for faculty salaries and for equipment had to be diverted to finance repairs. As a result of a poorly con

structed building, in the words of one writer, "the growth of the University was retarded, and its enemies given a weapon of attack in their assaults upon it."



The First Chancellor and the First Years

While the storm raged over Governor Butler and University Hall, the regents had been working to secure a chancellor to direct the fortunes of the University. In September, 1869, they had formed a committee to round up candidates, and by the beginning of 1871 a slate of prospects had been prepared. At their meeting on January 7, after discussing the five men on the list, the regents proceeded to vote. On the first formal ballot a majority cast their votes for Allen R. Benton, president of Mount Union College in Ohio. Governor Butler, as president of the Board, immediately wired an offer to Benton, who wired his acceptance two days later. Benton was born in Cayuga County, New York, on October 1, 1822. As a young man he was an earnest student, and on several occasions his rigorous application to his studies threatened his health. After obtaining his bachelor's degree from Bethany College in Virginia (now West Virginia) in 1847, he opened a private local academy in Fairview, Indiana. As was customary then, Benton had received academic and theological training simultaneously, and he was an ordained minister in the Christian Church as well as a scholar in the field of ancient languages. During the academic year 1854-1855 he pursued postgraduate studies at Rochester University; then in 1855 he joined the faculty of Northwest

ern Christian University (now Butler University) in Indiana, and in 1861 was named president of the institution. He resigned in 1867, reportedly because of his wife's health, and accepted an appointment at Mount Union College in Alliance, Ohio, where again he followed the path from professor of ancient languages to college presidency. Benton's name had been proposed by Regent Dungan, who, like Benton, was a minister of the Christian Church and who undoubtedly had heard of him through his church connections. In time Benton's religious affiliation would be

come a major source of difficulty to him, but those who opposed his appointment did so, not because he was an ordained minister, but because he was, as the Omaha Herald called him, "the great Unknown of Indiana." In the Herald's view, the regents should have secured a man of wider reputation. Moreover, grumbled the Herald, the regents had offered Benton a salary of five thousand dollars, then a princely sum, "for playing the role of Chancellor over an empty building in Lincoln." Thanks in part to Benton himself, by the time the University opened much of the criticism had ceased. On his first visit to Lincoln, in February, 1871, the Brownville paper reported that Benton had made "an exceedingly favorable impression" upon the people in the capital city. When he returned in June, he


sought out the University's most outspoken critics, including Omaha editors, and talked with them. Apparently this was the right approach. The Herald editor assured his readers that the Chancellor would do his utmost "to put the University on the right path." Since it was not easy to lure an easterner to the frontier, it may be asked why Benton decided to take the post at Nebraska. In part, the answer is money. Although the regents struck a thousand dollars from Benton's salary before he arrived in Lincoln, still four thousand dollars represented a substantial increase over the twelve hundred he had received as president of Mount Christian. Ben

ton's letters to his father reveal him as a typical American of the nineteenth century; a modest speculator eager to invest in land and property; a man not ashamed to accumulate material wealth as an indication of his industry and strength of character. He came to Nebraska in debt to his father as a result of heavy investments in Indianapolis real estate. With his increased income, Benton expected to repay the debt immediately and have something left over for invest

ment in Nebraska property. But all his good intentions fell by the way; he postponed repaying his father and plunged into Lincoln real estate. His new surroundings captivated him. In the first letter to his father from Lincoln, Ben

ton wrote:

Now you want to know how we like Lincoln. In short, first-rate. All the family are pleased, and the climate is charming. We have had a day or two of intensely hot weather but it is over now. A fresh breeze is stirring almost constantly during the day, and the nights are perfectly delightful. It is always cool enough, no matter how warm the day, for a coverlet at night. It is the best summer night weather I ever saw.

During the summer of 1871, Benton energetically addressed himself to the tasks of organizing the University and enlisting the support of the people of the state. He traveled widely, speaking at local celebrations, church meetings, and teachers' institutes--he accepted any opportunity to present the University's case. Like the executives of all new institutions of higher learning, Benton acted as chief recruiter of students. In November, looking back upon his first few months in Nebraska, he wrote: "I believe it may be said without boasting that my success here is very marked. I have the confidence and good-will of all parties and sects so far as I know, and am so extending my acquaintance as to be known pretty well throughout the state."

The First Faculty

Although the Charter provided for fifty professors in the six authorized col

leges, the plans for the first faculty were far more modest. Benton needed to recruit four qualified men well versed in the traditional liberal arts. In addition, he would need a principal for the preparatory department, called the Latin School, in which students not qualified for university work could remedy their deficiencies. This department, which had been approved by the Board of Regents in June, 1871, was to be discontinued "as soon as practicable." Benton himself expected to teach classes in "Intellectual and Moral Sciences"; the other faculty members would teach ancient and modern languages, mathematics, English literature, and natural science. We do not know how Benton and the regents went about locating teachers, but we may assume that the method was somewhat different from that used to unearth candidates for the post of chancellor. According to the minutes of the regents' meeting of April 4, 1871, each of the four regents present proposed a man


for a faculty position carrying a salary of two thousand dollars. Regent Maxfield nominated S. H. Manley for the chair of ancient and modern languages; Regent Dungan proposed H. E. Hitchcock for the chair of mathematics;^1 Regent Chase suggested O. C. Dake for the chair of English literature; and Regent Bruner moved the nomination of C. H. Kuhns for the chair of natural sciences. The nominees typified the status of American higher education in the post-Civil War period. All had graduated from and taught in denominational liberal arts colleges and all met the test of religious orthodoxy. S. H. Manley, an ordained Methodist minister, belonged to a famous Methodist family of Ohio, his father, so tradition said, having preached the first sermon in the old Northwest Territory. Orsamus C. Dake had taken Episcopalian orders. Prior to his acceptance of the University position, he had founded Brownell Hall, an Episcopalian academy in Omaha. Kuhns, who had been offered the chair of natural sciences, was a Lutheran minister; when he declined the appointment the regents accepted as substitute another Lutheran pastor, Samuel H. Aughey. In fact, the only non-cleric on the first faculty was George E. Church, who was engaged as principal of the Latin School.

Benton, Manley, Dake, Aughey, and Church were men completely acceptable to the people of Nebraska. They represented traditional values and attachment to the tried and true methods of liberal arts education. George E. Howard, an early graduate of the University and later a distinguished teacher there, wrote of these first faculty members: "They were not men of wide national repute. . . . Not one was of transcendent ability. Most of them were persons of strong character and high ideals. The dominant conservatism of the group was a real safeguard in undertaking the then bold experiment of determining the methods, planning the curriculum, and starting the traditions of a secular, a public, University for a pioneer society." Howard Caldwell, also a Nebraska alumnus who joined the University for a lengthy stay, made a similar estimate of this first faculty. Caldwell wrote: "It may be said in general that although not men of genius, they were all good workers and fully abreast with the development of the young State, and better prepared, perhaps, to do the work then needed than men of more brilliancy and more erudition would have been."

"Dedicated to Letters and All the Arts"

The University Announcement for 1871, the first year of operation, indicated that the institution would begin its existence with both a traditional faculty and a traditional curriculum. The preponderance of work i in the preparatory Latin School was in mathematics and Latin, but it also offered "English analysis," United States history, geography, physiology, Greek, German, ancient history, zoology, and Roman history. In the university course of study, students could choose from three courses - the Classical, the Scientific, and the Selected. The Classical Course included work in languages, literature, mathematics, science, ancient history, and philosophy. The Scientific Course followed essentially the same pattern, omitting the courses in Greek and Latin. The Selected Course was for special students who could choose "from the general course such studies as they may prefer, with the advice and under the direction of the Faculty." The first University Announce


1: Hitchcock, who was at Know College in 1871, declined the invitation. The Announcement listing the first faculty included a note that "the Professor of Mathematics has not yet been elected, but suitable provision will be made for that department, by the opening of the University." When the regents approached Hitchcock again in December, 1871, he accepted the position and joined the University faculty in time to teach during the second year of operation.


ment indicated the faculty preference in unmistakable language: "The classical course...is earnestly recommended by the Faculty, as that which experience and the practice of the best Institutions have sown to be best suited to secure a sound and systematic education." Judged by the faculty and curricula, the University of Nebraska was not attuned to the spirit of the Morrill Act. The philosophy of education implicit within the University completely circumvented the aims of the framers of the land-grant college concept. Few educators understood the intention and philo

sophical implications of the Morrill Act, and some completely disagreed with these assumptions. Many complained that there had not been enough discussion among leaders of higher education about the appropriate form of federal aid to education. Traditional educationists would have nothing to do with courses in mechanics and agriculture, even though the Morrill Act required that the land

grant colleges should offer such courses. College presidents gave lip service only to the new ideas and exerted every effort to retain the tested principles of a liberal, classical education. In September, 1871, Nebraska had its university; the university building had a roof; the foundation, already beginning to crumble, had been braced to with

stand the weight of the first rush of students; and a chancellor and faculty stood ready to begin work. All this had come about in a brief span of time and under difficult circumstances. No wonder, then, that University leaders had found little time for a discussion of the proper educational goals of the school. Practical questions consistently outweighed philosophical ones. The idea of making higher education available to all young people seemed appropriate, but beyond this vague sentiment little consideration had been given to determining the direction which the University should take. Inattention to long-range goals was the style of the frontier; more than that, it was and is the style of American higher educa

tion. Experience and immediate pressures would answer the pertinent questions: What is the purpose of a state university? What is the relation of the University to the State? Should courses in agriculture and mechanical arts be offered? In many public speeches, the University was hailed as the capstone of the state's educational system, as a place where democratic ideals would be perpetu

ated, where free education would combat any tendency toward aristocracy, where the cultural heritage of America might be transmitted to a raw frontier region. The majority of the speakers felt that practical education should be emphasized. But beyond such general statements and platitudes there were almost no specific statements concerning the University's goals and objectives. Although the Uni

versity of Nebraska originated in a period when searching questions concerning the philosophy and purpose of American higher education were being asked, these questions were avoided or ignored by the men responsible for getting the University into operation. To Chancellor Benton fell the task of determining the University's immedi

ate course. In his acceptance letter to the regents, he said: "While I am not insensible to the responsibilities of this position, as well as to the honor attached to it, with harmony in our plans, cordial cooperation in work and with the bless

ing of Heaven on our labors, we may reasonably hope to achieve a grand work for the cause of sound education, and social Christian culture in Nebraska." These were the words of a man who cherished traditional educational values; and yet as he became involved in the work of the University, Benton showed an awareness of the need for reform. His speeches stamped him as one who had begun to understand that a state university should be different from a private, denominational college. Yet, like other educators of his generation, Benton never successfully reconciled the old with the new. He realized that a chancellor of the


University of Nebraska had to be a traditionalist, since he was first and foremost a public relations man. His position in the state would have been untenable had he paraded as the purveyor of new and daring ideas in education. While frontiersmen might upon occasion embrace radical political and economic ideas, their educational philosophy was notably conservative. Benton was not one to go against their preferences.

Late in the summer of 1871, just a few weeks before classes began in the University, Benton went on a trip to the East. During the tedious railroad journey, the Chancellor, according to a frequently repeated story, mused over the University and its philosophical basis. Finally he drew a piece of paper from his coat pocket and began to sketch a seal for the University which would embody his educational ideals and objectives. In the center of the seal he drew an open book, symbolic of the library arts. Around it he lettered a Latin phrase, Literis dedicata et omnibus artibus (Dedicated to Letters and All the Arts). Around this central figure Benton placed the symbols of the colleges and schools which he hoped the University would in time include: a sheaf of wheat for the College of Agricultural; a locomotive for the College of Mechanical Engineering; the scales of justice for the College of Law; surveyors' instruments for the College of Civil Engineering; the American flag for the military department; a mortar and pestle for the College of Medicine; and an artist's palette for the Fine Arts. In this dramatic and permanent form Benton set down the basic structure of the University of Nebraska.

Finances and Administration

The most pressing of the problems confronting the regents and the Chancellor were the need to determine the University's financial base and to devise a rational administrative system. The financial situation in particular caused grievous trouble, and much of the University's history, then as later, is told in the perpetual battle of the budget.

Under the terms of the Charter, the University received an annual income derived from a one-mill levy against property in the state, but many believed that


the mill levy would not be necessary once the landed endowment began to pro

duce an annual dividend. The University possessed 136,080 acres of land from the statehood grant and the Morrill grant, and University officials did little to discourage the optimistic assumption that the income from the sale and rental of the lands would support the institution. Considering the grasshopper incursions, the recurrent droughts, and the general hard times that afflicted Nebraska's fron

tier in the late 1860's and early 1870's, good public relations demanded that the taxpaying public be assured the financial burden of supporting the University would be a temporary one. From 1868 to 1872 the one-mill levy had brought in approximately seventy-seven thousand dollars, and it was widely believed that this was more than enough to support the University. As a consequence of pressure to reduce the mill levy, in February, 1871, the regents prepared a bill for the legis

lature suggesting a cut to one-half mill. When the legislature went further, slicing the levy to one-quarter mill, the regents protested. Even the one-mill levy had been considered only adequate; it had never produced the anticipated income, because substantial portions of the taxes were never collected. Adding to the University's problems, the Omaha Herald in September, 1871, mounted a major attack upon its financial policies. The Herald called upon Acting Governor William H. James to protect the University from the unrepentant henchmen of the recently deposed Governor Butler, who had swindled the University fund openly and with im

punity. The Herald's chief target was John L. McConnell, one of the "profes`

sional bunglers to whom this State is already indebted for the actual loss of millions." The regents refused to remove McConnell and stated that no financial irregularities had accompanied the first two years of the University's administra

tive existence. Whereupon the Herald replied that the regents were "guilty of plain, patent, criminal neglect." No issue encouraged public distrust of the University more than did the questions which kept arising over the handling of the University's funds. During June of 1871, as the University's small staff made final preparations for its opening in the fall, a constitutional convention convened in Lincoln. The delegates gave over a great deal of time to University affairs, and their debates provided a sample of the trends in public opinion at that time. Much of the discussion was negative. Early in the session, on June 20, J. C. Campbell from Otoe County said that the state had forfeited the lands that had been withdrawn from the public domain for agricultural college lands in 1868 because the filing fee had not been paid, and that private entries had been made on the land by "a few members of the Legislature and persons connected with the land office" who knew of the forfeiture. A committee was formed to investigate the matter, with Experience Estabrook of Douglas County as the chairman. The next day Esta

brook reported that the filing fee did not have to be paid, and the private entries would be withdrawn. On July 12 there was again considerable discussion about the agricultural college, during which Campbell remarked: "I see no use of that law which was passed by the Legislature establishing this University.... I don't believe there are enough boys in the State to establish a freshman class, and yet under that law the first thing that these regents did" was to hire a chancellor and faculty whose salaries totaled thirteen thousand dollars. Furthermore, Campbell wanted the agricultural college to be independent of the state university. Others supported him, and a long and bitter discussion ensued. O. P. Mason, also from Otoe County, spoke eloquently to the point:

Mr. Chairman, I want lands around our agricultural colleges, as well as these experimental farms. I wish my boy to go from the field with sweat still on his brow, to his books. I would take him from practical farming ... to the school


room; from the toil of the muscle, to the toil of the brain, and for that reason I would have my building upon a farm. Therefore, I am for the planting of our agricultural college - not in Lincoln, not in Nebraska City, not in Omaha, not anywhere except in the country which God has made and the farmer is to inhabit.

The convention was also plagued by the question of whether the University, at presently established, fulfilled the stipulations of the Morrill Act. On July 12, Estabrook stated that Congress required a building for the agricultural college to comply with the law, and suggested that the building already erected "should be deemed the Agricultural College....so as to show that we had in good faith complied with the provisions of the acts of Congress." Others agreed with him, but after much discussion the delegates decided to drop the subject. All references to the agricultural college were deleted from the constitution; but the confusion over its status continued to perplex Nebraskans.

Through all the discussions touching upon the University ran several questions: What should be the role of the regents? What should be the relation of the Board of Regents to the legislature? What powers should be given to the governor? Some convention delegates, dissatisfied with the system which allowed the legislature to name most of the members of the Board, wanted the popular election of a "Board of Education" by judicial districts. D. J. McCann of Otoe County made the point that "those who have the management and care of the university and agricultural college should be above the suspicion of being influenced by party or political considerations." When the delegates discussed the powers to be given to the regents, acrimonious debate was the rule. Some said the regents should have control of the University's finances, and others were just as convinced that the legislature must retain control of the purse strings. A spokesman for the latter group said it seemed to him "that more than actual necessary expenses have been incurred," thus implying that the University's finances could not be entrusted to the Board. The delegates defending the regents were in the minority, and J. C. Myers from Douglas County expressed the predominant sentiment: "Upon the general principle of abolishing the Board of Regents, I believe it is eminently wise and proper. I have for some time regarded it as an incubus on the State. Many complaints were made during the last session of the Legislature as to their extravagance, and want of foresight in administering [the] affairs [of the University]." Myers cited one rumor that the regents had estimated twelve thousand dollars would b e needed to furnish University Hall, but when Benton arrived he found it could be done for only one thousand dollars. "A board that is no reckless as that on this one single item is certainly open to just animadversions," Myers said.

The argument that the government of the University should be taken from the regents raised another question: If the Board of Regents should be abolished, who would run the University? Some believed that the governor, the superintendent of public instruction, and the state treasurer should comprise the governing board; others believed it should be made up of a legislative committee. Rumors that the convention had decided to make changes in the method of electing the regents and in the powers assigned to them were deeply disturbing to Chancellor Benton. On July 12, 1871, he wrote to his father: "Our Constitutional Convention now in session will make considerable changes in our University organization. So that we shall have a new Board of Regents or the control will be put in the hands of State Officers." He was getting alone "finely" with the present Board, and "if a new one comes in, I do not know what may happen. I shall try and be prepared for any change at the end of the year."


For the time being, however, the Chancellor's fears were unjustified. Despite the general dissatisfaction with the work of the Board of Regents, there was no unanimity in regard to solutions for the problem of alleged maladministration. In the end the committee submitted a plan whereby the regents would be elected by the people on the basis of one regent from each of the state's judicial districts, and the authority and powers of the Board were left to the discretion of the legislature. Although the 1871 constitution was rejected by the voters, essentially the same provisions were written into the constitution of 1875, which the people did accept.

The University Opens

During the summer of 1871 Nebraska newspapers carried a lengthy adver

tisement of the University. "A corps of competent and skilled Professors has been selected to fill the various chairs of Instruction," it read in part. "Apparatus, Library and Cabinet will be fully supplied." At the bottom appeared the informa

tion that tuition was free, a five-dollar matriculation fee alone being required. Anyone contemplating a college career was invited to attend the Chancellor's inauguration on September 6 and to register the following day. After a visit to University Hall, a reporter wrote that preparations for the opening were almost complete. "Probably no institution of this kind was ever organized under more favorable auspices," he opined, "and we are pleased to learn that an unusually large number students will be in attendance at the opening." Where the reporter obtained his information cannot be determined. Certainly not from the Univer

sity's leaders, for neither the regents nor Chancellor Benton could be sure that any students would appear when the doors of University Hall opened. At any rate, a crowd was on hand for the inauguration of Benton, which was held in the University's chapel. "The desk of the chapel was decorated with large and fragrant bouquets of flowers," reported one observer. "The day was unusually fine, and a very large concourse crowded the Chapel both afternoon and evening." Shortly after two o'clock a column of dignitaries filed to the platform. Acting Governor James opened the ceremony and a choir sang "How Beautiful Are Thy Dwellings." The Reverend L. B. Fairfield pronounced "a fervent and appropriate prayer," and Governor James returned to the lectern to deliver his charge to Chancellor Benton. "Here the State shall look in future for the educated and trained citizen," he declared. Then, anticipating what would be a major contro

versy--the question of the proper relation of religion to a state-supported univer

sity--he said that the University had been founded upon "broad and unsectarian grounds." Its doors were open to all young people, for "science, scholarship, letters, are of no sect." As the motto of the new university, he suggested "Above all sects, is truth." Before presenting the keys of University Hall to Chancellor Benton, James also commented on the public's changed attitude toward him. Virtually unknown in Nebraska when he was appointed, Benton had labored so effectively that opposition to him--at least personal opposition--had greatly diminished. As the reporter from the Nebraska Advertiser phrased it, "There was some considerable doubt last winter when the Regents elected Mr. Ben

ton...Since he has been with us...confidence has been steadily increasing and this afternoon dispels every fear of the success of the University." A cultivated and effective speaker, Benton in his inaugural address indicated he was in sympathy with the traditional patterns of American higher education. He dwelled upon the time-honored values of higher education and pledged the University of Nebraska to the perpetuation of those values. The Nebraska Adver

tiser said that Benton had shown himself to be "the fearless expositor of the true


doctrines of Christian education," and Plattsmouth's Nebraska Herald reported that the speech "was received with great enthusiasm and without qualification." That evening the inauguration-day audience returned to hear an address by J. Sterling Morton, who had been something less than an enthusiastic supporter of the University up to this point. Morton emphasized the relationship between the University and the state and called the University of Nebraska "the school of the people," a phrase which Mr. Morrill would have applauded. "The University," Morton said, "vitalizes the State with learning, furnishing scholars for her law-makers, and men of mental strength and training for governors and her judges." In his concluding remarks, he referred to the very important religious question: "Public sentiment throughout the State is united in friendship for this most beneficent enterprise. Neither political nor denominational prejudice dares utter one word to dishearten or weaken that sentiment." As will be seen, Morton proved himself a poor prophet.

"By the favor of a kind Providence, the University was opened with prosperous indications, and its general prosperity during the year has equaled, if not surpassed the expectations of the most hopeful." So Benton reported to the regents in the spring of 1872. Benton was especially gratified by the number of young people who came to Lincoln to take up University and preparatory work. He wrote his father that the University had enrolled "100 students of a very good grade, which surpasses the expectation of all." On September 16, the Nebraska City News reported that eighty students had "already entered from various parts of Nebraska. The Michigan University, now one of the most influential in the West, had not that many after ten years." According to the final official figures, 130 students matriculated, but of that number 110 were enrolled in the preparatory department. Only 29 students pursed regular college course work during this first year.

The University had not been selective in admitting students. Although official announcements said that all students would be required to take both entrance and proficiency examinations, in practice the examinations were perfunctory, as the following anecdote indicates. One Nebraskan, whose parents moved to York Count in 1871, remembered that when they made a trip to Lincoln for supplies, the proprietor of a lumberyard happened to mention that his son had taken the University’s entrance examination. "Next trip my father asked if the boy passed. They hadn't heard yet but didn't think he would. On the third trip father inquired again. The answer: "Oh yes, I think they let them all pass-they didn't have any students." Optimistic spokesmen for the University predicted at least 300 students for the second year; but conditions in the state-grasshoppers, depression, and drought-militated against this kind of increase, and only 123 students signed the rolls. During the year 1873-1874, enrollment dipped to 100; the following year it climbed to 132. During Benton's last year in the University, 1875-1876, approximately 200 men and women were in attendance. Benton did not try to conceal the unsatisfactory situation. In 872 the University held its first commencement exercises, even though there were no candidates for graduation. In his address the Chancellor compared the University of Nebraska with other schools which attempted to produce a large number of graduates as quickly as possible. "All such charlatanism is beneath the dignity of


2: The official Announcement reads: "Applicants for admission to the Latin School should be at least fourteen years of age; must be of good moral character; and if from other institutions, should bring certificates of honorable dismissal. Candidates of both sexes for advanced standing will be examined in the studies already passed by them in the course selected; or must present satisfactory evidence of having completed studies."

3: For common enrollment figures, see the section on Sources.



an Institution founded by the State and laboring for her highest interest," he said. In the absence of baccalaureate candidates, the University awarded its first hon

orary degree, that of Doctor of Laws, to Bishop Robert H. Clarkson of the Methodist Episcopal Diocese of Nebraska.

The First Graduates

In the spring of 1873, at the end of the University's second year, two young men were eligible for graduation: J. Stuart Dales of East Rochester, Ohio, and William H. Snell of Lincoln. Dales, who had known the Benton family in the East, followed the Chancellor more accurately the Chancellor's eldest daugh

ter--to Lincoln. Benton thought highly of the serious, intelligent young man and was delighted when Dales and Grace Benton announced their engagement. At this stage of his career, Dales showed an interest in law: but in December, 1875, he joined the administrative staff of the University to begin a remarkable and valuable association with the University which stretched over more than fifty years. According to the Hesperian Student,4 the first graduating class "is about eleven feet one inch in height, and weighs nearly two hundred and sixty pounds." As was the custom of the day, both graduates delivered commencement orations; they "were given with impressive effect, and were of a good order of literary merit." In 1874 diplomas were conferred on Frank Hurd of Tecumseh, Uriah H. Malick of Camden, an Wallace M. Stevenson of Nebraska City. At a meeting in Lincoln a few weeks later, the five University alumni formed an alumni associa

tion with Dales as president and Hurd as secretary. In 1875 there were no gradu

ates but in 1876, the last commencement conducted by Chancellor Benton, there were five: Alice M. Frost of Lincoln, the first woman graduate; Harvey Culbert

son5 of Moorefield, Indiana, the first recipient of a degree in agriculture; Clarence W. Rhodes and John F. E. McKesson of Lincoln; and George E. Howard of Laona. During the exercises Chancellor Benton announced that the faculty had voted to bestow master's degrees upon Dales and Snell, both of whom had "pur

sued professional studies for three years." During Benton's administration the University graduated a total of ten per

sons. This in itself was a remarkable achievement; but in the opinion of many Nebraskans, the University's progress had been most disappointing. That the University had not grown as rapidly as its supporters had hoped, Benton ascribed primarily to the economic dislocations that fell upon Nebraska in the early 1870's.6 He said that the panic and depression of 1873 drove some students away from the University and also kept prospective students away. University officials were hopeful that the economic situation would improve, but in 1874 and 1875 drought and grasshoppers came again. Benton reiterated that the University had done as well as could have been expected, considering the circumstances. He lauded the students who stayed in school, honoring them for their willingness to make sacrifices in order to continue their education, and he appealed to the people of Lincoln to keep board and room charges at a minimum so that as many young people as possible could attend the University.


4 This student newspaper and literary magazine began publication in the fall of 1871. The name was shortened to the Hesperian in July, 1885. See Chapter Twenty-Three. 5 On June 23, 1875, the regents conferred the degree of Bachelor of Agriculture on Harvey Culbertson, but he received his degree officially at the 1876 commencement because he was the only 1875 graduate. 6 Gilbert E. Bailey, who joined the faculty in 1874 as an instructor of chemistry, recalled in 1923: "Part of my duties [in 1874] was killing buffalo for the grasshopper sufferers, hunting on the Republican river; and helping Professor Riley give a grasshopper banquet at Lincoln."


The University Under Fire

During these dark years the critics of the University possessed an abundance of ammunition to use against it. Why have a university, they asked, when the farmers of Nebraska are destitute? when there aren't enough young people in the state to make the University worth while? when the state is practically bankrupt? Again and again the University was portrayed as a needless extravagance. Omaha newspapers delighted in referring to it as "the Lincoln High School," a gibe that Lincolnites found hard to answer, since so many students were in the preparatory department and since most of the enrollment came from Lincoln. But, as Benton pointed out in his June, 1876, report, many young people registered as Lincoln students lived in the country and "many families have been attracted to the city chiefly for the purpose of educating their children at the University," hence the abnormal number of Lincoln residents enrolled. The Herald also editorialized about the exorbitant cost of the University to the state. According to the editor's estimate, it operated at a cost of forty thousand dollars annually. Chancellor Benton replied that thirteen thousand dollars would be a more accurate figure; the cost was about a hundred dollars per pupil. Moreover, he had learned from correspondence with the leaders of Minnesota and Missouri universities that this was not at all unreasonable. Answering those who believed that the University was a premature venture into higher education, Benton said that the state and the regents had had no choice in the matter. So long as the legislature had ac

cepted the terms of the Morrill Act, the state was obligated to establish a land

grant institution within five years. Had the University not been opened within the allotted time, the land given to Nebraska under the Morrill Act would have been forfeited. Moreover, had Nebraska not lived up to the act's provisions, the state would not have been in a position to share in a second grant of land--said to total about 500,000 acres--which the present Congress was expected to divide up among the states in the form of a supplementary grant. Through all the controversy Chancellor Benton never lost faith in the Uni

versity, and each year he predicted an increase in enrollment and of public sup

port for the University. When things were darkest, Benton was at his cheeriest. In December, 1872, he wrote his father that the Board seemed to appreciate his work and that, if the legislature did not interfere, he would "probably remain here as long as I may wish to teach." As if to demonstrate his confidence, Benton purchased a farm ten miles from Lincoln. "I prefer to teach here for $4000, than for $1500 at Indianapolis," he said. A report in March, 1873, that the University building was falling to pieces was the next challenge to Benton's equanimity. Plaster had fallen from the ceil

ing of the chapel and cracks had appeared in the foundation of University Hall. Rather than spend more money upon the building, said the critics, the time had arrived to close the University. It had accomplished nothing and academically it was a travesty. In May, 1874, the editor of the Hesperian Student replied: "How strange that the four-year-old university of a five-year-old state should not have the same elegancies possessed by the schools of the east, some of them more than two centuries of age and receiving endowments and bequests, annually, amounting to many hundred thousands of dollars!" Responsibility for the "grave crimes of economy, want of elegance, lack of students," could not be laid at Benton's door, the editor said. And he concluded pointedly: "We have the most ineffable contempt for a man, who will try to destroy the usefulness of the educational institutions of his own state, on account of local prejudice." In February of 1875, the Omaha Herald asserted that the University repre

sented "the most stupendous fraud that was ever palmed off upon a tax-paying


people." Following the lead of the Herald, other Omaha newspapers called upon the regents to suspend the operations of the University for at least the duration of the economic crisis. It was particularly distressing to Chancellor Benton and the regents that the attack was supported by Benjamin H. Barrows, future editor of the Omaha Republican, who had recently been elected to the Board of Regents. Lincoln's State Journal detected behind this latest barrage of criticism a scheme to close the University and remove it to Omaha, where the newly built Omaha High School had proved to be "an elephant on the hands of that city." If the building could be sold to the state for the University, Omaha leaders would be rid of a heavy financial burden. In replying to the criticism, Chancellor Benton tried to be reasonable and persuasive. He said that the Omaha editors had misused the University's financial reports and thus greatly exaggerated what the institution cost the taxpayers. But the question of cost was minor; the main question was, Should the University be closed? To Benton this was unthinkable. Not only would the federal land grant be lost, but the state's reputation would suffer, since other states in as bad economic shape as Nebraska continued to support their universities, some even undertaking modest expansion programs. He touched the heart of the matter when he argued that the University had to be maintained as the capstone of the state's educational system. Only from the University could come the leadership needed to build an effective system of public education. "The true policy of the State, its honor and even its material prosperity," said Benton, "lie in the direction of increasing and energizing its educational facilities rather than in embarrassing them or seeking their overthrow."

A writer in the Hesperian Student of June, 1875, spoke more bluntly:

Under these circumstances the lamentable cry of schemers and demagogues for the suspension of the University is very ill-timed. It is to be hoped the good sense of the people will be too strong to be influenced by the unreasonable attacks. We regret exceedingly to see one of our regents [B. H. Barrows] playing the part of Judas to these Scribes and Pharisees. It speaks very little for his modesty or his wisdom. We fear that petty local prejudice is at the bottom of all this hue and cry.

While it may have been a factor, sectional jealousy did not explain the whole problem. The critics possessed the advantage: A frontier society had little need for a university, and so long as the conditions of this society obtained, only a handful of students stood to benefit from the training available in Lincoln. In 1875, J. M. McKenzie, superintendent of public instruction, issued a report that revealed the chaotic state of Nebraska's public education. The report was primarily a complaint about the legislature and legislative grumbling over educational expenses, and not a criticism of the University; but, as McKenzie said, with local schools almost nonexistent. "the silent but significant admonition to the poor homesteader" was- educate your own children. Even staunch defenders of the University admitted that there was a dearth of students ready for University study, and they could not deny that the University's principal function up to that time had been to prepare students for collegiate work. Nevertheless, as the State Journal pointed out, closing the University would not alleviate the situation. There must be an expansion of both the faculty ad the curricula, and the University must perform the vital service of bringing into existence a system of public education.




The Responsibilities of the University

Although the Charter provided for six colleges and a military department, only the College of Ancient and Modern Literature, Mathematics and the Natural Sciences1 began operations in the fall of 1871. Organizing this one college and keeping it afloat was almost more than Benton and the Board of Regents could handle, but before long they were learning from various groups in the state who wanted the other authorized colleges to be established. Physicians and lawyers in particular urged that the University begin training men in their professions. The University's response to these requests was of great significance, for it was an avowed purpose of land-grant institutions to provide services required by society; and Nebraska, like any other frontier state, needed doctors and lawyers. More

over, by acceding to these requests the University had the opportunity to gain influential supporters and to prove the institution's value to the state. But if there were compelling reasons for establishing the professional colleges, there was also the unsolved problem of finding funds to support an expansion of the University's activities. The movement to establish a medical college, which came at the end of 1875, must be considered within the context of the times. Although the trend within the medical profession was toward higher standards that would eliminate "the quacks and patent-medicine purveyors" who preyed upon the hapless public, medical authorities were disagreed about the proper methods of training and licensing physicians. But there was mounting public pressure for legal controls in both areas, and the 1875 Nebraska Legislature debated at length a bill for the regulation of the practice of medicine. Many legislators objected to the bill on the grounds that it constituted a needless infringement on the individual's free

dom of choice, and one lawmaker averred that a man was not necessarily a good doctor just because he could display a diploma or had passed an examination. In due course the bill was tabled and the hot issue permitted to rest for the moment. In December, 1875, a group of Lincoln citizens asked the University to set up a medical college. A few days after the proposal was reported in the Lincoln papers, the Omaha Bee commented that the establishment of a medical college should be delayed until it could be "more than a cheap diploma factory, where cobblers, carpenters and counter-jumpers are transformed into doctors within six months." The proposal was referred to a committee; and in March, 1876, the committee, in turn, referred it to the State Medical Association, stating, "We deem it advisable as soon as practicable to establish a Medical College at Lincoln __________________ 1 For obvious reasons the college was never known by this name. In the 1870's it was usually referred to as the College of Literature, Arts and Science.


in connection with the University." But clearly it was not yet "practicable," and nothing further was done. The report on the medical college also noted that the time was rapidly approaching when action should be taken on "the establishment of a department of Law." The Board of Regents turned this matter over to the State Bar Association for scrutiny, but it, too, never got beyond the talking stage. "Already there are more demands upon the resources of the University than can be met," said the Hesperian Student in April, 1876. For the time being the training of doctors and lawyers would have to wait.

The Agricultural Department

Ironically enough, the second University college was founded to serve an occupational group which neither asked for nor wanted the University's help. Under the Morrill Act the state was obligated to provide agricultural and mechan

ical education, and from the first the Chancellor and the regents wanted to serve the farmers. Chancellor Benton appreciated the importance of agriculture to Nebraska, and he surely realized that if the University was to prosper, Nebraska's agriculture would have to prosper, too. Benton's enthusiasm for the state's agricultural potential is apparent in this letter of April 1873: "This is to me the best country I have ever lived in. We have had no rain since last October, and not a bit of mud since that time. Our rain comes in the Spring and summer when we need it . . . . Then we have one of the richest soils in the world. Nothing to do but to put in the plow. No fences to make and hay and pasture for nothing." In another letter he was even more ecstatic: "My open fields are richer than your garden. It is one of the richest soils I ever saw. We had some good land in Indiana, but all this is as good as their best. There is not a swamp or worthless place any where. Except in extreme north west of the State." It might be argued that Benton's ebullience indicated a city man's speculative concern for rising land values, but he understood that the state university existed in part to assist agriculture. Several paragraphs in his inaugural address per

taining to agricultural education indicated that his ideas on the subject were still unformed, but as the months passed his speeches and writings reflected a growing concern for an effective agricultural course within the University. To define the duties of the agricultural college and to lay out appropriate courses of study would not be simple. The experiences of educational leaders in Kansas, Iowa, and Missouri, who had earlier struggled with this problem, showed the difficulties very clearly. The opposition of the faculties in the land-grant colleges could be surmounted only with the greatest difficulty, for few of the professors were interested in agricultural education. To them courses dealing with crops, soils, and farm animals smacked of the ridiculous and had no place in a college. The same argument was heard in Nebraska, but Benton and the regents held that since the University had accepted land from the federal government, the conditions which accompanied the grant had to be met. The importance of fulfilling the law was underscored by the expectation, voiced by the regents in December, 1872, that "five hundred thousand acres more will probably be given by the present Congress, for the further support of each industrial college now organized." Six months later they added, "No state, least of all Nebraska, can afford to forfeit the land already acquired, or to lose the benefit of such a munificent grant as is now in reasonable prospect."2 Hence, the movement to found the College of Agricul

_______________ 2 Late in 1872 the regents were asked by an official of the University of Kentucky for a five-hundred-dollar contribution to help underwrite lobbying Congress for an additional land grant. According to the minutes of their meeting of December 18, 1872, because of the "present financial condition of the University," the Board decided against appropriating the money.


ture got under way before the farmers of Nebraska demanded agricultural education, and long before such a college had anything significant to offer agriculturists.

According to the first University Announcement: "The Agricultural College will be organized at the earliest practicable time, to meet the requirements of the law, and the needs of the University. The Model Farm will soon be located." In the meantime, "it is designed to have a course of lectures on Agricultural Chemistry at some time during the year," to be taught by Professor Aughey, recently to his duties within the Department of Natural Sciences. In early October, 1871, S. R. Thompson, who had been elected to the chair of agriculture, his duties to begin in the fall of 1872, wrote to the regents accepting the post. He wrote that he would spend the winter of 1871 "among the Agricultural schools in the East, in order to see what is now doing in this direction elsewhere."

The Charter stated that the governor should reserve two sections of the agricultural college lands for a model farm in conjunction with the College of Agriculture, and in June, 1872, the regents asked the legislature to set aside and deed the lands which had been selected for this purpose. Four hundred and eighty acres had been selected, but the acreage lay in several separate tracts and much of it was poor land, unsuitable for farming. Although at the same regents' meeting the future sale of these lands was approved, Chancellor Benton expressed little concern over their deficiencies and urged that some parcels of land be broken immediately "so that next year they may be available for cultivation." He was confident that "an appropriate course of [agricultural] study can be conducted with but little additional expense to the University." A thousand dollars "or so much thereof as may be necessary" was appropriate to organize an agricultural department; Thompson's salary-two thousand dollars a year-was to begin on June 26; and as of that date "the Agricultural College...is hereby established and opened."

Still to be faced, however, was the question of the relation of agricultural work to the whole University program. For years after the enactment of the Morrill bill, there was a nation-wide debate over the proper form of agricultural education. When Nebraska followed the path marked out by the greater number of land-grant colleges and produced "a literary kite with an agricultural tail," farm leaders were incensed and felt that the Morrill Act had been improperly interpreted. In 1873, Benton announced that the course of study in the College of Literature, Science and Arts had been "slightly modified from that of last year, for the purpose of harmonizing its work with that of the Agricultural College..." A four-year course ran parallel with the academic Scientific Course and led to the degree of Bachelor of Agriculture. The University also provided a short course of three to six terms, for which a certificate of proficiency was granted, to serve the farmer who was not interested in a degree and did not have the time for full-time studies.

Proponents of agricultural education stressed that it should be practical; an agricultural college must not offer only theories. As one orator proclaimed in 1871: "Let [the Agricultural College's] foundations be broad and deep-its course of study liberal-its professors eminently practical men-and we will educate and send forth a race of giants in the practice of their professions (for farming is one of the professions, or should be), who will make our broad and fertile prairies 'bud and blossom as the rose.' " University authorities hoped to steer a middle course; and the Catalogue for 1872-1873 stated that the theoretical part of agricultural education "includes a careful study of those sciences upon which all correct agriculture must be based. The practical will be imported by showing how the prin



ciples of science may be applied to the art of farming." Fortunately, farm leaders were satisfied that both Thompson and Aughey were eminently practical men. In its 1873 report the State Board of Agriculture referred to Professor Thompson as "a practical farmer, now residing on his own farm near the city," and to Aughey as "a practical agriculturist, as well as a scientific man of no mean reputation." But students who enrolled for the agricultural course continued to take most of their work in the academic department. This was of continuing concern to persons genuinely interested in providing opportunities in agricultural training. If the farm boy received a purely literary and academic education, said an 1874 report from the Department of Agriculture, he would not return to the farm. He would be "driven to the nearest country town . . . where he can learn to be a merchant's clerk, an indifferent doctor, a dull lawyer, or inefficient preacher, and perchance, be thrown into the temptations of vice and intemperance." Agricultural educa

tion should provide the student-farmer with a sufficient fund of scientific knowl

edge so that he could better farm his land and at the same time would "enable him to hold a respectable position in all the practical walks of life." One of the great challenges faced by Professor Thompson was that he had to convince Nebraska farmers, most of them with little education and a deep suspicion of "book farmers," that the University had something to offer to their children and to themselves. Chancellor Benton realized that Thompson's first task would be to overcome "an opinion somewhat adverse to theoretical farming, and a latent distrust of the utility of schools for the industrial." No effort should be spared, he said in June, 1873, to win "the favor and confidence of the people at large"; whatever contributed to this goal "should be promptly accepted." At the Chancellor's prompting in December, 1873, the regents authorized Thompson to spend "at least one third of his time during the term attending Farmers Insti

tutes, and working up the interests of Agricultural Education throughout the State."3 And whenever the opportunity presented itself--at Grange meetings, at picnics, at local celebrations of all sorts--Thompson appeared to argue the case of the struggling College of Agriculture and the cause of agricultural education. Since Benton was particularly interested in the farmers' institutes as a means of achieving an understanding with farmers, he urged Thompson to give them special attention. But one man operating with limited funds could accomplish only so much. In 1873-1874 only four institutes were held; there was not time to arrange more. Thompson reported that three were successful, but attendance was small at the fourth, which was held in the spring when the farmers were in the fields. As for agricultural work at the University itself, the going was difficult. In December, 1872, the regents reported a course of lectures on agricultural matters was being continued, and that the number attending was about twenty-five. In June, 1873, Thompson reported that "a small number of students have entered for the regular course in Agriculture," but had chiefly been pursuing preparatory studies. "The work of agricultural instruction proper, has consisted of a course of lectures on vegetable Physiology with reference to tree growing, and a course of popular lectures on Agricultural Chemistry." The latter, presumably delivered by Aughey, "were very well attended." Thompson also pointed out that of the $1000 appropriation voted in 1872 to organize the Agricultural College, only $63.40 was spent for specifically agricultural purposes, while $449.86 was used for

_____________ 3 Evidently this was the beginning of farmers' institutes in Nebraska, and it appears to be Benton's suggestion. The official organization, the Nebraska Farmers' Institute, considers that it began in 1882, when farmers, rather than the University, began to organize institutes; in the early days the institutes were conducted exclusively by the University. The first farmers' institutes in the country were held in Iowa in 1871-1872. Perhaps that is where Benton got the idea.


general improvements to the University, and the rest went back into the treasury. However, an additional $2,500 had been appropriated to hire a man to supervise the work on the model farm and for general improvements; and Thompson reported that under the direction of the farmer, as he came to be called, twenty-three acres of corn, five acres of oats, six and one-half acres of wheat, and a half-acre plot of sugar beets had been planted. About an acre in garden vegetables and experimental patches of wheat, barley, and oats, grown from seeds imported from Europe and distributed by the United States Department of Agriculture, also were tended by the farmer and his students. Apparently the Agricultural College already was advocating sugar beets as a Nebraska crop, for Thompson mentioned that he had paid out of his own pocket $6.32 postage for sending sugar beet seeds to farmers; he had not put this item in his account since he was not sure that it was a legitimate expense, and he asked the regents for a directive. The next year he reported that the experiment of sending out the seeds had been discontinued because the returns from the farmers were meager, although the sugar beets did very well indeed.

The failures within the agricultural department were not blamed on Thompson. His efforts, according to the Hesperian Student in February, 1874, had been "fettered and circumscribed," and he had "doubtless felt keenly his utter inability, under existing circumstances, to make his department as successful as might be desired." In fact, "very little has been accomplished, even in theory," But Thompson knew that the agricultural departments in all the land-grant colleges were going through the same growing pains. There existed no firm body of agricultural sciences, and no teachers specifically trained in them had been produced. Moreover, there was uncertainty as to what the purposes and activities of the college should comprise, as was indicated by the regents' directive in December, 1872, that the professor of agriculture should take charge of the University grounds. More importantly, as Thompson brought out in his 1873 report, the function of the University farm should be clarified. Should it be a model farm, maintained as a sort of show place, "exact in its divisions, next in its keeping, and profitable in its working"; or should it be an experimental farm, "where is shall be our main business to discover new agricultural truth, rather than to exhibit what is old?" While the first idea was popular because a model farm realized a profit from its crops, Thompson felt that an institution devoted to agricultural experimentation would be "of more real service to the State" in the long run.

Thompson saw clearly what was needed to make agricultural education effective. First, information had to be secured, and it could come only from large-scale, exact experimental work. With this scientific information in hand, the next task-a monumental one-would be to induce Nebraska farmers to accept the insights gained. As Thompson said in his 1874 report: "We should not solely seek to discover new agricultural truth and to fit young men for illustrating its value in the community, but we should make a special effort to disseminate agricultural knowledge through the community....by publication of reports, and through the press, and by the public lectures of our teachers" He believed that the future belonged to those farmers who combined intelligence and education with their labors on the land. But enrollment in the agriculture courses was still practically nonexistent and Thompson was growing impatient. As he said in the same report:

The Agricultural College has now been open in part for two years, and as

yet has done but little of the work expected of it. It may be well that we

have gone slowly, have taken time to look carefully over the ground before

venturing too much. But I feel deeply sensible that to delay longer in

bringing the College up to its



permanent work will be to greatly discourage its warmest friends and perhaps

endanger the success of our whole effort.

Chancellor Benton, in his June, 1874, report to the regents, noted that "the special instruction belonging to [the agricultural] department has not yet been in de

mand, and no solicitation has been used to urge students into this course of study." He went on to say that the Morrill Act "is popularly supposed to have been for the maintenance of colleges exclusively devoted to agriculture and the mechanic arts," but cited the act itself to show that "other scientific or classical studies" should not be excluded. Thus it seemed to him that "the department of Agriculture in the University, though as yet giving but little technical instruction, is yet working in harmony with the letter and spirit of the law." Such comments stimulated many Nebraskans to consider the role of agricul

tural education within the framework of the University. A motivating force in this direction was Charles Gere, who, in a series of editorials published in the State Journal, called upon the regents to study the needs of the Agricultural College. In 1874, Benton had outlined two plans. The first would make the department "more strictly a technical school," like schools of law, medicine, and engineering, which seemed to him what the Charter had implied. The second, the so-called Cornell plan, provided that "a certain amount of agricultural instruction be given to the whole body of students in the University." Like the Chancellor, Gere favored a plan that called for a college of agriculture separate and distinct from the other colleges in the University. Although the regents had created the college as required by law, in reality only an indistinct "department of Agriculture," not a college, had been created. Moreover, the agricultural work was perpetually in danger of being swallowed up by the academic depart

ment. In the end a compromise prevailed, an arrangement dictated in part by the emergence of a general philosophy of agricultural education and in part by necessity: a separate College of Agriculture would be maintained but all students within it would also work in the academic department of the Arts College. Also, in December, 1874, the Board of Regents announced that the length of time required to obtain a college degree in the Agricultural College had been reduced from four to three years, "thus making the instruction more technical in char

acter." Those who sought a separate, distinct College of Agriculture untainted by traditionalism were disappointed by the policy, but the regents stood their ground. From this point on, the College of Agriculture was considered an integral part of the University, sharing facilities and dependent upon academic departments for instruction. Here originated the principle which withstood many efforts to split the college from the rest of the University. Few realized the importance of the decision. The regents were interested above all else in silencing some of their critics, and they agreed to revise the agricultural course. First, they changed the attendance policy. Agricultural students were now permitted to attend classes through the summer months, taking their vacation during the winter term. This assured that they would be in attendance throughout the crop year and could follow the production of crops from planting to harvest. The winter vacation enabled students to teach district or country schools, thus earning the money to return to the University for the rest of the year. The regents also finally changed the location of the University farm. In June, 1874, the Board disposed of the original parcels of land and arranged to purchase Moses Culver's 320-acre farm which lay northeast of Lincoln; Thompson, who had looked at many farms, had recommended its purchase.


The Culver farm, which became part of the future campus of the College of Agriculture, contained twenty-five acres of young timber, four miles of Osage orange hedge, an excellent orchard, a barn and outbuildings, and a good stone house of ten rooms. Although a few critics said the action was unnecessary--one letter writer wanted to know if the regents had pocketed something on the side-

Thompson was elated at the acquisition of this "most excellent and suitable farm . . . lying just north east of the city on gently rolling upland. It has one of the most beautiful locations to be found anywhere." Particularly valuable, said Thompson, was the fine house, in which agricultural students could be housed and boarded. The University Catalogue for 1874-1875 told of the advantages awaiting agricultural students. They could room and board at the farmhouse for three dollars a week, and they would be paid for their work on the farm. With some justice it could now be claimed that "a first-class English scientific and practical education" was available "at such moderate cost as brings it within the reach of every young man who has good health and even a moderate amount of energy and industry." The Catalogue announcement ended with this piece of agrarian philosophy: "At the farm house [the student] can find a pleasant home, far enough from the city to be out of the way of its temptations to idleness and worse, and yet near enough to enjoy all its literary and public advantages. With all the advantages of quiet and retirement for study, the student has yet the opportunity to be part of a young and growing University." With the new farm, the expanded facilities for students, and the regents' pledge of greater support, Thompson looked forward eagerly to the school year of 1874-1875, and appealed to "intelligent farmers everywhere" to send their sons to Lincoln. He said that the state Grange had endorsed the Agricultural Col

lege, "where farmers' sons may be educated by competent professors in those sciences which will fit them for intelligent and educated agriculture and kindred pursuits." One prospective student who read Thompson's announcements with great interest was Charles Brainard. The son of a pioneer Nebraska farmer, Brainard began his college education at Peru Normal, but financial difficulties forced him to withdraw. And now, if the reports circulated by Professor Thomp

son were correct, he would have the opportunity to earn while he learned. He expected that many other young men would come to the College of Agriculture, drawn by the fifteen-cent hourly wage paid for labor on the farm, but much to his surprise only a few appeared. In fact, fifteen agricultural students, twelve of them freshmen, were listed in the Catalogue for 1874-1875; this represented an increase, and Thompson was pleased. The next fall, however, only thirteen enrolled. The Catalogue for 1874-1875 also showed that Thompson had lost his battle for an experimental farm as opposed to a model farm. It announced that "the greater part of the farm will be carried on in such a way as to show the working plans of a good farm managed with a view to profit." Moreover, in 1875 a rash of accidents occurred; animals donated by interested farmers died or had to be destroyed; and grasshoppers laid waste the fields. In March, 1875, Thompson was directed to collect material on the farm for the erection of a dormitory there, and two hundred dollars was appropriated for student labor. But in June the "balance of the agricultural farm" of eighteen or twenty acres was ordered to be sold and the proceeds used to erect a dormitory. In the same month Thompson and the agricultural students were occupied with planting trees around the campus. All this was a far cry from the experimental work which Thompson felt was so important. In September, he submitted his resignation, and it was accepted by the regents in December.


The University and Public Education

The argument concerning the value of the University to the state was related to another major problem which confronted Benton and the Board of Regents-

that of determining the proper relationship between the University and the high schools and elementary schools of the state. In time the regents came to realize that willy-nilly the University had to play a leading role in the state education system. The decision that it should do so was not reached at any one point; it came gradually, more as the result of circumstances than of conscious actions; and it was not solely motivated by altruism. In his 1873 report to the regents, Benton commented upon the low achievement level of the University's appli

cants, in particular the inability of graduates of Nebraska public schools to read and write acceptably. Steps must be taken to improve education in Nebraska, but, said Benton, it would be some time before the public schools would be able to offer adequate preparation for college and university work. Until that time the University had to accept responsibility for providing the training "which will fit students for her higher classes." If the preparatory department of the University produced twenty graduates annually, the University would quickly reach "a magnitude that would be a pride and a blessing to the State." Throughout his administration Benton worked to encourage the establish

ment of high schools in Nebraska. The state teachers' convention provided him with an excellent forum in which he could present the case for expanded educa

tional opportunities. In his annual addresses, he consistently argued that the University should be considered an integral part of the state's education system. He declared that this system could be no stronger than its weakest link, and in Nebraska that weak link was the high school. There were no fixed courses of study; there were no set standards. What was needed was a comprehensive system of public education, with the University "the culminating point in the educational edifice." He asked school administrators to give attention to this need; and in December, 1873, the state convention responded by endorsing a resolution calling for the organization of county high schools and for the discontinuance of preparatory work at the University. In the meantime, Benton tried to maintain the level of instruction in the University. If it was to convince educators and lay people of the need for better preparatory work, the University had to offer courses of true collegiate caliber. Although the Chancellor had to withstand great pressure from persons who were more interested in increased enrollment than educational attainments, he could not be budged from his position that the University must bring about a general upgrading of the state's educational system. Recognizing the problems encoun

tered by the poorly trained student, the editor of the Hesperian Student in November, 1874, proposed the enactment of a uniform course-of-study law for all Nebraska schools, a law which would ensure that students received adequate preparation of university work. He said that greater effort must be made to build the high schools into a link between the common schools and the Univer

sity, "uniting the different parts of our system into a perfect unity." Chancellor Benton, the regents, and the student editor spoke about the future, but critics spoke about the present--and they had much the better of the argument. One letter writer, whose lucubrations appeared regularly in Lincoln newspapers, asserted that the University should be closed and its resources no longer squandered on higher education but given over to the support of a pre

paratory school. But people interested in the University continued to argue that it had a vital role to play, even in this period of uncertainty and depression; "It is to act upon normal and common schools and the people, inspiring a taste


and a desire for learning. . . . Gathering to itself the best and ablest minds it will in process of time become the grand center of educational influence in the State." A dream, perhaps, but the record of the University through the next decades indicates that it performed this important function to a surprising degree. Nevertheless, there was an element of truth in the observation that "democracy's college awaited democracy's high school," and it would be years before the University could end its preparatory program confident that the state's high schools could produce students able to do college work. "This was so widely recognized that in 1873, when the Methodists announced plans for founding a college in Nebraska, many editors urged the church to establish academies and secondary schools instead. In another significant way the University found itself intimately associated with public education. A majority of its students professed an interest in teach

ing as a career, and Benton in 1875 asked the regents to provide funds for the creation of a department of didactics--that is, teacher training. In responding to the needs of public education in Nebraska, the University indicated the unique role marked out for a land-grant university, a role compounded of service as well as leadership.

The Work of the Faculty

In the last analysis the degree to which the University fulfilled the responsi

bilities and obligations bestowed upon it by society depended upon the faculty. Unfortunately, the faculty was not adequately prepared to teach and to conduct research in the areas designated by various interest groups as being of utmost importance. Indeed, the handful of faculty members were hard pressed to pro

vide adequate instruction for the students enrolled in their classes. Since enrollment did not increase noticeably during Benton's administration and hard times dictated the most rigorous economy, the Board of Regents refused to authorize the employment of additional faculty members except in the most desperate cases. The University opened in 1871 with five professors, including the Chancellor. Four years later that number had increased by only three. During these first years each professor taught a wide range of subjects, a situation which did not encourage effective teaching. Benton at one time or another taught courses in history, political economy and constitutional law, intellectual philos

ophy, and the history of philosophic thought. Professor Aughey, who taught biology, geology, botany, chemistry, physical science, and zoology, handled Ger

man classes, too. George Church, principal of the Latin School, also taught German, while Professor Dake, who served as dean of the academic faculty from 1873 to 1874, taught French in addition to English literature and rhetoric. Pro

fessor Manley, who held the chair of ancient languages, was a sick man and was assigned no duties outside his field; he had a year's leave in 1875-76 because of ill health and resigned in June of 1876. H. E. Hitchcock, who joined the faculty in 1872, taught mathematics, a subject which then included astronomy and physics, and S. R. Thompson spent more time in the Latin school and on academic courses than he did on the farm. L. A. Sherman, who began his lengthy association with the University in 1882, offered a view of these earlier men and their methods of instruction:

In 1869 the colleges of the country were yet mainly recitational schools. . . .When the University of Nebraska was opened in 1871, it was hardly to be expected that better methods would be used than the old colleges of the country knew. The instruction in all departments was carried on through text-books, and was certainly good and sufficient for the State and for the times. The first faculty of an institu


tion founded as ours was would be quite likely to prove its poorest; but some of the men here called to the early work were broad in culture and progressive in spirit.

Versatility and hard work - these were the watchwords of the small faculty. Benton constantly pressed the regents for additional staff, but confronted by a hostile public and nearly bankrupt state treasury, they proceeded slowly. They ignored his requests for funds to open the College of Civil and Mechanical Engineering, and rejected a similar plea for funds to institute courses in military science, required to meet the stipulations of the Morrill Act. But Benton persisted. In 1874 he said that the University required the services of another man in the natural sciences, a professor of civil engineering, a professor of elocution and vocal training, and a professor of history, adding: "For some years, however, it would be practicable to unit culture to the chair of history, and thus economize the resources of the University." As he told the regents: "The constant addition of learned men to the Faculties, the increase of the Cabinet, Museum, Library and apparatus, should be the settled policy of the University. In this way only can the University become a center of literary influence, and the Faculty, instead of being mere drill masters, will become investigators and discoverers in science, and the atmosphere of the University will be stimulating and vital."

"The way to popularize a University is to make a university of it," said one observer; and the University needed additional faculty so that both teaching and research-the dual duties of a true university-might be facilitated. The crux of the problem lay in the concept of research. The idea of teachers spending a portion of their time in original, scholarly research was not as yet widely accepted, and some professors, trained in the traditional methods of university and college instruction, resisted the trend. Nevertheless, the first faculty of the University of Nebraska contained men, precursors of modern university faculty, who attempted to combine instruction with investigation.

One of them was Samuel Aughey, professor of natural sciences. Aughey worked diligently to bring to the people of Nebraska an understanding of the physical nature of their state-its geology, its flora and fauna. Scores of inquiries came to him concerning the natural history of Nebraska, and he felt it his duty to provide the information. His replies, phrased in the most optimistic manner and based upon a minimal amount of scientific investigation, made him the darling of the Nebraska boomers. In 1873, for example, the legislature invited Aughey to deliver a lecture upon the geology of Nebraska. His speech must have come as a tonic to discouraged legislators, for he painted a bright picture of Nebraska's future. The problems of timber and water would soon be solved. The shortage of timber he expected to be overcome by the discovery of coal beds in the state, sine he was certain that the Iowa coal fields extended west, growing richer as they moved toward the Rockies. As for lack of moisture, he looked to the extension westward of the line of rainfall, made possible by the operation of the beneficent law that "rainfall follows the plow." Aughey's observations led him to conclude that man, through the operation of "known geologic laws," could change is environment. He was one of the most outspoken advocates of the theory that man, by plowing the ground, increased the possibilities of rainfall. Finally, he said that judging from soil surveys, Nebraska possessed the richest soil in the world, surpassing that of the Rhine and Nile valleys, because, unlike them, Nebraska's soil would never require artificial fertilization. The process of "natural regeneration" of soil fertility Aughey claimed to be a most unusual one; since the phenomenon was characteristic of Nebraska's soil, farmers would be assured abundant crops. While the professor talked, a stenographer


employed by the Burlington and Missouri Railroad was close at hand taking down his words. Within a few weeks the speech appeared in pamphlet form, was printed in several languages, and became a major item in Nebraska's campaign to attract settlers. In 1874, Aughey produced a paper outlining the same views he had expressed in this famous lecture, and it was published by the U. S. government in the Annual Report of the Geological and Geographical Surveys of the Territories. Later this paper was printed in pamphlet form. In succeeding years articles by Aughey appeared regularly in Nebraska newspapers and magazines. The Nebraska Farmer, a prominent agricultural journal, carried Aughey's articles on such topics as tree planting and insect control. In 1875 his Catalogue of the Flora of Ne

braska appeared and was widely hailed as the definitive work. Continuing to add to his list of publications, Aughey reported on the grasshopper problem on the plains, and he also contributed a study of the possibilities of irrigation in eastern Colorado to another government collection. Another study, dealing with birds as controllers of insect pests, brought him into contact with Lawrence Bruner, who later joined the University's faculty and became an internationally famous entomologist. Bruner credited Aughey's work with first introducing to him the topic which intrigued and occupied him throughout his entire career. In 1880 appeared Aughey's major work, Sketches of the Physical Geography and Geology of Nebraska. Regarded by the American Naturalist as "one of the most interest

ing and valuable books yet published on the scientific and practical resources of the State of Nebraska," it included chapters on the evidence of increasing rain

fall, the salubrious Nebraska climate, insects and their control, Nebraska's unique soil, the availability of coal in Nebraska--all of the topics upon which Aughey had spoken so eloquently for years. Here was the promoter's handbook supreme; a "scientific" argument that the Garden of the West awaited the settler in Ne

braska. In the same year Aughey, along with C. D. Wilber, an itinerant scientist, was commissioned to reply to the committee of the United States Geological Sur

vey which recommended that most of the lands west of the one hundredth merid

ian be closed to settlement. For the information of the members Aughey and Wilber wrote a pamphlet, Agriculture Beyond the 100th Meridian or a Review of the United States Public Land Commission. Marshaling all their arguments, the authors proclaimed: "Observation, experiment, and the highest scientific authority demonstrate that climates in the west are becoming moister; that rain

fall is increasing steadily." To restrict settlement in this fertile region "would be in the interest of the few against the many--in the interest of capital against the toiling millions. The success of his project would be a crime against society and calamitous to us as a state." The pamphlet and his book identified Samuel Aughey as the foremost proponent of the immediate settlement of the plains. Obviously, Aughey was a busy man. Students complained that he was irregu

lar in meeting his classes, but his absences resulted not from indifference, but from involvement in "more important" affairs. A student writer in 1882 noted that "the professor of Natural Science is usually in his room from early in the morning until after eleven at night." Aughey's report to the Chancellor for 1874 records the extent of his work; a partial list of the analyses he conducted in the laboratory suggests the nature of pioneer society in Nebraska:

February, 1874 Quantitative analysis of carbonaceous matter from Knox county. March Quantitative analysis of coal from Otoe county. April Quantitative analysis of thirteen varieties of liquor from Lincoln, for Lincoln Temperance Society. Quantitative analysis of brandy and whiskey for Elliot & Turner, of Lincoln.


Quantitative analysis of the stomach of Mrs. Burnham, for

County Commissioners of Cass county.

May Quantitative analysis of Mrs. Winslow's soothing syrup, for Dr. Hurlbut, Lincoln, Neb. Quantitative analysis of lignite from Dixon county, Neb. June Quantitative analysis of old Bourbon for James Sullivan. Quantitative analysis of stomach of poisoned horse for Mr. Woodhurst, Warden of Penitentiary.

During 1874 alone, Aughey performed forty-one analyses requested by the public, to say nothing of his excursions to look into reported coal discoveries and the like. Because he had to divide his time between physical sciences and natural history, Aughey reported in June, 1874, that he not been able "to accomplish in the classroom what the scientific interests of the University re

quire." He noted that "the most onerous work of this department has been the extensive correspondence, which results from the nature of such a department in a new state, where so many are constantly arriving who are desirous of knowing the character of our natural history, geology, etc." Thoroughly sympathetic with Aughey's predicament, Benton urged the regents to appoint an assistant. In June, 1874, when the Chancellor himself offered to pay five hundred dollars, half of the new man's salary, the Board was won over, and Gilbert E. Bailey was hired as a tutor in chemistry and physics. Benton also asked the regents to appoint Aughey as state geologist; a geological survey could then be made which would benefit the study of zoology, entomology, botany, and geology, as well as the state. But the legislature refused. In 1876 Aughey was selected along with J. Sterling Morton to represent Nebraska at the National Centennial Celebration in Philadelphia, a measure of his stature in Nebraska. The year before, in 1875, when critics nearly succeeded in closing down the University, even they agreed that Aughey should be retained to continue his scientific work. He had little formal scientific training, but in those days science as an organized, systematized body of knowledge did not yet exist. Roscoe Pound, eminent graduate of the University,4 referred to Aughey as a charlatan, but Professor George E. Howard's remarks are more charitable: "He possessed a vast amount of miscellaneous knowledge; but the enormous burden laid upon his shoulders by the university did not tend to foster scientific precision." The fact remains that more than any other member of the faculty Aughey made the University known to the people of Nebraska. Whether or not he was the great scientific authority which the Nebraska promoters made him out to be is beside the point. His work brought stature to the University, and he demonstrated that research and public service both were essential responsibilities of a land-grant university. Orsamus C. Dake, professor of literature, was another colorful and controversial member of the first faculty. Dake was the first member of the faculty to produce literary works. In 1871 he published a small book of poems, Nebraska Legends and Poems, followed in 1873 by another collection, Midland Poems. A contemporary critic said that Nebraska Legends "contained the aroma of the prairies and of frontier life." As for the second book, the editor of the Hesperian Student wrote: "The novelty of such a book, originating in this state so far removed from what has been hitherto regarded as the literary center of our country, is worthy of notice." While these literary endeavors attracted a good deal of attention, Dake was best known in another connection. He found it


4 For biographical information on Dean Pound, see p. 167.


almost impossible to avoid controversy. Plagued by ill-health through much of his life, which may partially explain his irascible nature, Dake insisted upon speaking out on such paramount issues of the day as woman suffrage. By involv

ing himself in these controversies, he invariably also involved the University, but this did not deter him. To fellow conservative J. Sterling Morton, Dake lamented the absence of magazines expounding the conservative point of view: "In fine everything is radical to the core, teaching not merely Republican politics, but Women's Rights, and dogmas that must sap the faith by which we live and die." So, as a reflection of his conservatism, Dake felt it his responsibility to oppose almost every major reform movement of the day. In October, 1872, Dake wrote for a Lincoln newspaper an extremely harsh review of a work by Regent David Dungan. Since a disagreement between a member of the Board and a member of the faculty would provide an opening for the University's critics, Dungan sought to end the disagreement after remind

ing Dake that it had been he who had sponsored Dake's appointment to the faculty. For a brief time Dake held his peace; then in 1874 he was aroused by the spectacle of organized bands of women tramping over Lincoln demanding that the saloons close. He sent a caustic letter to a Lincoln newspaper venting his indignation. "It is high time [Dake wrote] that a curb be put upon the unbridled insanity that seems to be let loose in Lincoln. This city, for a number of weeks, has been disgraced by law-breaking and by political fanaticism in the guise of religion." Dake insisted that the women crusaders were not interested in tem

perance. Although they paraded the streets with placards denouncing the saloon keepers and the University administration for permitting students to frequent these dens of iniquity, their attitude was totally hypocritical; their real interest was in securing the right to vote. They meant to gain their objective, Dake declared, by fair means or foul, and the very nature of their offensive temperance campaign indicated to Dake what would occur should women ever receive the right to vote. "All law abiding men" should oppose the movement to extend suffrage to women; only in this manner could "anarchy and the dissolution of society" be prevented. A second Dake letter drew extensively on Scripture to prove that women were not the equal of men and that woman's place was in the home, not on the campaign trail or in the polling place. One Lincolnite found flaws in Dake's theological arguments and insisted that the women of the city had comported themselves during the temperance campaign with dignity. Dake's misrepresenta

tion of the situation had severely damaged the temperance cause, which the professor had supported vigorously on many earlier occasions. Another writer said that Dake had been bought off by the "whiskey ring." Dake's effort "to commit the State University to the whiskey ring" would not be tolerated. "We feel sure that three fourths of the people will feel outraged," he wrote, "and unless this insult is rebuked. . . . the State University will not only be on the verge of a revolution, but in the midst of it. If [Dake] is permitted to stay in the University, we suggest that he be put among the fossils, where he so evidently belongs." Dake responded by reiterating his opposition to the liquor interests and to woman suffrage. He maintained that "to abolish evil from the earth has not been given men to do," and he warned that if women won the right to vote the United States would not be "far away from such disorders as accompanied the French Revolution." Protesting that "a gag has been attempted to be put in my mouth because of my connection with the State University," he stated that no one had any right to demand of university professors that they adhere to specific principles. "All that can be asked, as respects an individual professor is, 'Is he competent for his chair; does he keep his hours; is he a man of good morals?'


State Universities never look beyond such matters as these, nor have they a right to do so," he concluded.

Dake refused to dodge volatile issues. He opposed compulsory education on the grounds that while education was a good thing, "personal liberty and reliance, and family security and seclusion are better." Similarly he denounced those persons who insisted that modern science had destroyed the relevancy of revealed religion. 5 In contrast to Aughey, who proved that the university could be of service to the people of the state in a positive way, Dake showed that a faculty member could become a center of controversy by acting as a social critic. Moreover, he demonstrated that dangers inherent in this kind of activity, for the efforts to silence him, while generally ineffective, illustrated the problem of academic freedom. Dake raised a fundamental question: Does a faculty member employed by the state university possess the right to speak out upon sensitive issues of the day, even if his views run counter to public opinion? Dake said that the faculty possessed this right, and he fought valiantly to the end of his life to defend the prerogative. The Omaha Herald remarked that Dake had been "a hard student and a cultivated scholar." Some of his poems "gave remarkable proof of his genius in the walks of poetry."

5 For Dake's part in the religious conflict that enveloped the University, see pp. 48-50



Religion and the University

By the middle of the nineteenth century modern science had begun to chal

lenge traditions which for centuries had been accepted unquestioningly by the Western world. Learned men everywhere debated the effect of the new scientific information upon established religious beliefs, and the argument over science and faith raged fiercely within American colleges and universities. The land-grant colleges came into existence just as the agitation reached its peak. In Nebraska, along the frontier of higher education, the sentiment against change was strong, and many influential citizens insisted that the University must be operated in accord with the Christian tradition. The first chancellor and faculty of the Uni

versity respected and represented this tradition. No one had objected because the Chancellor and most faculty members were ordained ministers, nor had anyone objected when, in 1872, the regents ruled that students must attend daily chapel exercises and Sunday church services. But by 1875 there had developed organized opposition to these regulations, as well as to the clerical cast of the faculty and administration. To distinguish sincere criticism from the captions is not always easy, but it is obvious that anyone who opposed the University for any reason saw in the religious quarrel an excellent opportunity to harass the supporters of the struggling institution. The University's leaders were aware of the gravity of the problem but were unable to determine how best to handle the criticism, which came both from those who said there was too much religion in the University and from those who said there was not enough. The Nebraska Methodist Episcopal Church, for example, at its annual conference in 1871 officially adopted the point of view that higher education was properly the work of churches. There was also a great deal of talk about the desire of certain denominations to gain control of the institu

tion. An early historian of the University, Howard Caldwell, quotes one of the early regents as saying, "It is the intention of the board to have the university conducted on very liberal principles, and to prevent the introduction of sectarian bitterness by electing professors from the different denominations." Thus it be

came the regents' policy to permit the various denominations to nominate men for faculty positions, so that all the major churches would have a chance to place their men on the staff. While Chancellor Benton stoutly opposed sectarianism in the University, he supported the concept of higher education oriented to Christian truth. He said in his inaugural address that state-supported education need not be atheistic, for a university "must always be interested in truth, and all truth is permeated with the idea of God." Benton said further that the people would demand recognition of Christian principles in the university, adding that it "will


their men on the staff.

simply reflect the average religious character of our people." This statement must be kept in mind as the various threads of the religious controversy within the University are untangled. During the first years of the institution no single topic was more discussed than the proper relation of religion to higher education. The discussion began peaceably enough with a series of articles in the Hesperian Student debating the value of the established eastern universities. In the June, 1872, issue, one author condemned the teachers at eastern schools, saying that they "are seldom wholly and soundly the children of faith" and "would rather unsettle faith than deepen it." He opined that "infidel institutions cannot make men of enough force to be formidable . . . . Only when they leap over into Communism and go to burning or killing, or otherwise become aggressive, do they become influential." And he was certain that "classical influences mould abler and more cultivated men than scientific." But as the ferment of change began to work in the remote, unsophis

ticated society that was pioneer Nebraska, spokesmen for the secularization of education became bolder, and at the 1874 commencement Charles Manderson told the student body: "The days of strictly sectarian schools are numbered . . . . the straight jacket of an intolerant bigotry no longer binds the powers and limits the progress of the student seeking many-sided knowledge." The argument broadened considerably in 1875, when critics of the Univer

sity inquired why enrollment had not grown during Chancellor Benton's admin

istration. The explanation that economic conditions had prevented its expansion did not satisfy many persons, including the Omaha Herald's editor, George Miller. The University had not grown, he said, because of its "faculty of ministers and its strong aroma of churchism." The faculty, dedicated servants of orthodox religious denominations, lacked the enthusiasm and the ability to attract and hold students; these "professors of theology" should be replaced by men conversant with the new trend in scientific education who would keep their religious views subordinate "to the progressive interests of the University." The Omaha Bee suggested that part of the trouble lay with the very administrative nature of the Board of Regents. The Bee hoped that the legislature would immediately abolish the Board and appoint a state board of higher education which would manage all state educational institutions. Chancellor Benton sensed a major crisis brewing, and the tone of his letters to his father changed. In August, 1874, he hinted for the first time that he might be leaving the University; and in September he predicted, "This will be a year with us of great political excitement, and it is hard to forecast what will come out of it." He said he would not be surprised if, within a year, he and his family returned to Indiana. "I do not especially care to stay but one year after this," he said. It may have influenced Benton's thinking that farmers to whom he had loaned large sums of money were unable to repay him because of the drought and grasshoppers, but it is more likely that he saw the storm clouds of religious strife building up. The skirmish between the "broad-gaugers," the liberals, and the "narrow-gaugers," the orthodox denominational men, already had begun. Control of the University appeared to be the prize, and Benton saw that he was likely to fall victim to the machinations of both factions. In December he wrote with great prescience: "I only fear the Legislature may undertake some rash legislation with respect to the University. It may occur that we shall be com

pelled to return to Ind. next summer." The first indication that the controversy was getting out of hand came with Professor Dake's attack upon the temperance crusaders, and the reaction which the professor's public letters occasioned. To many liberals, the conservative Dake represented the clerical influence at its worst, and the argument which rose first


as a reaction against Dake broadened into a general attack upon the University. Lincoln and Omaha newspapers received many letters from indignant citizens who wanted an investigation of the University. Disturbed by the reports of churchism in the institution, one letter writer who identified himself as "Zay" asked,

By what right, in accordance with what law and whose instructions, does the Chancellor of the University require the attendance of all the students at the chapel services every morning . . . ? Must the youth of this free State in order to obtain the only advantages we possess for a higher education, be compelled, each day, to listen to the reading of a portion of a particular book, which the Chancellor gravely calls "God's holy work," and which he interprets and expounds in further

ance of his peculiar views? . . . These institutions are intended to be secular in their character, are supported entirely by public funds, and the Chancellor has no more right to insist upon the presence of students at chapel service, or the Principal of the Normal School to require the students of that Institution to attend church every Sunday, than the State would have to tax the people for the support of any particular Church.

The University, said the writer, had become a refuge for incompetent ministers who could not hold a pulpit and who did not attract students. Finally, he urged the legislature to "ignore the importunities of unblushing sectarian lobbyists who are more anxious for the advancement of their particular church, than for the building up a University in fact as well as in name." Several weeks later the same writer offered this further comment: "I believe the unwritten history of the management would substantiate that the University has been controlled in the interests of the church, rather than that of education. It may not be so very diffi

cult to recognize the cause of there being less than thirty students in the regular course at the present time."

Defenders of the University said that in comparison with other land-grant universities, many of them older, the enrollment at Nebraska was entirely satis

factory. As for the criticism that some faculty members were ordained ministers, one editor inquired if liberals were so "bigoted as to object to a man because he is a clergyman?" Regarding the chapel services, another editor said that even the freethinker might benefit, for then he would be better acquainted with the principles which he so loudly opposed. Chancellor Benton said that the members of the faculty had been selected for their merits as educators; their religious con

nections had not been taken into consideration.1 As for the University chapel services, they were very brief--a short Scripture reading followed by a fifteen

minute commentary--and the discussions were completely nonsectarian. No par

ticular interpretation of Scripture was promulgated and every effort was made to respect the students' freedom of interpretation. It was true that chapel at

tendance was required, but Benton said that he did not know of any major insti

tution in the nation which did not follow the same practice. Finally, he discussed the University's enrollment. Hard times, not sectarian instruction or clergymen

instructors, kept students away. Considering the depression and the lack of preparatory institutions in the state, the enrollment "must be considered very satisfactory." Professor Dake shared Benton's opinion. When the Omaha Herald asked, "Can you harmonize the spirit of a Western State University with that of a corps of orthodox ministers?" Dake was ready with an answer, expressing a view which


1 Compare Benton's comment with the method reportedly devised by the regents to deal with the selection of faculty members, p. 47 above.


he said the people of the state undoubtedly shared. The University must be guided by those Christian principles which provided the foundation for all civilization. The Omaha Herald, said Dake, wanted the University controlled by infidels, and this was something the people of Nebraska would never permit. "The fact is," said Dake, "that all the prominent educational institutions of the west are, and always have been, developed and guided by an orthodox clergy." Only from among the clergy could come the scholars necessary for university administration and teaching; and yet "our own state university has a smaller percentage of "orthodox ministers" than any other of which I have knowledge." Moreover, "the University, considering the population and resources of Nebraska, is in flourishing condition." And he encouraged the impartial observer to compare the caliber of Nebraska's students with those of any other western institution. "The students in the State University are older, in every way further advanced and superior to those with whom some people would contrast them," he maintained.

There was support for Benton's policies and actions from the student body. In the February, 1875, issue of the Hesperian Student, one young man wrote: "The Chancellor in the Chapel, does not expound the Scriptures....He merely reads the Bible as a morning lesson in truth and morals. Indeed too much caution has been exercised by all the members of the faculty, in this regard, in the classroom. All expression of personal opinion in regard to many important questions, which have been made doctrinal issues, has been carefully avoided, for fear the wrath of some liberal (?) thinker might be aroused.... The charge that sectarianism enters into the teachings of the University, is utterly false." Another student replied to the Chancellor's attackers in a letter to the State Journal. He said that the Chancellor did not impress his religious views upon the students. Unlike some of the faculty members, Benton showed a continued interest in the students; he attended the literary society meetings and student entertainments; he was eager ad willing to do anything within his power "to benefit and improve the student."

The legislature that assembled in January , 1875, was at once caught up in the controversy. As Benton had anticipated, a band of well-organized broad-gaugers seized the initiative. Under the leadership of Dr. Alexander Bear, a member of the Senate's education committee, and of Benjamin Barrows, a member of the House Committee on Education, the broad-gaugers introduced a bill to provide for "the more efficient government of the state university." When, on February 23, 1875, it became law, it was a victory for the board-gaugers, since the new law deprived the chancellor of his seat on the Board of Regents, abolished the office of University treasurer, and gave the regents "power to remove the chancellor or any professor whenever the good of the university shall require it." Obviously, declared W.G. Olinger, a former regent, a well-organized group was attempting to capture the University.

While the Bear-Barrows bill was under consideration, the legislature elected five new regents. Among them were three legislators who were leaders of the broad-gauge faction: C.A. Holmes of Tecumseh, Bear of Norfolk, and Barrows of Omaha. Some observers argued that their election was part of an anti-religious campaign against the University, but according to the Omaha Herald the principal issue was a political one. The Herald, which was the state's leading Democratic newspaper, thought that the University should be "equitably controlled' by representatives drawn from both parties; "Democrats pay taxes, they are fairly numerous, and some may even want to be educated." But the composition of the new Board indicated that the Republicans were still predominant-only one regent was a Democrat.


When the second constitutional convention in the state's short history con

vened in Lincoln in April, 1875, the recent legislative contest was still fresh in all minds. Many delegates favored the popular election of regents, first proposed in the 1871 convention, and the revision was written into the new convention, which the voters of the state subsequently accepted. Charles Gere, chairman of the State Republican Committee, enthusiastically endorsed the change, for the regents were no longer subject to "the personal fear and trembling that a tirade by a member of the legislature, or a coarse attack by a newspaper were wont to inspire." Another section of the new constitution prohibited sectarian instruction in any Nebraska school "supported in whole or in part by the public funds set apart for educational purposes." Some broad-gaugers hailed the provision as a major triumph for their views, but church leaders, in particular Unitarians said that they were not interested in controlling the University; they merely wanted to ensure that no single theological point of view prevailed. The Omaha Repub

lican and the Omaha Bee agreed that the broad-gaugers were interested in main

taining a nonsectarian, not nonreligious, atmosphere at the University. The Omaha Herald continued to perceive political, rather than religious, overtones in the whole affair. Orthodox groups saw the matter differently. The Nebraska conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church, aroused by the efforts of the broad-gaugers to secure control of the University, directed the leaders of the conference to lay plans for a Methodist university. Since Christian parents could no longer send their children to the University, the church must provide the opportunity for higher learning. The Methodist proposal disturbed the leaders of the University, who feared that the new institution would offer serious competition for their school; but their apprehensions did not stop Lincoln men from working mightily to secure the Methodist school for their city. They argued that if it should be located in Omaha, the Methodist college could become a formidable rival of the University; if built in Lincoln it would function as "a co-worker" with the state school. Benton tried to stay out of the dispute as much as possible, although a letter written to J. B. Angell, president of the University of Michigan, in February, 1875, indicated that he was sympathetic with the orthodox position, as would be expected. He wanted to know about chapel regulations at Michigan. The inquiry, Benton wrote, was prompted by the situation in Nebraska, where "Free Religionists" had been elected regents and "threaten marvelous things in the way of putting the university on a sound religious basis." The fact that several faculty members were also ministers create an "irritating condition." Through all the controversy Benton's role is difficult to see, but it is clear that he was the victim of a neat squeeze play. Opposed by the various orthodox factions, each of which desired to have their man in the chancellor's chair, Benton found that the broad-gaugers also were unwilling to work with him. On March 12, 1875, in a letter to his father he noted the harbingers of trouble:

One half of our Board, have just been elected by the legislature, and it would not surprise me if we had some difficulty between the two parties. The half just elected are all Free Religionists or Broad-gauge men. A little ring was formed in the legislature and they elected themselves. I was intending to leave next year any way, and if I find it unpleasant in any way shall go this summer.

Later that month the broad-gaugers moved against him. At a meeting on March 23 a motion was approved that the Chancellor had the right to be present and discuss such matters as pertained to the general welfare of the University


"except those involving his own personal relations with the University." On the next day Benton's salary was reduced to three thousand dollars and a resolution was adopted that professors, tutors, or other officers of the University could not be dismissed without three months' notice "except in case of gross immorality or misconduct." Benton went before the state teachers' convention and presented his case, but his argument that a state university should be conducted in ac

cordance with "non-denominational Christian principles" failed to rally his sup

porters. Sometime in June he must have told the Board that he might resign, for at the regents' meeting on June 22, a motion introduced by Regent Tuttle, and approved, noted that "the Chancellor has intimated to the Board that his continuance with the University will be of short duration." Since they needed time to find a successor, the Board asked him to set the date when he "desires to be relieved from his connection with the University as Chancellor." In a letter to his father on June 30, Benton spoke of the possibility of returning to Indian

apolis "this summer." He thought that

probably the Presidency [of Northwestern Christian University] will be offered to me again with a very comfortable salary. In case it is, probably I shall accept. My property being there chiefly and my family all wishing to return, induce me to accept the position. I had rather stay here one year more, it will probably be better to accept the position when offered though at some immediate sacrifice. Our Board here have just met and everything passed off well. The broad

guagers are so much in the minority practically that they can do nothing. They desire, I know, my place of influence and compensation, but I expect to hold it until I voluntarily resign it. I suit the majority and who cares for the rest.

On August 31, he wrote:

It is now our plan to return to Indianapolis next summer, and probably I shall go to the University. I was elected President this year, but it was not convenient for me to go now. . . . Our little religious war continues, the effort being on the part of the "Broad

gauge" men to get possession of the University, and of the orthodox to keep it. Had some of the orthodox been a little more earnest in my support it would have been better for them. But they wanted my place for themselves and now they have a struggle to keep it for any one they like. They now, in the face of common danger, come manfully to my side. But it makes very little difference with me now, as I would not remain here longer than this year on any account.

Despite the nonchalant tone of his letters to his father, Benton had been completely outmaneuvered. His resignation, to take effect July 1, 1876, was accepted at the regents' meeting of December 15, 1875--the first meeting since that of the previous June. The Board and the Chancellor worked together har

moniously during the lame-duck period. Interestingly enough, the most signifi

cant production of these months was a revision of the University rules for students, but the requirements of daily chapel and Sunday church attendance were retained. Apparently the broad-gaugers were more interested in removing Benton than they were in obliterating churchism in the University. Among the students there were many who were sorry to see Benton leave. In the early days of the University the Chancellor had close, direct association with the students. George E. Howard, '76, recalled that he had the good fortune as an undergraduate to accompany Benton on one of his trips into the state. Delayed by a train accident, Benton and Howard descended from the hot coach and spent the afternoon in earnest conversation. "What a soul-feast was that for me," Howard wrote. "In educational method it was a veritable new chapter in


the Renaissance." Howard W. Caldwell, another early graduate and faculty member, remembered that Benton "found me on a farm in Nemaha County - a backward and timid boy, brought me to Lincoln, and made it possible for me to start on my university course." Almost all the students who enrolled in the University during Benton's administration could have told much the same story. The Chancellor's speeches and personal visits had first made them aware of the University and what it had to offer.

The commencement exercises in the spring of 1876 marked Benton's last official action as Chancellor. The five young people who received their diplomas on that day had received all of their college work in the University. At the end of the ceremony, as Chancellor Benton prepared to dismiss the audience, two students approached the platform bearing a "handsome silver pitcher and a pair of elegant gold-lined goblets." The spokesman emphasized the affection the students felt for the Chancellor, and then the farewell gifts were presented. Too overcome to respond, Benton could only pronounce the benediction.

Benton's administrative has been called "careful, conservative and in harmony with the old rather than with the new ideas of education." His own view of what had been accomplished is found in his letter of resignation to the Board of Regents:

At the close of this college year, the University will have completed five years from its opening, and these probably the most trying years of its history. From the first there have been grave embarrassments, arising from the defective construction of the building, the impoverished conditions of the country, and from the large outlays made necessary in the proper opening of the University. In so short a time, and under such adverse circumstances, to have organized all the classes of the University; to have graduated ten students - including the senior class of this year, - and to have reached an attendance of nearly one hundred and sixty students, with concord and efficiency in the Faculty, and entire harmony between the Faculty and so large a body of students, is work of no small magnitude.

A start had been made. Certainly not all the questions raised about public higher education in a frontier state had been answered, and reformers and critics continued to challenge the traditional foundations upon with the institution had been built. Now the attempt to define the University's proper role and to devise policies which would achieve the appropriate goals was to continue under Edmund B. Fairfield, the second chancellor of the University of Nebraska.



The Fairfield Administration

Late in March, 1876, the regents met secretly to discuss Benton's successor, and after a lengthy discussion voted to offer the post to Edmund B. Fairfield, the candidate proposed by Regent President S. J. Tuttle. The decision prompted a positive popular response, for Fairfield possessed a national reputation as an educator and clergyman. Born in Charlestown, West Virginia, in 1821, Fairfield graduated from Oberlin College in 1842 and from the Theological Seminary in 1845. He became a pastor in the Baptist Church, and in 1848 was named presi

dent of the Free Baptist College in Spring Arbor, Michigan. Five years later he moved to Hillsdale, College, Michigan, remaining there as professor and president of the college until 1870. During his years in Michigan, Fairfield was active in politics, and he is recognized as one of the founders of the Republican party in that state. He was elected to the Michigan State Senate and also to the post of lieutenant governor, but his political ambitions cooled. In 1870, after ordination in the Congregational Church, he accepted a pastorate in Mansfield, Ohio. For five years he served the Mansfield church, then became president of a state normal college at Indiana, Pennsylvania. At this point the well-traveled minister-poli

tician-professor-administrator received the summons to Nebraska. In his letter of acceptance, Fairfield expressed great confidence in the University, which he ex

pected to become "one of the first educational institutions of the country." Some Nebraskans, among them the editor of the Omaha Herald, believed that Fairfield was precisely the man to bring peace, harmony, and growth to the University. The Herald dramatically announced that its opposition to the Uni

versity ceased with the appointment of Fairfield, for now "the University has been delivered out of the control of a set of narrow-minded sectarian bigots." Unfortunately, Fairfield's administration was destined to be no less stormy than Benton's. The religious dispute remained to be settled, and the longer partisans debated the issue the more complicated it became. Moreover, a group of young faculty men introduced a program of educational reform within the institution, and reaction to their efforts intensified the crisis. Yet through all the confusion one sees the University taking the first steps toward academic fulfillment. The movement was slow and uncertain, since the path to be followed was unmarked and the leaders unable to agree upon the course to be taken. Chancellor Fairfield brought with him from Michigan a reputation as a political liberal and reformer, but he proved to be a conservative in educational matters. He wanted a university which represented traditional values and methods; and like Benton, he was never able to resolve the conflict between the


denominational-liberal arts tradition and the land-grant philosophy. In his in

augural address, for example, Fairfield said that the prime characteristic of the American university is that it is "for the study of all science; for the most liberal learning, and the most generous culture possible." He then spoke in detail about the traditional scientific and liberal arts courses, emphasizing the impor

tance of Latin and Greek, and added, almost as an afterthought, that the univer

sities must also provide for the "scientific agriculturist, the artist, the architect, the professional teacher, the lawyer, and the physician." All university training should be the kind which would enable "a young man, at the end of his univer

sity education. . . . to make something of himself, and to do something to lift up his country and his race to a higher plane of true living," a definition which possessed strong overtones of traditionalism. In discussing the religious problem which had rocked the University, Fair

field again displayed an inherent conservatism. He told the inaugural audience that although a state university must not teach theology, neither should it be "either practically or speculatively, positively or negatively, Atheistic. The existence of one personal . . . First Cause is the central truth of all truth, the foundation fact of all science. Ethics--Christian ethics--belong eminently to the American University. The whole edifice of our American civilization rests upon the foundation of the Divine Law." While "dogmatic and polemic theology" should be left to the churches, the University "cannot afford to ignore morals, or the foundation of all morals in any system of education." It should not, however, promote one sect or denomination above another. Fairfield also said that the decision to combine the university and the agricultural college was an excellent one: "You have, in this respect, shown a wisdom superior to that of most of the states," he declared. He praised the manner in which the legislature had safe

guarded the land grant; and he agreed that the University, in refusing to put up dormitories for the students, had acted wisely, since the dormitory system was "unnatural" and "unnecessary" and a source of disciplinary problems. The money was better spent on educational facilities. The question which had been raised so often in the past concerning the need for a university in a frontier society was no longer relevant, since the university was "already well under way." In conclusion, he said that the University belonged to the people of the state, and there should be no antagonism between the common schools and univer

sities and colleges. There was no "aristocracy of brains" --the University was for rich and poor alike, and the poor needed it the most. He asked the people of the state to "contribute joyfully of their substance," and he particularly solicited private donations from the citizens of Lincoln, who profited from the University. He did not believe the University should incur debts, and suggested as a motto "Pay as we go." Before Fairfield spoke, S. J. Tuttle, president of the Board of Regents, de

livered an address which included a plea for toleration. He said in part:

Any inquiry concerning the particular shade or kind of . . . religious belief [of any faculty member] is not only meddlesome, but mischievous; what matters it by what route they are wending their way to the great hereafter, or by what chart, or whether their path thither be illuminated by light from Calvary alone or elsewhere. The University belongs to the people of the whole State irrespective of party or sect, that knowledge fitting the youth for the responsibilities of living in this world may be acquired . . . . The duty of developing the University to proportions of greatest usefulness devolves upon the Faculty; this is their field of work; years of experience and study have fitted them for it. Here, too, is their ambition; let there be no short-sighted interference on the part of the Regents; rather let there then be accorded to them the largest measure of freedom.


Tuttle, and undoubtedly Chancellor Fairfield, too, realized that the narrow

gauge and broad-gauge factions had not yet resolved their differences; hence the effort to set the stage for some kind of settlement. But their speeches did not satisfy certain elements in the state. From the Johnson Union Sunday school in Nemaha County came a memorial which denounced Fairfield and Tuttle and said that their sentiments were "a disgrace to the State University, the State of Nebraska, and any christian community. . . ." The Omaha Republican thought that Fairfield and Tuttle had taken "vague and unsatisfactory" positions. Judging by their inaugural speeches, they apparently had decided to remove all religion from the University and to teach moral values separate from Christian truth-

and this could not be done. The argument of the Omaha Republican interested Charles Gere because a year before, during the squabble of the spring and summer of 1875, the Omaha editor had maintained that the University contained too much churchism. Now he attacked Fairfield and Tuttle for not being religious enough and for failing to promise that Christian truth would be the basis for instruction in the Uni

versity. "The fact is," wrote Gere, "that the whole discussion of this matter, has been from the beginning, by orthodox and "broad gauge" partisans alike, foolish and uncalled for. The University has never been run in the interests of any sect of Christians or atheists, and is not likely to be, and the sooner this theological brawling through the press is quieted the better it will be for all parties concerned."

A Period of Growth

The University had not grown perceptibly in its first five years, but after 1876 the number of students and faculty began to increase.1 Although the ex

pansion was gradual, the need for additional funds became pressing. Nebraska had not yet completely recovered from the economic disasters of the early 1870's, and few thought that the University had much of a chance to secure additional money from the lawmakers. Nevertheless, Fairfield went before the 1877 legis

lature to plead the University's case and to request that the one-fourth-mill levy granted in 1869 be raised to three-eighths of a mill. The institution had weath

ered the lean years, Fairfield said, because it had dipped into a reserve fund built from money collected under the 1869 and 1870 levies. Now that the reserve fund was exhausted, the University had to have more money. Fairfield pointed out that it operated at a lower per-pupil cost than any other western land-grant university and that the three-eighths-mill tax would undoubtedly be a temporary expedient, for soon the University's landed endowment would begin to provide all the funds needed. The arguments presented by the Chancellor must have been effective, because the legislature increased the University levy as he had requested. Fairfield intended to use the additional revenue to hire needed faculty. He was determined to reduce the excessive load the professorial staff had carried, and the Fairfield administration is most memorable for his appointment of promising and controversial teachers. When he took up his duties in the fall of 1876 there were ten faculty members (including Fairfield); in the spring of 1882, when he was dismissed, there were seventeen professors and instructors. Regents Tuttle and Holmes presented to the Board of Regents a strongly worded motion asking for


1 From 1876 to 1880 the only enrollment figures available are for the calendar year as follows: 1876--282, 1877--244; 1878--218; 1879--254; 1880--317. For the academic year 1881-1882 the figure is 284.


increased faculty, but it ended thus: "We have indicated the needs of the Univer

sity as to more teachers without assuming to say that the funds of the University will at this time warrant the employment of all those herein mentioned."Nonetheless, Fairfield was able to hire men and women to fill obvious gaps,making possible a more rational distribution of faculty responsibilities. As L. A. Sherman later wrote, "By the time things were fairly organized im

portant changes had been made in the teaching force." Commenting on George E. Church, formerly head of the Latin School, who was now pro

fessor of Latin, Sherman wrote: "Latin fell to the lot of a man who, if not erudite, was aware of the possibilities of his subject, and brilliant as an instructor and inspirer of his pupils." George McMillan, "a true humanist,"was professor of Greek. Of the subject taught by H. E. Hitchcock, profes

sor of mathematics since 1872, Sherman said that "mathematics came into good hands, from then on to be kept abreast of the best methods." The rest of the faculty in the fall of 1876 was comprised of Chancellor Fairfield, who was also professor of mental, moral, and political philosophy; Samuel Aughey, pro

fessor of natural sciences; Hiram Collier, professor of chemistry and physics;Gilbert E. Bailey, tutor in analytical and agricultural chemistry; Edgar S. Dudley,professor of military science and tactics; Harvey Culbertson, superintendent of the farm and teacher of agriculture; and Harrington Emerson, professor of modern languages. Emerson, who joined the faculty in 1876, was described by Dean Sherman as "the earliest representative of the new culture to come among us," for he was the first professor to advocate the new educational ideas then spreading in the eastern states and Europe. Fairfield’s policy of adding faculty members silenced students who com

plained that certain fields, such as the natural sciences, which boasted three full

time instructors, received too much attention, while other subjects, such as litera

ture, were ignored. Thus in the spring of 1877 students hailed the announcement that George E. Woodberry had been appointed acting professor of rhetoric,English literature, and history, filling a post vacant since O. C. Dake's death two years earlier. A recent graduate of Harvard, Woodberry, who began his teaching duties in the fall of 1877, was another representative of the new breed of scholar

professor. Like Emerson, he had been greatly influenced by the enlightened ideas then current in eastern and European universities. George E. Howard, who graduated from the University in 1876, returned after a sojourn in Europe to be appointed tutor in the University in 1878. In June, 1879, the regents named him librarian and instructor in rhetoric, English literature, and history. During his years in the University, Howard laid the basis for the work in history, political science, and sociology. Like Woodberry and Emerson, he was young, enthusiastic, and fully convinced of the need for educational reform. His particular desire was to establish the elective system of course work within the University. Emerson, Howard, and Woodberry, and also George Church, rejected the traditional educational methods of the day. Even though their zeal for change was suspect along the frontier, where there was little wish to alter the structure and form of higher education, these young men had tremendous impact upon the University--a clear indication that in this instance the impetus for change came not from the frontier but from the East and Europe. Although Fairfield was able to add to the faculty, he could not keep pace with the requests for special work that came from groups within the state. In December, 1878, for example, the Hesperian Student entered a plea for a commercial college: if even "the more elementary branches of this department can receive some attention . . . . even this would satisfy to a great extent the claims that the commercial interests of the state so justly demand." The commercial


college was not established, but there was a gain on the fine arts front. After 1877 students could take art and music, even though the University did not support the courses financially. Students in these classes were charged a fee of a dollar a week, or thirty dollars a year, to pay their instructors (who were on the University roster but unsalaried) and for instructional materials. Usually the University provided a room for the classes. When necessary, the curriculum was expanded by assigning a teacher already on the staff to teach new courses. Thus, in 1882 S. R. Thompson, who had rejoined the University in 1881 as professor of agriculture, is also listed as "Professor of Didactics," this field being the forerunner of professional education courses. The curriculum included three

hour electives in the history of education, state and national systems of education, school organization and management, and school supervision in city, village and county. Also, the faculty apparently was beginning to offer limited graduate instruction, for the 1882-1883 Catalogue listed Mrs. Alice M. Howard and Mrs. Emma P. Willson as graduate students.2 Another important step taken during Fairfield's administration was the hiring of the first woman faculty member. Although American colleges and univer

sities began opening their doors to women as early as the 1830's, female professors were still very rare in the 1870's. Chancellor Benton on several occasions had told the regents of the need for a woman on the staff, mainly to supervise the coeds, but not until 1877 did the regents authorize the hiring of women. Fair

field nominated Miss Ellen Smith, whom he had known at Hillsdale College, as an instructor in Latin and Greek. In 1884 she became registrar, and in 1886 librarian as well as registrar. While serving as registrar, Miss Smith met every student, and to several generations of young Nebraskans she personified the University. Undergraduates found her demeanor terrifying, and "it was generally understood in academic circles that any freshman surviving the first interview with Miss Smith might be expected to grow up to useful womanhood or man

hood." Chancellors and faculty members also reportedly trembled in her pres

ence, but alumni remembered Miss Smith with gratitude and affection. Roscoe Pound, who suspected that her gruff behavior was affected to conceal her true nature, agreed that Miss Smith expected students to toe the mark academically as well as socially. Dean Pound wrote:

No one who came within the sphere of her influence failed to learn at least this-

that there was no sure salvation, in school or out of school, except in being pre

pared fully and thoroughly every day in the week at 8 o'clock A.M. So far as she could, she saw to it that all took with them from the University habits of earnest and laborious preparation and a settled disposition to do their best work.

Clarke Fisher Ansley, '90, remembered that

Miss Smith liked us far beyond our deserts, but we had to guess this. What she said to us was usually by way of reprimand expressed picturesquely and effectively. She would tell a boy that he needed a bath. He would then begin the habit of bathing. She would tell a girl that ladies did not talk so loud, and the girl would then decide to endeavor to talk like a lady. The University did what it could to civilize us, and the chief instrument of the process was Miss Smith. She was unconventional enough to understand the rest of us. Many came to the University with little or no money, depending on finding work. Miss Smith some times suspected that a student was undernourished and would invite him to a dinner at her little house.

__________ 2 See p. 94.


Miss Smith recalled that her "firm health and strong constitution" recommended her for employment in a frontier university; and as she remembered it, the University of Nebraska in 1877 was indeed a primitive place: "There was no ventilation in the chemistry room; there was little apparatus in the physics room; there was no laboratory for botany, zoology or any of the 'ologies; the museum was disarranged and unclassified; the library was opened but a few hours one day in the week." But despite these conditions "the professors were energetic and determined, the students eager, faithful and hard working, and much good work was done." That faculty and curricula could be expanded at this time was most sur

prising, given Nebraska's economic condition. A spirit of economy prevailed in the state, and periodically faculty members were asked to take salary reduc

tions. The financial uncertainty created an unhealthy situation within the University, for whenever a faculty member was deemed a troublemaker by the regents or the chancellor, he could be dismissed for reasons of economy.3 Editors constantly complained about the cost of the University, and the Omaha Republican noted that the average salary at Nebraska was higher than that at Michigan University. Yet despite the clamor for retrenchment, few favored a reduction in course offerings. Frequently those who called loudest for cutbacks were also those who insisted that new courses be added to the curriculum. Hence, during Fairfield's administration the perpetual dilemma of this land-grant university--how to provide an unlimited curriculum with a limited budget--came into sharp focus. In 1876 the regents for the first time granted a leave of absence to a member of the faculty. The recipient of this extraordinary favor was Professor Church, who expected to use his leave to attend lectures at the University of Berlin. When Church was granted his leave and a twelve-hundred-dollar stipend, the Omaha Herald branded it a "flagrant and unjustifiable act on the part of the regents," and said that the state could not afford to educate teachers as well as to pay for their services. Fairfield explained that Church had agreed to provide a man to take his place and had contributed eight hundred dollars toward the substitute's salary. Moreover, he said, the practice of granting leaves with pay was common in all the eastern universities. Whereupon the State Journal told Fairfield that a distinction had to be made between the richly endowed private universities of the East and the western land-grant universities supported by public funds. The regents should end the practice of granting leaves before the issue brought "a renewal of the biennial assault upon the institution by its enemies." Nearly every change brought forth opposition. Frequently the critics failed to see the need for adjusting the University's operations to the changing patterns of higher education. Occasionally problems resulted from internal conflicts when faculty and administrators clashed over policy matters. A typical dispute developed when Fairfield attempted to establish a department of military training within the University in accordance with the provisions of the Morrill Act.

The Beginnings of Military Training

Shortly after he became chancellor, Benton had reminded the regents that

the Morrill Act required land-grant colleges to offer military training. Fearful


3 For example, at the regents' meeting on June 12, 1878, it was moved that Professors Woodberry and Bailey and Tutor Palmer--all of whom had offended Chancellor Fairfield--be dismissed for reasons of economy. See p. 65, below.


that failure to meet this obligation might result in forfeiture of the land grant, Benton had pressed for the establishment of a military department but with no success. The legislature refused to appropriate funds, and the army informed the Chancellor that no officers were available for assignment to the University. Then, in the fall of 1876, after Fairfield's appointment, Lieutenant Edgar S. Dudley, a West Point graduate, arrived in Lincoln under orders from the War Department to teach military drill and tactics. The economy-minded regents, knowing that West Point was the only real engineering college in the nation, hoped to persuade the Lieutenant to teach engineering courses in addition to conducting drill. Dudley proved amenable, and in 1877 the first course work in the field of engineering was offered under his direction.4 The establishment of the military courses solved many legal and administra

tive problems, but it also raised some additional questions. Faculty and adminis

trators immediately fell to arguing about drill: Should it be compulsory or voluntary? Who should be excused? What credit should be given for the work? Moreover, a decided student antipathy toward the military program developed once the novelty of drill had worn off. The University Catalogue of October, 1876, stated that military drill was voluntary and that "no uniform has yet been required or adopted." However, in June of 1877 drill was made compulsory for all having not less than two recitations, and suitable uniforms were required. Faculty members protested the policy change, and a petition, sent by some professors to the regents, said that many young men would not be able to afford to purchase uniforms. The order would have a deleterious effect upon the school, since some students might withdraw and others might be persuaded not to enroll. When the regents refused to rescind the new regulation, rebellion stirred among the students. According to Howard Caldwell, who was a student in the University at this time:

The students felt that their rights and liberty had been invaded and they proposed to have a redress of grievances, at least to have their say. The old Tichenor House, at the corner of Thirteenth and K streets was then rented by the University and used as a dormitory for the boys. Far up under the eaves on the third floor, two or three indignation meetings were held, and resistance was resolved upon. A petition however was first to be tried, at the suggestion of some of the more con

servative. This was really supposed to be a sharp move, for the leaders expected of course that the request would be refused, then they conceived a just cause of rebellion, and of war would exist. This petition was duly signed by nineteen brave young men asking to be excused from drill on the ground that they had come with all the clothing necessary for the year, and their pocket books would not stand the additional drain for the military suits that were required. The answer was awaited in trembling expectancy.

Lieutenant Dudley calmly informed the men that their lack of funds presented no problem, and he quickly inducted them into the "ragamuffin squad," which drilled the remainder of the year without uniforms. But the undergraduates refused to admit defeat. One night some students stole an outhouse from behind a dwelling near the campus, nailed up a sign, "Lieutenant Dudley's headquar

ters," and placed the building in front of University Hall. Then they captured a cannon from in front of the state capitol, dragged it to the campus, and left it pointing at "headquarters." Although the tableau revealed by morning's light created a stir, it failed to deter Dudley from the performance of what he saw as his proper duty.


4 The regents appropriated $185 to buy surveying equipment, the first purchase for the Department of Engineering, and gave Lieutenant Dudley a salary of $400 for his extra work.


An item in the Hesperian Student for April, 1879, indicates that opposition continued:

I. L. Burch has left school. He could not obtain an excuse from military drill and rather than to submit to compulsory drill, and buy a suit for which he had no use, he quietly packed up and left. Mr. Burch was one of the best students we had, and his departure was a serious loss to the University. The moral suggests itself.

Nevertheless, student resistance gradually diminished. To Lieutenant Dudley and Lieutenant I. T. Webster, who assumed command of the cadets in 1879, must go credit for instilling in the young students a pride in their military work. But among the administration and faculty the argument over drill persisted, and contributed to the situation which brought Fairfield's dismissal in 1882.

The industrial College

Among the many problems Chancellor Fairfield inherited from his prede

cessor none was more perplexing and frustrating than that of agricultural educa

tion. Little headway had been made toward fulfilling the objectives of the Morrill Act, and public opinion opposed efforts in this direction. In 1877 Fairfield and the Board of Regents asked the legislature to amend the University Charter so that the number of authorized colleges would be reduced from six to five. Under this proposal, which the legislature adopted, the study of agriculture would be combined with that of "practical science, civil engineering, and the mechanic arts" to form a new Industrial College. What the regents hoped to gain from this consolidation can only be surmised: the College of Agriculture was not really in operation and the College of Practical Science, Civil Engineering and Mechanics had not yet been established. Probably they wanted to comply with the mechanic arts provision of the Morrill Act and to strengthen the Agricultural College by combining it with another college. That this was the regents' intention is borne out by the composition of the Industrial College faculty, as listed in the 1877 Catalogue: Samuel Aughey, natural sciences; H. E. Hitchcock, mathematics; Hiram Collier, general chemistry and physics; Gilbert E. Bailey, agricultural and analytical chemistry; Harvey Culbertson, agriculture and superintendent of the farm; and Lieutenant Dudley, surveying and civil engineering. Thus science and mathematics, two of the most popular subjects, were now offered in the Industrial College, and the substantial enrollment suggested great progress. Here was the regents' answer to critics of industrial education (provided, of course, they did not see through the deception). But not much could be done to conceal the lack of success in agriculture. Editors and farm spokesmen maintained that book farming was totally inade

quate; farming could only be learned by practice. The situation at the farm in Lincoln did little to dispel the doubts encouraged by the critics, and the men in charge of agricultural work were still groping toward an understanding of their proper functions. One basic question, raised at an earlier date by Professor Thompson, related to the purpose of the farm--should it be a model farm or an experimental farm? In 1879 the regents finally decided that the facility should be devoted to agricultural experimentation. In July, 1880, the influential Ne

braska Farmer editorially supported the view that the University farm did not exist to make a profit or to ensure that young people returned to the farm after their fling in Lincoln. The work of the farm could be evaluated only by the


improved conditions and instructions it could offer farmers throughout the state. With this philosophy established, the University turned an important corner in its agricultural work. Professor Culbertson, who was keenly aware of the need to bring the message of scientific agriculture to Nebraska farmers, in 1880 asked the regents for fifty dollars to publish a pamphlet reporting the results of his experimental work at the farm. They okayed the expenditure and also approved plans to expand the number of farmers' institutes. This was a most significant step, for it was through these institutes that the state's farmers began to hear about scientific agriculture and the University of Nebraska. Culbertson asked well-known agri

culturists such as J. Sterling Morton and Robert W. Furnas to assist with the institutes; and to offset the argument that they were dominated by book farmers he was at pains to see that dirt farmers participated. In the fall of 1877 the Nebraska Farmer carried articles and notices about the institutes, and announced that one would be held in Lincoln in February, 1878. Arranged under Culbert

son's auspices, it included meetings devoted to horticulture, bee culture, hog raising, sheep raising, and the care of horses. In 1879 the institute was held at Gibbon, in central Nebraska, to see if the attendance would be greater at an out

state location; but apparently the Gibbon institute was a disappointment, and the next year the meeting was held in Lincoln. In the fall of 1881 the regents and the agricultural faculty decided to discontinue having one large farmers' institute conducted by the University; instead, support would be given to one-day institutes to be held wherever local interest and support from farmers could be enlisted. It was essential that the message of scientific farming reach the farmers, for only as the principles of scientific agriculture gained acceptance would the University's agricultural program receive support. In 1877 Charles A. Brainard received the University's second Bachelor of Agriculture degree, but criticism of the program continued undiminished. "The present condition of our Agricultural College is not very flattering," the Ne

braska Farmer said in August, 1878, "unless it should be on the ground that the darkest hour is just before day." University leaders readily admitted that the agricultural program was deficient in almost every respect, but they were quick to point out that the failures about which critics harped endlessly were due to the legislature's failure to provide necessary funds. "When we shall once get more farmers and fewer lawyers into our Legislature," said one University supporter, "the interests [ of the farmer ] will be better recognized." Help came from the 1879 legislature, which increased the funds for the farm and also for the first time earmarked a portion of the University's total appropriation for the agricul

tural department. In 1881, responding to an eloquent plea from Chancellor Fair

field, the lawmakers voted an additional ten thousand dollars for the support of the agricultural work, and Culbertson was promoted to professor of horticulture to provide a second full-time instructor in the department. This marked the beginning of serious agricultural work in the University. More important than money, perhaps, was the beginning of a change in the attitude of influential farm leaders. In June, 1881, for example, the Nebraska Farmer urged every Nebraska farmer to send one of his sons, preferably the boy who would inherit the home place, to the University so that he could learn the latest advances in scientific agriculture. "The time will come finally," said the editor, "when competition will force us all to understand our avocations and to practice them with skill if we would succeed." But not all the state's pundits were so farsighted. In Febru

ary, 1882, the Omaha Bee labeled the agricultural course "an educational fraud and farce" and stated flatly that a farmer's son could learn more working on any Cass County farm than in the agricultural department of the University.


More Cracks in University Hall

Few of Chancellor Fairfield's problems originated with his administration, and undoubtedly the most irksome of all to both Benton and Fairfield concerned the condition of University Hall. Much of Benton's energy had been spent ex

plaining to indignant critics and outraged parents that it was safe for occupancy. Soon Fairfield was fighting the same battle. During the spring of 1877 the Omaha Republican broke the news that University Hall was "in a dangerous condition, with the chapel already abandoned." The building, especially the foundation, required extensive repairs to the tune of twenty or thirty thousand dollars--or so the Republican estimated. Acting with what some observers later termed uncharacteristic haste, the Board of Regents condemned the building as unsafe. Their request that Lincoln

ites raise forty thousand dollars, the amount needed to start work on a new building, aroused the suspicions of the Omaha Herald editor, who believed that the regents, once they had the forty thousand from private funds safely in hand, would ask the state for an additional hundred thousand to complete the building. The Herald suggested that rather than pour more money into the University, "its operation [should be suspended] for at least seven years." Figuring that this was their opportunity to remove the University from Lincoln, towns immediately began to bid for the institution. A hastily created citizens' committee in Nebraska City secured twenty thousand dollars in immediate pledges and sixty thousand dollars in long-term commitments to finance the relocation of the University in their town. Now that the University building had disintegrated, J. Sterling Morton said, the time had come to move the institution to Nebraska City. The proposal was endorsed at a public meeting at which it was suggested that the University building be dismantled, moved to Nebraska City, and rebuilt. Omahans were equally diligent in pressing their claims, aware that if the University came there, the Omaha High School, which had turned out to be much too costly for the city's taxpayers, might be closed down or sold to the state. However, the Omaha newspapers did not stress the financial advantages to Omaha, but demurely pointed to the educational advantages for students in cities with "graceful refinements" as opposed to education in the wilderness. Meanwhile, the citizens of Lincoln were fighting back. At a number of meetings, throngs of excited people agreed that every effort should be made to keep the University. During one meeting in the Lincoln Opera House, after speakers had presented a number of fund-raising proposals, from the floor came the suggestion that there was no need for a stampede. Before funds for a new building were solicited, let there be an exhaustive examination of the building by experts. A resolution was adopted calling upon the Lancaster County Commissioners to issue forty thousand dollars in bonds and for the City of Lincoln to issue bonds to cover the remainder of construction costs. But, more important, it was also voted to have several architects examine the building before the fund drive began. Within a few days three architects had been hired, and after a careful inspection of University Hall, G. P. Randall of Chicago, spokesman for the group, stated that the foundation required considerable strengthening. The renovation could be done for a nominal sum, he said. They had found the building above the foundation to be sound, despite some evidence of settling and cracking in the walls. The Omaha Republican was skeptical about the report, and finally Charles Gere suggested that a public meeting be scheduled for University Hall, where under the eyes of all interested persons workmen would make an on-the-spot investigation. This would settle once and for all the question of the building's structural soundness.


Regent Tuttle objected to Gere's common-sense proposal. Tuttle, who had instigated the condemnation proceedings, now showed his hand. He had taken an option in the University's name on forty acres northeast of Lincoln near the farm, and he wanted to move the University to this site. Within twenty-five years, said Tuttle, the University would find itself seriously handicapped by the lack of space on its downtown campus. Better to move now, before land values increased, than to wait until later when the transfer of the institution would be much more expensive. He thought that the parents of the students would be pleased to have their children removed from the downtown region. Mothers would be happy if their daughters were spared the experience of being "jostled on the street by the denizens of the brothel,-- the father that his son should not too easily have placed before him the intoxicating cup." But Tuttle's arguments gained little support. To buy the land and build a new building would cost more than to put University Hall into sound condition. Moreover, locating the University two miles from the heart of the city would work hardship upon the students. So the public examination of the building was arranged. D. C. Brooks, editor of the Omaha Republican and spokesman for those who wanted to raze the building, was among the public leaders who trooped into University Hall on the appointed day, August 16, 1877. They watched intently as laborers removed two window frames and broke two holes in the interior wall. After a close inspection of the walls, the examiners were satisfied that the building was not falling to pieces. Editor Brooks announced that "the investigation was thorough, the conclusions reached just, and the plan of reconstruction practicable, safe, economical and efficient."

The cost of strengthening the foundation of the building was estimated at eight thousand dollars, and it was assumed that the people of Lincoln would quickly subscribe that amount. But the citizens, recently so excited at the prospect of losing the University, were unresponsive and the money did not come in as rapidly as have been anticipated. Finally, encouraged by the understanding that the legislature would reimburse the contributors (a supposition which proved groundless), the Lincolnites provided the money for a new foundation. All fall, workmen labored to renovate the foundation as well as the exterior of the structure. The result, said a student writer in January, 1878, was "an almost entirely new building . . . . The new lime-stone foundation; the fresh painting and stripping of the building give it a very fine appearance on the outside."

A Legislative Investigation

The most serious situation that faced Chancellor Fairfield came about when the religious issue, with all its emotional overtones, became inextricably entangled with a controversy over education and professional changes. Four professors-- Woodberry, Church, Emerson, an Howard-- hoped to bring the University into the mainstream of educational reform. As well as advocating greater student freedom, they wanted to liberate instructors from restrictions upon their personal behavior and to promote the secularization of the institution. The Chancellor and many older faculty members objected to these innovations. A schism over substantive educational issues developed within the faculty; and since the division of opinion on educational philosophy coincided with the differences over religion, a tense and potentially dangerous situation resulted.

In February, 1878, D. C. Brooks, editor of the Omaha Republican, charged that the religious problem at the University was again getting out of hand, since Fairfield hired only faculty members who held conservative religious views. Even more disturbing, said Brooks in later editorials, was the breakdown of stu


dent discipline; according to reports received in Omaha, students were virtually running wild. The male students were in a state of rebellion over military drill, and this was but a single example of the "general student insubordination" which prevailed in Lincoln because of Fairfield's shortcomings. Finally, it was reported that the Chancellor was at odds with several faculty members. It was no secret that the Chancellor and Professor Woodberry were not on the best of terms, nor could the conflict between Fairfield and Lieutenant Dudley be concealed.5 Fairfield immediately denied that he was misusing his powers and that he and Lieutenant Dudley were quarreling, but he could not satisfy his detractors and the criticism intensified. He was accused of excusing an excessive number of students from chapel, and it was said that the students were grumbling because the library was open only a few hours a week. Moreover, according to the Omaha Republican in a November, 1878, story, "within the past year [the library] has lost about one-tenth of its really valuable works." Later on Professor Emerson was quoted as saying that the Chancellor had violated University regulations in regard to the purchase of library books; volumes had been bought which the faculty had not approved and in many instances did not desire. From other sources came the rumor that the Chancellor had used University funds to pur

chase books from his own library and the libraries of other professors. The implication was that he and his friends sold books to the library and realized a profit in the bargain. There is no evidence that the regents, during the winter and spring of 1878, made any effort to investigate the attacks upon the Chancellor, but they must have been aware of the restlessness which permeated the institution. At their June 12 meeting, they discussed the need to economize, and a motion was made to dispense with the services of Professor Woodberry, Professor Bailey, and Tutor Palmer. In the end only Bailey was dismissed. Fairfield's enemies later alleged that the action was not taken in the interests of economy; rather the Chancellor was trying to purge the faculty of professors who had gained his enmity. If this was true, Fairfield could not have been greatly disturbed when Professor Wood

berry, in December, 1878, offered his resignation to the Board in order to take an editorial position with the Nation magazine. Through the fall of 1878 the Omaha Republican, occasionally joined by the Omaha Herald, sniped at Chancellor Fairfield; then, in January, 1879, Brooks launched a vigorous attack. He said that the Chancellor was guilty of unethical conduct and malfeasance in office. Fairfield should be arraigned for "willful violation of the law of the state," and he must also be brought to account for his dictatorial management of the University. According to Brooks, Professor Wood

berry, one of the most capable men on the faculty, had been hounded into re

signing. Brooks called for an immediate legislative investigation, and the Joint Committee on Universities and Normal Schools conducted the hearings. Since Brooks more than any other person had instigated the investigation, he was the first to be called by the joint committee. Reading from a prepared statement, he said that "the whole course of the Chancellor, his manner of behavior to the Faculty, treatment of the different professors, was despotic, and his delight was in petty official persecutions." Brooks also said that the Chancellor was indifferent


5 When drill was made mandatory in June 1878, the Chancellor was granted authority to excuse students for "good and sufficient reason." Fairfield's critics said that he issued excuses on any pretext and made it plain that he did not endorse compulsory training. This brought Fairfield and Dudley into conflict and gave rise to the accusation that by refusing to support compulsory drill the Chancellor was endangering the land grant, since the Morrill Act required military training for all male students.


to the "general want of discipline" and the small chapel attendance. It disturbed Brooks that students of both sexes were frequently seen on the streets after dark, girls with "clerks and other persons, much to the disgrace of the institution and personal discredit of the Chancellor."

Brooks introductory statement established the tone of the investigation, and for the next several weeks a succession of witnesses- regents, professors, students, and citizens - paraded before the committee to pour out a confused and contradictory mass of testimony. That several regents were unhappy with Fairfield became clear almost immediately. Members of the Board testified that Fairfield had exceeded his authority in approving plans for repairing the building and in purchasing equipment (in other words, he had not consulted with the Board before taking these steps). According to Regent J.W. Gannett, the result was "a lack of unanimity in the acts of the University authorities that interferes with the usefulness of the institution." But another regent, Charles A. Holmes, said that the Chancellor must possess some independent authority; he could not wait for the Board of Regents, which met only a few times annually, to approve all his actions. As for Professor Woodbury, Holmes said that he had resigned only because a better position had been offered him: "There had been some unpleasant feeling between him and the Chancellor, but he told me that this would not influence him to leave the University." Although the Chancellor, at an informal meeting of the Board, had made the charge that Woodberry "drank intoxicating liquor," he had not presented written charges. "Generally, I endorse the administration of the Chancellor," said Holmes, and he did not think that the legislature could do anything to "reconcile the differences of opinion in the faculty either on questions of discipline or theology." Regent Tuttle, who followed Holmes to the stand, discussed a wide range of issues: student discipline, military drill, Professor Church's leave of absence, the politicise of the preparatory department, Fairfield's allocation of funds, the structural deficiencies of University Hall, and the conflict within the faculty. He recommended that "a good, strong resolution on the part of the Legislature requesting the Regents to do their duty" should be passed, since he did not think that the regents had acted wisely in disregarding the disaffection within the faculty.

From the testimony of several faculty members it was obvious that much distrust had grown between them and the Chancellor. Lieutenant Dudley and C.B. Palmer, principal of the Latin School, said that they Chancellor had repeatedly interfered with the operations of their departments. Palmer also blamed Fairfield for the unsatisfactory deportment of the students in chapel and in the University building. As Dudley and Palmer talked, a pattern began to emerge in the faculty dispute. Fairfield found his allied among the older staff members, especially when arguments relative to proper faculty behavior, student discipline, and appropriate curricula came up for discussion. Palmer and Dudley secured their support from the younger men, and the drinking parties in which Emerson, Woodberry, Dudley, and Bailey supposedly had engaged received extensive airing during the hearing. Neither Bailey nor Woodberry was any longer with the University, so this discussion dealt with incidents, all of them unsubstantiated, that had occurred at least a year earlier. But the rumors were seized on by those who claimed Fairfield was going nothing to arrest the demoralizing tendencies among the faculty. And, further indicating the extend of the problem, another witness said that the Chancellor had sold a number of French novels to the library. These "salacious" books did not belong in a university library.


The religious question was present almost from the outset. Every witness indirectly referred to the problem, but Regent Tutle brought it into the open. He said that his opposition to Fairfield dated from a Board meeting in 1877 during which Fairfield had nominated four Congregationalists for the faculty. Since three men of this denomination already held posts in the University, Tuttle concluded that the Chancellor was planning to give control of the University over to that church. Other witnesses said that freethinkers on the faculty, notably Church and Woodberry, were openly promoting the secularization of the University. Regent Tuttle must have opposed the Chancellor upon these grounds also, for Regent Fairfield told the committee, "I know that the language used to me by Professor Church and Mr. Tuttle at various times made an impression on my mind that they were abnormal and insane in their religious feelings toward the chancellor." Fairfield, however, denied that a religious split had developed between him and the liberals. He believed that the criticism of this work came from outside the University and was grounded in religious bigotry.

At this point the hearings ended. An abundant supply of dirty University linen had been aired in public. But what had been accomplished? Charles Gere said that although a few minor problems which has arisen as a result of conflict between faculty and administration could be corrected, it was foolish to think that all dissension could be eliminated. No university was ever free from this kind of personal disagreement, and like Fairfield, Gere believed that much of the difficulty arose because of outside influences. He wrote that

There has been, out of the Institution, a ferment of the religious elements; a jealousy between "broad-gauge and orthodox"; a deluge of unfair criticism; a struggle for influence and supremacy; and espionage and inquisitiveness of an unnatural and abnormal extent; and that this jealousy and even vindictiveness have, directly or indirectly, received sympathy and support, in most cases, probably unconsciously, within the circle of the Faculty, and within the meetings of the Board of Regents.

Gere said that the investigation had accomplished nothing; the Omaha Bee agreed and added that the University had gained a tarnished reputation.

The final report issued by the joint committee stated that there was no proof of student immorality or lack of discipline. It did, however, criticize the Board of Regents for its mismanagement of University business and the Chancellor and faculty for "not carrying out the rules and by-laws of the regents" and for "want of harmony." In the meantime the legislature began to debate several measures which concerned the University. One, a bill which would have prohibited religious teaching in the institution, was tabled after a heated argument. A second, which reduced the salaries of the Chancellor and the faculty, was approved, but only over the protest of lawmakers who said that they legislature had no right to interfere in such matters. Should the legislature persist in this kind of action, the University would become the refuge of second-class men unable to find employment in reputable institutions and content to risk their fates in the employ of the University of Nebraska, where political control was the rule.

The legislative investigation had done nothing to remove the causes of contention, and in the summer of 1879 the religious question as it pertained to the University flared again. Two regents were to be elected in the fall election; it was assumed that the liberal and orthodox factions would be working to get their men in. Throughout the summer the orthodox point of view was exhibited in newspaper articles and letters to the editor. Visitors to the University expressed their displeasure about student behavior in chapel; others denounced



freethinking professors. The annual conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church once again condemned those who were responsible for "the prostitution of the State University to the propagation of modern infidelity," The Methodists asked the regents asked the regents "to make such changes in the faculty as will protect our children from being perverted by influence and example from the Christian faith which is so dear to us." A historian of Nebraska Methodism, writing at the turn of the century, praised the Methodist women of Lincoln for "counteracting the influence of certain infidel professors . . . and supplying the requisite moral and religious environment for the students." While endorsing Fairfield's administration and pledging continued support for his efforts to maintain Christian principles in the University, Methodist leaders continued to think seriously about establishing their own school in Lincoln.

By the fall of 1879 the religious dispute had reached unprecedented intensity. The election of the regents seemed to be a matter of gravest consequence, and as if the religious contention was not enough to stir voter interest, the Omaha Herald raised the cry of dirty politics. Fairfield was accused of appealing to "the organized force of the [Republican] party to uphold him against dangerous pressure." The Herald said that Fairfield was using his University position as a stepping stone to the United States Senate by forging an alliance between the broad-gaugers and the Republican party. The Chancellor, according to this line of reasoning, had encouraged the University controversy in order to pose as the champion of "true Christianity and pure Republicanism." The argument went on for weeks, culminating on October 30, 1879, with the appearance of an unsigned circular on the streets of Lincoln:

To the Voters of the State, Regardless of Politics: Our children's welfare should be nearer and dearer to us than party ties. Their education, moral and intellectual, is our highest duty. The question is, shall it be entrusted to infidel, or broad gauge hands? Such are seeking the entire control of our public institutions of learning. Shall they succeed? Next Tuesday will, in a great measure, determine. If you favor it, vote for J. W. Gannett, for Regent of the State University. If opposed, vote for A. J. Sawyer. Gannett is an outspoken infidel and agitator. Mr. Sawyer, while not a religious fanatic, is an educated gentleman, of large experience, and while he is not in favor of having any religious dogmas taught or inculcated in our public schools or University, he is, nevertheless, in favor of a high standard of morals, and believes that the Bible affords such a standard; and we take pleasure in recommending him for your suffrages, to the very responsible position for which he has been nominated. Vote for him and you will never regret it.

Who had written the anti-Gannett broadside? Every editor and citizen had his theory. Then a second edition of the circular appeared on the streets, this one bearing the names of five leading Lincoln ministers: James Kemlo, Presbyterian; B. F. Bush, Christian; Lewis Gregory, Congregational; H. T. Davis, Methodist; and W. S. Gee, Baptist. Immediately the five pastors issued a statement in which they denied any connection with the handbill and denounced political rogues who would sink to such methods. The next rumor spread over Lincoln had it that the plot had been hatched in the editorial offices of the Lincoln Democrat as a last desperate measure to defeat Gannett, the Republican candidate. The Herald said that Fairfield, the ambitious politician, had engineered the whole thing. At any rate, the circular did not have its desired effect. Gannett was re-elected to the Board of Regents.



The Removal of Chancellor Fairfield

An uneasy peace settled upon the University after the election of 1879, but the elements of conflict remained. At the meeting of the Board of Regents on June 10, 1879, a proposal to ask Professor Woodberry to return to the faculty had died as the result of a tie vote; however, in the spring of 1880 the proposal was revived, and this time it was voted to rehire the controversial teacher as professor of Anglo-Saxon and rhetoric and instructor in English composition, his duties to begin in the fall. This decision prompted the Omaha Republican to remake that here was the first indication that the regents rather than Chancellor were running the University. The Republican also wondered if Fairfield would make good on his threat to resign if Woodberry were kept on the faculty.

Strengthened by Woodberry's return, the reformers began to press for change. Initially, they were surprisingly successful. In the fall of 1880-1881 the traditional three-term system, which divided the school year into fall, winter, and spring terms of thirteen weeks each, was dropped in favor of the more modern two semester plan; and at the same time the elective system, which allowed juniors and seniors great latitude in choose course offerings, as adopted. This innovation please the students - according to the Hesperian Student of October, 1881, the elective system "placed the University on a better and broader basis"; now students would no be "completed to complete studies for which they had no taste, and often, a positive aversion" - and the younger faculty men, too, felt the changes were beneficial and exciting. But the traditionalists had not been routed; they had lost a battled, but not the war.

The conservative counterattack came in January, 1882, when Fairfield reported to the regents that the faculty had voted in favor of his recommendations to return to the three-semester system and to combine the faculties of the Industrial College and the College of Literature, Arts and Science. A minority report from Church, Woodberry, Emerson, and Howard was presented, which state that "the two-term arrangement is an integral part of the elective system as adopted, and any other distribution of classes or recitations would result in curtailing electives to such a degree as to abolish them practically." Moreover, "we wish to have it known that the absence of the Dean of the Academic faculty has along made it possible to report against this system and that this adverse report was carried through without full discussion on the evening preceding your present meeting by give notes or less than a majority of the Academic faculty." Attached was a petition signed by all but two of the students in the University urging that the two-semester system be retained.


The regents must have known that they could not put off a decision. In opposing Fairfield the reformers had deliberately thrown down the gauntlet, and the Board responded by voting three to one to discontinue the services of Church, Woodberry, and Emerson. Interestingly enough, Professor Howard, who frequently had been the most outspoken of the group, escaped the fate of his fellows. We may assume that he did not consciously disengage himself from the controversy, for throughout his long career he fought for academic freedom; but though he was involved in the campaign for academic reform, he held aloof from the religious dispute. Probably he escaped punishment because his name had not been associated with the charges of freethinking and beer drinking; and perhaps, too, since he was a native Nebraskan and a graduate of the University, he was considered less of an iconoclast than the easterners.

The Reformers Under Attack

Press reaction to the firing of Church, Woodberry, and Emerson was im

mediate and prolonged, but it is plain that the implications of this latest manifes

tation of the conflict at the University was not understood. It was not recognized that Church, Woodberry, Emerson, and Howard were advocating a new philos

ophy of higher education, nor was it perceived that the decision to combine the college faculties gave Chancellor Fairfield the conservative votes he needed to check the reformers. Without the votes of the men in the Industrial College, the University apparently would have been controlled by the reform element; hence the Chancellor's move. Editor Brooks of the Omaha Republican, who was Emerson's father-in-law, assailed the regents' decision. He denied that the men were freethinkers and said that their dismissal would "not bear the test of reason, truth or justice." The editor of the Omaha Bee concluded that the religious issue was at the root of the conflict, and interpreted the firing of the three controversial professors as a victory for Fairfield and the narrow-gauge regents, who wanted only orthodox men on the faculty. On January 31, 1882, the State Journal published a letter written by "citizens and tax payers of the state and patrons of the University," which purported to describe the tactics that Chancellor Fairfield had used in building his case against the professors. It alleged that a rump session of the Board of Regents, attended by only the four conservative members, had met in a Lincoln hotel on January 25. Working through the officers of the Students Chris

tian Association, a forerunner of the campus YMCA, Fairfield had produced a number of students who testified against the professors in question. Most of these witnesses were "callow youths, either unacquainted with the professors or known to be hostile to them," who possessed "neither the information nor ex

perience required to the formation of an opinion." Moreover, the Students Christian Association was being used as an instrument "to convert the University from a purely secular institution of learning into a school from which persons entertaining certain religious opinions shall be excluded." The evidence obtained in this session, the letter concluded, provided the substance for the bulk of Fair-field's charges at the regents' meeting the next day, when he asked that the pro

fessors be fired. On February 3, the Omaha Herald characterized the conflict within the University as "semi-religious in character," but, so far as this Democratic news

paper was concerned, the most serious charge against Fairfield was that he had turned the University into a Republican stronghold. The Herald urged that Fairfield, the champion rooster of the theological cockpit, be fired immediately. On February 5, the Republican published an interview with Professor Woodberry


in which he stated that the religious question was back of the regents' decision, particularly where Regent Fairfield was concerned; it also "governed the students who testified." When he was rehired in 1880, said Woodberry, he had pledged that he would work for faculty harmony and would avoid religious discussion, so as "to give no offense to the orthodox"; but the Chancellor had always regarded him as an infidel and had labeled him as such to others. On February 14, a State Journal editorial declared that theological differences were not the cause of the trouble, nor was the cause difference of opinion on educational matters or theories. "The opinion of the Journal," said Gere, "is that the trouble is a purely personal one and the prize fought for is exclusive power in the management." He could neither object to nor defend the act of the regents because he did not know all the facts. Woodberry's reply to the Gere editorial appeared in the State Journal on February 16. Woodberry agreed that differences in religious opinion were not a cause of dissent in the faculty, but where the regents were concerned

the question of a professor's religion as a test of his fitness for his chair is not so antiquated as not to find a lodging in the mind of Regent Fairfield, if he spoke his mind truthfully in telling me that he was elected to stand and did stand for Chris

tianity in the University; nor is it so antiquated as not to be the ground avowedly of the young students, who plotted this stroke of Christian policy; nor is it so antiquated as not to furnish the regents with the leading inquiry, "What is the religious influence of these professors?"

Contradicting Gere, Woodberry said that important principles respecting educa

tional methods were involved. He and his supporters favored the new educa

tional theories that had been debated over the country for the past fifteen years and were fought for at Harvard, Princeton, Yale, and the University of Michigan. "It is because of our knowledge of this wide educational movement of our time," Woodberry wrote, "and because of our interest in it, and effort for it, that we entertain the firm opinion that on the result of this present agitation hangs the future of education in this state for a number of years to come." He said that he and his allies had sought power, but only to advance their ideas. "We have charged the chancellor with the error and fault that in our judgment lie in him and his acts; and we have done this, not because he was chancellor, but because he represents ideas, retrogressive, narrow, harmful, with which no intelligent faculty could establish harmony." Woodberry concluded, "Ideas are in question, and as this matter is decided, the university will be organized after the modes of the best colleges or the feeblest." The Omaha Bee accepted Woodberry's assessment of the situation. The people of the state refused to support the University because of lax discipline, an outdated course of study, and "a standard of instruction lower than that of many eastern preparatory schools." However, C. G. Bullock, a prominent Lincoln businessman, argued that the professors had brought the trouble on themselves. Woodberry, Emerson, and Church had courted disaster by flouting the established moral principles of the day--their drinking sessions at the Tichenor House had brought about their academic demise. Proof that these professors imbibed--and that they invited students to drink with them--was sufficient grounds for dismissal, according to Bullock, who overlooked that there were nearly fifty saloons in Lincoln, all of them within walking distance of the campus. But the mores of the day were explicit in regard to alcoholic beverages. One temperance advocate from Red Willow County wrote, "The time has gone by when tippling ministers in our churches or beer drinkers in our educational institutions can be toler



ated. . . . The law very clearly defines the duties of the board of regents. . . . Let them do their duty fearlessly." Irresistible force had met immovable object. Emerson, Church, and Wood

berry represented not only a new style of higher education but also a new style of academic life in which professors were freed from traditional puritanical restric

tions. Fairfield could not communicate with this new breed; and when the young professors challenged his management of the University, he had interpreted their dissent as an attack upon its Christian foundations. Fairfield naturally resisted this attack with all his power, but he was fighting a losing battle. The germ of religious liberalism had already established itself within the student body. The "budget of interesting statistics concerning the Seniors" in the Hesperian Student, June 14, 1882, included information on their religious affiliations. The Hesperian's tabulation showed that one senior was a Baptist, one a Congrega

tionalist, one favored "Liberal Christianity," two were agnostics, and there were blanks after two names. Meeting shortly after the commencement exercises, the Board of Regents was in the mood to end once and for all the dispute that had disrupted the University staff and had brought a decline of public confidence in the institution. First they heard from Chancellor Fairfield, who delivered a lengthy defense of his administration. Following Fairfield's presentation, Regent Gannett moved that the three professors be rehired. The motion lost, two to four, whereupon Gannett offered a second resolution, this one calling for the dismissal of Fair

field. The motion carried four to two. The annual report of the regents provided the following explanation of the action:

It is proper to say . . . that the Chancellor and each of the Professors removed, had wrought with great zeal in his department, and each of them possesses strong qualifications for special work; but a lack of harmony, and "irrepressible conflict" in the Faculty, a matter well understood throughout the State, led the Board of Regents to decide that the best interests of the University would be sub served by the retirement of the persons named.

Nebraskans in general approved the Board's action, although the editor of the Nemaha County Granger thought it strange that three professors were fired for not being religious enough, while the Chancellor was dismissed for being too religious. But it was the earnest hope of all that the air had been cleared and that the University could now move forward. The tragedy was that Professors Church, Woodberry, and Emerson--all of whom went on to gain national promi

nence in their fields--as well as Chancellor Fairfield were men of ability and character. The loss of such promising men was a high one to pay for harmony.

An Interregnum

Peace and quiet prevailed on the campus when the fall term began; and although the skeptics doubted that the harmonious spirit would last long, the University had, in fact, turned a significant corner. For ten years it had quite literally fought for its existence; it had been "grasshoppered" and torn apart by religious strife. But after 1882 it functioned in a different context. Religious questions were no longer a major source of dissension; the problem of University Hall had been solved; and while criticism rooted in sectional rivalry continued from Omaha and other eastern towns, from the state in general came a more affirmative response. The return of prosperity in the 1880's meant that the tightfisted economy of the early years could be relaxed. As the state went into a boom period the University appeared less of a luxury and a waste of tax funds, and


opposition on these counts relaxed noticeably after 1882. Perhaps it is surprising that the religious issue died so quickly. But undoubtedly the public was exas

perated by the excesses which accompanied the dispute; moreover, as the state became more affluent, denominational leaders who previously had sought to con

trol the University were occupied with founding their own colleges. The day of out-and-out sectarian interference in University affairs had passed, and after 1882 secularization of the institution kept pace with the trend in other American colleges and universities. The millennium had not arrived, however, and the University still was beset by a wide range of problems, the most pressing being that of securing a new chancellor. Until the right man could be found, Henry E. Hitchcock was appointed acting chancellor, and he held this "temporary" position for eighteen months. Having dispatched two chancellors in ten years, the University found it difficult to uncover candidates for the chancellor's chair. The case of Charles Kendall Adams of the University of Michigan illustrates the problem. Adams, a renowned historian, was offered the post in 1883. Although he had been inter

ested enough to visit Lincoln and talk with the Board of Regents, in the end he rejected the offer. One story had it that he was reluctant to give up teaching and research for an administrative position, even though he was impressed by the University. But Adams knew that the secret of Michigan's rise to educational eminence lay in the ability of its leaders to keep politics out of the university, and according to "authoritative sources" he had feared that the legislative controls at Nebraska would make the chancellor's job more difficult. Commenting on Adam's refusal, the Hesperian Student of October 1, 1883, had these cogent re

flections to offer:

There is certainly reason for any one who takes a position in this school to dread the meddling of politicians. One member of the editorial corps remembers that during the first year he was here he did not stay up late but four nights, and these he spent sitting on a register in the back parlors of the Commercial [a hotel] listen

ing to the proceedings of a legislative committee, part of whose members were trying to prove the Chancellor a liar, the professors fools, the students rakes and the whole institution a nuisance. The times were hard and it was necessary for politicians to make records for economy. Accordingly the chancellor's salary was reduced and appropriations were otherwise needlessly and injuriously curtailed. Further than the simple fear of what the politicians who were in the legislature might do, we suspect that Professor A[dams] may have had some dread of those dyspeptic politicians (actual, ex, or would be) who fill so many of the editorial sanctums in this state. For a man of non-combative temperament it is not a pleasant task to face the detraction of those who seek to vent their own ill humor and to curry favor with their patrons by finding fault with public institutions.

The search for a new chancellor did not check the progress of the Uni

versity; indeed, during the interim period under Acting Chancellor Hitchcock there were some remarkable advances. Particularly noteworthy was the expansion of the faculty, which came about in large measure as the result of Charles Gere's efforts. Gere, who became a regent in 1882, urged the board both to enlarge the faculty and to make plans for expanding the curricula, and in general to exercise the powers and responsibilities that would normally rest with the chancellor. A period of regents' rule could easily have ended in disaster, but Gere kept the Board in line, and under his skillful direction it exercised the decision-making powers effectively and with proper success. The new additions to the teaching staff were men of top-notch caliber. First there was Grove E. Barber, who joined the faculty in the fall of 1882 as professor of Latin, replacing Professor Church.


A graduate of Hiram College in Ohio, Barber served the University brilliantly for many years, and figured importantly in the campaign to upgrade the quality of public education in Nebraska. Also in 1882 the regents rejected the Methodists' nominee for the chair of English literature and selected instead L. A. Sherman, lately of Yale, who had been recommended by "Henry W. Longfellow and other scholars of that rank." As professor of English and later dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, Sherman promoted the highest academic standards. A third appointee, Hudson H. Nicholson, occupied the chair of general chemistry and physics. Nicholson had previously taught at Peru Normal, and the Hesperian Student reported, "He brings his private case of chemical apparatus, which, by the way, leaves the State Normal School with none. These, with the additions made by the University, give us as fine apparatus for many lines of work as could be wished." As new faces appeared on the faculty, familiar ones disappeared. In August, 1883, Professor Samuel Aughey resigned. For some time the regents had been expressing their dissatisfaction with him for spending more time in Wyoming investigating coal deposits (in which he allegedly had a financial interest) than in the classroom. His departure, however, came under extremely distressing circum

stances. According to rumor and the public press, he had issued a paper with forged endorsements, and he submitted his resignation to avoid embarrassing the University. In November, after the Board of Regents had investigated the allegations, they exonerated Aughey and asked him to withdraw his resignation. But he refused and left Nebraska to continue his career as a frontier scientist and educator in Wyoming. It was during this interim period, too, that the educational ideas of Wood

berry, Church, and Emerson, reinforced by the views of the new young men on the faculty, finally began to bear fruit; and there was a basic revision in teaching methods and curricula. Speaking of the University in these years, Sherman later wrote:

Here was a department of Mathematics in which students were making their own geometric and trigonometric demonstrations. Here was work in the classics in which sight translations had become a feature. Here was also laboratory instruc

tion in Chemistry of the true experimental sort, not yet introduced into many colleges. The work in other departments . . . was rising or had risen above the gymnasial to the independent, investigational stage. The students, to be sure, were raw and in many things untutored. But they were strong-headed and they were thinking for themselves. . . . The conditions were clearly ripe for another period of interior expansion.

But if the right of the University to exist had been won by 1882, the right to expand had yet to be won. The greater number of Nebraskans were unaware of the exciting transformation that was taking place, and opposition to the Uni

versity was still very vigorous in some quarters. For example, it seemed to a group of Johnson County farmers that the University offered educational oppor

tunities "favoring the few at the expense of the many." They petitioned the legis

lature to cut off appropriations for the institution, saying that Nebraska should spend its money for the support of elementary schools, from which all the people benefited. At this particular moment in its history the University was ready to move significantly ahead and adequate financial support was essential, but Regent Gere foresaw that it would be an uphill fight convincing the legislature of its needs. He feared that the lawmakers would be so busy deliberating such vital issues of the day as anti-monopoly legislation, railroad regulation, and the


direct election of United State senators, that the University's situation would be ignored.

No wonder, then, that an air of apprehension hung over the campus in the fall of 1883. Still without a chancellor, fearful of a legislative reaction against it, the University seems in a state of suspended animation. It took the faculty and Regent Gere to provide the impetus for forward momentum. In the view of one commentator many would have laughed at the thought of the faculty agreeing on anything, but it rose above its differences and nominated for chancellor a younger man of proven educational ability, Irving J. Manatt, a Yale graduate and currently a professor of Greek at Marietta College in Ohio. Sherman, who had been a classmate of Manatt's at Yale, apparently promoted his candidacy. In any case, Charles Gere met with the faculty and promised to use his influence to secure the regents' endorsement of their nominee. He was successful in persuading the Board that the position should be offered to Manatt, and on January 1, 1884, they received his affirmative reply.



TRANSITION (1884-1899)


A Crucial Decade

Irving J. Manatt, brilliant scholar and superb teacher, served as chancellor of the University of Nebraska from 1884 until 1888. He was succeeded by Charles E. Bessey, who was acting chancellor from 1888 to 1891. This was a crucial period in the history of the University, as it was for all of the nation's land grant institutions. It seemed to James Bryce, an astute English observer of the American scene in the mid-eighties, that western universities "aim at covering more ground than they are as yet able to cover. They have an ambitious programme; but neither the state of preparation of their students, nor the strength of the teaching staff, enables them to do justice to the promise which the programme holds out. They are true universities rather in aspiration than in fact." Yet, Bryce continued, while the European observer immediately perceived their crudity and unequal development, he also saw and was impressed by "the life, the spirit, the sense of progress, which pervade them." His comments are particularly applicable to the University of Nebraska during the 1884-1891 period, years during which the institution gained the stature and strength and was also developing a sense of mission and purpose. And it was such leaders as Manatt and Bessey who gave form to the University's new spirit.

It is difficult to assess Chancellor Manatt fairly, for he was a very controversial man. No one doubted his abilities as a scholar and as a teacher, although his work as an administrator was something less than satisfactory. But he did seem to possess an awareness of the University's proper goals and he attempted to direct the efforts of the faculty, the regents, and the student body toward them. He was positive that the University must take a leading role in developing public education in the state, the graduate training must be initiated, that new buildings must be erected, and that curricula must be modified and expanded to meet new responsibilities. Above all else, Manatt realized that the real strength of the University must reside in its faculty.

The Faculty

Thanks to Regent Gere and Acting Chancellor Hitchcock, the University in 1884 possessed the nucleus of a strong faculty. Henry E. Hitchcock, professor of mathematics, and Professor George McMillan, who occupied the chair of Greek, were the veteran members of the faculty, Hitchcock having served since 1872 and McMillan since 1875. Professor Howard, who survived the purge in 1882, was directing notable work in political science, sociology, and history, while


Professor Barber, Professor Sherman, and Professor Nicholson were scholars and teachers of unusual ability. But there were other faculty members who had failed to demonstrate acceptable levels of ability, and "to save the institution from dry rot," Manatt resolved to "overhaul the faculty by removing a good bit of dead timber." To a substantial degree the Chancellor did bring about needed reforms, but some of his "overhauling" caused him some anxious mo

ments. For example, Manatt admittedly dreaded a confrontation with Ellen Smith, who currently was principal of the Latin School and who in his judgment was "quite unequal to the new task to be laid upon that school." But much to his surprise "Ma" Smith cheerfully stepped down and accepted a position as registrar and librarian. Chancellor Manatt also made important additions to the faculty, among them Charles Edwin Bessey, one of the University's greatest figures. Bessey was born May 21, 1845, in Wayne County, Ohio. Because of the illness and death of his father, Bessey's academy training was frequently interrupted, but by his persis

tence he succeeded in preparing himself for the Michigan State Agricultural College, where he enrolled in 1886, majoring in civil engineering. By the end of his second year, Bessey found that his interest had shifted to botany, and, en

couraged by his professors, he switched to what became his major field. He graduated in 1869 and in 1870 went to Iowa State College at Ames as an instructor in botany and horticulture, becoming a full professor in 1872. Bessey displayed the unusual combination of teaching and administrative ability which character

ized his entire career, and in 1879 was given an honorary Ph.D. by the University of Iowa. From 1882 to 1884 he served first as acting president and then as vice president of Iowa State. In June, 1884, he declined the position of professor of botany and horticulture in the Industrial College at Nebraska, but in August, when the regents offered him in addition the post of dean of the college, Bessey accepted. According to Roscoe Pound, who studied for his Ph.D. under Bessey, he was intrigued by the prospect of working in the virtually unexplored terrain of Nebraska botany. This was "great good luck," said Pound, for surely no single faculty member contributed more to the development of the University. Dean Pound described Bessey as the kind of teacher

who would sit on the corner of a laboratory table and ask a student what he was doing and why he was doing it and then trot out to the botanical library and pull out a book and open it to a page where there was something the student had ought to read. He was a very exceptional teacher in that respect. As a lecturer he wasn't so particularly impressive.

Professor R. J. Pool, another of Bessey's students and later head of the De

partment of Botany, said, "To have met him was to honor him; to have been taught by him was a priceless privilege." Students remembered Bessey for his enthusiasm and his well-ordered mind, as well as his way of making laboratory work one of the great experiences of college life. Although Bessey wrote many articles and books, his chief contribution to the field of botany came through his work with graduate students. From his graduate seminars came many eminent botanists, and his department was generally regarded as "The Botanical Mecca." As dean of the Industrial College, Bessey worked closely with Chancellor Manatt to secure competent people for posts on the faculty. On one occasion he traveled to New York to interview H. H. Wing, a recent graduate of Cornell University, and to visit Wing's parents "to determine if he was well bred." In 1884 Wing joined the agricultural department, and within a few years he became a major figure in the development of Nebraska's dairy industry. L. E.


Hicks, professor of Geology and allied sciences, also joined the faculty at this time. A pupil of the renowned Louis Agassiz, Hicks had a special interest in underground water resources, and it was from his investigations that the people of Nebraska learned of the great water resources in the state. Another scholar who was to achieve great distinction, D.B. Brace, began his service with the faculty in 1887 as instructor in physics and astronomy, becoming professor in 1888. In the more traditional academic areas, the appointment of August Hjalmar Edgren as professor of modern languages and Sanskrit brought to the University one of the worlds leading philologists. The author of numerous books dealing with Sanskrit and comparative philology, Edgren had received his Ph.D. from Yale and remained at the institution as a professor from 1874 to 1880, when he resigned and returned to Sweden. In 1885 he came to Nebraska. The reasons for his decision to forsake his homeland for Nebraska frontier are not known, but his acceptance of a position in the University must be counted a most fortunate development. As a leading scholar in his field, Edgren gave the University an academic boost, and his interest in graduate work provided an important impetus to the University's work in this area.

The University also profited from the decision of several outstanding alumni to cast their lot with their alma mater. Howard W. Caldwell, '80, attended Johns Hopkins University, participating in the first seminar work in history offered in the United States. In 1883 he returned to Nebraska and joined with George Howard, another alumnus, to establish the Department of History. Another respected faculty member, Laurence Fossler, was born in German and came to the United States as a lad. He graduated from the University in 1880, and after a year's study in Paris returned to Nebraska. He served as a district school teacher, and instructor in Lincoln High School, and finally a professor of German at the University. The decision of alumni to return to teach at the University was looked on as indicative of dedication; it remained for a later generation to refer to the practice as "inbreeding" and regard it as undesirable.

The faculty during the late 1880's was without question an extraordinary one. The undergraduate of that day could study political and economic science under Amos G. Warner, a pioneer in his field later to secure a national reputation; philosophy under Harry K Wolfe, already a man of established reputation; Greek with George McMillan and Latin with Grove E. Barber, both fine teachers; physics with DeWitt B. Brace; geology under Lewis E. Hicks; botany under Dean Bessey; modern languages and Sanskrit with Professor Edgren; English literature with L.A. Sherman, history with Caldwell and George Howard. No wonder the University radiated activity and excitement. The problem now was how to retain these man in the face of tempting offers from other institutions. "We must always be on our guard to keep the talent," said the Hesperian in June of 1888, "for this is the only sure way for the University to hold its present high position and to advance to one yer higher.

At that time, as in later years, holding faculty members was not altogether a question of salary. Many professors were more interested in an environment in which they could do their best work; and this meant an opportunity to do research, to work with graduate students, and above all to specialize. Gone were the days when an instructor taught five or six different subjects. Undoubtedly one factor which drew men to Nebraska was that the regents and the Chancellor were sympathetic to specialization. Charles Gere, during his years on the Board of Regents, pressed unceasingly for the appointment of men who were specialists and research scholars. As Manatt and Gere reiterated, a true university had to built upon a faculty interests provided the basis for graduate study.


A Building Program

The dreamer who envisioned a great university rising on the Nebraska plains came rudely back to reality when his eye fell upon the Lincoln campus. The one building, University Hall, was jammed from cellar to garret with students, teachers, offices, laboratories, and recitation rooms. Manatt once referred to University Hall as "an intellectual tenement house," and Professor Nicholson had been appalled by the condition of the University's physical equipment when he came to Lincoln in 1882. The chemistry "laboratory" occupied one room on an upper floor of University Hall, and the laboratory equipment, Nicholson later wrote,

consisted of a plain pine table on the top of which was a rack of bottles. In one corner of the room was a cupboard for supplies and in the upper part of the room, near the ceiling, was installed a barrel tank for the water service. There were numerous bottles, jugs, demijohns and carboys--mostly empty and unlabeled

scattered about the room, and various packets and bottles of chemicals, generally open and unmarked, stuffed in the cupboards. Of reference books, journals, or even texts, there were none . . . .

Nor did Nicholson's spirits rise when he gazed out the window: "The limits of this 'campus' were marked by a thin, scraggly hedge whose ugliness repelled rather than invited entrance." In 1884, Manatt and the regents earnestly requested seventy-five thousand dollars for a laboratory and an Industrial College building. Referring to an issue that enlivened the University's relations with the legislature throughout the decade, Manatt pointed out that money to finance the buildings would not have to come from new tax levies. Funds from the University's mill levy and endow

ment accounts were paid into the state treasury; and since the legislature never appropriated the full amount of this money, a surplus of eighty-seven thousand dollars had accumulated. This money, Manatt said bluntly, should come to the University for a building program. He said that the chemistry department's needs were most urgent; approximately 295 students had enrolled for chemistry courses in the fall of 1883, but most of them could not be accepted, since only one labora

tory, accommodating 20 students, was available. At first it appeared that Manatt and the regents had a good chance of obtaining the sum requested, but critics of the University combined to oppose the original bill, and in the end they received twenty-five thousand dollars for one building. The passage of the bill, even in its emasculated form, was great news to the students and faculty. As became the practice whenever the legislature approved a new building, a student parade formed in the streets of Lincoln, a bonfire illuminated soap-box orators, and a joyous procession made its way to the Chancellor's home and then to the capitol. The regents decided that the funds should be used to construct a laboratory building, and under the guidance of Professor Nicholson architects drew up plans which would provide "facilities for chemical work not to be excelled by any college in the country." Nicholson went to Europe to purchase laboratory equipment; and in the fall of 1886, the Chemical Laboratory, the second building on the campus, opened for use. According to the Hesperian Student in May, 1885, its construction "probably settles forever the question of the removal of the institution to some place where there would be more elbow room for the different colleges." Having decided to maintain the downtown campus, the regents should acquire "a patch of ground not too far away, where students can at least practice jumping without being restrained by the size of the field they exercise in."


Chancellor Manatt's concern was not to acquire more land but to put up more buildings, and a library was next on the list. Additional books were needed, but students needed a place to study; and "the more books we buy the greater the restrictions and difficulties attending their use." Next in order of priority were an Industrial College building and an armory- gymnasium. The Nebraska Grand Army of the Republic had expressed the desire to erect a memorial in honor of President Ulysses S. Grant, and Lieutenant Edgar S. Dudley suggested that it might take the form of an armory to be called the Grant Memorial Building. Dudley, who had served as commandant of the University's cadets from 1876 to 1879, had returned for a second tour of duty in 1884. He influenced the 1887 legislature to authorize graduating cadets to receive commissions in the Nebraska National Guard; several major strikes in Omaha had convinced the law

makers of the need for a more effective military force in the state. Dudley made friends in the legislature; and when the question of money for an armory came up, he was able to cash in on his popularity with gratifying results. The 1887 legislature appropriated fifty thousand dollars to be used for the erection of the armory and an Industrial College building. Thus, by the end of Manatt's admin

istration in 1888, one new building was in use, one was almost completed, and one other had been authorized. While this successful building campaign owed much to the energetic way in which Manatt and the regents had presented the University's needs to the legis

lature, the general good times which came to Nebraska in the late 1880's also contributed to the happy development. As the economy of the state boomed, the University shared in the optimistic projections of growth; and in 1888, under the direction of Acting Chancellor Bessey, the regents prepared a report which called for several new buildings. Two years later the Board indicated again that more buildings were necessary, but on this occasion the regents expressed more interest in procedures than in bricks and mortar. The Chemical Laboratory, Grant Me

morial Hall, and Nebraska Hall (the Industrial College building) had been put up under the supervision of the state building commission, which was out to get the job done as cheaply as possible and had cut corners. As a result, said the regents, the buildings were unsatisfactory in arrangement and construction. It is noteworthy, too, that the Board was considering appearances: "The campus should eventually be carefully laid out and made in every way attractive to the eye." This latter concern reflected a radical change in the regents' thinking: by 1890 they were taking it for granted the University had a future. With the call for a long-range building program and for architectural consistency, it is not too much to say that the University entered on a new phase of its history.

The Battle of the Budget

The leaders of the University glimpsed the demands which the future would make upon the University and tried to anticipate the physical problems, but they gave little thought to the University's basic philosophy of higher education. Inattention to this fundamental question to no small degree stemmed from the institution's financial uncertainty. From biennium to biennium the regents and the chancellor never knew how much money would be available; and the Uni

versity lived from hand to mouth, unable to plan realistically for the future. While the story of the University is made up of many themes, none is more significant or persistent than the biennial battle of the budget--the efforts of the administrative officers to secure funds not only for current operations but for future needs as well. During the first fifteen years of the University's history, finances had been a secondary issue; the problem was to survive. In the 1880's however when the


University began to grow, the need for additional revenue became a paramount

consideration. The nature of the University's financial support through its first

decades may be seen in the following table:1

Appropriation for Appropriation for

Biennium Land and Buildings Salaries and Maintenance Total

________ ________________ _______________________ _______

1869-1871 $100,000 $100,000

1871-1873 $ 39,067.95 39,067.95

1873-1875 57,947.50 57,947.50

1875-1877 50,645.94 50,645.94

1877-1879 64,762.50 64,762.50

1879-1881 8,000 50,000 58,000

1881-1883 56,000 56,000

1883-1885 75,000 75,000

1885-1887 45,000 116,885 161,885

1887-1889 70,000 166,200 236,200

1889-1891 37,200 143,748 180,948

1891-1893 61,900 193,635 255,535

As the table indicates, in all but one biennium uring the 1880's the legislature increased its appropriations, but the regents maintained that the funds granted were never adequate for the needs of an expanding institution. However, the regents' most insistent complaint during this decade pertained to the general financial system which the 1875 constitution imposed upon the University. In the regents' view it had created an inflexible revenue system which made it im

possible for the governing board to encourage orderly growth. The University received funds only through legislative appropriation, and this meant that its sources of revenue, including the mill levy and the endowment fund, were con

trolled by the legislature. The regents challenged this arrangement, arguing that the governing power which had been given to the Board was nullified if the legis

lature exercised almost total financial control of the University's income. What the regents objected to, however, was not so much the superior authority of the legislature as that it consistently refused to appropriate the entire sum that had accumulated in the various University accounts. The regents asserted that the University had a right to all the money received from the mill levy and endow

ment funds, but the legislature denied it this "right" throughout the 1880's.A report issued by the regents in 1882 described the frustrating financial arrangement. After listing the various sources of income and stressing that their total hardly sufficed to support the University in proper fashion, the regents said that they "have had but a portion of the funds provided . . . [and] the Legis

lature in its wisdom having seen best to limit the Regents not only in the amount,but as to the manner of disbursing the appropriation, thereby materially affect

ing the interests of the University, because the Regents have not had the funds to meet necessary expenses." In 1884, as previously mentioned, according to their calculations, $87,030.50 in University funds lay in the state treasury. Denied access to these funds at a time when new buildings, equipment, and additional faculty were desperately needed, the regents said they were powerless to meet the needs of the University. The story of the University, as the State Journal note dearly in 1885, had developed into "a protracted struggle between ambition of achievement and poverty of resources."


1 The information in the table is taken from Laws . . . of the State of Nebraska for the appropriate legislative sessions. I cannot, however, vouch for its complete accuracy since even the official figures contain different information from biennium to biennium.


The Chancellors

during the University's first fifty years.

Another depressing aspect of the battle of the budget was simply that it was hard to get the legislature to listen to the University's case. Only a few of the legislators had gone to the University; and in 1885, when an alumnus, Allen Field, was Speaker of the House, even he found it difficult to persuade the body to deal with the University's problems. But it was not altogether a matter of legislative indifference: the legislatures of the 1880s were confronted by many significant and volatile issues, the most important being that of regulation of railroad freight rates. With the farmers of the state clamoring for action, it was easy to ignore the University's problems. Moreover, sectional politics entered in, as the editor of the Hesperian Student remarked:

If we look at the matter from the politician's stand point, and consider every dollar paid out of the state treasury only as so much plunder to be distributed in that section of the state whose representatives can pull the wires most skillfully, we see that it is very natural for the North Platte representatives to try to hurt Lancaster by crippling the state institutions located at Lincoln.

Although accused of meddling and unscrupulous lobbying, Manatt and the regents worked with great effectiveness in presenting the University's case to the 1885 legislature. For years some lawmakers had rejected the University's claims out of hand as merely another raid upon the people's money; and until Manatt and the regents descended upon the legislative chambers, they had never heard the University's side. After considerable maneuvering, during which "several of the speeches made were by all means the ablest of the session," the legislature approved an appropriation of $161.885. The only portion of the University's request to bite the legislative dust was a fund of $20,000 to support the College of Medicine, which had begun to operate in 1884; it was deleted at the insistence of the Omaha delegation, who did not want the University to compete with private medical colleges, the largest of which happened to be in Omaha. 2 All in all, the legislature displayed an uncharacteristic liberality toward the University; and as none of the general appropriation had been earmarked, the regents and the administration were free to expend the money as they saw fit.

But this victory did not remove their principal problem, and shortly after the end of the legislative session the Nebraska Supreme Court reaffirmed that the state legislature exercised complete authority over the University's funds. But Manatt refused to accept defeat. In 1886 he said that the University had reached a stage "where its total resources.... suffice only to meet its more urgent wants," and that "for use to stand still now were to loose the opportunity of a generation." The University did not want to add to the taxpayers' burden; it merely sought "the untrammeled use of our own resources, as provided and consecrated by the National Government and the people of the State." He could conceive of no good reason why the University should justify every item in its budget and be subject to the legislature's judgement, when much of the money for the University's support did not come from state sources. Manatt hit hard on his new them. "This is an endowed institution, with its own guaranteed and consecrated income," he declared, and this income should come to the University without any interference from the legislature, for "as long as we can plan only for two years ahead there must be uncertainty and unsteadiness in all our steps." Already the University was falling behind other land-grant universities. "With nearly all our building to do, and much of it demanding to be done at once, we need our total resources for the coming two years," he concluded.

2 see page. 95


Governor James W. Dawes, in support of Manatt's arguments, asserted that the legislature had the authority to make the University a major force in higher education; and the best way to utilize this power would be to recognize the University as an "endowed institution with permanent revenues." In their 1888 report the regents argued in the same vein; but by the time the 1889 session of the legislature convened, the state was faced with another financial crisis. The Omaha newspapers, especially the Bee, raised the cry of economy and demanded that the University appropriation be cut back. At this juncture, the dismissal of Chancellor Manatt 3 gave rise to the rumor that he had endorsed a scheme to separate the College of Agriculture from the University. It is doubtful that he ever entertained the scheme, but the purpose of the University's opponents in raising the issue was obvious: criticism of the agricultural work hit the University in its solar plexus. Few members of the University's official family wanted to defend the agricultural department, and the controversy over its status obfuscated the issue of whether the regents or the legislature should have financial control of the University. The State Journal, in March of 1889, remarked that the Supreme Court had handed the legislature the power to destroy the University; and throughout the legislative session it appeared that this was just what some well-organized group was trying to do.

On April 15 the legislature adjourned - "thanks to a most merciful Providence," said the Hesperian. "The University did not fare so badly as had been expected. If it had its ruin would have been only a question of a few years. As it is the University has been left in somewhat straitened circumstances." Friends of the University should profit from the experience, said the student editor, "and be prepared in the future for such attacks" as were made during the last legislative session. On April 1. the State Journal had spoken of a "combine" which included members of "the Wesleyan university real estate wing" and which had worked against the University. A false cray of economy had united these people, for the money which they legislature "saved" actually was part of the federal endowment and the state mill levy which was already in the state treasury. Moreover, the legislature's vindictive spirit was revealed in the order that prohibited the regents from transferring money saved in one department to the use of the science departments. This meant, said the Journal, that the money "will simply be piled up in the banks while the departments of the university are prevented from providing for the rapidly growing scientific courses in an adequate manner." Because of the curtailed financial support dictated by the legislature, the University faced a period of retrenchment. In April, 1889, the regents resolved, "that the regular course of study should be kept up to the maximum of efficiency, and that whatever retrenchment is undertaken should be made in the line of special and irregular instruction." The Chancellor and the faculty were ordered to revise the catalogue so that salaries and expenses would be within the appropriation. In November, 1890, Acting Chancellor Bessey summoned a group of students to his office and proceeded to tel them the "facts of life" about the University's financial needs. Much of the opposition to the institution derived from inaccurate information and erroneous conceptions, and Bessey believed that a public information program would help spread proper understanding of the University's programs and problems.

The University's difficulties in the 1880s were not unique. The decade has been called the most crucial for the people's colleges because nearly every land grant college and university in the nation was in trouble. They had not yet proved themselves, and the states were reluctant to authorize adequate funds for

3 see p. 88


their operation. At this critical moment the federal government provided a timely boost with Congressional approval, in 1890, of the so-called second Morrill Act. Some historians argue that it was more important than the first because it delivered outright financial assistance at a time when state support was wavering and when there was widespread dissatisfaction with what land-grant schools had managed to accomplish. Together with the Hatch Act of 1887,4 which provided funds for experimental work in agriculture, the Morrill Act paved the way for a great step forward. Needless to say, the fifteen thousand dollars annually bestowed by the federal government was more than welcome to the University of Nebraska, although this grant too became involved in the squabble over legislative authority in University money matters. These, then, were the important developments on the University's financial front during the 1880's. The uncertainty had in no way been resolved; and as the 1891 legislative session neared, the precariousness of the University's situa

tion became even more disturbing, for the Independents had gained control of the legislature. Democrats and Republicans had competed in their efforts to promote economy in the University, and it remained to be seen what the Independents, representing the indignant voice of agrarian Nebraska, would do. As usual, the regents demanded that the legislature hand over the funds which had accumulated in the state treasury, and the University's budgetary requests were greeted by the usual criticism from Omaha. When one editor attacked the size of the budget and at the same time complained that Nebraska's young people were going east to attend "established" universities, the student newspaper called his attention to the relationship between the two complaints: the University could achieve a superior position only if the legislature provided the funds. It came as a pleasant surprise when the 1891 legislature approved the University's financial requests almost without modification. Money was avail

able for building a new library, for completing Grant Hall, and for putting an iron fence around the campus. And even with these projects funded, there remained $124,000 for salaries. On hearing the news five hundred students, nearly the entire student body, paraded behind the University band through downtown Lincoln, pausing before hotels to call out the legislators who had supported the University's budget. Next they visited the homes of professors, and "all these gentlemen responded with short addresses and were tossed by the students." When the procession returned to the campus for a bonfire and fireworks, the State Journal reporter was impressed by "the large number of the university's fairest wards twirling their hats in the air and shouting with all their powers, three cheers for Governor Boyd and the other gentlemen." But while there was much to cheer about on that April evening, the fact remained that all gains had to be counted as temporary until the question of the control of University funds was clarified.

The Removal of Chancellor Manatt

During the four years Chancellor Manatt directed the University he had managed to maintain a policy of expansion and moderate reform, but he had made many enemies in the process. Roscoe Pound, who was a graduating senior in 1888, recognized Manatt's talents as a scholar and teacher, but he said that the post of chancellor of the University of Nebraska required other qualities. He called for "a masterful man who could control a restless community, dominate the legislature, hold all manner of conflicting interests in check, and particularly


4 For a discussion of the Hatch Act, see pp. 105 ff.



hold down a suspicious student body." What Pound is actually saying is that probably no administrator could have weathered the crisis which came in 1888.

By the spring of that year Manatt had succeeded in alienating almost every faction in the University. Faculty members said that he wanted to run things his own way and therefore misrepresented them to the regents and vice versa; and some felt that they could no longer endure his sarcasm and caustic comments. As the spring semester drew to a close, the students joined the indignation parade. "As I look back now on my performance of my junior and senior years, wrote Roscoe Pound, "I am persuaded that we were essentially a pack of populists who took for granted bad motives in everything which the administration did because the administration was proceeding on higher lines of which we had no conception." Encouraged by several popular professors whom Manatt had offended, most of the senior class, so the Omaha Herald said, boycotted the baccalaureate service which Manatt was scheduled to conduct, and only after much persuasion could they be inducted to attend the graduation exercises. After commencement, as they departed for home, the undergraduates declared at the tops of their voices that they wouldn't be back in the fall if Manatt were still chancellor.

In July a committee representing the alumni recommended to the regents that Manatt be dismissed. The regents at once arranged a meeting at which the charges might be heard, and it did not take long for the proceedings to degenerate into a brawl. Faculty members who took the stand ended up in a shouting match with Manatt, who acted as his own defense counsel and treated everyone with withering scorn and contempt. H.H. Wilson, an alumnus and "prosecutor" at the hearing, summed it up when he said to the regents, "If the feeling of the majority of the faculty before this trail began was that of distrust, how shall I fittingly describe it since these scenes have occurred which you have witnessed?" Only a few of the faculty attempted to defend Manatt. One mentioned that the Chancellor suffered acutely from asthma, and this did not increase his good nature. And there were some who said that he should be judged not by his personality but by what he had accomplished for the University. But in the end the regents concluded that for the best interest of the institution the Chancellor would have to go. When Manatt refused to sign, the regents dismissed him, effective July 19, 1888. Dean Bessey was named as acting chancellor; and - consistent with the ironic patterns of events that usually accompanies such affairs - the regents immediately bestowed upon him the power to nominate all candidates for the faculty, a power which Manatt had sought to exercise and to which the faculty had taken violent exception.

The years of the Manatt administration were among the most important and active of the institution's brief history. in the final analysis, Chancellor Manatt had brought a sense of direction to the University. He had identified its major problems and had formulated solutions for many of them, and he had laid the foundation upon which all succeeding chancellors built.



The University's Expanding Responsibilities

At the beginning of the 1880s, Nebraska's public education system was till incomplete. Considerable progress had been made at the elementary or common school level and a number of colleges had come into existence, but there were few secondary school to bridge the gap between elementary and higher education. In consequence, the University's preparatory department, the Latin School, had to be kept in operation and remained for many years the largest department in the University - in 1881 - 1882, for example, 183 of 284 students enrolled in the institution were preps. But the Latin School was a poor substitute for an effective secondary school system. "A preparatory department in connection with a college is an expedient justified by necessity only, and is dispensed with when possible," the Hesperian Student declared.

Manatt believed that the absence of high schools not only explained the University's slow growth but also accounted for the failure of many students enrolled for University course work. A majority of undergraduates at this period were "floaters" -poorly prepared students who gave University life a brief try and then dropped out. It was unrealistic to expect a general upgrading of the caliber of the student body so long as high schools turned out graduates which were unprepared for collegiate work, and Manatt felt strongly that the University should do everything in its power to promote the rapid development of the state's secondary schools. But the regents were reluctant to involve the institution in such a campaign. Aware that support for the University was lukewarm at best in many quarters, they believed that to mix in educational matters at the local level would be very risky, possibly even suicidal. They could discern little public interest in schools - a view reinforced by the quick defeat in the 1883 legislature of a bill to provide compulsory education. Nonetheless, under Manatt's prodding, the University slowly moved into the area of public education.

The University and the High Schools

In the spring of 1881, a University committee was appointed to investigate the relationship of the state's high schools to the University. After correspondence with school principals and study of plans in other states, the committee reported that the time was not yet ripe for any sort of accreditation arrangements with the high schools, which were unable or unwilling to offer preparatory instruction and did not want to waste money on impractical subjects. In 1882, W.W. Jones, superintendent of public instruction, asked the University faculty for


cooperation, and i 1883 the Board of Regents indicated to him that the University stood ready to cooperate in "bringing about closer and more intimate relations between the common schools and the University." Nothing developed, because local school patrons resented outside interference and because the heavy turnover of school administrators made it difficult to secure cooperation at the local level. Moreover, on the campus some of the faculty members felt that the University had no right to meddle in the affairs of public schools and others scoffed at the idea that the state high schools could prepare pupils for college work. But when Manatt arrived in January, 1884, he and Superintendent Jones, undeterred by indifference and opposition, attacked the matter with vigor. They visited other states to study the situation, and Manatt carried his arguments to the public. In April, 1884, for example, he told the state teachers' convention that the entire public school system needed to be unified. "I see the common school stuck in the mud," he said, "and the university suspended in the air. If we are to have a system of education, the word is 'Close up.' " He assured his audience that "any theory that the lower schools exist for the university would be fundamentally false": not every child in Nebraska would attend the University, but he wanted to make certain each one had the best-trained teachers possible, and in his opinion the University could supply these teachers. He noted that the various other Nebraska colleges "share and ought to share with us in the work."

The State Teachers Association responded with some enthusiasm to Manatt's plea for cooperation in building a high school system. The association's president, R. E. Call, pointed out that from 1877 to 1884 no graduate of a Nebraska high school had been accorded unqualified admission to the University. This was "a most remarkable history," said Call, "especially when we remember that the conditions for admission to the freshman class are far below the average of eastern colleges." The effectiveness of any educational system was measured by the number of students who progressed up the educational ladder and enrolled in a university. But in Nebraska less than one per cent of the students were in high schools, and only one high school, that in Omaha, adequately prepared students for college. And most of the Omaha graduates went east to complete their education.

In June, 1884, came an announcement from Chancellor Manatt that the University intended to do something about the "missing link" in Nebraska's educational system. a committee made up of Professors Barber, Nicholson, and Howard and a committee of superintendents and high school principals had drawn up a recommendation course of study for the state's high schools. It presented two programs, the major and the minor. Graduates of high schools with merited classification in the major category would be admitted to the freshman class in the University without examination, and graduates of schools ranked in the minor category would be automatically admitted to the second year of preparatory work. This plan assumed that the proper function of Nebraska's high schools was to prepare students for college, and it fixed the philosophy that has endured almost unchanged down to the present time. Not only did the University play a major role in determining the philosophy of secondary education, but through the curriculum devised by the faculty committee it profoundly influenced the substance of secondary education in the state.

As if to underscore the University's determination to build a workable system of secondary education, Chancellor Manatt, in September, 1884, announced that the standards of admission to the Latin School would be drastically raised. "As a result of this policy," the State Journal said, "the high school in Nebraska is put at once in the way of growth, and the University may expect soon to be receiving increased numbers of a higher grade." Certainly this was the University's


intention, and it soon began to pay off. The University Catalogue for 1885-1886 announced that high schools in Beatrice, Grand Island, Kearney, Lincoln, Nebraska City, Plattsmouth, and Tekamah had received major accreditation, while high schools in Fairmont, Friend, Gibbon, Harvard, Hebron, McCook, Red Cloud, Sutton, and Wilber had fulfilled the requirements for minor accreditation. In 1886, Manatt could proudly say that nearly one-third of the freshman class were graduates of Nebraska high schools. In that year, too, a further development served to focus on the University almost all educational activities in the state. Since the State Department of Education was neither able nor willing to take responsibility for high schools applying for accreditation, talk with their teachers, and determine whether or not their curricula met University standards.

In 1890, Acting Chancellor Bessey asserted that with "care and proper attention" Nebraska high schools would "ere long do all the preparatory work, leaving the University free to undertake its proper higher work." However, this statement must have been made for effect only, for in December, 1889, when the regents recommended that the first year of the Latin School be closed, Bessey had been against the move. Although high schools were opening in towns and cities, they were nearly nonexistent in rural Nebraska; and Bessey, as dean of the Industrial College, quite naturally opposed closing the preparatory school: it would hit hardest the children of farm families, the group he most wanted to attract to the University. Having secured an extension of the Latin School's life, Bessey launched a major campaign to convince farmers that their youngsters would be welcome at the University. One of the purposes of the preparatory department, he wrote in the Farmers' Alliance, the leading organ of that important farm organization, was to enable farm youngsters to enter the University. As the regents had said, "There is no pupil in the State, however remote from high schools he may be, who may not gain entrance to the University."

Thus it will be seen that the University's attack on the problem of secondary school education came from two directions: it strobe to bring high schools into existence and to upgrade the curricula of those already functioning, and it invited elementary school graduates from rural areas without high schools to take their preparatory work in Lincoln. Thanks in no small degree to this pressure from the University, the growth of the state's high schools after 1888 was nothing short of phenomenal. In 1888 there were 119 fully graded high schools with 5,404 students; ten years later there were 415 with 14,123 students. This increase was the basis for the growth in the University's enrollment by the turn of the century. And perhaps even more important, the continued participation of University people in the battle to upgrade public education spread knowledge about the institution over the state and won sympathy for it.

New Academic Directions

Under Chancellor Manatt and Acting Chancellor Bessey, the University's enrollment grew by more than one third during the 1880's, as the following figure show.

Academic Year Number of Students

1882-1883 238

1883-1884 324

1884-1885 373

1885-1886 311


1886-1887 339

1887-1888 334

1888-1889 345

1889-1890 384

As it grew, the University's operation inevitably became more complicated, and in 1885 the regents for the first time gave their attention to a more efficient organization of the administrative and business offices. As an initial step the Board created the office of Steward, vesting in it responsibility for all financial and business affairs. J. Stuart Dales, who had served as secretary of the Board since 1876, was the first man appointed to the post. The increased efficiency that came from centralizing all business matters was enhanced by technological advances: in October, 1889, it was announced that "private telephone connections have been made with all the buildings on the campus," and in December it was reported that "the office now boasts of a typewriter of its own." Academic departments, too, were affected by the growth in enrollment. In 1884, Professor Sherman told the regents that the English Department needed an assistant to teach preparatory classes and rhetoric and to grade compositions; it also needed five to a thousand new library books. Other departments as well were pleading for enlargement of library holdings. George Howard complained that the library had too few books on American history, and indeed complaints about the library were chronic. At this time, it possessed only eleven thousand items, most of them government periodicals, indifferently arranged in two cramped rooms in University Hall.

But despite the thin library budget, the University's curricula continued to proliferate. In 1890 the course in didactics was transformed into a regular course in pedagogy. Students who completed this teacher training course received a certificate from the Department of Pedagogies in addition to the regular University diploma. A key figure in developing the pedagogy course was Professor Harry K. Wolfe, who joined the faculty in 1888. The son of a Lancaster County farmer and a Nebraska graduate, Wolfe held his Ph.D. from the University of Leipzig. Although he took his advanced work in philosophy, his consuming interest was in the new field of psychology, and he introduced the discipline at the University. After 1891 he offered such courses and experimental psychology, 'pedagogical psychology," mental development, and child development, all of which contributed greatly to the teach preparation program. The American Journal of Psychology, in its October, 1890, issues, listed Nebraska along with Columbia, Harvard, and Yale as one of the ten colleges and universities in the country doing work in psychology.

Perhaps the greatest expansion took place in the area of science. In June, 1884, the regents discontinued the chair of natural sciences, "the duties pertaining to it having been already assigned in part to the Professor of Chemistry and Physics, and what remained being now divided between two new chairs, namely, the chair of Geology and Allied Sciences, and the chair of Horticulture and Botany." From each department came reports of significant laboratory and research activities. The field work of Professor Hick's students, for example, was contributing greatly to knowledge of Nebraska's geology. Similarly, important work was being done in the newly created physics laboratory, where Professor Brace labored to overcome the shortage of space and equipment. When the school year began in 1888, this department was scattered over the campus in nine different rooms, to be united at last with the completion of Nebraska Hall in 1889. In 1887 the State Journal had noted that "the demand for works in the electrical field is so great as to make a department of this kind almost a necess



sity, and it is thought that it will be well filled with students from the very start." This proved to be the case. A regular course in electrical engineering, directed by Brace, was first offered in 1888 and in the 1890s was one of the most popular courses on the campus.

Although expansion was the order of the day, the fine arts received very little support. The department clung like an unwanted stepchild to the fringe of the University. Catalogues and announcements mentioned classes in art and music, but they continued to be private, for the budget still provided no money for instructors. The 1883 Catalogue, in a far-out attempt to promote enrollment in music, claimed that exercise of the voice brought about "a healthy action and development of muscles which would have otherwise lain dormant' while improper or insufficient use affects the general health, and particularly the vocal organs, causing bronchitis and laryngitis." Be that as it may, the offerings in art and music did attract a number of students, especially young women. In 1884, Professor D.F. Easterday organized the first orchestral work on the campus; and in 1886, Chancellor Manatt suggested the formation of a School of Fine Arts, which would "keep alive the fact that a Fine Arts College of this scope is embraced in the organic plan of the University."

Manatt and Bessey received many requests for the establishment of extension courses and summer sessions. Such course would be a valuable means of acquainting a wider public with the role of the University, and there were plans to establish extension and summer programs as soon as funds were available. But change never comes easily, and during the 1880s the opposition to reforms and modifications in the University's programs was constant and at time very shrill. Some faculty members felt that the University had no business offering summer work, extension courses, teacher training, and the like, since they detracted from the essential task of a university - that of perpetuating the classical tradition. These traditionals wanted the University to remain true to the concept advanced by Chancellor Benton and symbolized the seal which depicted the liberal acts as the core of the University. Manatt, who was aware of the dangers of departing too far from this tradition, said in his 1884 report, "If we would not sink to the level of a mere technical school, we must offer a classical course as strong and attractive as our so-called literary or scientific courses." And two years later he warned that "we are just now in danger of overdoing specialization and technics." To determine the proper balance between liberal arts courses and "specialized and practical courses" would be a major problem for regents and chancellors.

Graduate Education

During this period of hectic and disorganized growth, although there was some internal dissension, ambitious professors could still build their personal domains without stepping on too many toes. Manatt and many of the faculty appreciated that the pressure for change came as the result of national trends and that the University must keep abreast of them. In his Charter Day address in 1886, Professor Howard spoke to this important point:

The present anniversary is destined, I trust, to be marked in our calendar as a most important crisis. At this moment a scheme is practically completed for advanced study leading to a master's degree. We are about to pass from the condition of a college to that of a University. The programme which has been laid down by the Faculty is so broad and generous in spirit as to bring us into harmony with that lofty conception of University life which, from east to west, is graduate spreading its transforming influence throughout the land.



As Howard recognized, if the University was to maintain its place among leading American institutions of learning, it had to accept that graduate training was one of the most important functions of higher education. A number of faculty members were ready and able to direct graduate education, in the forefront among them Professors Howard and Caldwell. Since his return from Johns Hopkins University, where he head received his advanced training through seminar method, Caldwell had been eager to introduce this new system of graduate study at Nebraska. European-trained professors had similar aspirations, and with Manatt's support and encouragement the plans for the new program went forward.

Graduate work in the University had begun almost unnoticed in 1882 when Professor Howard's wife and another young woman as for and received advanced courses in history. The next year the history department asked permission to offer a master's degree. In June, 1883, the regents authorized the department to develop courses leading to an M.A., but since the teaching force was limited, nothing was done. Chancellor Manatt urged interesting faculty and students to form "associations" in which advanced work might be done on what amounted to an extracurricular basis. He hoped that this expedient would serve as a temporary substitute for graduate courses and would prepare the ground for them. Associations were formed in history and political science, philology, science, and mathematics; and Howard was able to report in December, 1884, that the methods of the history and political science association were being applied with good effect to regular history courses and that students were doing far more independent research and study than previously. In that same year a bulletin from Johns Hopkins credited Howard's and Caldwell's history courses with being "among the most complete and the most modern in spirit given in this country."

The less stringent financial conditions were reflect in the 1885-1886 Catalogue, which announced formal graduate study programs in Latin, Sanskrit, mathematics and civil engineering, history, chemistry, and natural sciences; and in his 1886 report Manatt expressed the hope that the limited graduate program offered after 1885 would "promote a new beginning of real University work here" and that promising young men would remain at Nebraska rather than going east to begin their graduate studies. In 1886 the University's first master's degree was conferred on C. G. McMillan, who had majored in geology and entomology1. In 1887 there were eleven students enrolled in what the Catalogue referred to as "an inchoate school of graduate instruction," and by 1890 the number had grown to twenty-eight. In 1886, Dr. Bessey formed the famous Botanical Seminar, familiarly known as "Sem. Bot.," which was to produce some of the nation's leading botanists. In 1889, Professors Howard and Caldwell, assisted by Amos G. Warner, taught a seminar in history and economics, the first graduate seminar offered within the University's curricula; and in 1890, Professor Edgren's seminar in comparative philology attracted a dozen students who were studying for master's degrees. In that year, too, the regents authorized the faculty to offer work leading to the degree of Doctor of Philosophy. For the first time being, however, there were no funds to implement the program.


1. This was the first "real" master's degree-- the first earned by pursuing a systematic course of graduate study. The University's first graduates, J. Stuart Dales and William H. Snell, had been given M. Ph. degrees. The Catalogue for 1871-1872 and those following state that Master of Arts or Master of Science degrees are conferred on B.A.'s and B.Sc.'s "who shall pursue a post-graduate course of study for one year under the direction of the Faculty, or upon graduates of three years' standing who shall have been engaged during that time in literary, scientific, or professional studies."


great job man, The term "clinical research" includes the entire chain of tests /articles performed- right from a drug's genesis until it is made available in the market of https://promotiaphari.com/ in its life cycle. The norm in the pharmaceutical industry is to subject a promising drug or a molecule to pre-clinical/ animal studies in order to test it on diverse parameters including safety toxicity efficacy and suitability in age-related diseases. In the advanced countries, the entire chain of research is studied and analyzed for the drug approval. In case, the drug needs approval from authorities, or they feel it may enhance the risks to the general population, or in order to fight the risks of unacceptability,

The handmaiden of graduate work is faculty research and publication, and in 1886 Chancellor Manatt asked the regents to set aside a thousand dollars to finance scholarly publications. In the Chancellor's words, "a fair recognition of the importance of original research, of the function of universities in the advancement of knowledge as well as in the transmission of culture, demands a close inter-communication between our own scholars and their colleagues elsewhere." In 1887 the regents created a modest publication fund, and Professor Sherman accepted the post of editor of the University publications. Only "genuine contributions of true scientific value" would be considered, Sherman said. When the first number of the University of Nebraska Studies appeared in September, 1888, the State Journal declared that it was the most important advance the University had yet made, because "no publication of this kind or character is carried on by any institutions west of Johns Hopkins." In 1889, George Howard published his highly praised Introduction to the Local Constitutional History of the United States. By the early 1890's scientists at the experiment station were producing many valuable bulletins. Graduate students in the history department apparently were doing exemplary work, for in 1890 Acting Chancellor Bessey asked the regents for funds to publish papers written in the history seminar. A further indication that the University was moving in the right direction also came in 1890, when Professor Brace was commissioned to study the velocity of light at Clark University. Because of delays there, however, the apparatus was sent to Brace, and the study was conducted at the University of Nebraska.

The College of Medicine

During the eighties the interest in professional training increased in Nebraska and pressure was brought to bear on the University to offer training in specialized fields. In 1875 a group of Lincoln citizens had petitioned for a medical course in the University; and in March, 1876, the Board of Regents recommended that the College of Medicine, provided for in the Charter, should be established "as soon as practicable." The Omaha Herald attacked the proposal as another raid on the state treasury for Lincoln's benefit, but others recognized that it reflected the national movement for better training of medical doctors. It was related, too, to other reform ideas, especially the drive to raise licensing requirements for physicians, which through the eighties manifested itself in the effort to create a state board of health with power to regulate medical training and practices.

While the regents procrastinated—in 1878 they had told the Eclectic Medical Association there were no rooms for medical classes in University Hall—a private medical school started functioning in Omaha. Operating in 1880-1881 as a preparatory school, its success, according to the secretary's record, "encouraged those who engaged in it to take a step in advance, and organize a medical college instead." The Omaha Medical College was incorporated in June, 1881,2 and a building was completed that September in time to receive a class of thirty-five. Spurred by this success, Lincoln doctors began to lay plans for opening a medical school in the capital city, preferably in conjunction with the University. Dr. A. R. Mitchell, one of the initiators of the project and the first dean of the Uni

2 The college organized in 1881 actually was the second to bear that name. The first Omaha Medical College was incorporated in May, 1869, and the corporation was dissolved in May, 1881. Though it was inactive, as Bernice M. Hetzner tells us in her article on the college's history, "during a portion of this period, specifically, on and after October 18, 1890, 'The Nebraska School of Medicine, Preparatory,' was offering a twenty weeks course to students," with three of the original Medical College incorporators on its faculty.


versity's College of Medicine, later said, "We were not incited by altruistic motives. . . . The truth is we had little opportunity for medical practice. Omaha had a school and got all the business. At the time Lincoln had no hospital and we were not properly equipped to instruct medical students." But Mitchell and his cohorts were convinced that "we were the real thing, with a message which was for the uplifting of all the people and perhaps incidentally would benefit us a little on the side."

At this time there were three separate and competing schools of medicine—the allopathic, the eclectic, and the homeopathic—each one of which felt that it alone had the true word and that followers of the other two were quacks and scoundrels. But Mitchell did not think that their rivalry would stand in the way, since Lincoln doctors were united in the desire to have a college. Nor was he disturbed by the lack of a hospital, arguing that students at the Rush Medical College of Chicago, one of the nation's leading schools, worked with hospital cases only on rare occasions. Perhaps Mitchell's offer to provide a faculty for two years without expense to the University was the deciding factor; at any rate, in February, 1883, the Board of Regents was persuaded to establish the College sough Medicine and to provide seven hundred dollars for the purchase of equipment. In its "First Annual Announcement," the college is referred to as the Medical Department; chairs in the homeopathic and eclectic departments were established in June, 1883. Each department appointed its own staff of lecturers and examiners. The Catalogue and Register for 1884-1885, published in 1885, lists three faculties, giving first that of the College of Medicine, which is by far the largest. The Catalogue states that "in connection with the College of Medicine, the Homeopathic specialties are taught by three chairs" and "Eclectic specialties are taught by two chairs." Graduation ceremonies of all three departments were held separately.

The college offered a three-year course, with classroom instruction and laboratory work divided into three six-months sessions. Conditions of graduation were that "the candidate be a graduate of a Literary College, or pass a thorough examination in the common school branches, and a three years' course of lectures in medicine." For a university located on the edge of the frontier to adopt such rigorous standards was surprising, but even more surprising was the cooperation among the competing schools. The first announcement issued by "The Eclectic Medical Department of the University of Nebraska" declared, "We invite and mean to deserve the favor and support of all truly honorable and worthy practitioners of medicine without regard to schools, and we shall do all in our power to break down the barriers of bigotry and intolerance that have so long divided the profession and retarded its progress and usefulness."

Discordant blasts of criticism came, as expected, from Omaha. The Omaha Herald asserted that Nebraska did not need a public college of medicine; there already were too many doctors and medical schools. The University, said the editor, "is limping along upon an uncertain existence in the hands of fifth-rate men, and to add to it a medical school without the facilities for their training is a wrong upon the University as it will surely prove an injustice to any young man who may be induced to enter it." The Omaha Bee scored the absence of a hospital in Lincoln, and the State Journal replied that this handicap would be overcome with the cooperation of city and county authorities, who would refer charity cases to the medical students for examination and treatment. The Announcement for the Medical College stated that there was a hospital in the "suburbs" controlled by the "Board of Managers of the Home for the Friendless." It was a state institution, and did not accept patients with infectious or contagious diseases.


In October, 1883, fifty-two young men signed up for the medical course, and in the following year the enrollment increased to fifty-five, many of the students being attracted from the Omaha Medical College by the free tuition. The college's initial success stood in marked contrast to the dismal showing of the agricultural department, and prompted the student newspaper to remark that in Nebraska "young men of the state prefer to learn how to amputate limbs rather than how to trim grape vines." But a controversial issue was foreshadowed when, one fall morning, the citizenry was startled by the appearance of a sign painted in large letters on the front roof of University Hall. "CASH FOR STIFFS," it proclaimed. "We are glad to see such energy displayed by our friends [in the Medical College]," the Hesperian Student commented, "and have no doubt that the supply will be ample. Our janitor, however, did not propose to have these classic walls turned into a city morgue and immediately resented the insolence of the medical faculty by deliberately painting it over with the original color."

Unfortunately, the early atmosphere of optimism and good will dissipated rapidly. Not the least of the problems was the failure of Lincoln physicians to make good on their promise to provide instruction—in a number of instances doctors scheduled to teach never did appear. Moreover, the truce between the competing schools proved ephemeral. In 1884, Chancellor Manatt asked the competing physicians to cease fighting. "The clashing of rival schools has put no little strain on the machinery," he said, "and if we are to move on successfully the strain on the new organization from this cause must be reduced." He asked them to settle their differences and strive to answer the question, "What can we do here to redeem the profession from low standards?"

In the end, however, it was the legislature, not the doctors, who would decide the fate of the college. As always, there was the matter of finances: eventually a faculty would have to be hired. But, more important, the legislature would not face up to a problem which plagued all the medical schools of the day—namely, the procurement of corpses. To be sure, the 1883 legislature, in anticipation of the founding of the college, had passed a law which authorized dissection for "scientific, educational and legal purposes" and permitted representatives of medical colleges to obtain the unclaimed corpses of persons who had died in public institutions. But the law was weak and very vague; also, it gave discretionary powers to the supervisors of public institutions, and they frequently refused to release corpses for dissection. Nevertheless, the University Catalogue for 1883-1884 promised "abundant anatomical material" and left the problem of procurement to the faculty. The Chancellor in his annual report, June, 1884, recommended that the demonstrator of anatomy "be required to furnish all material for the use of his department."

Almost from the time the Medical College began operation, rumors pervaded Lincoln about mysterious goings-on there; and in January, 1885, the State Journal charged that the medical students were raiding the local cemeteries for corpses—or, as it was euphemistically phrased, "to procure subjects." As public tempers heated up, the Hesperian Student warned that the people of Lincoln "have already shown they will not tolerate very much of this" and advised medical students "to 'go slow and learn to paddle,'" but the rumors of body snatching persisted. When city officials accused the Medical College of having received an illegal corpse, the State Journal insisted that it was a frame-up, contrived by enemies of the University. But years later former medical students admitted that they had been parties to grave robbing. One Lincoln doctor recalled that he had exhumed the body of a young woman from the graveyard in a nearby village, placed an overcoat and hat on it, set it upright in a buggy, and started for


Lincoln. The buggy broke down, so he covered the body with leaves near the road and returned for it the following night. On one occasion faculty members were called before the grand jury and questioned about grave robbing, although the evidence was insufficient to indict them. Discussing the complicity of the faculty, Dr. Mitchell added these details:

The dissecting room was in another part of the city and was in constant

danger of invasion by the police looking for mysterious things. The

preserving vat for subjects was in an unknown basement reached by an

alley entrance, and all material was secured in some manner and handled

in the same way . . . . Once the Professor of Anatomy was before the grand

jury to give testimony and once again the same professor and demonstrator

were taken by the police with the goods but a trial proved their innocence,

and the source of the material was never known, although we were out our

good "subject."

When in 1885 the regents asked the legislature for money to support the college, to no one's surprise they were flatly turned down. Lincoln doctors offered their services gratis for another two years, but enrollment dropped alarmingly, and in May of 1887 the regents voted to terminate the College of Medicine at the end of the academic year. The failure of the college can be traced to factors which reflect the attitudes of the day. There was a widely held conviction that the state had no business providing technical education, and it was hard to combat the public's indifference toward raising medical standards at a time when quacks advertised elixirs and cures in every newspaper in the state. Add the continued opposition of Omaha, a lack of money, the active opposition of some faculty members in the academic departments, the uproar over body snatching, and the conflict between the rival medical schools, and you have the reason why the experiment collapsed. Beset as they were with other problems, the regents were relieved when the books could be closed on this first effort to establish a College of Medicine.

The College of Law

The establishment of a Law College had been discussed by the regents in 1876 and again in 1881, and in 1886 the Chancellor stated in his report that many young men had wanted to enter a law course in the University. There had been so many requests "within the last two years" that the matter had been referred to the University Senate, which appointed a committee to obtain the views of the legal profession. Having received a unanimously positive response, the Senate voted to ask the Board of Regents to secure appointment by the State Bar Association of five of its members who, with five faculty members, "should constitute a joint committee of organization." The Chancellor also recommended this step, but there was no money available to hire faculty, and nothing was done.

In the winter of 1887-1888 a group of enterprising young who were reading law in the offices of various firms got together and founded a club for the discussion of their study; they also maintained a moot court. The following winter a new organization was formed, again with a moot court, and with regular classes taught by C. A. Robbins, a Lincoln lawyer and later a member of the law faculty. It seemed to the study group that it ought to become the nucleus of a Law College, and one of the members went before the Board of Regents to ask that the University provide a room for their use. Still unnerved by their experience with the Medical College, the regents refused, explaining that they did not want to get involved in this kind of experiment.


Agitation for the college did not diminish, and when the state raised the requirements for admission to the bar, it became obvious that the University would have to provide legal training. Once the regents decided to go ahead, they found conveniently at hand, in Lincoln's Central Law College, the means for quickly establishing a law course. This private institution had been in operation for two years; it had been founded by W. Henry Smith, who had moved from Philadelphia to Lincoln in 1889 and begun practicing law there. Realizing that legal training was in demand, he opened the Central Law College in November, 1889, with an eye to its eventual absorptions by the University. In April, 1891, a faculty committee reported favorably on establishing a law college, and Professor Howard appeared before the Board of Regents to urge that the recommendation be adopted. Subsequently, the regents voted to take over the Central Law College and incorporate it into the University.

The first law courses were offered in the fall of 1891. Admittedly the standards of the department were not high, but the entrance requirements - a student must have graduated from a common school - were on a par with those elsewhere in the country. Instruction was by lectures only; there was no systematic course of study. As was the case at most other law schools, the course took two years. A start had been made, but it would be more than a decade before the College of Law, under the vigorous leadership of Dean Roscoe Pound, found its place in the academic sun.



The Industrial College

The regents had created the Industrial College in 1877 with the hope that the new arrangement would encourage work in agriculture and the mechanical arts, but the next half-dozen years failed to bring the desired results. Ubiquitous University critics hammered at the college's failure to fulfill its stated objectives and suggested that the fault lay with the Board of Regents for mismanaging funds which should have gone to support agricultural and industrial education, and that when students did seek instruction in those fields the faculty did not know what to teach them. The Hesperian Student saw the problem clearly as it pertained to agriculture:

Three of our graduates this year [1883] have completed the Agricultural Course. The discipline afforded by this course can not be as thorough as that in the others, simply because the best methods of teaching the various studies comprised in it have not been determined by centuries of experience. Many of the sciences studied by the agricultural students are so young that it is hardly safe to call them sciences at all, and the theories upon which they are based are sometimes proven to be false, even while the student is learning them.

Moreover, there was still no real understanding of the function of the University farm. As the State Journal commented in August, 1883: "Perhaps we would not be very far astray in saying that a majority of the people of Nebraska not only distrust the aims and methods of our agricultural farm, but have serious doubts of the policy of having any sort of a model farm in connection with the educational system of the state, and even doubt the utility of an agricultural college." Pleas for a scientific approach to agriculture went unheeded, and earnest representations to Nebraska farmers to sent their boys to the University met with little response.

for several years Professor Thompson and Culbertson received the blame for all of the farm's shortcomings - low enrollment, run-down buildings, poor crops, neglected herds. Finally, at a meeting in December, 1883, the regents formally charged Thompson with incompetence, inefficiency, and neglect of duty, and blamed him for the failure of the farm and the Agricultural College. Thompson denied all the charges and during the course of the hearing brought out that he had been required to teach such subjects as philology and didactics, which were outside the agricultural courses. There was a hearing, and witnesses were called, and the regents' verdict was that he was not personally responsible


for the defects of the college. But it is not surprising that Thompson and Culbertson tended their resignations to the Board of Regents in March, 1884, and became ringleaders in an attempt to separate the College of Agriculture from the University.

In 1884 the Industrial College - which Chancellor Manatt once referred to as "a sort of educational Botany Bay" - reached its nadir. However, the resignations of Thompson and Culbertson and the ensuing uproar did stir the University's leaders to action, and in the spring of 1884 the regents relieved the Industrial College faculty of responsibility for managing the farm, placing it in the hands of a full-time man, Colonel E. P. Savage, who was "an experienced stock grower and practical farmer." In June of 1884, H.H. Wing, a graduate of Cornell University, was appointed instructor in agriculture and director of the farm, pending the selection of a professor of agriculture. His later comments cast interesting light upon the status of agricultural education in Nebraska at that time.

The year I came to Nebraska [said Wing] the idea of a university school or college of agriculture hadn't entered the heads of the people of the state. For the first two years I had no classes whatsoever and during the last two years of my stay I had only two or three pupils in my largest classes. None of these classes was conducted at the farm, but I held them in buildings on the university campus. The farm at that time was not equipped for teaching. There were two or three buildings on the farm then .... The white building was then used as a sort of dormitory for a few preparatory student of the university who worked their way through school by helping out with the work on the farm..... The farm at that time was nothing more or less than a farm run by the state and for along time didn't pay more than its expenses.... We raised a good deal of stock, mostly thoroughbred, and thoroughbred stock wasn't in particularly high favor in the state at that time either.... A man who took science in those days was considered somewhat off color by the average person. Something was believed to be wrong with his mental makeup.

This was the state of affairs when Charles E. Bessey assumed the chair of botany and horticulture and became the first dean of the Industrial College in September, 1884. In his inaugural address, which stamped him as a realist, he suggested experiments with stock, grain, grasses, and forage plants, and modes of culture for various plants. Reporting to the regents in November, he said that many of the present industrial colleges placed too much emphasis on manual labor, wrongly believing that "by spending each day a certain number of hours in study, and a certain number in manual labor, the pupil could at the time time acquire an education, and become proficient in all manual operations." Since it was impossible to teach both theoretical and practical subjects in the time allotted, he saw as the college's essential purpose to teach "thoroughly those branches of learning which are related to agriculture and the mechanical arts, and in this manner to lay a firm foundation for the subsequent study of the application of these branches to the practical work of the farmer and gardener." His idea of a proper education course appears in the 1884-1885 Catalogue:

As scientific agriculture rests upon and is an outgrowth from the natural sciences, the student in this course devotes much of his time in the earlier part of his College life to their mastery, and afterwards, employs himself in the study of their applications. Thus chemistry, physics, zoology, botany and geology will occupy prominent places in the curriculum, each on contributing to that mass of knowledge and practice which constitutes modern scientific agriculture. With these the student


takes up such language studies as will enable him to use his own language properly, and to consult with ease the works of the best foreign authorities. In addition, provision is made for the study of history and literature, in order that he may enrich and liberalize his mind by an acquaintance with the treasures of the past.

Perhaps Bessey had sketched a narrow, unimaginative picture of the Industrial College, but at least he recognized that the situation in Nebraska called for consolidation rater than innovation. Moreover, he outlined the direction that work in agriculture and the mechanical arts would take, and previously even this had been lacking.

The Removal Threat

In January, 1884, prior to Bessey's advent, the State Board of Agriculture, a most influential group, launched an extensive and intensive investigation of the Industrial College. With Culbertson and Thompson contributing damaging evidence, its annual report for that year criticized the regents, saying that none of them knew anything about the farm. The report stated that "the Nebraska Agricultural College comes far short of the intention of the framers of the act of Congress creating it." The course of study "is of little or no benefit except the small financial benefit afforded to a few of the students and professors." The board recommended the separation of the Agricultural College from the University through the passage of a bill for that purpose which had been introduced in the current legislative session.

The opposition of the board to the University rested less on philosophical grounds than on practical necessity, and the idea of separating the College of Agriculture from the University was strictly a power play on the part of the men attempting to exercise leadership in Nebraska's agriculture. The board saw itself as the state's major instrument for agricultural development, but it was handicapped by lack of funds. Now, in 1885, its leaders hatched a scheme to take over the University farm and along with it the University's landed endowment. This would give them both a base for their operations and financial support for their activities. The first step toward this end was to remove the Industrial College from the University's control, which they hoped to achieve in the 1885 session of the legislature. The University was anxious to secure an increased appropriation for the next biennium, but almost immediately the subject of the agricultural department came up for discussion and stalled the appropriations bill. Arguments that agricultural and mechanical education would always be secondary in importance so long as the work was handled by the University rang through the legislative halls; and delegates from Nebraska cities, eagerly anticipating the relocation of the College of Agriculture, thronged the lobby to press upon the lawmakers the advantages of removing the college to their cities. H. R. 216, "a bill for the dismemberment of the University," as Manatt referred to it, appeared to have substantial support.

The bill contained a detailed description of the activities and organization of the new institution to be known as The College of Agriculture and Mechanic Arts of Nebraska. Every student wold be required to spend three hours daily in manual labor either in the shop or in the fields. Military drill would be voluntary. The course of instruction would embrace such subjects as the English language and literature, history, mathematics, and chemistry as well as the various branches of learning "pertaining to agriculture, stock raising, dairying,


fruit and vegetable growing. . . . elements of wood and iron work, and especially the application of science and the mechanic arts to practical agriculture." The college would be located in the county or town which made the most attractive offer, and the legislature would provide fifty thousand dollars to underwrite original expenses. The bill encountered very little opposition from the press, although the Omaha Herald ridiculed the committee of the State Board of Agriculture that wrote the report recommending the separation the committee had misspelled many words. The Herald also labeled the bill as the work of Culbertson, a disgruntled former employee of the University, and thought his association with it would injure its chances. But a House committee formed to consider the measure reported favorably upon it and advocated the creation of a board of trustees to manage the institution.

The State Journal rejected the removal scheme. Look at Kansas and Iowa, said an editorial of February 3, 1885, and you will see what happens when the resources of a state are divided between two separate colleges. To accept the separation bill would give us "two one-horse, but costly institutions, that will never get quite enough income to pay for first class teachers, and whose dependence on the succeeding legislatures for the breath of life, will degrade them to a position below that of the denominational colleges now springing up at various points." But to many legislators the most important in the dispute was the charge that funds for the support of agricultural work had been diverted by the regents to the use of the academic departments of the University. In response to a joint solution, J. Stuart Dales submitted to the legislature a list of expenditures for agricultural work since the University opened. An accurate accounting was impossible, he said, because he had access only to the books of the Agricultural College, not to the books of the Industrial College, and the list of expenses did not include salaries. According to his figures, $31,889.88 had been spent on agricultural instruction from 1871 through 1884. When legislators sought to use the figures to demonstrate that the regents had squandered money intended for agricultural courses on language courses or to support the Medical College, the State Journal retorted that the entire Industrial College was in a bad way chiefly because the legislature failed to appropriate the funds available in the University levy. Until the University had enough money, the development of agricultural and industrial education would be retarded.

Although the bill did not receive legislative approval, is proponents announced that they would continue the fight. On the defensive, the regents announced that the agricultural course would be re-examined and changes made where necessary. Dean Bessey was told to do what he could to reform the agricultural department, and the Calendar for 1885-1886 offered a new course in agriculture which would take four terms and would emphasize practical rather than academic work. All lectures were open to anyone, free, whether they were i the University or not; moreover, the agricultural course was "radically changed" to place more emphasis on the scientific studies related to agriculture, although the requirements for language and mathematics were "insisted upon as essentials in the foundation for a good education of any kind." Although Dean Bessey realized that agricultural education still suffered from the lack of a proper academic definition and the scarcity of scientific information, he insisted that every effort be made to enlist the support of farmers and stockmen in the work of the University. On them depended the continuation of the "indications for a healthy growth" which Bessey detected in 1886 when fifteen students, four of them in agriculture, enrolled in the Industrial College.


The Billings Affair

At this point there came to the University Dr. Frank S. Billings, a scientist as colorful as he was controversial. Various farm groups in Nebraska had asked the University study the causes of hog cholera, in the hope that a cure could be found for this disease which cost the state's farmers millions of dollars annually. Prodded by Gere, who was undisturbed by the fact that no state university had ever attempted anything of the kind, the regents, in June, 1886, authorized the establishment of an experiment station to study domestic-animal diseases, and engaged Dr. Billings, a man of national reputation, to conduct research into hog cholera. This venture was undertaken as a preliminary to the establishment of a School of Veterinary Science at the University, and fifteen hundred dollars was appropriated for one year. Although the experiment station was continued, there were not enough funds to establish the school and it never materialized. Billings brought with him "instruments, apparatus, and library," and he obviously made progress, for in October, 1886, he announced that he had identified a certain microorganism as being present in hogs that had died of cholera. This meant that a cure would soon be found.

Had Billings stuck to his test tubes, the result for the University might have been happier, but all the while he was experimenting he was fighting a battle to ensure that he received full credit for his discoveries. D. E. Slamon, the head of the Bureau of Animal Husbandry in the United States Department of Agriculture said that he also had found the cause of hog cholera, and he declared that Billings' finding were falsified and erroneous. Billings, the outspoken egoist, was willing to take on all comers, let the chips fall where they may. Anyone who questioned his findings he labeled a fool, and he attributed the opposition of federal officials to political malice. During 1888 he published a four-hundred-page bulletin, Swine Plague, equal parts scientific information and personal attacks upon Mr. Salmon. Nonetheless, his work had indeed attracted attention; and if, as a letter in the State Journal claimed, the University was the leader "in original research and biological investigation," it was amazing how small an investment had brought the result. Billings' laboratory was a small upper room in University hall, and the pens for the hogs upon which experimented were in the basement. When the regents suggested that a separate "pathology laboratory" be built for his use, the State Journal expressed the hope "that the air in one of the recitation rooms on the first floor of the main building will be improved very soon."

As 1889 began, Billings involved himself deeper in controversy. In answer to charges that he was building and had not actually found a cure for hog cholera, he announced that he would conduct field tests to prove the efficacy of his preventive measures. At least six farmers allowed Billings to inoculate their stock. In two cases the results were good, but in the other cases cholera swept through the herds and killed the stock. No surprisingly, a bill was introduced in the 1889 session of the legislature requiring that the state compensate the farmers for their losses, Billings' response, a portion of which follows, reveals a good deal about the man:

I see. . . . that certain ignorant, demented and unfortunate people, who

have been led to think that they lost certain hogs by means of inoculation

through the instigation of a small gang of political dead-beats who live on

the public pap, and a certain pole-cat [former Chancellor Manatt] whose

offensive aroma still pollutes the pure air of Nebraska, have presented a

bill for remuneration for their own ignorance and laziness. It is my desire

to stir up this pool of filth to its dregs, and now I hope every farmer in the

legislature will push the "Hill's hog cholera bill"


to an abrupt conclusion . . . . Every one who supports it, will be guilty of an attempt of as barefaced robbery of the public funds as was ever attempted though small in amount.

By this time Billings believed himself surrounded by enemies inside and outside the University. In March he submitted his resignation, effective June 30, saying he was forced to do so by the state veterinarian, Governor John Thayer, the Omaha editors, and various and sundry politicians, all of whom said that the University would never receive funds for hog cholera experiments so long as Billings conducted the work. To some extent the attack upon Billings was an attack upon the University, and those anxious to embarrass the University found a convenient pretext in the fiery professor's public activities. But in fairness to Billings, it must be said that he appears to have pointed out the proper path for the investigation of hog cholera and he did publicize the University. Despite all the criticism he still had many supporters in the state, and the University had by no means seen the last of him.

The Hatch Act

At a period when academic myopia prevented agricultural colleges from embarking on imaginative research programs, most experimental work was undertaken by individual farmers. As Thomas LeDuc has written, it was a few farsighted farmers who conducted "the real experiment stations and it was private intelligence rather than the public state that developed the strains of wheat that would mature before mid-summer heat, would resist rust, and withstand winter cold." But the truth of this observation should not be permitted to obscure Nebraskans' growing interest in experimentation carried on by public agencies. As early as April, 1880, a session of the Lancaster County Farmers' Institute memorialized Congress for an annual appropriation of ten thousand dollars to support an agricultural experiment station in Nebraska, and in the early years of the decade many major Nebraska newspapers supported plans to have the federal government underwrite the creation of such stations. As the State Journal pointed out in December, 1882, Congress had done little for agriculture. The Department of Agriculture distributed a few packets of seeds and published a few unreliable crop reports. It should be empowered to establish experiment stations to provide information on agricultural problems. "It is by far the most practical and useful branch of education that can be taught in an agricultural country like ours, and it is precisely that branch for which no adequate public instruction has ever been provided," concluded the Lincoln editor.

The movement to encourage and supplement the experimental work already under way in land-grant colleges gained many adherents, and in 1887 Congress approved the famous Hatch Act, which provided financial support for agricultural experiment stations and/or land-grant colleges. The bill, introduced by William Hatch of Missouri, became law on March 2, 1887. This was a most significant piece of legislation. It marked the first time that the federal government provided money instead of land for the support of specific activities, and it was the first federal legislation specifying the purposes for which the money was intended—it spelled out the duties of the experiment station. (It is of interest that Dean Bessey wrote this portion of the law.) As well as laying out a pattern for agricultural experiment work, the Hatch Act provided for general federal supervision of it, and for bulletins, to be published at least once every three months, which would bring the results of the work to farmers.


It is impossible to exaggerate the importance of the Hatch Act for agricultural education and agricultural science. From the experiment stations came the impetus for original research which in a remarkably short time established the basis for effective agricultural instruction. This, in turn, made it possible for the land-grant colleges to meet their obligations; indeed, in one historian's view, the experiment stations "brought system and gave direction to the land-grant colleges and more than any other factor assured their continuation." Edgar A. Burnett, a leading agricultural educator and later chancellor of the University, wrote that

with the establishment of the experiment station and the working out of practical farm problems, such as the development of hardy varieties of winter wheat, the promotion of the sugar beet industry, the suppression of blackleg, the study of hog cholera, and many other similar problems, the University secured a contact with the farmers which led to increased confidence and a desire to apply the results of investigation to farm practice.

The Hatch Act did not immediately bring the millennium, however, and many problems remained to be worked out. In particular, no one knew precisely what the proper relationship should be between the experiment stations and the land-grant colleges. The Association of American Agricultural Colleges in 1887 discussed the maintenance of the stations separate from the colleges. The sentiment of the delegates is understandable, for in the past they had seen funds designated for the support of agricultural work applied to other academic purposes. But it was soon apparent that to be effective the experiment station had to be closely associated with the land-grant colleges. Bessey said more than once that while the station had been established to conduct research and experimentation, its findings were of the greatest importance to agricultural education; they provided the research information which the college applied to teaching. Thus "the experiment station becomes the natural adjunct and strong ally of the agricultural and industrial college." Bessey was confident that in time educators would see the necessity for bringing the two institutions into close cooperation, and his only substantial criticism of the Hatch Act was that the fifteen thousand dollars provided annually for the support of each station was inadequate. Very little experimentation and only a limited amount of publicity work could be done with that amount, he said.

Nebraskans could make the boast that Nebraska had an experiment station before the Hatch Act was passed, but there is little doubt that the arrival of federal funds provided a much needed impetus. Experimental work quickly got under way in legislation, diseases of domestic animals, soil, insect control, and the eradication of injurious fungi. Long-range studies of soil temperature, the movement of water in the soil, grasses and forage plants, and meteorology were also projected. And as investigation went on it became clear that the experiment station and the University functioned as partners in the work, if for no other reason than because members of the University's faculty filled the posts at the station. For example, H. H. Nicholson served as chemist, Lawrence Bruner as entomologist, and Dr. Bessey as botanist.

In December, 1888, a visiting committee of the Board of Regents toured the experiment station and reported that excellent work appeared to be in progress. The funds were being expended judiciously and in a way calculated to bring the greatest benefit to the Nebraska farmers. In 1889, however, the recalcitrant legislature refused to appropriate money for experimental projects, and the investigations at the station had to be conducted solely on federal funds. To those who criticized the extravagance of the experimental work, the State Journal retorted


that the state had refused to contribute any money, so "if the government is satisfied with the work done in Nebraska there seems to be no occasion for complaint here." But in general the work did not require to be defended, because the need for it was recognized. Little was known about Nebraska's agricultural potential even as late as the 1880's, and only through experiment and investigation could persistent questions be answered. It was expected that science would shatter some cherished illusions, and on at least one occasion Dean Bessey found himself in trouble on this score. He had repeatedly asserted that clover could not be raised in Nebraska because of climatic limitations, but W. G. Whitmore, an eastern Nebraska farmer and later a regent of the University, felt "compelled to differ from him." Whitmore invited Bessey to his farm and showed him a fine ten-acre stand of clover. Bessey "was not only surprised but delighted by what he saw," and after carefully examining the plot, turned to Whitmore and exclaimed, "A generally accepted theory exploded by a single fact!" In essence, this was the function of the experiment stations and the agricultural colleges—to test theories and to replace them when necessary with closely demonstrated facts. Until this time men such as Whitmore were usually far in advance of the University agricultural "specialists"; but after the enactment of the Hatch Act the balance began to shift and from the experiment stations came vital information concerning the agricultural potential of Nebraska.

The investigations underwritten by the Hatch Act covered a wide range of topics and problems. Extremely important experiments were conducted by Professor Nicholson, who maintained a special interest in sugar beet culture. He secured seeds for the beets from Germany and planted them on farms in various sections of Nebraska. Following harvest, the beets were analyzed for sugar content. As a result of Nicholson's labors, Nebraska farmers for the first time began to show an interest in sugar beets. And while Nicholson conducted this fascinating work, Lawrence Bruner was studying Nebraska's insect pests in order to determine methods of control. Bruner's father had been a member of the University's first board of regents, and it was through him that young Lawrence met Professor Aughey, who first interested him in entomology. From 1878 to 1880 Bruner worked as a government entomologist and from 1880 to 1894 as field agent for the United States Department of Agriculture, Entomological Division. When he came to the University in 1888 he already possessed a reputation for brilliance and thoroughness.

What Nicholson did for sugar beets and Bruner for the control of insect pests, Lewis E. Hicks did for irrigation. When he was appointed professor of geology in 1884, Hicks immediately began to conduct surveys of the state. He was also asked to check on the reports of coal in Nebraska which were rife during the 1880's. A two-thousand-dollar reward had been offered for the discovery of a workable vein, and shafts were sunk virtually at random in the hope of collecting it. As Hicks said, "The people think we have . . . coal and will never stop hunting for [it] in impossible places until a geological survey settles the question." In northeastern Nebraska, where he had been summoned to check some reported coal strike, he examined a number of deep borings and found no evidence of coal, but he did notice that in each shaft a vein of excellent water had been tapped. After further investigation, he concluded that there was a great supply of underground water centering in the Sandhills and running down the Platte Valley in a never ending flow. Professor Hicks at once perceived the relation of this underground water supply to irrigation, and at a time when irrigation authorities were talking only about the supply of surface water—water from streams and reservoirs—Hicks already was talking about tapping this underground water supply. He advocated that it be surveyed, and criticized the federal government for


spending money to study surface water while ignoring the underground "lakes and rivers" that offered the best possibility for irrigation on the Great Plains. As both a scientist and a promoter of irrigation Professor Hicks deserves the gratitude of all Nebraskans.

The Hatch Act stipulated that a portion of the money provided by the federal government should finance publication of station bulletins, and it is easy to trace through the publication of the Nebraska station the increased tempo of experimental work. The bulletins published after 1887 were not the first issued by the University. Both Benton and Fairfield had seen the need for disseminating information about the farm and its work, and in 1883 the University brought out five bulletins which dealt with topics such as apple blight, corn smut, and the diseases of the plum. The first bulletin of the Nebraska station, "Irrigation in Nebraska," was written by Professor Hicks; and in subsequent pamphlets Bruner, Billings, Wing, Bessey, and other members of the station staff discussed their findings. For the first time Nebraska farmers received information which had practical value for them. The bulletins were concrete evidence of the contribution which the University and the experiment station would make to Nebraska agriculture. As one measure of the success of the experiment station, by 1891 requests were coming from all over the state for the creation of substations. Recognizing that Nebraska consisted of several distinctive agricultural regions, the legislature studied the appropriateness of substations, assuming, of course, that the University and the experiment station would provide the personnel to man the new facilities.

Bessey and Agricultural Education

While experiment work got under way at the University and the experiment station, it was Bessey's job to convince farmers that their sons should come to the University. In a series of articles "Education for the Farmer's Boy," which appeared in 1889 in the Nebraska Farmer, Bessey argued that a common school education no longer sufficed for the farmer. The day of the "general farmer" had passed, and specialization was becoming the watchword of agriculture. Only through education could the farmer keep pace with the new trend, and knowledge of scientific agriculture could best be secured at the University, where the farmers' boys would be in the company of "sympathetic and helpful friends [the faculty], most of whom were themselves farmers' boys." Bessey made use of the farmers' institutes as a way of getting his message to the farmers, and the members of the Industrial College faculty and experiment station staff—Bessey, Hicks, Nicholson, and Bruner in particular—appeared at many meetings in the state, frequently paying their own expenses so that they might be present to spread the gospel of scientific agriculture. Appealing to another segment of the public, Bessey in his December, 1888, report to the regents called attention to the relationship between industry and agriculture in Nebraska. His argument has a distinctly modern ring: "Here in Nebraska important industrial problems begin to confront us. What to do with the products of the soil, how to place them upon the market in the best possible form, are questions of equal importance with the production of raw material . . . . The Industrial College will miss half its mission if it does not provide industrial training to the full measure and extent of the growing and diversified industrial pursuits of the Commonwealth." In other words, the University and experiment station could provide answers to the problem of industrial utilization of agricultural products.

But Bessey's promotional efforts did not check the flow of criticism of the Industrial College, which emanated mainly from the legislature. The 1889


session ordered a thorough investigation of both the experiment station and the Industrial College, and the committee appointed to make the study concluded that the college was a total failure—merely an advanced high school; "the superior inducements . . . of the university proper" seduced the agricultural students away. The students studied the general scientific and liberal arts courses for three years and took agricultural courses only in the senior year. Scathing words were reserved for Dr. Billings, "a gentleman supposed by a credulous few to be versed in the comparatively unknown science of bacteriology," who spent a great deal of money seeking to make "a gullible public believe that he had discovered the germ, of an always fatal disease in hogs known as 'hog cholera,' which when inoculated into the tissues of a healthy hog, will act as a neutralizing or preventative agent of 'hog cholera.' " It was the committee's view that the Industrial College should be separated from the University, the money for it to be derived from the agricultural land grant and the Hatch Act. The committee also suggested that the University farm be sold and the proceeds applied to the construction of buildings for the new college.

Shortly after this report was handed in, H.R. 455, calling for the separation of the Agricultural College and the state university, was dropped in the legislative hopper. On this time around the editor of the Omaha Herald performed an about-face and endorsed the bill, since it would "put an end to the scandal which has been attached to the management of the state university." If the farm and the experiment station were to be continued, said the editor, "they should be made something more than an adjunct of the university." Since the separation of the Industrial College from the University would mean a division of funds, an independent governing board for the agricultural and industrial college would be required, and this arrangement the Herald also approved. The editor concluded:

If such a law as is above recommended were in force, the absorption in the past two years of $20,000 of the agricultural college funds by Billings and the Lincoln Journal would not have been possible . . . . Neither would the professors of chemistry, botany, geology and zoology have drawn double salaries, one from the university and the other from the agricultural college, nor would the funds of the latter have been exhausted to furnish and equip the new addition to the university. These notorious abuses should be ended and the way to do it is plainly before the legislature.

A bitter debate accompanied the bill as it moved along the legislature route, and the ingrained antipathy of many legislators toward higher education was apparent all along the line; one representative said that the University "was maintained by the poorest people of the state for the purpose of giving the rich man's son a free education." A handful of legislators came to the University's defense and pointed out that the creation of an independent agricultural college would result in useless duplication, higher costs, and needless rivalry. But even the University's staunchest friends could not answer the criticism of the agricultural program, and several conceded that there was a need to curtail the experimental work and concentrate on offering the kind of education farmers wanted for their children. However, in spite of the clear ascendancy of the University's critics, the legislators could agree only to disagree, and on March 29, the day before the end of the session, the bill was indefinitely postponed. The University had weathered another crisis, but only by the narrowest of margins.

The surprising thing about the 1889 legislative fight was that few lawmakers, no matter how virulently they had attacked the University, had blamed Acting Chancellor Bessey for his problems. This was an important advantage for the


University with his reputation unbesmirched by political dirt, Bessey was in a fine position to expedite reforms. But being spared the agony of personal attack did not blind him to the shortcomings of the Industrial College, nor did it deter him from urging upon the regents the necessity for changes to it. For example, he maintained that all science courses rightfully belonged in the Industrial College. Consistent with his oft-repeated argument that science provided the basis for all agricultural and industrial education, he said that the change would emphasize this principle. Also it would bring a measure of economy, for duplication of offerings would be avoided. The regents' approval of the new arrangement made it appear that there had been a strengthening of the Industrial College, for now the enrollment statistics of the college included those who enrolled for all scientific courses.

The crises of 1885, 1887, and 1889, while very intense and of great importance, did not retard the growth of the University to any discernible degree. Bessey kept a firm hand on university affairs and constantly looked for ways to promote better relations with the agricultural leaders of the state. In December, 1890, he invited a group of these men to talk with him and the Board of Regents about farmers' institutes and cooperation between agricultural organizations and the experiment station. After lengthy discussions, a plan calling for the creation of additional experiment substations across the state was drawn up; although the University would direct operations in the substations, the agricultural societies would be given a voice in their management. But the best measure of the University's progress in these years is to be found in the pages of the Nebraska Farmer. Consult any issue of the early 1890's and you will find articles about the University and its work in scientific agriculture. The writers without hesitation declared that the day of scientific agriculture had arrived. If they were right, men such as Bessey, Nicholson, Hicks, and even the irascible Billings had hastened the dawn of a new day for Nebraska agriculture.

During his tenure as acting chancellor, Bessey directed the University along the path that Chancellor Manatt had laid out. He did not permit a cloud of pessimism and defeatism to envelop the campus, although the University's record of three chancellors and two acting chancellors in twenty years might seem to justify some gloom. But there is ample evidence that by 1891 the University was passing from the darkness to the light and that public interest in the institution was on the upsurge. Governor John M. Thayer in his inaugural address, to cite one example, called upon the legislature to give the financial support the University needed to achieve excellence. Never before had the state's chief executive addressed the legislature in such strong terms in the University's behalf. "A modern University has many departments," Thayer said, "and it takes a long time and much work and money to bring together the necessary facilities in them all." Already a few Nebraskans were talking about the "Big Four" of the land-grant universities—Michigan, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Nebraska—and even though their elevation of the University to this status was premature, there was justification for the belief that it could be attained in the near future. Manatt and Bessey had worked effectively to lay the foundation for a modern university, and what was needed now was a man who could build upon this foundation. The man appeared—James H. Canfield, who assumed the post of chancellor in July, 1891.



The 1890's, A Time of Decision

In many ways the decade of the nineties is the most interesting period in the history of the University of Nebraska, for during these years it was transformed from a small frontier college into a major institution. All over the nation mighty forces of educational reform were stirring, and the University had to respond to the challenge of the times or face the prospect of decline and eventual extinction. The historian Allan Nevins has written that the chief task of the land-grant institutions at this time was to establish their character as unique, to make themselves useful to their states in new ways as "community service centers," and to gain some of the distinction traditionally associated with universities. But one must recognize that all institutions of higher learning in the United States - not only the land-grant colleges and universities - were altering their functions and philosophies.

So far as the land-grant schools were concerned, there was till the need to define and assert their place in the academic firmament. Critics, especially traditional academicians who had never accepted the land-grant concept, objected to professional and industrial training courses, which performed no academic function of importance either in teaching or in research. But the land-grant idea had eloquent supporters, none more articulate than George E. Howard, who, in an 1891 Atlantic Monthly article, urged American educators to stop looking to Europe for their models and to think in terms of the knowledge needed to meet the problems of a modern, industrial-urban world. The goal of the land-grant university, he said, must be to provide the means for achieving new goals and resolving new problems. The academic rules laid down in medieval times must be discarded, for the twentieth-century world would demand a new kind of education.

Whether or not they were aware of the existing philosophical ferment, visitors to the campus in the 1890s were impressed by the earnest attitude of students and faculty. An air of purpose permeated the buildings, and the ornate iron fence which surrounded the campus after 1891 seemed to proclaim that no outside distractions would be permitted to intrude upon those laboring within. University Hall and the newer buildings were thronged with students pursuing a wide range of academic and practical courses. Professor H.H. Nicholson and a brilliant woman professor, Rachel Lloyd, who had joined the faculty in 1888, presided over the Chemical Laboratory. Newly built Grant Hall symbolized the land-grant university's devotion to the citizen soldier-scholar. And in Nebraska Hall, the home of the Industrial College, labored "the four busy B's


Bessey, Bruner, Brace and Barbour, whose names are household words in Nebraska." At night the campus was bathed in the glow of arc lights powered by the University's own generators and maintained by electrical engineering students.

Enrollment statistics1 show a gain during all but one year of this decade:

Academic Year Number of Students

1890-1891 570

1891-1892 883

1892-1893 1,086

1893-1894 1,332

1894-1895 1,550

1895-1896 1,506

1896-1897 1,653

1897-1898 1,915

1898-1899 1,946

Buildings and additional faculty were desperately needed, and as early as 1889 Acting Chancellor Bessey had proposed operating the University on a twelve-month basis to solve the problem of shortage of classroom space and teachers. He urged this solution so often and so vigorously that he became known as "the father of the all-around University year." Bessey also urged the regents to plan for a greatly enlarged campus. For his own part, he wanted to stop building on the downtown campus and prepare to move the University to the farm.

The growth of the University through the 1880's and the early 1890's corresponded with a period of optimistic growth in Nebraska, and Lincoln became a prairie boom town, attracting such enterprising young men as Charles G. Dawes and William Jennings Bryan. But in 1893 a severe depression, again aggravated by drought and grasshoppers, descended upon the countryside. The times were cruelly hard. In the panic year of 1893, Mrs. James H. Canfield, the Chancellor's wife, and other prominent Lincoln women planned a soup kitchen at 12th and H streets. They hoped to dispense nourishing soup at a low cost to the hungry. Economic catastrophe produced new political developments; and the destiny of Nebraska and the University passed into the hands of a new crop of political leaders, who, although known by various names—Independents, Fusionists, Populists—were alike in insisting that they were going to promote economic reform in the state. And yet the depression, hard times, and changing political picture did not arrest the University's growth. In 1897 it ranked fourteenth in size among the three hundred American universities and colleges. Moreover, the scholastic achievements of the University commanded national attention. During the nineties Nebraskans referred to their university as "the Best in the West," and claimed that it ranked with Minnesota, Michigan and Wisconsin. And it is true that the University did make amazing strides during the decade, but what is most significant is that these achievements came during the worst depression that had ever struck the state.

The experience of the 1890's was to be repeated in later periods of economic stagnation, and we can see now that one of the major functions of a western land-grant university was to provide a safety valve for the young people from the rural areas who wanted to escape the destitution and hopelessness that enveloped the land. University enrollment statistics show a startling increase in the number of farm boys and girls who came to Lincoln in the 1890's. In

1 These figures show total enrollment. The enrollment of full-time students at the collegiate level was as follows: 1890-1891—488; 1891-1892—800; 1892-1893—1,001; 1893-1894—1,256; 1894-1895—1,347; 1895-1896—1,299; 1896-1897—1,498; 1897-1898—1,673; 1898-1899—1,679.


contrast with the two preceding decades, when primarily only urban young people matriculated. The motto of the University under Chancellor James H. Canfield become "If you cannot earn, you at least can learn"'; and it was due in great part to Canfield's inspiring leadership that the University developed so surprisingly during those drab depression years.

Chancellor James H. Canfield

By 1891 many of the obstacles that had previously retarded the University's growth had been removed. The public school system was on the verge of producing hundreds of well-trained students anxious to enter the University - there were almost four times as many accredited high schools in 1900 as in 1890 - and the agricultural and industrial curricula were beginning to take on a semblance of rational form. "Happily the time was ripe for a great forward movement," wrote Howard H. Caldwell, "and more happily still the right man for the work to be done stepped into place." This was James H. Canfield, who took "the unorganized material for a great university,... put all into the fiery furnace of his enthusiasm, and in four years brought forth results that were simply amazing."

Credit for securing Canfield goes to Dean Bessey, who, during a regents' meeting in April, 1891, announced that he would resign rather than continue as acting chancellor. Asked whom he would recommend for the position of chancellor, Bessey suggested Canfield, a professor of history and English literature at the State University of Kansas. Bessey and Regent Gere had a meeting with Canfield in Kansas City, keeping it secret at Canfield's request, and after an all-night conversation in a hotel room, Gere "virtually tendered him the chancellorship." Three days later Canfield came up to see the University, still on the q.t., and shortly wrote to say that he would accept the post. He was elected by the regents at their June meeting, and spoke at the commencement exercises on June 10. Canfield proved himself a capable orator despite having to speak over the noise of a steam pump which was draining the basement of University Hall, flooded by a rainstorm the previous evening.

The son of a leading Episcopal clergyman, Canfield was born in Ohio and reared in New England. He was one of the mean who, in the words of Laurence R. Veysey, "went west as a deliberate act of rebellion against gentility." After his graduation from Williams College in 1868, he brought himself a ticket as far west as his money would allow, which turned out to be Iowa, and there got a job on the railroad, eventually becoming division superintendent with the Chicago, Burlington and St. Paul Railroad. He was admitted to the bar in 1872, and in 1877 joined the faculty of the State University of Kansas. Outspoken and independent, he gained the respect of the students and the enmity of the state's conservative political leaders, who disliked his support of free trade. Despite harassment by politicians - on several occasions the legislature reportedly appropriated funds for the university with the stipulation that none of the money could go for Canfield's salary - he enjoyed great influence in Kansas. He is credited with getting the high school movement under way there, and he became a leading exponent of what has been called the "unity" philosophy of higher education Canfield was no ivory-tower academician; he wanted to see the state universities involved with the problems and aspirations of the people, and he enthusiastically endorsed programs which were anathema to the traditionalists.

In his letter to Bessey accepting the Nebraska position, Canfield included a clear statement of his educational principles. First and most important, Canfield said that a state university is "an integral part of the great public school system."


The institution belonged to the people; it must "minister to the needs of the greatest number." Therefore the state university must remain in close contact with primary and secondary schools, recognizing that it would advance only as the quality of public education improved. The state university "must lead in this advancement; it must quicken and inspire the entire school system." Defining his own position, Canfield said a chancellor should possess sufficient powers to carry out the general policies promulgated by the regents. They would take care of the general position, and he would take care of the details. In regard to the chancellor's relation with the faculty, Canfield said he should strive to provide the best environment for teaching and for research; he should work for harmony; he should shield them from unjust attacks and encourage them with praise. To the students the chancellor "is the father of the University family . . . who has forgotten neither his youth nor his blunders." And to the people of the state, he must be the link to the University. He must hear their complaints and requests and attempt to direct the University in ways compatible with their wishes as far as possible, and he must find ways of "drawing them from mere indifference to active co-operation."

For the next four years Canfield devoted his boundless energy to the University. "A teacher and a great advertiser," he sold the University to the state, traveling at least ten thousand miles annually to bring the University's message to women's clubs, farmers' institutes, teachers' meetings—any place where a group of citizens gathered. "I may not know the University from Alpha to Omega," he said, "but I know it from Arapahoe to Omaha." His success as a public relations man stemmed in no small amount from his personality. His democratic and unassuming manner quickly made him a hero both to the students and to the people of the state. Every student counted him as a friend and adviser, and the farmers found in him a man who understood their problems. He made them see that the University was as much a part of the state's public school system as the elementary schools

—"The University is only the upper grades of this work; the faculty are simply teachers in other rooms from those occupied by the teachers in the graded schools or in the district schools" was how he put it. One western Nebraska newspaper assured its readers that their University was meeting its responsibilities to educate, to investigate, and to inform, and that it was "far in advance of the other colleges in the East." And every Nebraska young person had the opportunity to attend this rising university. For as little as $175 a semester a student could live in Lincoln, and the tuition, of course, was free. Such sayings as the following expressed Canfield's view of democratic public education:

Any young man or woman who has finished the course in a good country school may enter the University and find the educational work and a welcome . . . .

Higher education—a possible luxury to the rich but a necessity to the poor.

Education of the people, by the people, for the people.

A University should be a place where any man can learn anything.

Although some members of the faculty felt that Canfield was oversimplifying the education process, the success of his campaign to secure popular support for the institution cannot be denied. His enthusiasm was contagious, and he reported that he found the scarlet and cream, the University's colors, prominently displayed wherever he went in the state. "The woods are full of University people nowadays wherever one goes," he said. After Canfield had been chancellor only a year, one editor remarked: "The new interest taken by all the people, the increased mention in the state press, the kindlier feeling on every side as the helpfulness of


the institution is felt,the hearty support given by all industrial and agricultural associations, the good words spoken by the most prominent men in the state, and last and best the swarm of students that is even now settling down on the campus; all this shows that the work is not in vain." In later years only winning football coaches could generate such enthusiasm.

Charter Day, February 15, 1894, marked the University's quarter centennial, and the anniversary was celebrated over the period of a week. A carnival spirit prevailed in Lincoln, and even the traditionally hostile Omaha press referred to the capital city as the "Ann Arbor of the West." Lincoln shops ran out of scarlet and cream bunting; Miller and Paine's department store telegraphed to neighboring cities for all the goods that could be shipped to them. An entire issue of the Hesperian was given over to the University's accomplishments, and all had praise for Willa Cather, the student editor in charge of the quarter-centennial issue. Literary society meetings, alumni gatherings, speeches, and banquets marked the exciting week. Professor L. A. Sherman's "Founders' Hymn" was performed by an orchestra, chorus, and the audience:

Upon this wild and lone frontier

Behold the edifice we rear—

With yet homes to call our own;

Men shall not live by bread alone.

We raise the cloisters richly right,

Casting a dim religious light;

We will no student monks or nuns,

We build for daughters as for sons.

Here shall our youth know what is known,

Here grow to heights great men have grown;

Here some shall make themselves a name,

Here some be known to old world fame.

Here shall our State take earliest pride,

Herein first match states beside;

Hence men shall go to strengthen hands,

And build up lore in older lands.

A generation hence shall be

New builders, bold of faith as we;

For millions yet shall crowd these fields,

And claim the best our culture yields.

Speakers at the quarter-centennial celebration emphasized the part played by Chancellor Canfield in bringing the University to its high position. And he had ambitious plans for the future. By 1900 he hoped to see the campus covered with new buildings arranged in an academic quadrangle, which would include classrooms and laboratories, a completed library, and a convention hall. In the 1894 student annual, the Sombrero, Canfield wrote of his vision: ". . . as you stand and gaze, possibly with some surprise at the transformation that has taken place, from the tower of Convention Hall the hour is chimed by cathedral bells, the gift of the Omaha alumni." Old-time supporters of the University might be able to imagine new buildings and equipment—but to imagine the Omaha alumni contributing required a very active imagination.

The Canfield years were a watershed in the University's history. Administratively, the Chancellor set a new pattern. His concern was not alone for the


academic side of the University, but also with the larger interests that involved public and legislative support. And he was read to take bold steps to make the University an intellectual center. He tried to establish a series of annual "University Lectures" in which persons of national and international reputation would participate. In 1894 he invited a socialist, Iowa professor George D. Herron, to deliver the commencement address. Although Herron's speech caused an uproar, Canfield continued to insist that the University must provide a market place for ideas, even tough they might be radical and disturbing.

Canfield gave to the University strong personal leadership, but not substantial reform or original direction. He admitted that he sought to build upon the work of his predecessors, and he felt that his principal role was that of a promoter. Academicians were disturbed by his wish to popularize higher education, but in 1891 what the University needed was not a scholar-- such men as Edgren, Caldwell, Sherman, Barbour, and Bessey would uphold and promote high academic standards-- but a dynamic leader who could define the University to the public and enlist its support. No mate who the academicians grumbled, Canfield saw the crucial point: public support came only when the taxpayers were convinced they were getting something for their money; and from 1891 to 1895 he covered the state, preaching the gospel of the University as it had never been preached before. Some people thought he might be trying to lay the basis for a political career, but Canfield replied, "My entire political creed, my entire political activity, can be summed up in a single sentence: A thousand students in the state university in 1895; 2,000 in 1900." Naturally, he encountered opposition: politicians continued to distrust his motives; newspaper editors suggested that at heart he was a socialist, if not an anarchist; an on the campus professors muttered that numbers and hoopla did not make a university. But Canfield moved too fast for his critics to pin him in an embarrassing corner. As a result, his tenure as chancellor was remarkably free of turmoil, and the announcement of his resignation, which came in the summer of 1895, shocked the University and the state. Students were particularly unhappy, for their admiration of "Jimmy" was deep and sincere. Many years later, Alvin Johnson, an undergraduate i the nineties and later a noted educator, asked Canfield "why he had deserted." Canfield smiled and said, "You know, Nebraska boasted of the fact that no Chancellor could last with them for more than five years. Perhaps I simply left when the going was good." By leaving when he did Canfield made a maximum impression upon the University-- that much is certain. He had consolidated the place of higher education in Nebraska and had given it new impetus.

Chancellor George E. MacLean

Canfield's resignation to accept the presidency of the state university of Ohio came like "a thunder clap out of a clear sky" to the regents. They urged him to reconsider, but he remained firm and proposed as his successor George E. MacLean, professor of English at the University of Minnesota, who, like Canfield, had attended Williams College. Acting upon Canfield's recommendation, the regents invited MacLean to Lincoln and offered him the post of chancellor, which he accepted(2). Judging by MacLean's background, he was well qualified for his new duties. Following his graduated from Williams, he had studied at


2: Before the post of chancellor was offered to MacLean, an unofficial feeler was sent to a promising young Princeton professor, Woodrow Wilson; it was conveyed by Professor Caldwell, who knew Wilson professionally. Wilson replied that he was flattered by the invitation, but had to decline because he was involved in a writing project that consumed his entire attention.


the Yale Theological School, and he held a master's degree from Williams and a Ph.D. from the University of Leipzig. He began his professional life as a minister, but in 1884 went to the University of Minnesota, where he showed a special interest in administration and university extension work. He said that he had accepted the Nebraska offer "at a considerable sacrifice" because he believed in the future of the University. "Chancellor Canfield has left things in excellent condition and that encourages me to take hold of his work," said MacLean, and added, "It will be difficult to follow him, but I would rather succeed a good man than a poor one." And indeed the popular, personable Canfield was a hard man to follow, especially since MacLean did not have the qualities that endeared Canfield to Nebraskans. From the outset he labored under this unfortunate handicap.

In a ninety-minute inaugural address he outlined the history of the land-grant colleges and their development. In MacLean's view, the need to combine technical training with traditional academic achievement was the principal challenge to the land-grant university. He said the regents were establishing secondary technological schools in agriculture and dairying and mechanical arts, so that enrollment would increase in the corresponding areas in the University. He felt that graduate studies were important for any university, as was extension work. In essence, he wanted to build a "New University" whose motto would be "Culture and Agriculture." The reaction to his proposals is suggested by Alvin Johnson, in his autobiography, Pioneer's Progress. Johnson had come to the University from a farm in northeastern Nebraska, and he knew from bitter experience the deficiencies of the state's primary and secondary schools. He wrote that in place of Chancellor Canfield:

we got a handsome man who pronounced culture "cultcha" and informed us

in his inaugural that hitherto the university had laid stress on quantity, but

now it meant to stress quality.

That did not sit well with us. For the university, in the eyes of the faculty--

except for late recruits from the East-- and also in the eyes of the more

awakened students, had a mission: to bring the light of education and

culture to the prairie. We who knew Nebraska knew that need. . . . It was the

chief mission of the university, as we saw it, to train young men and women

and send them out to man the grade schools and eventually the high


Yet even though MacLean never won the hearts of either the students or the citizens, many of the programs he spoke of were achieved. This was thanks in large measure to the presence on the Board of Regents of C. H. Morrill, an astute politician and businessman, who was able to steer MacLean through the treacherous years of the Populist Revolt. During the MacLean administration the University's graduate training became the best available in the West; the movement of preparatory work in agriculture and mechanic arts gained positive direction; and the work of the University with teachers and adult students through extension courses and summer sessions brought immediate and visible results. But the political situation worked against him; and in June, 1899, when Populist and Fusionist members of the Board of Regents refused to endorse a resolution upholding his work, MacLean very wisely decided "this was a notice to quit." He accepted the presidency of the University of Iowa, where he believed "a larger field of work" awaited him. For the second time, Dean Bessey took over as acting chancellor while the Board of Regents searched for a man who would lead the University to higher levels of academic accomplishment.


The Populist Revolt

Drought and depression in the 1890's reduced many farmers to ruin; and out of their despair and desperation came the so-called Populist Revolt, a movement essentially political in nature which sought to secure economic justice for the agrarian sector of society. Recently a number of writers have shown a renewed interest in Populism, and have concluded that its followers were narrow, parochial men motivated by xenophobia, bigotry, and anti-intellectualism. Since the Populists held the balance of political power in Nebraska during the 1890's and on several occasions secured control of the state legislature, the state might serve as a test case for these assumptions. But our concern here is with the Populists' attitude toward higher education in general and the University of Nebraska in particular during these years of political turmoil and economic uncertainty.

There is considerable evidence to support the view that the Nebraska Populists were deeply interested in education. Significant portions of their legislative program were given over to education matters, and Populist spokesmen pleaded for the election of Populist regents so that the University would be directed toward the practical educational goals desired by the farmers. It irked them that University instructors embraced traditional educational theories when, as they saw it, the depression of the nineties clearly indicated the need for a major overhauling of the American economic system and a drastic revision of conventional educational theory. Like all interest groups, the agrarian leaders wanted the University to teach ideas and philosophies consonant with their fundamental beliefs. As the editor of the Populist Nebraska Independent said, "The farmers of this state want the University to be kept at the highest standard. They are willing to tax themselves to the limit of endurance to do it . . . but they want the students taught science." By "science" the editor meant the presentation of economic ideas and principles acceptable to the Populists. They consistently maintained that the University should train young people in the trades and professions that were needed in Nebraska, and they wanted more emphasis on agricultural education. The Populist regents, said the Independent, will know "what it is possible for the university to do for the agricultural interests . . . . They will be satisfied only with the realization of a western university adapted to western needs and for western people."

If the University provided the "proper kind of education," the Populists were willing to give it support—much more support than their Republican opponents were willing to grant. In fact, their opponent repeatedly accused them of extravagance in their expenditure of state funds. To be sure, the sessions of the legislature controlled by these prairie insurgents and their allies generally did appropriate funds than the Republican-dominated sessions. But the Populists rejected the charge of irresponsibility, saying that extraordinary circumstances demanded the allocation of increased funds. Farmers needed help to recover from the drought and grasshopper incursions; an Indian outbreak in Dakota necessitated an unusual expenditure; and the University and other state institutions surely needed additional financial support. Again and again Populist editors said that there should be no educational cutback. They insisted that rural children deserved educational opportunities at least equal to those enjoyed by urban children, and they heavily subscribed to Chancellor Fairfield's argument that the University and all the public schools existed to benefit all the people. It gratified them to hear Canfield say that the University of Nebraska was overtaking and surpassing eastern institutions. "The east still fondly dreams that its learning is greater," said the Alliance-Independent in 1894, "but the star of truth which leads to all education now rests over this part of the country."


Since their children demanded higher education, the Populists preferred to have them studying close to home where the form and substance of their education could be supervised.

Nevertheless, few Populists talked about actively intervening in the internal affairs of the University. There would be little need for interference, said Populist spokesmen, if the University would only fulfill the objectives of the Morrill Act. They conceded that Chancellor Canfield had tried to bring the University into touch with the needs of the farmers, but even Canfield could not solve the agricultural problem and his successor was obviously less interested in the plight of rural Nebraska. Although MacLean traversed the state talking about "culture and agriculture," the Nebraska Independent assumed he meant that the farmers were "cultured" only in the sense that they were being "plowed" by the Chancellor. The populists placed the blame for the University's failure to attack the agricultural problems squarely upon the Republican party, which had controlled the Board of Regents since 1889. Although the Populists actively participated in the campaign to elect regents during the 1890's, the Republicans continued to dominate the Board of Regents until the Populists secured a majority in 1900.

Universities in other states—Kansas, for example—suffered acutely from the struggle for power between Populists and conservatives, but fortunately the University was spared this kind of upheaval. In November, 1897, the editor of the staunchly Republican State Journal declared: "Republicans have religiously kept politics out of the university. It is tolerably well known that the leaders of the fusionists are very desirous of getting possession of the management so as to "clean out the university." That means to run that institution for the sole purpose of giving party workers a job at the expense of the state." He went on to say that Populists and Fusionist leaders "have shown this year that they cannot be trusted when it is a question of bread and butter for their side of the political fence," but he conceded that so far they did not control the Board of Regents and so could not take over the University. By the end of the decade Populists and Republican legislators joined in advocating the non-partisan election of regents.

When political opposition to the University developed within the legislature during these hectic years, it tended to coalesce around individuals rather than party banners. Prominent among the University's opponents at this time was W. J. Taylor, a Populist representative from Custer County, who called himself the people's "watchdog of the treasury" and was known to his opponents as "Crook-Neck." Frequently his attacks were based on misinformation. For example, during one legislative session he took the floor to assail the University for waste and extravagance. He declared that the University Catalogue stated six professors were employed in the Department of Botany to teach "four scholars." University people hastened to explain to him that the term "scholar" referred to the graduate students who assisted the professors with their classes. The actual number of students enrolled in botany courses ran into hundreds.

In the spring of 1897 one brief argument flared which possessed political overtones. Populist editors charged that the dismissal of Professor H. K. Wolfe from the faculty came as a result of his father's election to a state office on the Populist ticket. The Nebraska Independent offered this comment:

There is not an institution in the state that so justly merits the pride of all citizens as the Nebraska State University . . . . It has as a rule escaped the changes usually following a change in the political control of the state. All political parties have vied with each other in an effort to exhibit the greatest liberality . . . Notwithstanding the hard times the populist legislature of this year [1897] appropriated


more money for the support of the university than has ever been appropriated by any other legislature in the history of the state. The populist party has always favored education and educational institutions. It was the more surprising that the last legislature should be so liberal with the university when it was well known that the present chancellor [MacLean] was a pronounced and active gold-bug 3 engaged for the place by a board of regents always overwhelmingly republican. It was their love for education and their admiration for the University that prompted them to do it at https://promotiaphari.com. All this is called to mind by the recent hasty and apparently unwarranted action of the board of regents in dismissing Prof. H. K. Wolfe. . . .

A Populist convention in Custer County, the heart of the farm revolt country, denounced the dismissal of men from educational institutions on the basis of their social and economic beliefs; there was also a student protest and petition. Then the president of the Board of Regents issued a statement that the dismissal of Wolfe came upon the unanimous decision of the Board—including the two Fusionist members—and that there was nothing political in the matter. Wolfe was later reinstated.

In 1898 the Populists and Fusionists grew dissatisfied with MacLean's administration of the University, and criticism of the Chancellor increased measurably. For one thing, MacLean refused to employ women on the faculty, and he had dismissed one young female librarian, "a dear girl," and replaced her with a man from the East. This particularly infuriated the Populists, who hated MacLean's preference for eastern scholars and teachers. The resignation of Professor F. W. Card from the chair of horticulture proved the Populists' case, for Card was "no dude; and it is rumored that the shams and pretenses in the management of the institution made him very tired." The Populist dissatisfaction with MacLean, the "gold-bug," the "aristocrat," and the "purveyor of culture," contributed to the circumstances that prompted the Chancellor's resignation, which happened to come just as the Fusionist-Republican quarrel heated up to unprecedented intensity. If the Fusionists could elect two additional regents in 1899 they would gain control of the Board, and it appeared that the appointment of MacLean's successor might involve a bitter partisan fight.

The terms of Canfield and MacLean, then, coincided with the years of the Populist Revolt, and the University unquestionably felt the impact of this political upsurge. Nebraska Populists did not oppose the University. They supported it to achieve certain goals: to provide educational opportunities for their children, to give them the kind of education that would benefit them as future farmers, and to encourage the development of a university that would be of service to an agricultural state. They insisted that the University must be responsive to the demands of "the plain people who support it"; and this meant emphasis on agricultural education, a democratic spirit, and "western" teachers instead of the incompetents of New England and Virginia." While the limited, parochial viewpoint of the Populists may indeed effect a strain of anti-intellectualism, the fact remains that through years of hardship and financial distress the Populists provided the University with unprecedented financial support, without meddling to any degree in its administration.

Legislative Battles of the 1890's

The anomaly of a university expanding during a period of economic distress produced many legislative problems. The prospect of securing additional money

3 The name "goldbug" alludes to the free-silver controversy. A goldbug was one who upheld the gold standard as opposed to proponents of the free and unlimited coinage of silver at a 16-to-1 ratio.


from the legislature seemed remote, and yet the needs of the University continued to multiply. Buildings were in bad repair and more buildings were needed; faculty salaries were extraordinarily low; and even the most obvious needs of the University were being ignored. The problem of space reached crisis proportions first, and in 1892 the regents reported that the University would no longer be able to finance construction from the general University appropriation. From now on it would depend on the legislature to provide money for new buildings from the state's general fund. Given the unprecedented and unpredictable enrollment sine 1889, the regents said, it was virtually impossible to foresee with any accuracy the detailed financial needs of the institution. They wanted the legislature to give them two lump sums: one for general and current expenses, the other for salaries and wages. This would allow a measure of flexibility in meeting financial needs.

The depression created another serious financial problem in that the three-eighths-mill levy did not produce the anticipated revenue. When the law was enacted it was assumed that as the University's financial requirements increased, a corresponding rise in the total assessed value of property in the state would bring in additional money. But during the prolonged depression, property values declined and the tax revenues declined with them. Moreover, there was the great problem of delinquent taxes. Perhaps the day-to-day operation of the University could be maintained by the tax revenue, the regents said, but certainly there would be nothing available for new buildings and new faculty members.

In his outgoing message to the legislature delivered in January, 1893, Democratic Governor James Boyd discussed the "phenomenal" growth of the University and endorsed the regents' request for construction funds from the general fund. "This change of financial policy seems to be a matter of necessity rather than of choice," he remarked. But the new governor, Republican Lorenzo Crounse, rejected this line of argument. According to Crounse, the people of Nebraska were accustomed to "hard work, frugality and economy," and they demanded that their lawmakers display the same qualities. "The tendency of the day," said the new governor, "is toward extravagance, and it nowhere manifests itself more than in the conduct of public affairs. Extravagance begets extravagance. An unwarranted or too liberal appropriation of today forms the precedent for tomorrow, and I submit to you whether your predecessors have not already passed the high water mark." As a result of the untoward liberality of the Independents who had controlled the 1891 session, Crounse said, the state had reached the limits of solvency. He urged the legislature to practice the most rigid economy and to trim at least three-quarters of a million dollars from the budget of the previous biennium. The legislature finally appropriated $231,250 for the University, a figure somewhat above Crounse's recommendation, but still not adequate to meet the University's growth plans. As one Lincoln editor commented: "The plans for the library building, which is not to be completed; for the convention hall, which is not to be begun; and for the mechanic arts building, which doesn't seem to have even been thought of by the legislature, have been returned to the chancellor's office as mementoes of the winter's campaign and for possible use two years hence."

But during the ensuing year matters went from bad to worse. Enrollment continued to climb, and Chancellor Canfield presented a special report to the regents at their December meeting to impress them with the seriousness of the problem. "All the conditions here at present are full of embarrassment and limitation," Canfield said. Classrooms were overcrowded and faculty overworked, and only by patience and tolerance had friction been avoided. Canfield suggested various changes, including the suspension of the Latin School. The


regents agreed that the situation was intolerable and several argued that the University would be forced "to incur indebtedness to prevent disaster." In a letter early that summer to the Governor, Canfield stated that the University desperately needed additional financial support. "It is probably the most anomalous and unusual condition of affairs ever known in education," he said, for while other institutions spent their time, money, and energy to increase attendance, the Universe of Nebraska was considering "the necessity of reducing attendance, because we cannot house the students." According to the Chancellor, "It is not only a strange but an incredible thing that a state government should not keep pace with the demands of its own people for higher education." He said that in the past three years the enrollment in the University had jumped from about 450 students to almost 1,300, yet during this same period revenue had increased less than a thousand dollars a year, and there had been no additional money provided for buildings. "It is simply impossible . . . to prolong this state of affairs," Canfield concluded.

The Chancellor took his battle to the people of the state, and also called on the alumni to do battle for their alma mater. In a circular mailed to alumni, the support given to the state universities in California, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, and Minnesota was compared with that provided for the University of Nebraska. "No other state has treated its University so shabbily, as to buildings," it was asserted. Alumni were urged "to talk, write, inform, agitate" so that the forthcoming legislature should be persuaded to enact a capital building levy of a half mill. The prospects for such a levy being voted by the 1895 legislature were dire indeed. Editors endorsed the plan of retiring Governor Crounse, for continued economy. The new governor, Fusionist Silas Holcomb, also asked for economy, but he warned against "such parsimony as will curtail the usefulness of state institutions." Since the legislature was overwhelmingly controlled by the Republicans, the Governor's plea probably had little effect.

The regents requested $440,000 for a special building fund, pointing out that the state had provided only $25,000 in building funds since the University opened in 1871. All other money for new construction had been drawn from proceeds from the sale of University-owned property and other funds of the University accounts. The University had no surplus and needed its funds for current expenses. The state now must assume responsibility for putting up needed new buildings. The alternative was to turn away young Nebraskans, clamoring for entrance into the University. When one legislator argued that without additional funds the University would lose its most able faculty members, another responded that the money could be better spent at the local level in support of county high schools. At one point a legislator suggested that Chancellor Canfield should be invited to address the House, but this proposal was rejected upon the motion of a member who said that if Canfield came to plead the cause of the University, Bill Paxton should be admitted to present the arguments of the stockyard operators against a stockyard control bill then under consideration. At this point, the argument degenerated into a pointless parade of charges and allegations, one representative, for example, launching a general attack upon the morals of the University students and proposing that the institution be moved to Scotia, where a proper moral atmosphere prevailed. Finally, it was suggested that the enrollment of the University be restricted upon the basis of the amount of University taxes paid by each county. The uproar provided by this suggestion ended only when it was moved that the budget bill be tabled.

Debate in the Senate followed the same pattern, although there was one startling development—a member of the Douglas County delegation gave his unqualified support to increase funds for the University. Perhaps this help con

vince skeptical senators, and the Senate passed a surprisingly liberal appropriation bill: $73,000 for the completion of the library; $196,295 for salaries; and $30,850 for current expenses. By a considerable margin the House accepted the Senate's decision, and University supporters conceded that the University had been treated in a most generous fashion. They also acknowledged that the University for the first time had done something to help itself. Canfield, the regents, and many alumni had brought direct pressure to bear upon the legislators, and the Chancellor later recalled that he must have traveled several thousand miles in the corridors of the capitol during the session. Old-timers in the University were surprised when a number of legislators toured the campus during Charter Week in order to gain a firsthand impression of the University and its needs. The State Journal reported that in University Hall there was a large graph showing the rising student enrollment, the line running off at the top of the sign. Underneath was the legend: "No room on the canvas nor in the building for the rest." Certainly the students and faculty appreciated the appropriation, which permitted the completion of the library. The building, which opened for use in December, 1895, was billed as "one of the best appointed University buildings of the kind in the United States."

After the session Canfield told the regents, "We shall now hold our own and hold it strongly and successfully to the end of the biennium." But he was mistaken. Nebraska's economy continued to decline, and crop failures during the summer of 1895 promised to produce a further reduction in tax revenues. As a result, the University came to the 1897 session of the legislature again proclaiming that a crisis had developed. During this session, however, the regents were much less aggressive, for they realized that the state was nearly prostrate; but they were forced to ask the legislature for funds for additional classroom buildings if enrollment was not to be restricted. Governor Holcomb told the Fusionist-dominated legislature that the eyes of the nation were upon it because Republicans had declared that the Fusionists would enact laws repudiating debts and canceling contacts. Holcomb asked the legislature to act responsibly and in particular to study the urgent needs of the University. He endorsed the request for an appropriation for a building program, and he urged the lawmakers to give "this highly useful institution a liberal support, sufficient to maintain its various departments unimpaired."

The budget moved through the legislature smoothly. An appropriation of thirty thousand dollars to begin work on a mechanic arts building passed the House. Attacks upon Lincoln, Chancellor MacLean, and the student body hardly developed beyond scattered comments; and, with scarcely an objection, the Senate approved the University's expanded budget. In a gesture of great generosity, the legislature even provided an extra forty-two thousand dollars to make up the shrinkage in the tax levy. But while Chancellor MacLean appreciated their circumstances, he also knew that the budget and building levy would meet only the minimal needs of the University. New sources of income must be found, and he suggested that an alumni endowment fund be established. He also suggested that the legislature bring the assessment values of the state's property to an honest adjustment. But whatever the means employed, the University must have more money. "It might take the University a quarter of a century to regain its rank if it should be crippled at this time," the regents said. "The University has outgrown its income and the time has arrived for the legislature to make some sensible provision for the adequate support of the institution."

When the 1899 legislative session opened, the lawmakers, in defiance of tradition, made the University budget their first business. Appropriations bills


were usually considered during the last days of the session, but University spokesmen said that if sufficient funds were not allocated, the institution would be forced to make some immediate adjustments--in other words, restrict enroll

ment for the second semester. The regents presented a comprehensive financial program. They desired the legislature to revise, amend, and consolidate all statutes concerning University operations so that more efficient methods of operation could be installed. They also requested that the legislature provide means by which gifts and bequests could be accepted by the University "in a manner to encourage as much as possible such benefactions." Finally, they asked for a substantial boost in the University's appropriations. The regents hoped that the legislature would approve a one-mill levy for the University, but the opposition was furious. "Crook-Neck" Taylor charged that the one-mill levy would make the University independent of the legislature, and he refused to modify his opinion even when informed that there would be no change in the arrangement by which the legislature appropriated all Univer

sity funds. University supporters, however, pointed out that the purpose of the one-mill levy was to give the University the support it absolutely required without forcing the legislature to make up the difference between the needs of the insti

tution and the income from the three-eighths-mill levy. For the first time alumni who were members of the legislature played a major role in the legislative debates, and in both houses they pressed the claims of the University as just, fair, and necessary. The House passed the one-mill levy by a vote of seventy-seven to seventeen; the Senate by twenty-six to six. The State Journal declared, "This marks the beginning of the new. It means a long step toward the building in Nebraska of the foremost university of the trans-Mississippi region." The editor of the Hesperian added: "This puts the University on a moving financial basis. Such a source of revenue to the University is enough to make any university rejoice, and well may we join in words of exultation and say with Judge Dales, 'Now we are going to have a University here.' " Elated University supporters received a rude awakening when the House attempted to cut the University appropriation to a level substantially below that granted in 1897. This immediately revealed the hollowness of the one-mill

levy victory, for the legislature still retained the power to appropriate the Uni

versity's funds. The regents requested $242,000 for salaries; the House wanted to cut the figure below $200,000. Tempers flared and there were heated ex

changes. One member complained that the state farm was "a play ground of 320 acres operated at great expense to the state." Taylor attacked the University for lobbying during the session, and he also said that the University exaggerated its enrollment figures. The Catalogue claimed something in excess of two thou

sand students, but Taylor, who had strolled to the campus one day and conducted a quick count of the students in view, came up with a figure far short of that. Other legislators wanted to delete an appropriation for the completion of Soldiers' Memorial Hall, an addition to Grant Hall; and one man from Otoe County said that the state could better get along without the presence of some of the university graduates than to have the taxpayers be burdened. This bitter debate shattered completely the illusion that the enactment of the one-mill levy had solved the University's financial problems, and only after considerable dis

cussion was the budget finally fashioned and passed. A conference committee set the salary figure at $230,000. But while angry legislators such as Taylor had seized the headlines, the most significant aspect of the legislature's actions in 1899 was the obvious desire of the majority of the lawmakers to aid the Univer

sity. Fusionist and Republican legislators cooperated in voting money for completing Soldier's Memorial Hall and in providing funds for farmers' institutes



and for the summer session. This, in addition to the one-mill levy, marked the 1899 legislature as one that had done well by the University.

It is understandable that ardent boosters of the University misinterpreted the effect of the one-mill levy, but the editor of the State Journal interpreted the action of the legislature within a larger context:

The mill levy promises little more money than the old legislative appropriation, but its ready adoption by so decisive a vote shows that the state is wholly and heartily committed to the cause of higher education. It puts an end to anxiety as to the biennial appropriation. It insures this university against the shocks and diversions that have prevented growth in so many of the states of the west. It enables the regents to proceed with vigor and confidence in laying broader and deeper foundations than ever for the twentieth century university of Nebraska.

The "New University" so frequently alluded to during MacLean's regime began to take shape by the end of the decade. Canfield won from the legislature and from the people of the state a general approval of the University's work. MacLean, with the important assistance of Regent Morrill, secured the one-mill levy, which in Morrill's words "was the greatest financial move made by any Chancellor for the institution." Symbolically this was true, but few members of the University faculty believed that the financial woes of the University had been permanently dispelled.

During the 1890's, while Nebraska plunged to the economic depths, Canfield, MacLean, Morrill, and many legislators—Democrats, Republicans, Populists, and Fusionists—stood their ground. Despite the economic crisis, despite the supposed anti-intellectualism of the "farmers representatives," the University had not been crippled. Enrollment continued to rise; key faculty members stayed on; and the legislature increased its support at a time when appropriations for the University had to be measured against the burden of taxes which fell upon destitute and despairing farmers. The legislatures of the 1890's, pressed on all sides by various crises and catastrophes, helped the University to expand. Political partisanship, which during the same period practically decimated the public institutions of Kansas, never became an important factor, probably because there was only one university in Nebraska. The University had maintained, if not elevated, its academic position. By 1900, as a result, the University was ready to enter upon its golden age.


Public Education and Academic Developments

The Panic of 1893 helped to resolve one university problem - the question of whether or not to continue the Latin School. Faculty members had long agitated for its termination on the grounds that it drained away faculty and equipment badly needed by the collegiate departments, and in December, 1889, the regents had decided to suspend the first year of the school, the suspension to take effect in 1891. However, in June of 1890 they had revoked the decision; Bessey wanted the department retained as an inducement to rural young people to enroll in the university. Then, in March, 1894, in view of the needs of the academic department and the increasing number of high schools, the regents decided to suspend the first year of the Latin School in September, 1895; half of the second year in September, 1896; and the other half of the second year in September, 1897. In the interests of those children to whom high schools were unavailable, they proposed to open a preparatory School of Agriculture and Mechanic Arts.1 Despite the substitute plan, the measure did undoubtedly deprive some young Nebraskans of a chance for higher education, for as the depression deepened, more and more high schools were closing.

In view of the economic situation, this was hardly the time to talk about the need for high schools; yet because of the suspension of the Latin School that is precisely what Canfield did. Whenever he learned that a high school program was being cut back, he did his best to persuade the school board to continue the present operation; he said it would be better to put lower grades on half-day sessions than to curtail the high school program. When the Lincoln board, for example, announced that high school classes would be drastically reduced, the Chancellor fervently and publicly requested that the step not be taken. He also urged the enactment of a law that would make it mandatory for counties with a population of five thousand to establish high schools, to be supported by a levy of six mills. These county high schools would be under the general supervision of a board made up of the state superintendent of schools, the president of the State Normal College, and the chancellor. Canfield's plan, which he outlined in a pamphlet, "A Brief Plea for County High Schools," was far in advance of public opinion, and a bill based on it died in the 1895 legislative session. How

1. The School of Agriculture was not opened until December, 1895, and the Mechanic Arts School not until April. 1896.


ever, the legislature did pass a Free Attendance High School law, which provided that boys and girls could "continue their free education at the high school nearest to their home, up to the point where they can enter the University."

Thanks to Canfield's effective promotion of the University as a part of the state's school system, by 1895 public school leaders readily acknowledged that a special relationship existed between the elementary and secondary schools and the University. Cases in which the entire graduating class of a high school enrolled in the University were not unknown, and Canfield's influence could be discerned in almost every instance. Members of the University administration and faculty regularly participated in public school affairs—Dean Bessey, for example, served for some years as president of the State Teachers Association—and University staff members were credited with leading the campaign for a free high school tuition law. But the bond which Canfield forged between the University and public schools remained a tenuous one, and during MacLean's administration the era of good feeling came to an end.

The University, as discussed earlier, had the responsibility for accrediting high school programs. 2 This was a most sensitive area, for high schools had to be encouraged to achieve certain academic standards, yet the University could not afford to be dictatorial nor could it allow the impression that the high schools existed only to feed it students. It did not help matters that faculty members resented the chore of school inspection, and that in the view of many local school officials the University faculty knew nothing about secondary education and set goals which were completely unrealistic. Moreover, the absence of specific standards and regulations created confusion and hard feelings all down the line. Finally, in 1897, the regents appointed a well-known and respected Gage County educator, J. W. Crabtree of Beatrice, to be full-time inspector of schools. At Crabtree's urging, the regents adopted accreditation standards which took into account prevailing local conditions in the state. But the action came too late. As Crabtree later commented, "Fully half of the leading superintendents of the state were in a more or less rebellious state of mind towards the University" because of "what was termed University domination and University dictation."

The University's image was tarnished, and the gap between it and the public schools began to widen. Another source of tension was the decision to suspend the preparatory departments. Populist editors said this would deprive farm children of the opportunity for a university education. But MacLean felt that if the rural school districts shirked their duties, the University could not be expected to take over for them. Each district must have a high school, and the sooner the better. There was also the difficult problem of teacher competency. Poorly prepared teachers were very common in Nebraska, and even though educators were no closer to agreement then until upon the characteristics of a good teacher than they are today, the feeling was widespread that most teachers required some additional training.

University officials attacked the problem by offering summer sessions in which teachers could take needed course work, and by creating a regular department of professional education. In 1892 teachers were invited to the campus for a summer session. One teacher who enrolled for the work remembered that confusion reigned supreme. There had been little attempt to get organized beforehand, and students were directed to the laboratory and the library and told to fend for themselves. In 1894 a three-week session emphasized the solution of practical classroom problems rather than straight academic work. This year there was a five-dollar registration fee. After 1895 those who attended the Uni

2 See p. 91.


versity summer school were excused from attendance at county teachers' institutes. MacLean was anxious to broaden the scope of summer session offerings, and in 1896, many University departments presented summer courses. The announcements stressed the advantage to be derived from "contact with those who have made a life study of particular departments of knowledge," and there is every evidence that the University faculty took their summer responsibilities seriously. Also, they tried to offer courses of practical use to teachers; Dean Bessey, for example, taught methods of teaching botany to grade and high school classes. It was in this year that the summer session was incorporated as a regular part of the University's academic program. Attendance increased as the schedule became better organized and as county superintendents encouraged the teachers under their supervision to enroll. And undoubtedly many teachers, worn out by the winter term in an isolated, primitive country school, agreed with the University Catalogue and found "Lincoln, with its beautiful parks, its salt bathing, the possibilities for boating and other pleasure excursions. . . . one of the most delightful cities in the state for this educational outing."

The formation of the Department of Pedagogy in 1895 represented another facet of the University's interest in the teachers of the state, although naturally the support of the State Normal College at Peru were exercised by what they considered a usurpation of their college's functions. But the regents, in their biennial report, said that the department would not compete with the normal school. It would supplement its work; normal school graduates could take advanced courses at the University. MacLean had said in his inaugural address that the University should be considered the final training ground for teachers and superintendents. Despite the early statements of purpose, the University openly expanded its course offerings for undergraduates interested in a teaching career. Professor G. W. A. Luckey, who was hired to direct the University's teaching program, strongly opposed the addition of undergraduate courses which duplicated those offered by the normal school; he wanted the University to adhere to MacLean's stipulation that only graduate and specialized training would be offered. Luckey's opposition touched off a student controversy within the pedagogy department; but the University continued to expand its teacher training program, even though this meant competing with Peru Normal. Resolving any lingering doubts that the University was in the field of teacher preparation, the regents asked the legislature for authority to issue teachers' certificates to graduates of the University course, and in 1897 the legislature approved a plan whereby University graduates who had taken the pedagogy courses received a provisional state certificate. They received a permanent certificate after completing three years of school teaching experience.

The Work of the "New University"

While legislative battles raged and while chancellors and regents promoted the University throughout the state, things were humming in the University's overcrowded classrooms. The undergraduates of that day were earnest students, for the most part, eager to prepare themselves for a world very different from that of the small-town agricultural society which had produced them; and they were fortunate in having singularly capable and sympathetic teachers. Alvin Johnson, in his autobiography, has these statements on the faculty in the late 1890's:

The older members of the faculty conceived of teaching Nebraskans as their essential function in life. Many of them had been students at the university in its early years and had risen through instructorships to the professorial ranks. Others


had been drawn from neighboring institutions of the prairie states. Their teaching load was heavy, for the legislature, which [issued?] the funds, considered it a rare privilege for a man to teach four lasses a day and have all the rest of his time to himself. This seemed reasonable to the Nebraska contingent on the faculty but shocking to faculty arriving from the east, where six hours of teaching a week were regarded as a heavy program.

The teaching, as a rule, was good because the teachers believed in their mission. Like all good teachers, they rejoiced in the student of promise. But they did not give up on the mediocre, nor even the poor student. A boy or girl who could never rise above a C+ or B might still bring the light of education into his home town up in the sandhills . . . . A good part of the students would never find use for trigonometry in their daily lives, but the struggle to master the subject would bring home to them that real education is a desperately hard business.

The idea that a University professor was basically a teacher went unchallenged down through Canfield's time, but Chancellor MacLean attempted to raise the professorial image. In his inaugural address he said that university professors must be more than pedagogues—they must be active, contributing scholars. The University must encourage scholarly investigation and publication by affording the professor "time, opportunity, apparatus, material and books for his quest into the only partially discovered world of knowledge." This was fine, in theory; but in1898 and 1899, as a result of expanded enrollment and financial retrenchment, faculty members were averaging twenty-five hours a week in the classroom. The fact that by the middle of the decade four monographs in the University Studies series had appeared was testimony, as a Lincoln editor said, to "the vast vitality of the American professor, or his willingness to sacrifice his health for the cause of learning, or both."

Throughout the nineties the story of the University faculty is a grim recital of hard work and sacrifice. But even a dedicated faculty could not meet all the challenges posed by expanded enrollment, and there was frequent criticism of the unsatisfactory results of teaching the large classes that were becoming the rule. "To talk at a hundred or two hundred students . . . once a day on a given subject is one thing; to bring a strong and well equipped man or woman in personal and sympathetic and helpful contact with each student each day is another thing and a vastly different thing," Canfield said; and the student newspaper carried many articles criticizing the academic program and sympathizing with the overworked instructors. In 1893 the State Journal asked pointedly if it was proper for the University to offer two-thirds as many courses as Cornell University, with a faculty which numbered only a third of Cornell's. Was this situation really "a credit to the State?" Certainly Canfield thought not, and he repeatedly asked the regents to reconsider the University's curricula and teaching load.

Inevitably, many professors left Nebraska for institutions where salaries were higher and teaching conditions were satisfactory. It was frequently reported in Lincoln newspapers that key faculty members were being courted by other universities, and on one occasion when it was rumored that Dean Bessey was considering another position. Canfield seized the opportunity to point out the faculty's contributions and urge that salaries be raised five hundred dollars immediately. 3 In 1892 a wave of resignations hit the University, resulting in the loss of George Howard, long the guiding light of the social sciences. A. H.

3 Men from the scientific department accepted responsibility for state work in their fields—Dean Bessey, for example, long served as state botanist. Since no salaries were paid University professors for this work, the arrangement, while adding to the faculty load, saved the state a good bit of money.

Edgren, direction of graduate work; Amos G. Warner, who had built up the courses in economics and political science; and L. E. Hicks, who had played an invaluable role in Nebraska's irrigation movement. The Board of Regents expressed its regrets that "the limited resources of the University still permit the loss of some of the ablest men who have honored and served this State in educational work. It is not to be expected, perhaps, that the University of Nebraska can meet all possible competition; but it ought to be able to offer to every instructor such reasonable remuneration and such opportunities for work as will make it a very difficult task to secure his withdrawal to other fields." The editor of the World-Herald saw a silver lining in the dark cloud—if faculty was hired away, it proved that the University had excellent teachers—but added: "It is quite certain that if Nebraska intends that the state university shall keep proper place in the general progress, an increased appropriation for the faculty must be made."

While the loss of faculty was lamentable, an even more tragic aspect of the University's impecuniousity touched Professor Henry E. Hitchcock. In 1893, after twenty-two years of service, he was created emeritus professor, at half work and half pay. But even half work was too heavy for the aged teacher and half pay was too much of a drain on the University's resources. The regents announced that at the end of the academic year 1894-1895 he would be dropped from the rolls. This raised the question, said the regents, "of the legality and propriety of retiring upon a small pension those who have given the best part of their lives to the University." But nothing could be done in Hitchcock's behalf. Similarly, Professor Rachel Lloyd's health obliged her to resign after six years' service, because the University could not keep her if she carried a lighter work load. To be sure, this was the period when rugged individualism prevailed and it was assumed that the working man would put aside something for his old age. But considering the salaries offered by the University, it is easy to see why professors found it difficult to build a retirement fund. The disgraceful situation involving Professors Hitchcock and Lloyd must have occasioned some deep thinking among University faculty as to the merits of unrewarded loyalty.

On the brighter side it should be noted that the 1890's produced few serious clashes between the faculty and the administration. Perhaps the professors were too busy to indulge in controversy; but, more important, Bessey, Canfield, and MacLean took steps to enlarge the faculty's role in the government and administration of the institution. Canfield, who was involved in many activities outside the University, was happy to permit the faculty to exercise jurisdiction in most matters, although he could exercise his prerogatives freely. For example, according to campus gossip, when the library was reorganized and the locks were changed, one veteran professor protested that he would have to ask a "mere girl" if he could take a book from the library. For years the faculty had been free to visit the library whenever they wished and to make use of library materials without restriction. Canfield answered that though it distressed him to think of the University's losing the service of a distinguished member of the faculty, the rule would be enforced. During MacLean's administration, two minor faculty disputes arose. One, which has already been discussed, involved Professor Wolfe; the other stemmed from difficulties within the English department. In both cases the regents unanimously supported the dismissal of the faculty members who had been the troublemakers. In an effort to minimize faculty discontent, MacLean organized a workable faculty government. He abolished the old "general faculty" and created separate faculties for each college, with specific responsibilities for each. The Faculty Senate, which had existed in form for years, was thoroughly overhauled, and when MacLean was through, it possessed the power to consider all major University policies and to make recommendations to the chancellor and


the Board of Regents. Under MacLean and Acting Chancellor Bessey the Faculty Senate became a major instrument in the government of the University. At the teaching and research level, the faculty of the nineties, considered as a whole, performed creditably if not brilliantly. It included a constellation of superb teachers and scholars, but if one man represented the University's spirit of scholarship and service during these years it was E. H. Barbour, professor of geology. Professor Barbour came to Nebraska in 1891. He held a Ph.D. from Yale University and had spent several years with the United States Geological Survey, but his principal interest was paleontology; and in Nebraska and the states of the Great Plains he found a rich and untapped field for research. His dreams and ambitions were shared by Regent C. H. Morrill, who financed a num

ber of expeditions into the field. Indeed, by the late 1890's so many bones and fossils had been gathered that no place could be found to store them. Morrill withdrew his financial support of the field work for the "sole reason that the State Museum is located in a building particularly liable to destruction by fire." Happily, within a few years money was available for a new museum to house part of the Barbour-Morrill collection. While Barbour pioneered in paleontology, W. G. Langworthy Taylor, a graduate of Harvard, stimulated interest in economics and carried on the work begun by Amos G. Warner in the Department of Economics and Political Science. Here the basis was laid for later work in business administration and commerce; Taylor urged his students in "policon" to "seek out and establish the laws under which man moves in commerce and industry." Edgar L. Hinman, a member of the faculty after 1896, built a solid reputation for the Department of Philosophy, while Fred Morrow Fling, who held a Ph.D. from the University of Leipzig, made significant contributions to the Department of History. Thoroughly in

doctrinated in the concept of "scientific history" as taught in the German uni

versities, Fling advocated the "source approach" in both his undergraduate and graduate courses. Despite his exacting standards--or perhaps because of them-

Fling was very popular with the students. Outside the University, Fling worked diligently to introduce the teachers of the state to the source method of history teaching. His graduate seminars received national attention, and he was recog

nized as a leading authority on the French Revolution. A future chancellor, Samuel Avery, who had graduated from the University and received his Ph.D. from the University of Heidelberg, joined the Department of Chemistry as an instructor during this decade. His research in organic chemistry was considered most advanced for a western university. Rosa Bouton, another University graduate, in 1894 taught a course in "domestic chemistry" as well as courses in regular chemistry. From this beginning, Miss Bouton built the University's program of home economics. Albert L. Candy, a particular favorite with the students, came to the University in 1893 as a member of the Department of Mathematics. Another popular professor, William F. Dann, was adjunct professor of Greek. Henry B. Ward, professor of zoology, became a leader in the campaign to establish the College of Medicine. Ellery W. Davis, professor of mathematics and dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, typified the high caliber of scholar attracted to Nebraska during this decade. And the appointment, in 1893, of Miss Mary Jones brought to the University its first professional librarian. Well known to students of the nineties and to later generations of Ne

braskans was the future General of the Armies, Lieutenant John J. Pershing, commandant of the University cadets from 1891 to 1895. One of the few romantic figures on the campus, he was described by Willa Cather as a "handsome young Lieutenant with a slender waist and yellow moustaches." Chancellor Canfield was intensely interested in the serious young officer and feared that duty in the


University after service in the Indian Wars might prove boring. Consequently, he suggested that Pershing enroll in the Law College and also teach courses in mathematics. Under Pershing the military department became extremely popular. He transformed ungainly farm boys into a well-drilled battalion which ranked second only to the West Point corps of cadets. Although the editor of the Hesperian called him a martinet and greeted his resignation with the hope that the next commandant would not "play favorites," almost every other comment concerning Pershing and the work he directed in the University was favorable. He instilled in the young men a sense of duty and pride, and the Pershing Rifles, which originated on the University of Nebraska campus and grew into a national organization, became a symbol of his demand for perfection.

Probably no department moved ahead more rapidly during this decade than the engineering division. O.V. P. Stout, who came to the University in 1891, built an excellent department of civil engineering. In 1891 the regents created a department of electrical engineering and Robert B. Owens was the first chairman of the rapidly expanding field. The regents also created a department of mechanical engineering; it was directed by C. R. Richards, a graduate of Purdue University, who came to Nebraska in 1892. There was also clear progress in another new department. Wilbur P. Bowen came to Nebraska in 1891 as instructor in physical training, and the following year Kate Wilder joined the staff as an instructor in physiology and hygiene for women. Miss Wilder's work was continued by Anne L. Burr in 1894, and Miss Burr, a professionally trained teacher of physical education, brought the department along in fine style. In 1900 the University required two years of "physical training" of all women, and the department was one of the first in the nation to offer a degree in women's physical education. Less gratifying was the progress in the fine arts. Such music and art courses as were available were still provided by private schools, which maintained a semiofficial link with the University. After 1894, music was studied in Willard Kimball's school near the campus, which enjoyed an affiliated status. At this time Carrie Belle Raymond began her classes in music and choral work. The Hayden Art Club, later the Nebraska Art Association, tried to persuade the regents to initiate regular art courses, but the regents pleaded poverty and for some years the club had the responsibility for sustaining this work. In September, 1899, the University assumed control of the administration of the School of Fine Arts, but it was still supported by student fees.

One may catch a glimpse of some faculty faces in the novels and stories of Willa Cather, who matriculated at the University in 1891 after a year in the Latin School. In My Antonia, one section of which has the University as its setting, the inspiring teacher Gaston Cleric has some of the characteristics of a young English instructor and poet, Herbert Bates. Many professorial characters appear in The Professor's House, one of whom somewhat resembles Janes T. Lees, although physically he resembles Chancellor Canfield. The British-born Lees, who held his Ph.D. from Johns Hopkins University, was a professor of Greek, and went with some of his students on a tour through Europe. In Miss Cather's novel, the undergraduates who took the trip returned to the campus "wonderfully brushed up." Alvin Johnson remembered Lees as a dyed-in-the-wool British conservative, a magnificent scholar, and a "despiser of his times and particularly of anything savoring of democracy." Lees' ashes were scattered on the campus, and a memorial stone, still to be seen, was placed at the spot. In One of Ours, in which there also are University scenes, a history professor appears to be modeled after Professor Fling. Describing the experience of the novel's hero, Claude Wheeler, Miss Cather wrote:

The class was very large, and the Professor spoke without notes-he talked rapidly, as if he were addressing his equals . . . . His lectures were condensed like a legal brief, but there was a kind of dry fervour in his voice, and when he occasionally interrupted his exposition with purely personal comments, it seemed valuable and important. Claude usually came out from these lectures with the feeling that the world was full of stimulating things . . . .

Although hardly composed with the same artistry as Miss Cather's writings, the University Catalogues indicate the pattern of change and refinement on the campus at the turn of the century. The reports of the regents also help to fill in the picture. The Report for 1897-1898, for example, notes the following developments: the appointment of assistants, fellows, and scholars to aid pro

fessors in their academic tasks; the appointment of Mrs. H. H. Wilson as the University's first dean of women; the creation of a School of Domestic Science directed by Professor Rosa Bouton; the addition of an official photographer to the University staff; the founding of departments of Hebrew, animal husbandry, mechanical drawing, and machine design; the training of the cadet band entrusted to Mr. Kimball; the establishment of a regular six-week summer session; and the initiation of a mimeographic and stenographic bureau--all of these the signs of a growing university.

Extension Work

The conviction that the "New University" had something to offer to all the people of the state lay behind the promotion of extension work. Farmers' insti

tutes, short courses, and the like were the precursors of the belief that aca

demic courses, as well as agricultural and practical instruction, should be made available to the people. As early as 1891, Professors Fling, Gerwig, and Hodgman were conducting evening classes in Lincoln, which the local press regarded as the first examples of university extension work. Faculty members suggested organizing in absentia work, more of which was being done as the months passed, and which appealed particularly to teachers who wanted to work on their degrees during the school year. Consequently, in 1892 the University invited "all citizens of Nebraska who desire to pursue general courses of reading or to conduct special investigations. . . . to correspond with the members of the Faculty who are in charge of such studies." The work was carried on under the direction of the faculty; there were periodic examinations; and students could take enough work under this plan to bring them within a year of a degree, at which point a year's residence was required. In 1895 a regular department of university extension was formed as "an attempt to extend the University to the homes of the people for the purposes of adult education." What the farmers' institutes did for rural Nebraskans, it was now "proposed to do for the general community in various subjects in science, literature and the arts." The department arranged for out state classes conducted by a member of the University faculty, which, as a rule, met weekly or fortnightly. Following the lecture, a discussion period was held for those who wished to stay for it. Participants were expected to do the assigned work, and those who wished to do so could take the examinations required by the instructor. Upon completion of the course a certificate was issued to those who had attended two-thirds of the lectures and had done satisfactory work. The certificate could be presented "under certain regulations" for University credit. Thus, in addition to the in absentia work, the University established a program enabling groups ranging in size from sixty to one hundred people to receive University instruction.


In January, 1899, a committee, whose secretary was Professor Barbour, reported that the extension work had become so popular that the regular academic staff was overtaxed. The philosophy of the University's extension work had been established. In the words of A. A. Reed, first head of extension work, state uni

versities were obligated to provide "any educational services that they can offer better than any other agencies." Extension courses demonstrated that in regard to regular academic work the University had much to offer the people of Nebraska.

Academic Reform

As the course offerings of the University became more varied and more complex, the administration concluded that curriculum reform was urgently needed. In 1891 the regents abolished the old "course system" and substituted the "group system" of studies. Since requirements for graduation were based upon a specified number of courses from each group, the arrangement allowed the students greater freedom in choosing their studies; almost half of the required hours were free electives. Moreover, the University did away with the practice of designating undergraduates by class, and for a few years (1892-1895) the Uni

versity Catalogue listed the students in alphabetical order, with the number of courses completed appearing after each name. "The whole trend of all newer systems of study," said the Board of Regents in 1898, "has for some time been in the direction of freedom to the student, without giving him the reins . . . ." Needless to say, some faculty members grumbled about these changes, but academicians frequently were upset by new developments. Within the University faculty, for example, an argument developed about the relative importance of certain academic courses. Members of the liberal arts faculty strongly resented the encroachment of the sciences and the engineering courses upon the domain which they had ruled for years. But, as Alvin Johnson said,

It was plain that the Arts faction was fighting a losing battle. You couldn't dramatize and publicize the virtues of patient classical study or the minute analysis of a piece of literature. The science departments could overwhelm you by demonstrating the invention of liquid air, then expected to be an important source of power. They could exhibit a world of microscopic life, whose control might banish disease; they could set up a table of elements including a number that had never been discovered but infallibly would be found.

Moreover, there was the publicity and national interest attendant upon scientific discoveries. Attempting to comfort the teachers of the liberal arts, the editor of the State Journal wrote that although the experiments of the Nebraska scientists had been widely noticed, this should not "militate against the excellent work done by Professor Howard and others on the side of the humanities, but simply means that in an age in which scientific inquiry may be peculiarly and directly beneficial, such work will be pretty sure to receive the first and greatest attention." Then as now the controversy between the various academic disciplines was more than philosophical. Prestige and power were at stake, for as enrollment fell in the liberal arts--or in any department--financial support was likely to be reduced proportionately. It was particularly distressing to the liberal arts faculty that each year fewer and fewer men students signed up for their classes. The liberal arts seemed about to become the preserve of women, with the men enrolling in the scientific and engineering departments. One final negative development on the academic side must be mentioned--the collapse of the University's plans for an "educational union." Over the years


University spokesmen had called for close cooperation between the University and private colleges. Canfield's aim had always been "to draw together, harmonize and unify the entire educational forces of the state," and in 1892 a plan for such a union was suggested by a faculty committee. But as the University outdistanced the private colleges in academic standing and enrollment, the State Journal in February, 1894, suggested that some of the private colleges cease operation; following the example of the Methodists in Oklahoma, they should build chapter houses near the University. "With such an arrangement," said the Journal, "the young people of the church would receive better educational facilities than can now be given to them, without jeopardizing in the least their moral welfare," and the denomination would save money. A similar arrangement was suggested by Professor R. T. Ely of the University of Wisconsin, in a published address, "The Universities and the Churches." When the State Journal asked Canfield his opinion on the matter, he was entirely in favor of the proposal. Then on October 8 the State Journal reported that the University faculty had agreed to offer affiliation to the colleges in Nebraska, and stated the terms on which affiliation would be accepted. Chancellor Crook of Nebraska Wesleyan University wrote an irate letter to the newspaper, stating that so far as his institution was concerned, the ideas was completely untenable. He did not think that Wesleyan needed the University's support, and no Methodist college wanted to isolate itself from the "splendid alliances with the great system" of which it was a part. Certainly the Nebraska Methodists did not care to "furnish collegiate culture at the expense of the taxpayer." Wesleyan wanted to avoid the "entanglements sure to arise out of any affiliation as has been proposed by the faculty of the state university. The lamb is willing to lie down by the lion, but not inside."

Undiscouraged by this rebuke, the University continued its efforts to establish some sort of educational council among Nebraska's colleges and universities, and in June, 1899, the formation of such a council was announced. Most Nebraska colleges promised to send delegates to a meeting at which the relations between the University and the colleges would be discussed. But the plan never got beyond the talking stage, and higher education in Nebraska continued to be distinguished by the lack of cooperation among the colleges and universities and by conflict of purpose and philosophy.

Graduate and Professional Education

It will be remembered that the University's first venture into professional training, the Medical College, ended in disaster, and in the beginning the law department seemed headed down the same path. Hampered by shortage of space and inadequate equipment, and served by an indifferent, part-time faculty, for its first two years the department languished. In 1893 the courts decreed that graduates of the University's law course automatically qualified for admission to the bar, but this announcement was more than neutralized by the continuous strife in the law faculty. In June of that year, Dean W. Henry Smith resigned and the regents installed M. B. Reese as his successor. The chance, it was hoped, would bring peace to the warring factions.

The University had no desire to resurrect the Medical College, but there was interest in offering a pre-medical course. Some faculty members, notably Dr. Ward of the zoology department, believed that the University could best ensure the success of the College of Medicine-- if and when it was re-established-- by building a effective pre-medical program. In 1892 agitation began for a college of dentistry. Dentists argued that a dental school "can be undertaken at a very slight outlay and will soon be self-supporting from the fees and the


receipts at clinics." But the University was in no position financially to entertain the idea. In 1894 there were demands that the University create a college of pharmacy. At that time just about anyone was free to dispense drugs, and in every Nebraska community hawkers peddled patent medicines which were more likely to induce drug addiction than to cure anything. Concerned by the low esteem to which their profession had fallen, Nebraska pharmacists were eager for the University to establish a college of pharmacy to raise the standards of training required of those who prepared and dispensed drugs.

Next, newspapermen asked that their profession be represented in the University's curricula. The first step in this direction was taken in 1894, when Will Owen Jones, a University alumnus and managing editor of the State Journal, taught a journalism class during the spring semester. But many persons inside and outside the University objected that the University's attempt to fulfill the requests of special groups was at the expense of "traditional and proper course offerings." The point was well taken. The response of the regents and University administrators to pressure exerted by professional groups could not be defended entirely on philosophical grounds: they were attempting to attract support for the University, and they did not want to offend any influential group of citizens. Unfortunately, yielding to such importuning caused the University to grow, as one editor, declared, "after the fashion of Topsy."

On the other hand, there was a slight public demand for an expansion of the University's graduate program. The impetus for it came from faculty and administrators who realized that the standing of the University in the academic community depended in large measure on its graduate work. Professor Edgren had been directing graduate training, and when he resigned in 1891 to return to Sweden the program slacked off. In 1893, however, Edgren came back to Nebraska after spending two years as rector of the University of Gothenburg. On April 16, 1896, the regents approved the creation of the Graduate School, and Dr. Edgren, who had been the prime mover in the matter, was named dean. The first candidate for the Ph.D. degree was Harold Newman Allen, who was working in physics, mathematics, and chemistry; and there were twenty-two candidates for the master's degree, according to the Catalogue, as well as forty-two "other graduate students."

Thus, the University of Nebraska became the first major institution of learning in the trans-Mississippi West to organize a graduate school. Although, as Allan Nevins has noted, the early graduate schools represented little more than a commitment to the achievement of academic excellence, the University of Nebraska's graduate department produced some remarkably good work, and papers written by its graduate students were published. At the same time that the Graduate School was established, the University began to provide limited financial assistance for graduate students. Each department received one fellowship paying $300 a year, and there also were a limited number of scholarships paying $150. The greatest problem the program faced was providing adequate direction for the graduate students. In January, 1899, Dean Edgren asked the Board of Regents to gradually appoint "teachers whose main or sole work shall be devoted to graduate instruction as well as original research." No professor could be expected to teach a full undergraduate schedule and at the same time do justice to graduate instruction. Edgren suggested that the University adopt a policy of appointing department heads whose special concern, beyond necessary administrative functions, would be to direct graduate work and to conduct original research.

The University was very proud of its graduate program, and one suspects that the claims made for the accomplishments in this field may have been exag


gerated. After all, University officials were bound to boom the institution, and the only way to impress eastern educators was by referring to the Graduate School. But the regents contended that "an impetus toward more thorough scholarship is felt throughout the entire University as a result of having a band of self-denying persons consecrated to patient scholarship going in and out of the student body," and Dean Edgren believed that Nebraska's standards for graduate work were well above average. Though older schools might have more equipment and a larger teacher force and attendance, he said, "in none if the true scholastic purpose more carefully guarded about and earnestly avowed. While most institutions granted advanced degrees on the basis of the amount of time spent in study, at Nebraska the quality of work performed by the graduate student determined his progress. In Edgren's words, the University "emphasizes that work performed is the absolute standard, while a minimum period of attendance is required merely to insure against undue haste or unguided nonresident work. And, in accordance with this principle, it stands almost alone in publishing in its catalogue more or less definite and detailed statements of the work required in the various branches of knowledge for the attainment of a secondary degree." Advanced degrees were granted only after the stated requirements had been fulfilled: these included an oral and/or written examination and a thesis. While enrollment statistics are not necessarily a measure of quality, in 1897-1898 the University had 141 graduate students, a number surpassed by only three state universities and "about twelve other institutions," according to Edgren.

The unusual if not startling development of graduate work indicated the faculty's determination to achieve high academic goals. A few University people-- Roscoe Pound among them-- felt that the University dissipated its energy in attempting to undertake agricultural work and believed that more effort should be expended on graduate and professional education. In the 1890's, however, the University was not in a position to choose between the alternatives. Both paths of endeavor had to be pursued, the practical courses in order to fulfill the requirements of the Morrill Act and to gain the popular support, the academic courses to fulfill the traditional function of a university and to win the approval of the academic community. The danger was that, in the diffusion of effort, excellence would not be achieved in any area. And yet out of the confusion and uncertainty of the 1890's the University managed to evolve a graduate program, and it was the work of the Graduate School that brought the University to the attention of the academic world in the early years of the twentieth century.



Agricultural Education in the 1890's

Several factors accounted for the growth of the Industrial College during the nineties: the determined leadership of Canfield, MacLean, and Bessey; the Populist demand for practical education to meet the needs of rural youth; and, most important of all, the acceptance of the land-grant philosophy of service and general education. This philosophy had been a long time in forming, but by the 1890's the unique and special responsibilities of the land-grant institutions had evoked a new attitude toward higher education. Within the University of Nebraska the foundation for an expansion of the work in agriculture, mechanics, and engineering already existed; and the decision to include all scientific courses in the Industrial College curricula, a step taken in 1889 to bolster its enrollment, had a positive effect: from that point on, the college began to move slowly forward. The development of the various branches of technical education was not uniform. Many young men viewed electrical engineering as "the field with a future," and the enrollment for engineering led all other fields in the Industrial College, although Chancellor Canfield tried to rectify the imbalance with his ceaseless recruiting campaign among the farmers of the state.

Experimental Work

The experiment station continued to play an important part in stimulating interest in agricultural research and in the work of making two blades of grass grow where one had grown before. In August, 1891, rules were adopted for the station's government, clarifying its organization; and in 1892 it was placed under the supervision of a direction, C. L. Ingersoll. Thus when demands began to pour in that experimental work be stepped up, the station was ready. In 1893 scientists and representatives from foreign countries visited the station and expressed their full approval of its work.

Nebraska's fame in this field was owing in large measure to the work of Dr. Billings, the stormy petrel of the University, who returned in 1891 to resume his investigation into hog cholera and other diseases of livestock. Billings found that most Nebraskans had forgiven and forgotten-- he was elected president of the Nebraska Stock Growers Association-- but he was not a man to let well enough alone. As well as picking up his experiments where he had left them, he also resumed his quarrel with the United States Department of Agriculture. There was little excuse for his belligerence. The stockmen of the state supported him; the University approved his work; and, thanks to the second Morrill Act


and the Hatch Act, he had greater resources at his disposal than before. Yet he seemed more anxious to vilify his competitors than to get on with research. Not surprisingly, he had soon worn out his welcome. In February, 1892, the editor of the Nebraska Farmer referred to Billings as "a man who is a leech upon the commonwealth, and who does not hesitate to insult the dignity of the state by the unbecomingness of his demands." The following year Billings resigned for a second time, saying that the legislature had not given him the promised support. In his usual free-swinging style, he rebuked the University and the people of the state for their indifference to the work that put Nebraska on the scientific map. As a result of his experiments, Billings asserted, the University "is now known throughout the civilized world, as the first institution of learning, supported by public funds . . . that has inaugurated and sup

ported . . . a special department to seek the best means for the protection of the animal wealth of the country, and the public health as well, by the investiga

tion of infectious diseases." It was unfortunate that his temperament and personality blocked his capitalizing on this auspicious beginning. In less dramatic fashion bulletins published regularly by the experiment station publicized other phases of its work. Written in nonscientific language, they brought to the farmers information about crops and cultivation techniques. They also suggested which crops would be best to plant--in 1895, for example, Dean Bessey recommended alfalfa as "the coming forage plant in Nebraska." The station's winter wheat experiments were of special significance. Spring wheat might best answer the farmer's needs. Scores of varieties were tested by the station in an effort to find a rust- and drought-resistant variety. By the early 1900's the staff was advising Nebraska farmers to give up on spring wheat and plant winter wheat. They recommended the variety known as Turkey Red. This campaign to introduce winter wheat would soon bring a major revolution in Nebraska agriculture. The staff's work ranged over a broad spectrum of agricultural problems. In 1897 Professor Barbour made a tour to study the home-made windmills which dotted the Platte Valley. The bulletin that resulted from his investigations, "Wells and Windmills in Nebraska," published under the auspices of the United States Geological Survey, helped many Nebraska farms to solve the problem of securing a cheap and dependable water supply for house, barn, and garden. Barbour was persuaded that cheap windmills constructed by the farmer from materials at hand could help to promote the settlement of western Nebraska. His windmill system, however, would provide water for only perhaps an acre of garden crops. Professor O. V. P. Stout, as an engineer, thought in terms of bringing water to thousands of acres of arid and semiarid land. He assumed the mantle of Professor Hicks and became one of the leading advocates of irri

gation in Nebraska. For many years he labored diligently to convince both politicians and citizens of the irrigation potential of the Platte Valley; and while he campaigned to secure adequate financial support for Nebraska projects, Stout went ahead with engineering surveys and studies which expounded the techniques for developing irrigation in this major Nebraska valley. The experiment station also was active in the area of weather forecasting and record keeping. In 1894, as a result of the efforts of Congressman William Jennings Bryan, the United States Weather Bureau moved its Nebraska station from Omaha to Lincoln and entrusted responsibility for its work to the experi

ment station. From this point on, weather statistics were systematically collected and tabulated. The boomer spirit died slowly in Nebraska, and in 1896 the State Journal said that the collection of weather data would demonstrate that the


state was a part of the Middle West rather than the "semi-arid" Far West. Though its annual rainfall was less than that of some other midwestern states, it had as much rainfall during the all-important growing season. The information procured by the experiment station, the Journal said, "will do much to counteract the popular impression about the state." In 1891 federal officials asked Dean Bessey about the possibility of con

ducting tree-planting experiments in Nebraska. Bessey referred the federal officials to the Bruner family, who for years had been conducting such experiments in northeastern Nebraska. The Bruners were prominent in the state's early history, Uriah Bruner having served on the Board of Regents. His sons Lawrence, a renowned entomologist on the University faculty, and Uriah allowed the government to conduct a modest tree-planting experiment on their ranch. The work, directed by Lawrence Bruner and Dean Bessey, was in the interest of scientific inquiry, but it attracted public attention for other reasons. It was commonly believed that the Sandhills region was wasteland, but if pines could be raised there the region would assume some value. It was also argued that as the tree cover on the Sandhills increased, rainfall would also increase, the winds would be calmed, and violent storms would dissipate before they reached the populous sections of the state. Clearly the impact of science upon the popular mind was not very marked, for these were the ideas of the seventies, still alive and vigorous. The response to weather study and tree-planting experiments indicated that many Nebraskans still sought panaceas for the state's environmental prob

lems. The public wanted immediate results, but the agricultural scientist required time to conduct his experiments and to check and recheck his results. Moreover, the diversity of Nebraska's environment called for experimentation in the various climatic zones of the state before it was possible to draw a valid conclusion about any particular crop or method of tillage. A bulletin issued by the experiment station in 1895 emphasized the difficulty of finding a single method of crop tillage that would apply in all parts of Nebraska. Farmers were asked to try the methods suggested by the bulletin and to report their findings to the station. Although some impatient farmers depreciated the work of the experiment station--and some of the criticism was justified in that many times the experiments covered the same ground that the individual farmers had covered long before--it was recognized that the station was producing valuable informa

tion. Indeed, the biggest problem was not to secure information, but to dis

seminate it among the farmers. As noted previously, Professor Thompson's early experiments with sugar beets were successful but met with no enthusiasm. However, by 1890 Nebraska had a thriving sugar-beet industry, due in large part to Professor Nicholson's work at the experiment station. He was joined in the work by Professor Rachel Lloyd, who was also on the agricultural staff at the Industrial College. No doubt farmers were leery of being instructed by a "female professor," but Professor Lloyd contributed significantly to Nebraska's sugar-beet industry. Impressed by the work of Nicholson and Lloyd, Chancellor Canfield asked Nebraska's Sena

tor A. S. Paddock to apply to the United States Department of Agriculture for a fifty-thousand-dollar grant to establish a sugar school within the University. When no federal funds were made available, the University went ahead anyway. During the first session of the Sugar School, which was held in 1892 and lasted from January to May, sugar-beet culture and manufacture were studied. The course was open to young men sixteen years of age and over. Graduates of the school were equipped to do the chemical work in sugar-beet factories, and were given the option of attending the farm in the summer to learn about the


practical side of sugar-beet raising. The school was one of two in the nation; and as well as encouraging the development of Nebraska's sugar-beet industry, it pointed the way for experimental work across the United States.

Spreading the Gospel of Scientific Agriculture

In the early 1890's one method of disseminating information among the farmers was the free short course held on the University campus during the winter. Here the farmers had the opportunity to hear University faculty members discuss the latest agricultural developments. But the short course had inherent defects, not the least being that only farmers who lived close to Lincoln could avail themselves of the instruction. For this reason the University decided that the farmers' institutes should be made a major vehicle for the dissemination of information. This was not a new idea, of course; the University had established the institutes in 1878. It had arranged for all the institutes held before 1882 and for many of those held after that date, and it was always a guiding force in the movement. But prior to 1896 the institutes were hampered by a lack of funds for overhead expenses and by a lack of centralized organization. In December, 1895, however, a volunteer state organization composed of the Board of Regents, the State Board of Agriculture, the State Horticultural Society, the State Dairy

men's Association, and the State Bee Keeper's Association was formed, with Professor F. W. Taylor designated manager; in April, 1896, he was designated superintendent. In his first informational circular, Taylor announced that the lecturers would be "intensely practical, and on some topic of general interest to the farmers," adding that "no question of a political nature" would be permitted during the meetings. The legislature soon recognized the importance of the movement and in 1897 for the first time voted funds for the work-

three thousand dollars for the biennium. The success of the movement is attested by its growth: in 1899-1900 fifty-one meetings were held as compared with fifteen in 1895-1896. Special meetings for farmers' wives and addresses by nationally known agricultural leaders helped to swell attendance and maintain interest. Thus, by the end of the decade the University had found one effective way of reaching the farmers. It should be noted that University faculty members who participated in the institutes in the early days received no compensation and sometimes had to endure real hardship to get to the meetings. On one occasion in January, 1893, after their train had been derailed, Taylor and Bruner walked thirteen miles through sub-zero weather to fulfill an engagement. And people in Gibbon recalled with some hilarity the tale of Canfield and Taylor taking a wild ride "in a lumber wagon . . . behind two almost unbroken broncos . . . to keep an engagement." They were especially tickled because the Chancellor had to go to the speaker's platform immediately while Professor Taylor "quietly ate the supper that had been prepared for two."

The School of Agriculture

When MacLean followed the popular Canfield as chancellor, some farmers said that "the regents have chosen another damn literary fellow." But their negative attitude was unjust. MacLean urged the regents to carry out their idea of establishing the preparatory schools which would do for agricultural and mechanical courses what the University had been doing for academic courses since its inception. In his inaugural address he said:


The regents, loyal to the terms of the land grant and later acts of congress, have developed and equipped technical education of collegiate rank in agriculture, engineering and mechanic arts. Today they are about to supply the missing link in Nebraska's educational system by the establishment of a group of secondary technological schools. The school of agriculture and the dairy school will take young men and women from the farm and return them to the farm or prepare them for the college of agriculture . . . . The school of mechanic arts will do a similar work for young mechanics, artisans and engineers.

During his years at Minnesota MacLean had seen the representatives of the farms--in this instance, the Grange leaders--attempting to separate the agri

cultural college from the university because they were disturbed by the small number of agricultural students enrolled. That movement was halted by the establishment of a farm school which also was preparatory for the agricultural college. Aware of the similar situation at Nebraska, he was anxious to see the suggested preparatory schools established. He was backed by Regent C. H. Morrill of Stromsburg, who, as land agent for the Burlington and Missouri Railroad, a practical farmer, and a banker, was convinced that Nebraska's future lay in agriculture, and that nothing would stimulate agricultural science more than a preparatory school in this field directed by the University. The School of Agriculture, which began to operate in December, 1895, was the first of the projected secondary schools to be opened. Only fifteen students, most of them in their twenties, enrolled for the first session, but the next year the number climbed to thirty-three. Two Fusionists, E. von Forell and G. F. Kenower, had been elected to the Board of Regents in 1897, and both had run on a platform calling for the expansion of the school's work. In 1896 the erection of the Dairy Building on the agricultural campus provided classrooms, and the appointment of A. E. Davisson as principal of the school in 1897 contributed to its rapid development. Davisson's immediate task was to convince rural Ne

braskans that the School of Agriculture was not academic but practical in incep

tion and organization, and that it was designed to encourage young people to return to the farm rather than move into town. Davisson was well suited for this task. Certainly in his appearance there was nothing of the city slicker. Later a student described him as coming to the classroom "walking with dusty, dirty shoes across the newly-scrubbed floor, and possibly a little tobacco juice oozing out of the corners of his mouth. . . . But poor old Davey was a good old scout just the same." "The School of Agriculture seems to have solved the problem of making agricultural education available to the farmer," declared the Sombrero, and to a degree this was true. By 1898 it had become a three-year secondary school which returned boys to the farm equipped to put brains into farming. And farmers were beginning to believe that the University was sincerely trying to serve them, not only through the work of the experimental station, but through short courses, the Sugar School, and the School of Agriculture. The same circumstances which had produced these innovations in agricultural education also provided the impetus for the formation of the School of Mechanic Arts in April, 1896. Charles R. Richards, who had joined the faculty in 1892 as an instructor in manual training, was made director of this school. Richards encountered the familiar problems--lack of funds, lack of students, lack of space. The classroom shortage was partially alleviated when a portion of the Mechanic Arts building was completed in 1898, but the School of Mechanic Arts was never as popular as the School of Agriculture.


scout just the same."

The School of Domestic Science

Education for women was an important feature of the land-grant college movement; but although all were agreed in principle that women should have an education, few were sure precisely what it should be. Some felt that it was sufficient that universities were coeducational and women given the same opportunity as men to enroll in the departments offering work of interest to them. But there was also a demand for practical education for women, and as early as 1875 Iowa State College began a course in "cookery and the household arts," with what was described as the first experimental kitchen in the nation. At the same time Kansas University was teaching sewing and food chemistry; and the University of Illinois from 1874 to 1880 had an extensive home economics program. Nebraska lagged in this field; not until 1894 did Professor Rosa Bouton of the Department of Chemistry offer a course in "domestic chemistry," and not until 1898 did the regents form the School of Domestic Science. This was not merely a cooking school; it was "intended for those young women who wish to prepare themselves to perform skillfully and intelligently those duties in the home which sooner or later come to almost every one of her kind." Miss Bouton vigorously opposed later suggestions that the school be moved to the farm campus, for she felt that young women on the academic side needed the work too. But financial support for the school was hard to come by, and for several years a room fitted with a stove and sink in the Mechanic Arts building served Miss Bouton as her lecture room.

Despite the vicissitudes that accompanied the creation of these schools, it is apparent that there was a new vitality within the Industrial College. New fields were being explored, and the University appeared to be on the road to realizing the intentions of the Morrill Act. The establishment of the preparatory schools kept the doorway to higher education open to rural youths, and those who were interested in agricultural, mechanical, and engineering work were increasingly drawn to the University.

Part III

The Emergence of the University (1900-1919)


The Golden Years

At the turn of the century the University of Nebraska held a special place in the affections of people of the state. "The University of the Trans-Mississippi Region," as it was described in an advertisement appearing in the 1900 senior class yearbook, was housed in nineteen buildings, including a museum whose collection was valued at sixty thousand dollars and a library with forty thousand books. It offered a summer session, and during the regular academic year students could enroll for courses in law, domestic science, mechanic arts, agriculture, music, and art, to say nothing of the traditional liberal arts course and graduate study. Newspaper editorials, magazine articles, and public speeches recounted the achievements of the institution which was referred to as "The Best in the West. Even Omaha's World-Herald, long one of its most strident critics, had nothing but praise for the Lincoln school. The appointment of a Nebraska alumnus, Harvey Newbranch, '96, to an editorial position on the paper undoubtedly influenced its outlook, but to some degree the change in the World-Herald's attitude reflected a general acceptance of the University throughout the state.

The praise heaped upon it resulted from something more than the desire to boom the state and the institution. Statistics compiled by the United States Bureau of Education and included in a Collier's article by Richard Lloyd Jones referred to in a State Journal story, September 14, 1908, showed that a larger percentage of the population in western states attended colleges and universities than in eastern states. In Nebraska, for example, one person out of 409 attended an institution of higher learning, whereas in Massachusetts, with her long cultural tradition and many established colleges, the ratio was one out of 600. The federal study also revealed that Nebraska led the nation in the percentage of its population in common schools.

During the first decade of the twentieth century the University’s total enrollment 1 increased by more than a third, as is shown in the table on the following page, compiled from Regents' Reports:

1 Up through 1903-1904 the figure includes students enrolled in the Academic and Industrial preparatory schools, the Schools of Agriculture and Mechanic Arts, art, music, and summer school students. After 1900 the Academic and Industrial preparatory students are referred to as "Conditioned first-year students," for these preparatory departments were being phased out and disappear after 1904. The actual number of full-time students at the collegiate level was a follows: 1899-1900 - 1, 922; 1900-1902 - 1, 931; 1901-1902 - 1987; 1902-1903-2, 227; 1903-1904 - 2, 153; 1904-1905 - 2, 322; 1905-1906 - 2,398; 1906-1907 - 2, 569; 1907-1908 - 2, 744; 1908-1909 - 3, 105.


Academic Year Enrollment

1899-1900 2,209

1900-1901 2,256

1901-1902 2,289

1902-1903 2,560

1903-1904 2,513

1904-1905 2,728

1905-1906 2,914

1906-1907 3,130

1907-1908 3,237

1908-1909 3,611

And it was during these so-called golden years that the University achieved academic respectability. In 1902 the newly elected chancellor of the University of Kansas pointed to Nebraska as an example of what a western university could do, and called upon Kansas supporters to waste no time in emulating the academic work of their neighbor to the north. A more impressive indication of the University's standing came in 1909 when it was admitted to membership in the Association of American Universities. Formed in 1900 by Harvard, Columbia, California, Johns Hopkins, and Chicago, the association's purpose was to encourage high academic standards among the nation's universities. when Nebraska became the eighteenth institution to be admitted to this select group, it meant that a measure of academic excellence had been secured not only in undergraduate work but in faculty scholarship and graduate training as well.

The maturation of the University came as Nebraska entered a period of economic growth and political reform. Although the Populists must be credited with awakening the people to the need for reform, it remained for Progressive Republicans to promote successful programs of reform. Republican leaders broke the hold of the railroads upon their party machinery, and progressivism triumphed, if only for the moment, with the election in 1907 of Governor George L. Sheldon. Some University faculty members played a part in the progressive movement, notably Edward A. Ross, who had resigned from Stanford University after a clash with its governing body over academic freedom. Ross was at home in the political atmosphere of post-Populist Nebraska. He had long and inconclusive discussions with W. J. Bryan, and he and Roscoe Pound sharpened their beliefs by perpetual argument. Pound later declared that Ross had set him "in the path the world is moving in." And during his years at Nebraska, Ross began to publish the sociological studies that were praised by President Theodore Roosevelt. But as a whole the contribution of the University to the cause of progressivism was less than that of the Wisconsin faculty to the movement in that state. One Wisconsin idea, the Legislative Reference Bureau, was adopted by Nebraska. A. E. Sheldon, superintendent of the State Historical Society and a part-time faculty member, was the bureau's first director. L. E. Aylsworth, professor of political science, assisted in the drafting of several progressive laws, including a state initiative and referendum, a public ownership statute, and a home-rule charter for Lincoln. The University's political role in this period was mostly indirect; increasing numbers of its alumni were being elected to public office. E. J. Burkett, elected to the United States Senate in 1905, and Governor Sheldon were both University graduates; and several state legislators also were alumni. As the State Journal observed in November, 1906, "The university trained man seems to have better than average ability to achieve a standing that will lead to his public preferment."

In 1903 the regents concluded that a young state university could not excel in every academic area; therefore, it must assign priorities. They described


the four essential categories of academic activity. First were "studies which lie at the basis of high general intelligence and are not recondite at all"; these comprised the basic courses of undergraduate instruction—English language and literature, modern foreign languages, political economy and finance, ordinary mathematics, and so on. Second came "studies more technical in character, fundamentally relating to the political and industrial life of the state." Here were included courses in agriculture, engineering, manufacturing, and teaching, as well as political and social sciences, higher mathematics, chemistry, and physics. Third were "subjects which a considerable number of youth will wish to know to fit them for some sort of life which they may choose outside the state," among them philology, severe studies in art and literature, and deep acquaintance with foreign languages, ancient and modern. And finally, there were "studies having little apparent relation either to the life of the state or to the necessities of any of its citizens, although important to human intelligence at large"—recondite attainments in languages, speculative mathematics, and philosophy. In view of the University's financial situation, the Board believed that special emphasis should be attached to the first two, particularly technical education. The regents concluded: "At the earliest possible moment certain new lines of work ought to be added to our repertoire to make it rational, self-consistent and consistent with the progressive wealth and civilization of Nebraska. Our facilities for teaching agriculture should be again doubled, if not trebled. Our instruction in engineering should be amplified, perfected, and organized into a college of engineering. A four years' course in agriculture engineering should be made a feature."

The liberal arts faculty vigorously protested the suggestions. Why dissipate the University's resources in these fields? The mark of the University, they asserted, must be made in the academic and graduate programs. Questions concerning the University's philosophy had been raised before, but during the early 1900's they were argued with greater intensity and fervor than ever before. From this point on, the University was involved in a perpetual controversy over proper academic activities and long-range objectives. At the same time, University authorities had to justify the University's functions in terms which would be understandable to the taxpayers.

Chancellor E. Benjamin Andrews

The long-range objectives were frequently overlooked because of immediate needs. With the resignation of MacLean, the most obvious need was to find a new chancellor. In 1900 control of the Board of Regents had fallen into the hands of Fusionist candidates. For the first time since the University had begun operations the Republicans were in the minority on the Board, and Republican editors expected that the election of the chancellor would be dictated by partisan considerations. Finally the field narrowed to two men: J. W. Jenks, a well-known professor of political economy from Cornell University, and E. Benjamin Andrews, formerly president of Brown University and until recently superintendent of the Chicago Public Schools. On April 10 it was announced that the regents, by a straight party vote of four to two, had elected Andrews.

The Chancellor-elect was born in Hinsdale, New Hampshire, in 1844. He served with distinction in the Civil War, was wounded, and subsequently lost his right eye. Mustered out of the Army, he completed his collegiate work and graduated from Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island, in 1870. From 1872 to 1874 he studied at Newton Theological Institute and was ordained a Baptist minister, occupying a pulpit at Beverly, Massachusetts. He was president and professor of philosophy at Denison University in Granville, Ohio, from


1875 to 1879, and from there went to Newton, where he was professor of homiletics. From 1882 to 1888 he held the chair of history and political philosophy at Brown, receiving an honorary degree—LL.D.—from the University of Nebraska in 1884. He served one year at Cornell University, and in 1889 returned to Brown as its president. For nine years Andrews performed ably at Brown. He greatly increased student enrollment and the size of the faculty, introduced the elective system, founded the Women's College, and in general promoted an academic renaissance within the university. An economist of some repute, Andrews wrote widely about the nation's economic problems, and concluded that some form of expanded currency—he preferred silver—was necessary. He published two books, Wealth and Moral Law and An Honest Dollar, which stamped him as the leading academic defender of monetary reform. Brown's trustees were disturbed by Andrews' views, and they attributed a decline in endowments and personal bequests to the university to his activities. In 1897, they asked him to cease promulgating his opinions and Andrews resigned the presidency, but when the trustees asked him to reconsider, he resumed the office. However, the following year he resigned for a second time and moved to Chicago, where he was superintendent of Chicago public schools from 1898 to 1900.

Since he was a national figure both as an educator and as an advocate of free silver, Andrews was well known in Nebraska. Republicans had frequently attacked him for his espousal of free silver; and at the height of his dispute with the trustees of Brown University, the State Journal had remarked, "When a leading educator takes advantage of his position to establish a political propaganda, the best interests of all concerned make it necessary to take the course adopted by the trustees of Brown." Quite naturally, Democratic and Populist editors took the opposite view and supported Andrews. They pictured him as a martyr to the cause of truth and honesty betrayed by the "plutocrats" who controlled the eastern universities, and they felt certain that his appointment as the chancellor of the University of Nebraska meant that "the influence of concentrated wealth" would not be felt by that institution. But Republicans and Democrats alike agreed that Andrews was a top-notch appointee; and one faculty member expressed the common view when he said that while Andrews had been selected by a partisan vote, he would not be motivated by partisanship in his administration of the University. Few dissented from the assessment of the Lincoln correspondent of the World-Herald: "The action of the board is generally regarded as an extremely fortunate one. Dr. Andrews is not only one of the best known of living American writers and lecturers on historical and economic subjects, but his standing as an educator of high administrative and executive ability is recognized throughout the country." Moreover, leading Republican papers, such as the State Journal, were willing to give Andrews the benefit of the doubt. Only the Omaha Bee, edited by the unpredictable Edward Rosewater, objected to Andrews' appointment. In the Bee's view, the choice probably was unwise because it "inserted the entering wedge of partisanship into one of the foremost educational institutions of the west." Andrews was a born fighter; wherever he had been he was the "revolving point for agitation and dissension." Regents had voted against him. He was famous for his clashes with authority rather than for building up educational institutions; and while the Bee hoped the appointment would work out all right, it felt that the votes against his election were "justified by the conditions and eminently in accord with sound business principles."

When Andrews arrived in Lincoln in mid-April 1900, to look over the University, an impromptu meeting, attended by a large number of students, was


held in chapel. During the course of a short speech, Andrews commented that a university must train the body as well as the mind, and that he was glad to see that Nebraska had "a baseball and an athletic field." This remark appealed greatly to the students, who were rapidly succumbing to football fever2. Andrews said that he was impressed with the way that the University's finances were handled; and he noted that the University had a larger than usual percentage of students who entered its graduate programs-- superlative graduate work was rather uncommon and was "a sure sign of excellence and scholarship." The elation was general when he announced his acceptance of the chancellorship. Determined to make the best of the appointment, the State Journal hailed Andrews as just the man "to organize and harmonize the entire educational system of the state." The next day the Journal added: "No matter what his utterances or beliefs, he is an educator and not a dabbler in ward, state or national politics, so the good people of Nebraska need not be alarmed by his coming to them." And A. L. Bixby, the Journal's popular humorist who wrote under the name "Bix," also offered his endorsement of Andrews, even though "he parts his name in the middle." After all, said Bix, J. Sterling Morton had done the same thing.

In his inaugural address in September, 1900, Andrews carefully outlined his philosophy of higher education. He dwelled at length on the need for complete academic freedom within the University and asserted that professors must be free of outside pressures and influences. At the same time he insisted that they must be effective teachers, and that academic freedom did not mean the incompetent teacher could escape criticism. Accepting that the University was responsible for providing moral and spiritual training for students, Andrews said that, contrary to public opinion, he felt that the University was thorough and excellent in this respect. He upheld interscholastic athletics so long as they were not overemphasized. He wanted more freedom for the students to choose their subjects of study, and he hoped to see more emphasis upon practical training. There were man reasons for "the infusion of a somewhat more practical spirit into higher education," and the need was greatest in the field of agriculture. These were hardly the words of a radical, and Andrews' pledge that the University would be administered fairly and without regard to politics was accepted at face value. From the outset the student body gave him complete support, frankly idolizing the new chancellor. Tall, erect, and of military bearing, Andrews always wore a Prince Albert coat and trousers with creases "that would cut." He walked across the campus head high, and "when the cadets saluted him, when they met they did it with respect and admiration which he commanded."

Chancellor Andrews and "Tainted Money"

Many believed that the University of Nebraska had been able to attract a man of Andrews' caliber because as an opponent of trusts and an advocate of free silver he would find congenial company in Nebraska. It seemed likely that after his experiences with plutocrats in Rhode Island and political corruption in Chicago he welcomed the invitation to come to the home town of William Jennings Bryan, whom he had invited to address the Brown University commencement during his conflict with the trustees. Surely there was nothing in Andrews' background to suggest that he would ever make common cause with a robber baron like John D. Rockefeller, whose Standard Oil Company dominated the American oil industry and held a position close to monopoly. Yet philanthropy-- as well as politics-- makes strange bedfellows.


2: see Chapter Twenty-Four


At the turn of the century, discussions of Rockefeller's philanthropic invasion of the field of higher education enlivened many Nebraska editorial pages. Referring to Rockefeller's founding and endowment of the University of Chicago in 1889, one Populist editor warned his readers, "When you grease your old wagon, or light your lamp tonight you ought to remember that you are contributing of your ten cent potatoes to the support of the Chicago University." And Professor Caldwell, in the State Journal, declared that there were some indications that endowed institutions such as Chicago would never be free "in matters concerning corporations," adding that the state university was "a product of the middle west which is becoming the college for the people instead of for the favored few." But as Rockefeller and other big businessmen embarked on programs of educational philanthropy, college and university administrators who had struggled for years to make financial ends meet welcomed cooperate endowments and argued that financial support did not necessarily mean that the financial giants would control the academic ventures undertaken.

The land-grant universities were not expecting to be recipients of Mr. Rockefeller's largesse, so it came as a surprise when early in April, 1903, it was rumored that he had offered a substantial sum of money to the University of Nebraska. A question arose: Why would Rockefeller, who, according to report, had helped drive Andrews out of Brown, offer a gift to an institution which was under his direction? The new student newspaper, the Daily Nebraskan3, maintained that Rockefeller had not figured in the Brown affair; in fact, he was on the best o terms with Andrews. One of his ons had been an undergraduate at Brown while Andrews was president, and the two were warm personal friends. Andrews had asked Rockefeller for the money, and the industrialist had agreed to offer a gift to the University. According to the student paper, most of the faculty thought that it was necessary to accept the money. Moreover, Rockefeller had agreed to furnish financial help to a struggling Baptist college in Grand Island.

On April 12 the Chancellor confirmed that Rockefeller had tentatively made a gift to the University, agreeing to put up two-thirds of the money to build a combined student building and religious center, if the rest of the money was privately subscribed by January 1 and collected by July 1. The regents were gratified, because the Rockefeller donation not only would help relieve the building shortage but would help the University out of a potentially tight spot. As the result of a recent State Supreme Court decision, questions had been raised about the proper relationship of religion and education, and many believed that the Court intended to promote a complete separation of the two. This might mean that the University would not be permitted to provide rooms for such organizations as the YMCA, which had been done as a matter of course for years. The regents hoped that a building financed by outside funds and removed from the main campus would enable the University to escape the Court's ensure.

The Temple Building, as the new structure would be named, was to cost $100,000, and on April 13 a committee called upon friends of the University to contribute $33,333 of this sum. But on April 17, before the financial campaign was well under way, a World-Herald editorial expressed the hope that "the effort of this trust magnate to lay his foul hands upon the Nebraska state university will not succeed. That great institution needs none of his ill-gotten funds. . . . A plague upon your contributions, Mr. Rockefeller. For her institutions Nebraska wants none of them." As the World-Herald saw it, Andrews had sold out to the Republican plutocrats; and from this point on, the paper was an outspoken opponent of the Chancellor. William Jennings Bryan, twice defeated for


3: See p. 284.


the Presidency but still possessing great influence in Nebraska, lined up with the World-Herald. "Rockefeller's money smells too much of oil to allow him to put a building on our campus," said the Great Commoner.

While the World-Herald excoriated Andrews, the Republican State Journal, with tongue in cheek, wondered what all the fuss was about. Andrews was certainly no tool of the money powers, said the State Journal, and the University needed the gift badly. The Rockefeller donation could not affect the University proper, for the building was to be used almost exclusively for student affairs and would be located off campus. The Daily Nebraskan reported a faculty member as saying, "It's a sort of Baptist college-church, secured by the joint efforts of Mr. Rockefeller and the chancellor; what's the use of raising a row about it?" But the World-Herald would not let the matter rest. An editorial of October 15, 1903, suggested that "Mr. Rockefeller's willingness to send the Nebraska university [$66,666] carries with it Mr. Rockefeller's purpose to dominate the faculty of Nebraska's University," and the editor hoped that for the good of the college "the enthusiasts who seek to raise the [$33,333] which seems to be necessary to secure Mr. Rockefeller's contribution will not succeed in their misguided efforts."

In a January, 1904, interview, Andrews asked a World-Herald reporter to tell his editor that "the $33,333.33 which Mr. Rockefeller asks the people of Nebraska to contribute will be raised; that the building will be erected; that it will be of great benefit to the students and to the university, and that it will not do the slightest harm to the students, the university, or the state of Nebraska." He justified accepting the gift on the grounds that the public either could not or would not adequately support its schools. The University held its place in the academic race only because of an exceptionally able faculty. Buildings were urgently needed and salaries had to be raised; and since it was impossible to get the money out of the legislature, the University "must either secure the funds from private sources or the university must suffer." He reminded the World-Herald that the Board of Regents was elected by the people; if the people found that the regents were being dictated to by Rockefeller, the could vote them out of office. As for Rockefeller, he had been misrepresented by muckraking journalists such as Ida M. Tarbell; he had contributed greatly to the development of the nation, and Andrews had known him since 1876 and personally considered him to be a great and good man.

The World-Herald was, if anything, even more exercised. "Is it possible," asked an editorial, "that the intelligent people of Nebraska who have pride in their university can observe the demoralizing influence which the mere suggestion of the Rockefeller offer has had upon the chancellor of our state university without trembling for the welfare of that great institution, once the Rockefeller monument is erected upon the campus and the Rockefeller influence is given an abiding place in university circles?" How had Andrews managed to slip an eight-thousand-dollar appropriation to buy the intended site of the Temple Building trough the last legislature without explaining what the money would be used for?4 In reality the bill "was smuggled through the Legislature to add to the Rockefeller fund." Legislators whom the World-Herald had asked about the matter said that they had been told the funds were to be used for "campus enlargement"; nothing was said about the Rockefeller building. Of course not, thundered the World-Herald, for no Nebraska legislator would have dared to vote


4: This refers to the fact that Chancellor Andrews had brought in his own name three lots on the southwest corner of Twelfth and R Streets-- the future site of the Temple Building. In their meetings on April 24 and 25 the Board of Regents authorized the completion of the negotiations for buying these lots from Andrews. There was nothing surreptitious about the transaction; the intended purchase of the lots was reported in the State Journal.


funds to be used in conjunction with "the tainted money of John D. Rockefeller." Regent C. S. Allen, giving his private opinion, said that to refuse the money upon the grounds that it was "ill-earned" would be a dangerous precedent, for every subsequent donation to the University would be subjected to a similar test. This would hardly encourage people to give money to the institution. Moreover, it was beneath the dignity of the state to raise questions about how money donated to it had been come by. Andrews, returning from an eastern trip in mid-March, was greeted by nearly three hundred students, who cried, "What's the matter with our Chancellor? He's all right!" and followed it up with, "What's the matter with the World-Herald? Rotten! Rotten! Rotten!" Shortly thereafter the regents announced that they had formally accepted Rockefeller's gift. The Rockefeller gift figured prominently in the 1905 session of the legis

lature. The first discussion of the action came about in an unexpected fashion. A resolution introduced in the House which commended the Kansas Legislature for attacking the operations of the Standard Oil trust concluded with this declaration:

In view of the fact that John D. Rockefeller has contributed certain sums toward the erection of a building in connection with the Nebraska State University, we desire that it shall be known that the acceptance by Nebraska of the contribution which John D. Rockefeller has made to the university temple fund shall in no sense be regarded as an apology on the part of Nebraska people for the disreputable methods which the Rockefeller monopoly has employed. We desire that it shall be distinctly understood that the acceptance from John D. Rockefeller of a consider

able sum of money, the same to be used in the erection of a Nebraska university building, shall not serve before the people of the world as an indication that Nebraska has any sympathy whatever with the dishonest practices and the outra

geous impositions for which John D. Rockefeller's great monopoly is responsible.

After excited discussion, there was a motion to delete the paragraph, and the amended resolution passed the House sixty-three to twelve. How ironic, ob

served the World-Herald, that Kansas should be commended for fighting Standard Oil, while Nebraska scrambled to accept Rockefeller's gift. And on April 30 the Daily Nebraskan reprinted without comment the following parody of the Doxology:

Praise John from whom "oil" blessings flow; Praise also Bill who spends the dough; Praise John, praise Bill, praise all the host; Praise Bill a little; praise John the most.

William Jennings Bryan personally wrote the plank, included in the Demo

crats' platform for 1905, demanding that the Rockefeller money be returned. In October two Democratic candidates for the Board of Regents, Louis Lightner of Columbus and D. C. Cole of Osceola, issued a joint statement condemning the secret meetings of the Board and insisting that the Rockefeller contribution be rejected. They criticized Andrews for his close personal relationship with Rocke

feller and declared that "the head of a great free university . . . should himself be free from all entangling alliances and should represent only the people of the state of Nebraska." While they wanted members of the faculty and of the administration to enjoy full freedom of expression, they denied to the Chancellor "the right to use his position in an institution of the people for the purpose of apologizing for predatory wealth, whatever the personal obligation of the apolo

gist may be to the benefactor." Andrews' supporters found several flaws in the statement. In the first place, it was disclosed that Lightner, as a student in the University, had contributed to the Temple Building fund. Lightner replied that he had made the contribution only under "pressing solicitations," but "like many


others. . . . I have since regretted that I did so." Second, since two Fusionists sat on the Board it was difficult to give credence to the charge that the closed

meetings practice was part of a Rockefeller-Andrews conspiracy. And finally, the arguments of those who attacked Andrews were based upon comments taken out of context from Andrews' speeches and writings. The defeat of Cole and Lightner in the election indicated that the Chancellor had been sustained by the voters. But the enmity between the World-Herald and the Chancellor did not diminish. In January, 1906, the editor replied to a charge that he was the leading foe of the University by saying, "The real friends of the university are those who would throw Chancellor Andrews over the transom and kick his pernicious teachings out after him." In the spring of 1906 ground was broken for the Temple Building, the first building to be erected outside the confines of the original four-block campus. It was also the first University building given over to the use of student organiza

tions, and the first to be financed by private money. Chancellor Andrews had prevailed, but the bitter controversy over the Rockefeller donation continued to affect Andrews' administration. These were the golden years, but they were clouded by the questions posed by the World-Herald. Never could Andrews act with complete freedom.

Financial Problems

Like his predecessors, Chancellor Andrews was beset with financial problems throughout his administration. When the 1901 legislature assembled, University supporters were confident that the one-mill levy enacted in 1899 would provide enough revenue to meet the University's needs. A sympathetic legislature ap

proved a rather generous appropriations bill, but Governor Charles Dietrich struck from it a $90,500 emergency fund, arguing that the one-mill levy would not bring in as much revenue as the lawmakers assumed. The regents announced that because of the deletion of this money, students who were residents of Nebraska would be asked to pay a late registration fee of three dollars and nonresident graduate students a fee of ten dollars. Faculty members urged the Board to re

strict enrollment rather than invoke the special fee, but the regents rejected the proposal and said that the fees would be collected. Student opinion, as indicated in the columns of the Daily Nebraskan in September, 1901, was critical of Gov

ernor Dietrich. It also was noted that enrollment was down slightly; hard times in the state, the rising rates demanded by Lincolnites for board and room, and the special fee were responsible, said one student columnist. In another issue of the Nebraskan, a new instructor was quoted as saying that the University of Missouri, which was well supported by its legislature and had large and at

tractive buildings, was drawing some Nebraska students because it had no incidental fees. He thought that the new fee at Nebraska and the lack of appropriations for buildings had cut down the registration. In their Report for 1901 the regents compared the financial situation at Nebraska with that at eleven other land-grant institutions. According to this report, the University of Nebraska ranked tenth in the cost of buildings, tenth in the amount of state aid received, fifth in the number of students enrolled, ninth in the size of its faculty, tenth or twelfth in faculty salaries, and last by a long margin in annual per capita cost of the University to the state. The regents concluded that "a little study of this table alone must convince any one that the needs of the University are great and that the requests of the Regents are both conservative and justifiable if the University of Nebraska is to hold its place in the educational movement of the time and successfully meet the wants of the people of the state."


In May of 1902, the University's needs for additional funds was dramatized in an unusual way. Rumor ran rampant on the campus that the regents of the University of Wisconsin had invited Chancellor Andrews to their institution at a considerable increase in salary. Student leaders organized rallies whose theme was "Shall we let 'Bennie' go to Wisconsin?" and students and faculty members volunteered to contribute to a fund which would be used to make up the difference between Andrews' present salary and the Wisconsin offer. But Andrews vetoed this idea out of hand. He had intended his announcement to underscore the University's need for money, not to bring more money to his pocket. He acknowledged that the Wisconsin offer did not tempt him, but he feared that un

less the legislature came to its senses and provided additional funds, he would be unable to realize his plans for the University. The student body declared in a resolution adopted at a May 28 meeting in Memorial Hall:

Because we feel the great intellectual and moral stimulus which has uniquely characterized the leadership of Dr. Andrews among American educators, the stimulus that has not only given us higher ideals of scholarship; but, more important than that, made us better men and women; . . . we feel that for him to leave Nebraska would, to the university and to the state, be a distinct misfortune . . . we respectfully and urgently petition the board of regents to do all in their power to induce our chancellor to remain. . . . We . . . pledge ourselves to use every effort, during the coming vacation, to arouse the citizens of Nebraska to a realization of what they owe our university financially, and what they owe our chancellor in moral support.

The suspense ended several days later when Andrews announced that he had turned down the Wisconsin proposal and intended to remain at Nebraska "for a number of years." Furthermore, he declined the regents' offer of a thousand

dollar raise with the words: "While deeply sensible of your kindness in recently advancing my salary and believing that the new figure is not greater than a Chancellor of this university ought to earn and receive, I am unwilling, so long as the university is compelled to the rigid economy it now exercises, to accept for my services any higher remuneration." With this settled, attention shifted back to the political arena. The 1902 Democratic platform condemned Republican Governor Dietrich for his veto of the University's permanent improvement appropriation and pledged support for "liberal appropriations" for the University. Governor Ezra Savage, who had re

placed Dietrich when the latter resigned to enter the United States Senate, in his outgoing message to the legislature applauded the great advances made by the University and concluded that a careful study should be made in order to arrive at a proper estimate of funds needed for the next biennium. The legislature sub

stantially boosted the University appropriation, but Governor John Mickey vetoed $115,000 of the appropriation. However, Chancellor Andrews and the regents were undismayed. The one-mill levy remained operative, and they were hopeful that the legislature's action in revising property evaluation would result in a larger tax revenue. The situation developed into a period of watchful waiting-

the University willing to accept reduced appropriations while waiting to deter

mine whether or not the one-mill tax as applied against property valued at 20 per cent actual value (an action which raised the state's property value from $70,000,000 to $350,000,000) might not provide the funds so urgently needed by the University. In the meantime the University's leaders concerned themselves with another problem--that of obtaining control of at least a portion of the University's income. Since the 1880's the University had fought to convince the State Supreme Court that the University should have unfettered jurisdiction over all University


funds, but the Court had ruled again and again that no money could be expended without specific legislative appropriation and authorization. After the turn of the century, however, a series of State Supreme Court decisions granted the regents greater freedom. In 1904 the Court ruled that the Board possessed the power to spend money which came from the federal government in support of the agricultural experiment station without a specific legislative appropriation. In a 1907 decision, the Court gave the University access to all the money raised by the one-mill levy; and in 1909 it ruled that the University had the right to draw against the appropriated proceeds from taxes levied for university support, even though not all the proceeds were collected during the biennium for which the appropriation was made. This meant that now the institution enjoyed free access to federal funds and that the mill levy fund was now accessible. With a degree of financial autonomy granted to them, the regents would be able to lay out the path of future growth.

At first these decisions which removed some legislative restrictions were criticized, and when viewed in connection with the Rockefeller affair intensified suspicion of the regents and the Chancellor. In February of 1906, for example, the World-Herald harbored a "growing suspicion that the board of regents is under control of a politico-railroad cabal; there is a belief . . . that a legislative investigation might not be amiss; there are indications that John D. Rockefeller's is not the only corporate influence that is felt in the University." In September, 1906, speaking for those who felt that University appropriations had reached their extreme limits, the editor of the Omaha Bee wrote:

There is no desire anywhere we know of to cripple or embarrass the great educational institution, but neither is there any reason recognized why it should not be subject to the same rules of economy and moderation that are applied to all other branches of the state government. The university boosters are affected with the not uncommon habit of asking constantly for temporary concessions and then being not only unwilling to give them up in the slightest part, but even demanding more, without regard to the increasing weight of tax burdens.

In December, the Bee reported that Governor John Mickey was displeased with the financial management of the University. C. J. Ernst, president of the Board of Regents, quickly responded with an open letter to Mickey in which he explained and defended the policies of the regents. Perhaps they had misinterpreted the recent decisions of the Supreme Court, said Regent Ernst, but since these decisions had been handed down, the Board had not itemized in detail its requests to the legislature for expenditures drawn upon tax-based funds. The University was not secretly expending funds, as some persons charged. University accounts were scrupulously checked by the state auditor; and all funds expended during each biennium were recorded in the Regents' Reports, copies of which were distributed to every legislator and were available for any citizen to examine. President Ernst also explained to the Governor that in the future the University's budget requests would be in different form. As a result of the Court's decisions, the University had total and free access to the various federal funds and to the University cash fund; none of these monies came from state taxes, so the University was free to use them without legislative appropriation. Ernst said that henceforth the budget would reflect the "true needs" of the University insofar as the state's General Fund was concerned; no longer would it be "inflated" by inclusion of federal and cash funds. The people of the state could look at the University budget and know precisely what must be allocated in terms of tax dollars to support the institution. Ernst and the other regents considered this a great advance. There had been much misunderstanding in the


past when the budget came up for discussion, for the people of the state had been led to believe that they contributed approximately twice as much of their tax money to the University as was actually the case.

The legislative session of 1907 altered the complicated situation again, and those who demanded that the University exercise economy were joined by others who wanted to earmark University funds to make sure that the agricultural department received additional appropriations. In the end the legislature ignored the University's request for $100,000 to construct a mechanical engineering building on the downtown campus, but authorized a request for $100,000 for buildings and improvements on the farm campus. Legislators who supported the action said that they did not want to cripple the University but they believed that it "has gone beyond the state in advancement." The legislature's favoring of the farm at the expense of the downtown campus infuriated the Daily Nebraskan, which charged the lawmakers with partiality. But at the last minute the University supporters succeeded in pushing through a $50,000 supplementary building appropriation "for permanent improvements," to be spent as the regents saw fit. Wisely used, it was a sufficient sum for the construction of needed buildings on both campuses, although more money was needed for improvements.

In 1905 it had seemed that enrollment was beginning to drop, but in subsequent years it had spurted, and in 1907 the regents increased out-of-state student tuition to fifteen dollars a semester in an effort to lift some of the burden from the Nebraska taxpayer. According to the State Journal this was a turning point in the history of the University, for it indicated that the regents were no longer interested only in numbers. In the past the University grew at the expense of quality—and at the expense of an overburdened and relentlessly exploited faculty. The change came none too soon: in 1907 a disturbing number of the faculty left Nebraska for positions in other institutions offering higher salaries and greater opportunities for research and the direction of graduate work. Unless the undergraduate enrollment was curtailed, professors would not have time for the work which was rapidly becoming of primary importance to academicians. Professional advancement depended upon research and scholarly publication, and the University's tardiness in recognizing this fact cost it many excellent teachers.

Since Andrews had taken over, the appropriations forth University had increased from $475,000 for the 1899-1901 biennium, to $1,330,067 for the 1907-1909 biennium. Yet he insisted that the increase hardly enabled the University to keep pace. In 1908 he urged the alumni to organize themselves for two purposes: first, to help form "a public opinion . . . favorable to the University and its work"; second, to organize themselves for fund-raising. It was apparent to Andrews that many prominent alumni were unaware of the University's needs. One alumnus, for example, told him that he judged the University by the number of buildings under construction on the campuses, and by this standard the institution seemed to be doing well. Indeed, during the Andrews administration many new buildings were constructed. In addition to the Temple Building, an annex to Grant Hall was completed, an administration building was erected, and a physics laboratory, named for Professor DeWitt Bruce, went up west of University Hall. Also, extensive remodeling of some of the older buildings on the downtown campus was carried out, and at the University farm several needed buildings were added, including a women's building with space for a dormitory, classrooms, laboratories, and the Department of Domestic Science, but all this building activity still did not meet the needs of an expanding institution. Particularly acute was the need for a new museum building. Former Regent C. H. Morrill was distressed that so much of the collection could not be properly exhibited. He wanted to donate $5,000 to collect material "showing the geological


resources" of the state, but he demanded a proper building in which to keep the collections. Morrill asked Andrews, "if valuable collections that are delivered to the university authorities . . . are to be buried underground and stored in boxes piled up in corn cribs, how can you expect citizens of the state to interest themselves in this work?"

The Campus Removal Question

The question of additional buildings, however, was not simply one of securing money to finance their construction. In the early 1900's many persons associated with the University joined with prominent editors and public figures to urge that the campus should be moved from downtown Lincoln to the farm. There was no doubt that the University was running out of room to expand. In 1902, Andrews said that the University should immediately acquire additional farm land adjacent to the campus; and professor Caldwell in a letter to the editor of the Daily Nebraskan proposed that the existing "hideously ugly structures" should at some future time be replaced by new buildings properly constructed and in an architectural design that would give unity and beauty to the campus. Former Chancellor Benton, on a 1904 visit, declared that one of his predictions had come true—the University had outgrown the downtown campus.

IN 1906 the discussion about the future location of the University reached important proportions. Many people said that they could not imagine leaving the Lincoln campus, among them A. E. Sheldon, who called the removal talk "absurd." It had taken years to convince the legislature of the need for buildings now standing, he said, and "What makes anyone think that the legislature could be persuaded to adopt an immense building program to duplicate the abandoned facilities on the city campus?" Moreover, said Sheldon, it was convenient for working students. He concluded presciently, "The corporate interests crowding upon the University campus will not pay the cost of removal; the city will not; and the state at large will laugh at the idea. Therefore the University will stay where it is." Andrews agreed with Sheldon; he did not think that "the University will ever move its central seat from the campus. New land close by will cost more than the new farm you would need if you made the present farm your main campus."

But those favoring removal assembled impressive testimony in support of their point of view. From former Chancellor Canfield came a letter urging the University to consider relocation. At best the downtown campus could accommodate only four thousand students, he said, and it would be far better to lay out a modern, efficient campus at the farm than to try to squeeze new buildings into the downtown area. C. A. Skinner, professor of physics, said that it would be impossible to conduct experiments in the new laboratory if the proposed railroad tracks were built; trolleys and other daytime traffic rumbling by disturbed the delicate instruments so much now that the laboratory was "almost useless." Dean Bessey also favored relocation, a step he had been urging for years. According to Bessey, the movement to the farm already had begun. More and more University activities were being transferred to the buildings on the farm campus. Bessey, who had watched the University's growth for a quarter of a century, said the decision would have to be made soon. Major University departments should be relocated in new buildings on the farm campus; the downtown buildings, at least those few still in good repair, could be used by the College of Law, the Medical College, and probably for work in music and fine arts. "It would be possible, if the money could be obtained from the legislature, to build a thoroughly up-to-date and beautiful state university at the farm," he said. But the decision was postponed and nothing was done about the campus question at this time.




The Academic Scene, 1900-1909

In 1906 there were signs that the faculty was becoming restive. Tension among the staff mounted noticeably, and the regents, in their report for that year, noted that there was little exchange of views among the faculty "on matters of importance to the University.... While the administrative advance is straightforward and positive, the educational development is intermittent and unsymmetrical. The faculty lacks coherence.... To many a professor, his own department looms larger than the university itself." Alvin Johnson, who joined the faculty in 1906, has described the situation thus:

...the idyllic faculty society I had assumed when I was a student looked altogether different from the inside. The Greek professor could not endure the sight of the Latin professor; the American historian was continually at war with the European historian; literature and English were on perennially hostile terms; my own department [economics] found sociology and political science hard to bear. These warring professors were men I had worked under in my student days. I knew them to be sincere scholars and devoted teachers. It distressed me deeply to find them mutually embittering their lives, apparently without cause.

Roscoe Pound, who was then dean of the Law School, was also distressed by this "internecine academic warfare," and at the urging of Johnson and other peace loving professors he arranged a social evening which would bring the whole faculty together. The party, held in a Lincoln hotel, was a great success, particularly the group singing of the old college and university songs, rendered in a manner which shook the rafters. But unfortunately, "a group of ladies were having a party on social reform on the next floor. All the serenity of their thought was destroyed by our professional roaring. They reported us to Chancellor Andrews, who told us, gently but firmly, nothing of the kind was to happen again."

Amusing as this episode may be, the very real problem of a divided, competitive faculty had come to the University. Faculty expansion meant faculty separation, and with it an intensification of friction and misunderstanding. From this point on, faculty differences become of major significance in the story of the University. Faculty politics are hard to decipher and even harder to understand, but the phenomenon exerts a great force within any educational institution.

Internal Problems

The regents spend considerable time studying faculty problems and procedures during these years. In 1902, for example, they took under advisement for


the first time a system of faculty tenure.1 In 1904 they made a rule that no faculty member could appear before the legislature to discuss University matters without the consent of the Board. And in 1906 another proclamation of the Board limited the outside work in which faculty members might engage. In 1902 there had been a thorough overhauling of the registrar's office. Ellen Smith was asked to resign her post as registrar under conditions which hardly reflected creditably upon the University. In December, 1901, Miss Smith wrote a letter to the Board of Regents saying that she could not continue in her job unless her salary was raised "to an amount equivalent to that paid to the other officers of the university for a similar grade of work." She intended it as a protest rather than as a resignation, but the regents replied that they accepted her implied resignation, to take effect February 28, 1902; she was to continue as "consulting registrar" until June at her present salary. The students were up in arms about the whole business, and apparently the regents relented, for the record shows that Miss Smith resigned in August, 1902, six months before her death on February 21, 1903. Efforts to bring the internal organization of the University into step with modern conditions focused on creating effective faculty participation in the administration of the University. Chancellors Canfield and MacLean had taken the first steps toward organizing faculty government, and after 1900 the regents drew up several grandiose and impractical schemes which Andrews tried to put into effect. Only the expansion of the University Senate in 1899 had proved of permanent importance, and the functions of the Senate were obscure and unde

termined. In their report for 1905 and 1906, the regents said that the meetings of the faculty were being used only to recommend candidates for degrees, and suggested "the revival of the faculty meeting as a regular occurrence." They added that the replacement of the Senate by a "university faculty" had been suggested, in which all those of professorial rank, including the junior professors, should be included: the younger men needed the experience, and "every faculty needs the aid of its younger members to save it from conservatism and help bear the burdens too often carried solely by deans and heads of departments." One prominent faculty member, Ellery W. Davis, in his report for 1907 and 1908, wrote, "There is a need for a government [in the University] in which the various interests shall be constitutionally represented, as a matter of right and not a matter of courtesy. I cannot somehow make myself believe that the pos

sibility of arbitrary government whether by Chancellor or Regents or Deans or Department heads is the best for the harmonious development of the teaching force." The Senate was completely unable to cope with some major problems. For example, the conflict between the proponents of the liberal arts and the ad

vocates of technical training raged unchecked during the golden years. The College of Literature, Science and the Arts was clearly on the defensive as enroll

ment mounted in the Industrial College, with its courses in the practical sci

ences, engineering, and agriculture. The following table2 documents the trend:

_______________ 1 Academic tenure, as presently defined in "By-Laws and Rules of the Board of Regents," means "permanent tenure with continuous appointment, and once acquired, shall be terminated only for adequate cause, except in the case of retirement for age, or under extraordinary circumstances because of financial exigencies." Faculty members holding the rank of assistant professor or above are eligible for tenure. Assistant instructors, instructors, and administrative officers cannot acquire tenure. 2 The figures for the Industrial College include students enrolled in the Schools of Agriculture and Mechanic Arts. The tabulation, which is taken from Regents Reports, 1900-1909, does not include enrollment in the Graduate School and the College of Law, or art, music, and summer school students.


Enrollment in Enrollment in College of Literature, the Industrial Academic Year Science and the Arts College 1900-1901 942 595 1901-1902 953 551 1902-1903 1,047 673 1903-1904 948 754 1904-1905 972 852 1905-1906 986 940 1906-1907 1,039 1,086 1907-1908 1,050 1,197 1908-1909 1,089 1,292

Another trend was the decline in enrollment of men students in the academic and general courses, a "phenomenon" noted by the regents in their report for the years 1903 and 1904. "In liberal studies women are rapidly winning the ascen

dant," the regents stated. "Some very important culture courses have scarcely a male member apiece." Speculating about this development, they continued:

It is not clear that the change results wholly from the popular tendency of the day to the so-called practical and material. We must inquire if other factors are not at work. Have our programs or methods of instruction been growing effeminate, appealing to routine industry and memoriser proficiency, discouraging independent reflection and deep thought? Does our teaching lack spirit and unction? The subject deserves careful investigation by a faculty committee. If present tendencies continue, two schools will result, one for women . . . and the other for men . . . . The University could hardly suffer a worse calamity than a cleavage like this, if complete or even pronounced.

Whatever the reason, the liberal arts, long considered the heart of the Uni

versity, seemed to be fighting a losing battle. But their faculty refused to sur

render without a fight. In a University Journal article of March, 1906, George E. Howard discussed the "cleavage"--women, he felt, were limited to liberal arts courses, and men took professional courses in preference to liberal arts courses because of "a false ideal of culture; in a crass utilitarianism which mistakes the means for the end." Then, sounding the battle cry, he asked: "Can any edu

cation be regarded as adequate, as informed by the right ideal, which ignores the liberal arts, the priceless treasures gained during the countless ages of men's spiritual and social evolution?" He suggested that "professional studies be rele

gated more and more to the post-graduate years; thus giving young men a chance to acquire culture before they gain technical cunning; to become right-minded men and women and good citizens before becoming lawyers, electricians, or bridge-builders." In 1903 the Daily Nebraskan had asked Chancellor Andrews what he thought of a plan to offer "commercial education." He had said he liked the idea and regretted that the University could not afford it, and the Nebraskan then had asked various faculty members for their opinions on the matter. Grove E. Barber, long-time professor of Latin, had objected to such a course as being "merely informational" rather than cultural; modern America leaned too heavily toward commercialism, and the proposed course would increase that tendency. The aim of higher education should be to produce men of culture, he said, and "it seems obvious that the commercial school would not produce men trained in the higher things of life." But Laurence Fossler, professor of German, felt otherwise. He said that a commercial course in the University would "tend to broaden and widen the intellectual horizon of our commercial classes"; his only objection was to the


expense. The regents tended to agree with Fossler and took the practical point of view. In their report for the years 1905 and 1906, they said that the large enrollment in the Industrial College was not "at the expense of the culture studies," but was an indication that "the desire to know something of university life and to feel its quickening has come to the industrial classes." They added that a commercial college must be established; if Nebraska did not offer "fit educational chances," young men would enroll in universities in other states.

A thoughtful analysis of the liberal arts program, along with a number of specific recommendations, came from Ellery W. Davis, brilliant mathematics professor and dean of the College of Literature, Science and the Arts, in his 1905 report. Dean Davis began by saying that students "need help and guidance, even warning, at times, spurring." He noted that with "our large and increasing numbers the difficulty of reaching and satisfying the needs of each grows year by year more arduous," and asked himself what should be done to lighten it. First of all, he thought that care should be taken "to see that those not properly qualified do not enter the College." This would be justice to those who were qualified, kindness to those who were not. Since "to put upon the University the burden of preparatory work is to seriously hamper its proper function for those who are prepared," he asked for more complete provision for the examination of students from non accredited schools. Next- and "of hardly less important" - was the teaching of first year students. In order to give "supervision and inspiration" to their teaching, he felt that the more experienced professors "must needs partially forego the delights of multiplied courses and advanced instruction" to work with the new students. While scholars and fellows - the equivalent of graduate assistants - could help with the mechanical details, they should not have too great responsibility.

The Dean Davis considered the elective system, which obviously had not been working well; there were complaints that students were "not going on... with a line of work once started." He suggested three remedies: first, that students should continue in all subjects for one year; second, at the end of the year, the student should choose a major course of study with the approval of the department head; and third, the student's elected courses thereafter also would be subject to the approval of the department head. In effect, Davis was suggesting that each student have a faculty advisor - "one who presumably most cordially sympathizes with his aims and ideals."

Responding to some of Davis's recommendations, the Arts College allotted a faculty advisor to each student, and beginning with the fall of 1906, students in the college were required to choose a major. But Davis was still concerned with the problem of proper undergraduate instruction. In his report for the years 1905 and 1906, he said: "The training should be made more accurate, more connected, more inspiring. In each department... there should be a nucleus of well selected courses, in a definite sequence, and under experienced teachers." The aim should be "to so teach as to make a permanent and lasting impression upon a student, to give him such a taste of thoro(ugh)ness that he shall ever after be dissatisfied with the incomplete and the vague, and distrustful of all half-knowledge." He attributed the ineffective teaching in the college to the lack of facilities, to the load on the faculty, to "the necessity of practicing petty economies," and to the burden of routine work. And he referred to the friction among faculty members:

The teacher who can become a leader [should not be] thwarted in his advancement by the jealousy and misunderstanding of those unable to properly appreciate his insight and initiative. An able instructor has rights which the head of the depart-


ment, even tho he be an inferior, ought to respect. . . . Above all things else, the university stands for the advancement of learning, [so the scholars and fellows should not be loaded down with routine work]. Therefore, I plead for increase in our corps of instructors, especially the addi

tion of young men of promise. Therefore, I also plead for the greatest possible liberty to all instructors in the development of their ideals.

This kind of internal problem received next to no attention in the Ne

braska press. So far as the fraternity of editors was concerned, there was only one faculty problem--low salaries--and all were agreed that the faculty was grossly underpaid. The obvious solution seemed to be to persuade the legislature to appropriate more money, but faculty members said that on occasions when the legislature had voted additional funds, the money was used to create new positions rather than to raise salaries. Thus, the regents had resorted to the practice of "sweating" support for an expanded faculty from present staff mem

bers. By 1905, major Nebraska newspapers were up in arms about the "brain leakage" from the University, which was attributed by the Board of Regents to the fact that the salary schedule remained just about where it had been twenty

five years earlier, "when the University was an experiment, funds were meagre and students numbered only a few hundred." The State Journal editorialized that the University should face up to the basic issue: "The universities of the United States are now running a race for mere bigness. It is time to ask if it would not be well for Nebraska to drop out of that contest and devote its funds to keeping strong men in its faculties even if the number of professors make no gain in the next ten years." Other universities, no richer than Nebraska, were keeping their best men and taking some of Nebraska's "by the simple expedient of doing away with a level salary list and paying professors their market value"; if the brain leakage was to be stopped, Nebraska would have to do the same. The editorial went unchallenged. Nebraska, like other states, had a competitive enterprise in its state university. The decisions that determined the course of higher education in Nebraska were no longer being made within the state, but by the institutions that had achieved intellectual and academic leadership, and the University had little choice but to follow in their path. During the Andrews administration it maintained its position in the race for academic standing, but how long it would be able to do so was a question no one could answer.

Graduate and Professional Education

Spurred by the examples of the University of Chicago and Johns Hopkins University, which had been founded to encourage research and graduate training, the University of Nebraska worked hard to upgrade its graduate offerings. In 1903 twenty-four3 departments offered graduate work, and the quality of the work steadily improved as the Graduate School raised entrance requirements. The rigid standards explain why enrollment in the Graduate School remained fairly constant throughout this period:

Academic Year Graduate Students

1900-1901 149

1901-1902 108

1902-1903 123

1903-1904 107


3 The three divisions of engineering (civil, mechanical, electrical) and the two divisions of English (language, literature) are counted as separate departments.


1904-1905 125

1905-1906 120

1906-1907 128

1907-1908 130

1908-1909 136

These figures are deceptive, however, for most graduate students were secondary school teachers enrolled for in absentia work

. Some faculty members were troubled by the failure of the school to expand, and argued that the university should spend more of its energy on graduate instruction and leave responsibility for undergraduate work to the colleges of the state. Chancellor Andrews reached the same conclusion and in April, 1908, made this declaration:

The university will more and more remand to the best denominational colleges a very large part of the freshman work it at present does, and also considerable of its sophomore teaching. The movement bids fair to render the university ere long mainly a college of juniors, seniors, graduates and technical students . . . . Each plant among us would have something to do in a line where its services would be uniquely valuable and the university would be left for those larger educational enterprises too difficult or costly for private schools.

A year earlier a State Journal editorial commented on the demand for graduate work and pointed out that while there were twelve other institutions to Nebraska teaching undergraduates only the University had a graduate program. The Journal rightly recognized that "the question whether the Nebraska graduate school shall be strengthened or neglected is a large question in Nebraska's future progress. Although the Graduate School still ranked relatively high in comparison with the graduate schools of other western universities, many institutions were beginning to catch up with it. The University urgently needed more graduate faculty, more research materials, more laboratories, and more graduate fellowships. And as always the question was whether the legislature could be convinced of the need to provide more support for the graduate program.

The expansion of the University's work in professional education at least equaled and probably surpassed that in graduate work. On April 18, 1902, the Board of Regents signed an agreement with the trustees of a private school, the Omaha Medical College,4 to provide medical training under the University's direction. As an affiliated school, the Omaha Medical College would "retain its corporate existence"; it would take care of its own expenses and finances and handle its own business transactions. But the regents would issue all catalogues and diplomas; they had power over the course of instruction and the right to approve the faculty. It was further agreed that the trustees would sell the school to the University of Nebraska whenever the University was ready to buy it. The college was to be called "The College of Medicine of the University of Nebraska" and it would offer a four-year course leading to an M.D. The last two years of the course were to be given in Omaha; the first two years were to be given in Lincoln primarily—until June 21, 1906, however, students could take the first two years in Omaha "in necessary cases," as agreed upon by the Chancellor and the trustees. After that date, the first two years would be given only in Lincoln. Dr. Henry B. Ward, professor of zoology since 1905, was largely responsible for the merger and, fittingly, was appointed the first dean of the College of Medicine. Through this transaction the University came into possession of an established and thriving medical department; moreover, it was said that the arrangement

4 See p. 95.


might bring a changed attitude toward the University on the part of Omahans. Indeed, one legislator who had pushed to bring the Omaha college under the University's direction later confessed that he had done so in the hope that Omahans would end their constant sniping at the University.

The Announcement for 1902-1903 stated that a six-year course leading to both an academic (Bachelor of Science) and a medical degree also was available. Dr. Ward's report issued in December, 1902, showed that 31 students had enrolled in Lincoln for the six-year course and 14 for the four-year course, and 112 had enrolled in Omaha for the four-year course. Although only four years of work were required for graduation, Ward recommended the additional two years of preparation. He also noted that the Omaha faculty already were of the opinion that all preparatory work should be offered in Lincoln before the 1906 date on the agreement. Thanks largely to Dr. Ward, the standards of the new college remained high. In 1902 the University was one of the few state universities offering a six-year medical course; and in 1908, when Ward persuaded the faculty and regents to require two years of college preparation prior to enrolling for medical courses, the University was again in advance of most other schools. Ward argued that scientific advances made it imperative for the practitioner to possess a broad general scientific background: "The effort to master professional training today on the basis of limited preliminary education can only result in mediocrity if not in actual failure." In 1905 only one of the thirty-eight medical graduates qualified for an academic degree; in 1908 the number had increased to eleven of twenty-three. Attesting to the superior quality of the University's medical program, every state examining board in the country listed Nebraska graduates in the preferred class, and the best medical schools in the East welcomed them; also, the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons in England added Nebraska to its select list of American schools whose graduates would be admitted to licensing examinations on presentation of credentials only. Having mentioned these honors, Ward called for further efforts, emphasizing that support of the college necessitated a heavy outlay of funds for increased laboratory facilities and faculty.

In April, 1903, the regents approved a plan for cooperation between the University and a private school, the Lincoln Dental College, which would provide the dental training that the University could not yet afford to offer. The next move toward expansion of the professional program came in 1907 when Professor Rufus A. Lyman pressed the claims of pharmacy. The kind of pharmaceutical training that was available, he said, led to "the flooding of the profession with a class of incompetent men, and as is the case with men graduated from diploma-mill medical schools, they resort to quackery and live by dispensing nostrums and all sorts of habit-producing concoctions directly to an unsuspecting public. Lyman's efforts to persuade the University to form a school of pharmacy coincided with a rising national interest in pure drugs, which had been stimulated by the enactment of the national Pure Food and Drugs Act. The enactment of this law, said Lyman, created the need for well-trained pharmacists, for only such men would be capable of adequately enforcing the laws. But Lyman failed to convince a faculty committee, comprised of Professors Avery and Bessey, of the need for the school, although they did not deny its desirability. "On general principles," Bessey said, "I am not opposed to the further expansion of the University. I think we need to develop and strengthen what we have." Discouraged by the faculty opposition, Lyman told Chancellor Andrews that he was resigned to accepting defeat. But Andrews refused to retreat in the face of those who pleaded the University's poverty as a reason for not engaging in new activities. "We can't grow by retrenchment any more than a business can," Andrews said.


"It must be done by spreading out . . . . The University won't be doing what it can for the state until it touches every field in its teaching."

Lyman and Andrews had better luck with the regents and on April 23, 1908, the Board voted to establish the School of Pharmacy under the direction of Lyman, who had a national reputation in the field of pharmaceutical education. The Catalogue for 1908-1909 included this paragraph:

The recent awakening in both the medical and the pharmaceutical professions as to the manufacture, dispensing and sale of drugs, poisons, any synthetics, together with the passage of the Food and Drug Act, has placed upon pharmacy and pharmaceutical chemistry, and allied subjects an importance never before enjoyed. . . . Thorough and scientific [pharmaceutical] training has become imperative.

In view of these facts the University has organized the School of Pharmacy.

Although hampered by shortages of equipment and laboratory space, the school went into operation in the fall of 1908. Several separate courses were offered, one of which accepted a student with two years of high school education for two years of pharmaceutical training which prepared him for "analytical and prescription work." There was a three-year course "preparing especially for analytical work in private and public positions." The four-year course leading to a Bachelor of Science degree in pharmacy was open to high school graduates.

The part played by individuals in expanding the University's work in professional education is obvious: It was the driving force of Dr. Henry Ward that brought the Omaha Medical College under the University's wing, just as it was Rufus Lyman's persistence that created the School of Pharmacy. Similarly, Roscoe Pound brought order and direction to the College of Law, which had enjoyed a somewhat checkered career since its founding in 1891. Pound, who was indisputably one of the University's most illustrious graduates, was born in Lincoln in 1870. He received his three academic degrees from the University—his A.B. in 1888, his M.A. in botany in 1889, and his Ph.D.,k also in botany, in 1897. Although a brilliant student of botany, Pound developed an interest in law, perhaps derived from his father, Stephen B. Pound, who was one of pioneer Nebraska's leading lawyers and judges. Roscoe Pound attended Harvard Law School during the 1889-1890 terms, and this constituted his only academic legal training. He was admitted to the bar in 1890 and practiced law in Lincoln through the 1890's. From 1892 to 1903 he also was director of the Nebraska Botanical Survey, taught jurisprudence at the College of Law beginning in 1899, and from 1901 to 1903, when he resigned to become dean of the college, was a judge in the Nebraska Supreme Court.

According to Dean Pound's own account in the 1906 Sombrero, during the College of Law's first two years "the instruction was by lectures only, and there was no systematic course of study." When Judge Reese became dean in 1893, "a true course of study was put into effect," but the instructors were practicing attorneys who "could devote but part of their energies to the College of Law." Nonetheless, Reese's administration saw progress and improvements—"the lecture system was discarded, systematic instruction by text-books took its place, and a modified form of the case-method was introduced to some extent." Then in 1903 the legislature passed a law requiring three years of study for admission to the bar, and "the increase in the course of study afforded me an opportunity to provide for the case-system of study in its entirety. This system is in reality nothing but the source-method with which historical and scientific study has made the student familiar." When he had instituted this stem of instruction, raised the entrance requirements, and revised the course of study "according op the best models," Pound felt that "full provision had been made for the purely


academic teaching of law." But a problem still remained—"namely, to give to the school in addition the practical effectiveness of instruction in a lawyer's office. A law school should aim to do two things—to make a scholarly lawyer, and also to make an effective lawyer." Some members of the legal profession felt that only a period spent in a law office where the student had the opportunity to attend court could do the latter. "For my part," said Pound, "I believe that the law school can meet both requirements," and he instituted a series of practice courts in which "the actual working of courts of justice is simulated as closely as possible." He defended the importance of law as "the original academic study" against those who had the idea that the College of Law "is not a real part of the University, but is merely a money-making enterprise existing by sufferance. "Thorough legal instruction is as necessary to the well-being of the commonwealth as any part of the work of this institution. . . . It is of the first importance to the commonwealth that those who are to argue and decide cases . . . should be trained in our own schools and in our own law. . . . The West has peculiar legal problems, and the older and longer-settled portions of the country very often have little or no knowledge of or sympathy with these problems. We can and we ought to train the future leaders of our bar at home."

In 1906 Dean Pound was invited to address the annual meeting of the American Bar Association, the first professor of law so honored. The speech he delivered on this occasion is recognized as a landmark in American legal history. In his forthright manner Dean Pound attacked the legal profession for permitting practices to endure which were no longer relevant to the needs of American society. Pound was a reformer, and in his report to the regents, which appeared in January, 1905, he stated the challenge which faced the profession. With the growing mass of federal and state legislation, he said,

it is evident, now that the growing point of our law has so completely shifted to legislation, that the unity of our legal system must be fought for if it is to be preserved. Moreover, the antiquated organization of American courts, the backwardness of American judicial procedure, and the unsatisfactory character of American criminal justice, are certain to call for the highest powers of well-trained common-law legislators in the near future.

And yet Dean Pound, who had received his University training in the classics and the sciences, never believed that complete specialization in legal training was the answer to the problem. "But [only] a small part of this necessary scientific equipment may be furnished by the law schools," he said. "The student must come to the law school with a foundation in history, in economics, in politics, and in sociology which general college training alone can supply." Thus beginning in 1904 admission to the College of Law required a full high school education, "the requirement for admission to the general colleges," although such a requirement would—and did—decrease enrollment figures. Moreover, Pound advocated that as soon as possible two years of college should be a prerequisite. His insistence that Nebraska's standards be on a par with the best in the country put the College of Law in the front rank, and the morale of his students during his administration is suggested in the statement of one of them that "the Law School at the present time is no place for shirkers or idlers."

Considering the reputation Dean Pound acquired in legal education, it was not surprising that other institutions attempted to lure him from Nebraska. After rejecting many offers, in 1907 he accepted an invitation to join the faculty of Northwestern University. During a campus mass meeting to protest his resignation, speakers insisted that something had to be done to keep professors such as Pound. Professor Howard, according to the Daily Nebraskan, deplored "the


condition of affairs at Nebraska that permits other schools to get our best men." A new policy must be initiated "if Nebraska is to stand as a leading university." But some people felt that Pound's loss was inevitable. "He is too big a man for Nebraska," was a comment heard across the state. Whether or not a higher salary, better facilities, and an enlarged law library would have held Dean Pound at the University is a question which even in later years he could not answer. After leaving Nebraska, his star continued to rise. In 1910 he went to Harvard University, there to become dean and to gain recognition as one of the foremost jurists and teachers of law of modern times. His name and high achievements are memorialized in the Roscoe Pound Chair of Law at Harvard Law School, as well as in the Roscoe Pound Lectures at the University of Nebraska.

Faculty and Curricula

During the years of the Andrews administration some members of the arts faculty sought to reinvigorate their disciplines and to prove that the liberal arts had relevance for a modern world. In the field of the social sciences Professor George E. Howard, who had come back to Nebraska in 1904 after a brief, stormy period as head of the history department at Stanford University, exercised leadership. He was ably supported by Professor E. A. Ross, who had been fired from his Stanford position and had come to Nebraska in 1901, remaining until 1906. Under Ross's direction the work in business and economics was expanded to include courses in labor relations, marketing and insurance—all pertinent to contemporaneous developments. Howard dedicated his effort to the relatively new field of sociology. In 1906 a department of political science and sociology was created by consolidating the work of the chairs of institutional history and sociology and adding the division of politics, which formerly had been in American history. Howard offered the bulk of the sociology course, while L. E. Aylsworth worked with the students in political science. Both men also offered graduate courses in their respective fields. Howard and Aylsworth believed that academicians had something to offer toward the solution of human and social problems. Their courses emphasized activism; they wanted their students to attack existing problems. At one point Howard and his colleagues on the Arts College faculty discussed the formation of a course "for those looking to professional services in philanthropic line." The proposed course would involve students in sociology, economics, history, and psychology, its objectives being to prepare them for careers in professional social work. In addition, there was discussion of courses to prepare students for consular and diplomatic service, and as early as 1903 it had been suggested that a chair of oriental languages be created, in order "to fit out students who may figure on careers in our new far-eastern possessions."

There seemed to be no limit to the academic enterprises the University was willing to undertake. In 1907 the chair of anthropology was created, with Hutton Webster as professor. Pressures exerted by students of Czech descent impelled the regents to consider the formation of a department of Czech language and literature. The regents struck a hard bargain: If Frank Rejcha, a member of the legislature, would work for the passage of the one-mill appropriations bill, the University would try to establish the department. According to Rose Rosicky, the historian of the Czechs in Nebraska, Rejcha accepted the proposition, and in the fall of 1907 Chancellor Andrews announced that courses in Czech would be available. The Department of Scandinavian Languages and Literature was created in 1909, at which time Miss Sarka B. Hrbkova was appointed to the faculty; Slavonic languages were added to the curriculum two years later.


Building upon the work of Wilbur P. Brown, Kate Wilder, and Anne L. Barr, the University continued to make great progress in the field of physical edu

cation. In 1902, Dr. R. G. Clapp was name head of the department. Clapp, a Yale graduate, a medical doctor, and a fine athlete, was one of the first male professional physical education instructors in the country, and under his vigorous direction the physical education program of the University continued to expand. On the purely academic side, professors in the Arts College were winning national reputations. Fred M. Fling, professor of European history, in 1908 published the first volume of his celebrated life of the French revolutionary leader Mirabeau. In Nebraska, however, Fling's impact continued to be most marked among the state's history teachers whom he trained in the use of the source method. This technique, which received publicity across the country, was referred to as "the Nebraska Method." Professor Louise Pound was well on her way to eminence at this time. A sister of Roscoe Pound, she had received a B.L. and diploma in music from the University in 1892 and an M.A. in 1893. In 1899, she began work on her doctor's degree at the University of Heidelberg, and received it in 1900, having completed the requirements in about one-third the usual time. This performance confounded European educators and established the University's reputation on the Continent. Like her brother, Miss Pound was no stiff academician. She was amazingly versatile, among other things being a champion athlete, winning laurels in tennis, golf, and cycling. She was also an expert in the field of folklore, and in time was to be the national president of the American Folklore Society as well as president of the Modern Language Association, the first woman to hold that office. When Miss Pound retired in 1945 she had published more than two hundred articles and books; but above all she was proud of the students whom she had guided into the study of literature and folklore. Another Nebraska product joining the faculty at this time was Hartley Burr Alexander, who held his Ph.D. from Columbia University. In a 1964 letter Alvin Johnson called Alexander "the greatest philosophic mind that had ever come out of Nebraska." But the brilliant Alexander consistently ruffled the feathers of his colleagues; and even though he performed superbly in graduate school and many considered his doctoral dissertation a masterpiece, job offerings were lacking. It was Alvin Johnson, his friend of undergraduate days, who prevailed on Chancellor Andrews to bring Alexander to Nebraska. The chairman of the Department of Philosophy "declared that in no circumstances would he stand for Alexander," but Andrews ignored the chairman and offered Alexander a post. Still another outstanding addition to the faculty was M. M. Fogg, whom Andrews in 1901 asked to develop the debate program. For years debating had been a major student activity, and the "Think Shop," the debate seminars conducted by Fogg, was the foundation for Nebraska's remarkable success in this field: from 1902 to 1905 the team won every intercollegiate debate that it entered. After hearing the Nebraska squad in a contest with Kansas University, the Kansas chancellor declared that it "suggested a ride on an express train through a cyclone." To encourage interest in debate, Fogg established a system of high school debating which concluded with an annual state tournament in Lincoln. The roster of the University debate squad during these years yields the names of many men who would become public figures, among them J. N. Norton, legis

lator and congressman; James E. Lawrence, newspaper editor; and C. A. Sorensen, political figure and an advocate of public power. Aware that the effectiveness of the University depended upon good relations with the taxpayers, Andrews encouraged faculty members to go among the people, as Fling did with his teaching methods and Fogg with his debate program. But


Andrews realized that individual efforts would never be wholly satisfactory. Wishing to expand extension work, in 1907 he appointed a faculty committee to study the matter. The committee recommended that the University follow the lead of other schools and establish a separate university extension division, and in 1909 the regents asked the legislature for ten thousand dollars to finance its formation. The legislature refused to provide the funds, but nevertheless the regents proceeded to establish the Department of University Extension, giving it responsi

bility for "correspondence study, instruction by lectures, debating and public discussion, information and general welfare."

Trends in Public Education

In 1900 more and more high schools were appearing across the state; a free tuition law had been enacted in 1899; there was talk of a compulsory education law; and the proper forms of public education and proper preparation of teachers were frequently debated. As the sole agency for the accreditation of high schools, the University had much to say about the development of the state's educational system. In November, 1900, J. W. Crabtree, the University's inspector of high schools, had some encouraging developments to report. More teachers were college graduates; school boards functioned without religious or political bias; equipment was improving in quality and quantity; and in most instances the schools attempted to follow the course of study prescribed by the University. But Crabtree was disturbed by rumors that the University was plan

ning to eliminate its preparatory program completely; if it did so it would place too great a burden on secondary education in the state. The greater number of Nebraska communities could not support four-year high schools, and yet un

conditional admission to the University depended upon a diploma from a four

year high school. In consequence, many schools attempted to carry too many courses. Crabtree believed that most Nebraska communities could support three

year high schools, and he urged that a way be devised by which their graduates could be admitted to the University without disadvantage. In the spring of 1904, Crabtree, one of the state's educational pioneers, resigned his position, ostensibly because he was dissatisfied with the University's attitude toward public education. His successor, T. M. Hodgman, appointed in September, 1904, was the principal and proprietor of the Lincoln Academy. Hodgman sought to promote a closer relationship between the University and public schools without making demands upon the general faculty. A year earlier "High School Day" had been instituted on the University campus. Once a year high school students and teachers were invited to spend the day in Lincoln. After a tour of the downtown campus and a short program in Memorial Hall, they were given a basket dinner and then taken by trolley to the University farm, where a track meet was scheduled. Late in the afternoon they saw a review of the cadet corps. Sometimes a special program at Memorial Hall concluded the day's activities, which it was hoped would induce some of the visitors to attend the University. Another innovation came in 1905, when Hodgman launched the University Journal, a periodical carrying material mostly provided by University faculty members and distributed to all the teachers in the state. But publication of the Journal and such events as High School Day could not conceal that the University as a whole was withdrawing from active partici

pation in the state's public education system. Increasingly, members of the faculty and the administration maintained that such matters were the province of the Department of Education.5 Probably this was an inevitable development,

___________ 5 This name was given to the Department of Pedagogy in 1901.


the result of academic specialization; and men in the liberal arts did not oppose the trend too strenuously, for they were eager to shed responsibility for teacher education. But there were real problems ahead, since the Department of Edu

cation was not equipped to take full responsibility for teacher training, and since no one seemed to know how to produce an effective teacher or how to rate a successful high school. In the early days of the state, teacher certification, where practiced at all, had been a local matter, with high school superintendents or county superin

tendents issuing teacher licenses. The system was most unsatisfactory, and in 1897 the University had been authorized to issue teaching certificates which were good for life after three years of teaching. It was natural, then, that edu

cators looked to the University to take the lead in establishing certification stan

dards and procedures. In 1901 a debate over teacher training arose when legis

lators were trying to establish new normal schools in the state. One senator appeared to believe that the schools were supererogatory, arguing that "you cannot make teachers of those whom God Almighty never intended should be teachers. Normal schools cannot impart brains or capacity; but men of the right mold will become teachers in spite of normal schools." Other lawmakers maintained that ample facilities for teacher training already existed; in addition to Peru Normal, private schools were common in the state and some high schools offered normal training courses. Still another group of legislators held that teacher training should be centered in the University. Ever alert to ways of saving the taxpayer's money, Governor Dietrich supported the proposal that the University should assume the responsibility for providing teachers. In a 1902 editorial the State Journal also endorsed this approach, giving the following reasons:

It is doubtless better to advance the standard of a teacher's education to the uni

versity measure by liberal support of the universities than to multiply the normal schools, which have been lagging farther and farther in the rear as the best students have chosen the university and a thorough training to the superficial finish afforded in the normal school. The time is not far distant when the normal school will have no recognized place in our educational system. For Nebraska to rush in and divert her educational funds to the establishment of a lot of normal schools at this late day would be the poorest economy.

One reason why the legislature had not previously voted to establish addi

tional normal schools was its belief that local differences could never be over

come. But with the handwriting on the wall becoming ever clearer, the advocates of normal schools decided to give up their traditional localism and to cooperate before the whole idea of normal schools was junked. The result was that in 1903 the legislature voted to establish a second normal college at Kearney. A third and a fourth college opened at Wayne and Chadron in 1910 and 1911, respectively. Meanwhile the University took steps to enlarge its teacher training pro

gram. A course in the philosophy of education already had been established, and in 1906 a special course in school management was added to the Department of Education; moreover, the regents promised to take every step necessary to meet the needs of the teaching profession of Nebraska, hoping to create a teachers college in September, 1907. In January of that year Professor Hodgman resigned to become president of Macalester College at St. Paul, Minnesota. He told the State Journal that his primary reason for resigning was the delay in the organization of the teachers college. His resignation as well as other pressures moved the regents to action. It was indicated that the summer session was being held


"primarily for teachers, principals, and superintendents in Nebraska," and many courses offered during the fall and spring semesters were described in the catalogue as desirable for teachers. In the summer of 1907 the University created a model high school as a teacher training laboratory, but since no students showed up the project was postponed. In 1908 the Temple High School, in the basement of the Temple, was established and became a part of the University's teacher training program.

The head of the Department of Education, Professor Luckey, opposed the establishment of a college of education, saying that it would merely duplicated the work being done in the state normal schools. As he saw it, the University should put the finishing touches on the graduates of normal schools and deal in depth with the problems of the professional educators and administrators. But undoubtedly the regents were thinking in terms of enrollment and appropriations, and on February 14, 1908, they elevated the Department of Education to a college. The aim of the Teachers College, said the regents, was to deal with "the history, theory and practice of teaching generally, to improve the quality of secondary teaching in particular, and to provide thoro[ugh]ly prepared teachers for these schools." It was to be responsible for supervision of the teacher placement bureau, the summer school, publication of the University Journal, and inspection of Nebraska high schools. However, there was no provision for the college to offer degrees. The dean of the College of Liberal Arts at Nebraska Wesleyan University, Charles E. Fordyce, was named first dean of the new college. His appointment over Dr. Luckey precipitated an internal quarrel which kept Teachers College in turmoil for the next few years.

The founding of the college, according to State Superintendent of Schools J. L. McBrien, came at a crucial time. The legislature had passed a law, effective September 1, 1907, that all high school teachers must be college, university, or normal school graduates with a professional state certificate. The demand for standardized certification of teachers was increasing, and the college was expected to play a leading role in determining procedures and regulations. As for the University's competing with the state normal schools, no one in the Teachers College professed to take the possibility seriously. The normal colleges emphasized the preparation of elementary teaches, and Teachers College was interested in working with teachers of secondary schools.



A New Day for Industrial Education

The growth of industrial education, which at last had become a genuine concern of the "people's colleges," had to be considered as the natural consequence of the land-grant university movement, said Chancellor Andrews in December, 1906. If engineering constituted an element within industrial education, as he maintained, then unquestionably the University of Nebraska was in step with the new trend: 38 per cent of the male freshmen enrolled in engineering in 1906. For weal or woe, Andrews said, professional and industrial education had as

sumed an important place in university curricula; and while he was enough of a traditionalist that perhaps he thought the emphasis on engineering might be subverting the true intention of higher education, the Chancellor was enough of a pragmatist to see its practical importance. But there remained the question of whether the University could afford the expanded facilities and expensive equipment required by the engineering departments. Thus, although an engi

neering college was first suggested by the regents in 1902, it was not established until 1909, and the engineering courses continued to be given in the Industrial College.

The Engineering Department

Since the Industrial College's greatest problem was lack of staff and facilities, Dean Bessey prescribed fairly rigid course requirements in the more technical subjects.1 "Students who want a particular training do not object to having their studies carefully laid out for them in definite and rigid curricula," he said. Moreover, an inflexible arrangement of courses enabled the college to make the most of its limited resources, and it also permitted Bessey to draw up engineer

ing and technical programs based upon liberal and scientific training. Apparently at first there was some antipathy to this approach among members of the engineering faculty; at least this is suggested by the regents in their 1909 report, which speaks of a "growing feeling among engineers that the profession demands men of broader training than that afforded by technical studies alone." In any case, the engineering courses flourished, and by the first decade of the twentieth century the work in electrical, civil, and mechanical engineering had attracted favorable attention. Indeed, a new industry which appeared in Lincoln in 1903

___________ 1 While there were few or no electives in the more technical subjects, the students were allowed 30 per cent of electives in the general courses during the second and third years and up to 60 per cent of electives in the fourth year.


derived directly from the University's technical courses. According to a State Journal story, E. b. Cushman, the founder of Cushman Motors, "secured enough technical training in the university to enable him to perfect the old type of gasoline engine and greatly increase its efficiency." Here in the factory manufacturing light-power engines was "the ripened fruit of the university."

In December, 1902, the regents had stated that they anticipated no difficulties in financing a proposed college of engineering; they expected it to be self-supporting. Because the instruction was very costly and because "no students are surer. . . of obtaining lucrative employment at once upon leaving the university," there had been some thought of imposing special fees upon engineering students. But this idea had been dropped, and as a result, in their 1907 report the regents requested funds to cover improvements in buildings and facilities for engineering.

In that year Professor C. R. Richards was appointed associate dean of the Industrial College in charge of engineering. Previously he had been director of the School of Mechanic Arts, which had been doing so poorly-- not for lack of University support, but for lack of interested students-- that at one point Richards suggested it be discontinued; he did not think that it should interfere with the regular work in engineering. Reporting to the regents in his new capacity in December, 1908, Richards declared that the University must establish a college of engineering. Conditions had changed since the early years when "the Industrial College, comprehending all pure and applied science was a useful subdivision"; the need now was to place all branches of engineering within the structure of their own college. Separating out the engineering courses and forming them into their own rational unit, Richards, believed would undoubtedly strengthen them.

Confusion in the Agriculture Department

Meanwhile the agricultural department of the Industrial College was finding the going heavy. None of its difficulties were new, and the University continued to fight the same old battles in behalf of scientific agriculture and agricultural education. Yet the desire to solve the department's problems took on new urgency in the first decade of the twentieth century, for as the population of the world mounted, demographers, economists, and other experts, influenced by the writings of Malthus, saw the specter of famine looming on the horizon. And at a time when it was becoming all the more important for agricultural production to be increased, countless young people were leaving the farms and heading for the

"wealth and ease" of the cities.

In 1900, the agricultural department was so submerged in the University scheme of things that Dean Bessey, speaking at chapel to the downtown student body, felt it necessary to point out that an agricultural campus and an agricultural course were associated with the University. The average student's unawareness of the existence of the agricultural branch extended to the people of the state, who, according to farm editors and spokesmen, were either completely indifferent or openly hostile to the University's offerings in this field. Referring to the small enrollment in the department, S. C. Bassett, a major figure in Nebraska agriculture, said that the University offered enough agricultural courses, but the students usually made their own decision as to what they would take, without any parental instruction, and not man chose these offerings. Bassett strongly indicted the common schools and high schools for failing to offer instruction in agriculture. In the course of many visits to rural schools and high schools, he said, he had heard the pupils reciting lessons in geography, arithmetic, English, and Latin, but never once was their attention directed to the agriculture


of their own state. If the children were educated away from the farm, he declared, the real culprit was the common school. In effect, Bassett's remarks were a criticism of the entire state for not showing a proper interest in agricultural education.

Members of the University agricultural staff did their best to convey that farmers who opposed scientific agriculture were cutting their own throats. It was only by scientific management of their farms that they could hope to prosper; the farmer who rejected education had to settle for a lower standard of living and an inadequate income. State leaders and newspaper editors were agree that something must be done to encourage farmers to adopt scientific methods.

What did Chancellor Andrews think of the agricultural problem within the University? No one for certain. H. C. Filley has written that before Andrews came to Lincoln none of the regents had asked his views on agricultural education, but "they felt certain that a man of his mental ability would be quick to see that a prosperous agriculture was the key to university finances." Not long after the Chancellor assumed office, Regent John L. Teeters took him on his first visit to the farm campus. "During the trip, Mr. Teeters explained why the regents were interested in the development of agricultural research and the School of Agriculture," wrote Professor Filley, "Dr. Andrews grasped the situation at once." Andrews asked for greater support for agricultural education, but its most fervent supporter at this time was Regent George Coupland of Elgin. A native of England, Mr. Coupland had come to Nebraska in 1880, attracted by the promise of cheap land. He took out a homestead in Antelope County and over the years expanded his holdings. By 1900 he belonged to that class of affluent farmers who had accepted and profited from the new ways of agriculture. Elected to the Board of Regents in 1907, Coupland dedicated himself to helping the farmers of the state. "I realize," he said, "that Nebraska has not done what she ought to have done-- educate her sons and daughters to return to the farm, but rather our higher education has had a tendency to lead them away from their country homes." Coupland meant to reverse the trend.

Andrews and Coupland believed that if farmers were approached properly they could be persuaded of the value of scientific practices. They were aware that while the principal aim of agricultural education was to return the graduate to the land, the University was also expected to turn out teachers of agricultural subjects, scientists, and a variety of specialists to man the experiment stations and research laboratories of the state and nation. Federal funds, though not plentiful, were adequate for setting up experimental and educational programs. In 1907 the Agricultural College and experiment station were in line to receive fifty-five thousand dollars from the federal government.2 In part as a result of the impetus provided by the federal money and in part because of the determination of farm leaders to expand the University's agricultural branch, work on the University farm was increased and accelerated. The Department of Agronomy had been formed in 1906 from previously existing agricultural courses, and in 1907 the Department of Agricultural Engineering came into being, although it was not known by that name until 1910. The departments of Dairy Husbandry and Agricultural Chemistry had existed since 1902, and forestry, originally considered a branch of horticulture, was established as an independent department in 1903. Thee were advances in the areas of entomology and animal pathology, and a strong effort was put forth to establish courses in agricultural


2: The sources of the money were: Hatch Act (1887)-- $15,000; second Morrill Act (1890)-- $25,000; Adams Act (1906)-- $10,000; and the Nelson Amendment to the second Morrill Act (1907)-- $5,000.


education made possible by the amendment to the second Morrill Act of 1890. According to this amendment, passed in 1907, "colleges may use a portion of [a twenty-five-thousand-dollar supplementary grant to land-grant institutions] for providing courses for the special preparation of instructors for teaching the elements of agriculture and the mechanic arts." The second Morrill Act had provided money to teach courses now the Nelson Amendment provided money to teach the teachers of those courses.

The Schools of Agriculture and Domestic Science

Although enrollment in the collegiate courses lagged and the resistance to book farming remained, the School of Agriculture was a bright spot. A. E. Davisson, principal of the school, had emphasized repeatedly that its policy had always been to send its students back to the land; and he could give figures to prove it. In the school's ten years of existence, Davisson had said in 1906, it "has had about 1,500 students and over 1,200 are devoting themselves to farming and stock raising." Starting with only 15 students in 1895, it enrolled 353 during the 1905-1906 academic year-- 16 2/3 per cent of the student body, as compared to .5 per cent when the school opened. Answering those who felt that Nebraska's agricultural enrollment was small, Davisson wrote, "It sometimes happen that comparisons are instituted between agricultural education in Nebraska and that in Iowa and Kansas. These comparisons have always been wrongly made. . . . The so-called agricultural schools of Iowa and Kansas are thought by many people to be devoting their energies solely to the work of training students in agriculture. The facts are the major portion of the instruction given at Ames and Manhattan consists of work in engineering subjects, the natural sciences and the branches of so-called polite learning. Nebraska has more students taking agricultural subjects as seriously as one take a course in engineering than can be found at the Kansas college and almost as many as there are at Ames."

While the rising enrollment gave the impression that all was well at the School of Agriculture, it was not as successful as the regents believed. Many students living in Lincoln availed themselves of the regular high school course although they had no interest in agricultural or practical courses. But the school did serve as a model for the state at a time when there was increasing discussion of the need to create a system of vocational and technical high schools; and after the enactment in 1917 of the Smith-Hughes law which provided funds for high school vocational agricultural courses, Nebraska public school leaders profited greatly from the example set by the School of Agriculture.

The School of Domestic Scene, which had opened in September, 1898, soon enrolled secondary, collegiate, and extension students to study what Rosa Bouton, the director, described as "work based on scientific principles." In a 1903 article in Agriculture, Miss Bouton explained the importance of her field to the farm audience:

Of all the work undertaken on the farm that of rearing boys and girls is

the most important. If the farmer's son needs special scientific training in

the school of agriculture, in order that he may learn how best to feed

cattle, to grow grain, in short to farm the wisest way, how much more

does the farmer's daughter stand in need of scientific training in the

school of domestic science, in order that she may learn how to give people

food best suited to their needs, to make the most of her resources, in

short, become the best possible home keeper.

If the regents had expected that the enrolment in the School of Domestic Science would come largely from rural areas, they were disabused of the


notion. Thirty-five of the fifty-three girls in the first class in 1902-1903 were University women not enrolled in the school itself. For this reason Miss Bouton was opposed to being moved to the farm campus. "I believe most firmly that there is a great need of this work among our college young women," she said, "and I desire most earnestly that the opportunity shall not be taken away from them." When, in 1906, the college course in home economics was expanded to four years, part of the purpose was to train domestic science teachers. As the regents recognized, the school was designed to benefit two classes of women: those who expected "to use their training as a mean of maintenance for themselves and others"-- that is, professionally-- and those were "studying for the sake of general information and culture, and desire to make their lives helpful and efficient in the home." In general, as the regents said, it was the school's underlying philosophy "to raise the standards of home life among our people, to help individuals become healthier and happier and a greater power for intellectual and moral good in the community."

Despite Miss Bouton's opposition, the School of Domestic Science was not destined to remain on the downtown campus. In 1905 the legislature appropriated funds to construct a women's building on the farm campus and in January, 1909, after the completion of the building, the school was moved to the farm.

Agricultural Experimentation Comes of Age

While course work was struggling to finds its proper place within the University, experiment work proceeded at a brisk pace. In 1899 and 1900 experiments were being conducted at the agricultural experiment station which indicated that a number of foreign grasses were suitable to Nebraska's semiarid climate, and it was found that Hungarian brome grass was "the best cultivated pasture grass ever tried in this region." Turkestan alfalfa also was doing well. Work with new varieties of winter wheat and on sugar beets continued, and investigation into the production of meat and milk from crops adapted to the region. There was also study of forage crops, methods of soil tillage, animal diseases (especially hog cholera), and windmill irrigation. Projects initiated later in the decade included a study of the water requirements of corn, an investigation into nitrogen requirements of various crops, a study of new methods of fattening beef cattle, and an experiment concerning the proper methods of tillage.

Typical of the men who contributed to the development of scientific agriculture in Nebraska was Dr. Samuel Avery, who was named professor of agricultural chemistry in 1902. Possessed of a practical turn of mind, Avery was naturally interested in finding solutions for agricultural problems. He became an authority on insecticides, and he discovered the cause of the cornstalk disease which cost Nebraska farmers millions of dollars annually. And it was Avery who resolved the "bleached flour case." Because Turkey Red wheat, the newly introduced winter wheat, yielded a slightly yellowish flour when ground, housewives refused to buy it. The millers began to bleach the flour, but when the federal government demanded that it be labeled as bleached, the demand for it dropped. At a trial of the millers versus the federal government, Avery gave evidence to prove that bleaching did not destroy the flour's nutritive qualities, and the labeling order was rescinded. Consequently, Turkey Red wheat reigned its popularity, bringing about a probable five-cent-per-bushel increase for Nebraska wheat farmers.

E. A. Burnett, professor of animal husbandry, who came to the University in 1889 from the State University of South Dakota, directed many significant experiments in stock breeding and feeding. In 1903, Challenger, a steer owned


and raised by the University, was declared grand champion of all breeds in America at the National Livestock Exposition in Chicago. The animal had been purchased from a Johnson County farmer and placed on a scientific feeding schedule under the direction of Professor H. R. Smith, who, along with Dean Burnett, laid the foundations of the animal husbandry research program in Nebraska. To the chagrin of those who stressed blood lines, the steer's sire was a Hereford and his dam a cross between a Shorthorn and a Holstein. His victory, said Agriculture, was "a pointer for the farmer who has not the means to indulge in fads or fancy stock, but who does want to breed for the market," and it helped to establish the reputation of the University's book farmers. According to W. D. Aeschbacher in an article on the Sandhills cattle industry, it was at about this time that Professor Burnett advised Sandhills ranchers to concentrate on the production of heavy-boned, low-built cattle. Over the years the continued triumphs of University of Nebraska-fed steers at national livestock shows increased the influence of the University's experimenters on the cattle producers.

Another important contribution of the experiment station came through its study of the cause of animal diseases. The hog cholera experiments begun under Dr. Billings were continued, and scientists were successful in conquering another disease, blackleg, which had taken the lives of countless Nebraska cattle. In 1884, 17 per cent of all range cattle in Nebraska died of the affliction, but by 1901 the toll had fallen to less than one per cent, primarily as a result of vaccine developed and distributed by the University. Moreover, Nebraska's experiment station was the first in America to discover why cattle died when they were pastured on green sorghum. Researchers found that it contained large quantities of prussic acid. Later experiments, however, showed that the sorghum was harmless when cut and cured; and farmers who had stopped planting sorghum began to plant it again.

One question which remained unresolved was that of the proper goals of experimental programs. It will be recalled that in the late 1880's Dean Bessey announced that the University's agricultural programs must be directed toward the resolution of "practical problems," and this had been the philosophical framework within which the experimental work proceeded. But some agricultural leaders insisted that this was a prostitution of agricultural research, which, in their view, should emphasize "pure research" seeking to uncover basic principles. A. C. True, director of the Office of Experiment Stations within the United States Department of Agriculture, held that the Hatch Act had not encouraged pure research; he said that Hatch funds usually went for routine analyses and practical research. A consequence of his concern was the enactment in 1906 of the so-called Adams Act, sponsored by Henry C. Adams of Wisconsin and written by True, which provided money only for "original research." The Adams Act has been portrayed as a necessary first step in freeing the agricultural scientist at land-grant colleges and experiment stations "from the duties of teacher and analytical drudge." Moreover, according to Charles E. Rosenberg, the Adams Act

permanently strengthened the scientific department of the land-grant

colleges. [It] provided the opportunity for willing men to enter upon the

path of abstract research. More than this, however, it demanded a

practice definition of agricultural research and-- by implication-- of the

experiment station's proper task. Few leaders had ever had occasion to

define agricultural "research" in more than homiletic terms; now,

however, "original investigation" would have to become not merely a

theoretical rallying point, but a concrete standard for the evaluation of

particular research proposals.


The success enjoyed by Nebraska scientists during the succeeding decades emphasized the prescience of True and Adams.

But there were practical problems facing the agricultural scientists. The University lacked the facilities to conduct extensive research, and more important, the experiment station in Lincoln, because of its location, could not conduct studies relevant to agriculture in the central and western parts of the state. In his 1903 inaugural address Governor John Mickey said-- as University scientists had been saying for some time-- that the diversity of Nebraska's climate and geography produced many different kinds of farming activities and farming problems. Therefore he recommended that an agricultural substation be located in the western part of the state to attack problems peculiar to the semiarid regions of Nebraska. The legislature responded by voting fifteen thousand dollars to establish a western substation whose purpose would be "to determine the adaptability of the arid and semi-arid portions of Nebraska to agriculture, horticulture, and forest tree growing, such as the production of grain, grasses, root crops and fruits of kinds commonly grown in the same latitude in other States; and also the most economical methods of producing such crops without irrigation."

The substation finally was located near North Platte. In March, 1904, three sections of land south of the city, comprising both valley and upland soils, were purchases for sixteen thousand dollars, with a committee of North Platte citizens donating approximately half of the amount. W. P. Snyder was appointed superintendent, and continued as head of the substation for more than a generation. Few men contributed more to the development of agriculture in western Nebraska than Mr. Snyder, and under his careful supervision experiments were immediately begun to fulfill the intention of the regents and the legislature. The station specialized in experiments in feeding and stock raising; and there was also concern for cultivation techniques adapted to the region. In December, 1908, Professor Burnett announced that experiments at the North Platte substation had included a study of crop rotation and had demonstrated that a period of "summer tillage"-- that is, summer fallowing-- every four or five years "makes a winter wheat crop practically certain, that land which has been summer tilled may be seeded to alfalfa or tame grasses, and that summer tillage methods should not be considered as inconsistent with the most profitable operation of the land." Laboratory tests had proved that in 1907 "approximately five inches of rainfall as stored [in North Platte soils] by a period of summer tillage for the use of the crop of winter wheat which followed." The wheat crop consumed not only the moisture which fell while it was growing but the surplus five inches as well, and summer tillage acted "as an insurance agent against the loss of crop during winter drought. It lessens the amount of seed required by probably one-half, and normally produces a much larger yield than can be secured by other methods." In view of these findings, the regents concluded that "there is every reason to believe that a large proportion of the hard, level ground in the vicinity [of North Platte] can be profitably farmed." In his 1909 message to the legislature, Governor George L. Sheldon stated that the

results obtained by the Agriculture Experiment Station at North Platte,

Nebraska, have more than justified its establishment, and signify the

importance of establishing other Experimental Stations in the western part

of the state . . . . The prosperity of each section is beneficial to all other

portions of the state . . . . The wealth produced in our western counties can

be greatly increased. There can be no better way to obtain this object than by

establishing additional experimental stations.


Makers of the University

This section is perhaps too ambitiously titled, for it can only include a handful of the men and women who played important roles in the creation and shaping of the University. Any attempt at a comprehensive presentation would require a separate volume to itself.

Three years before, in 1906, when opposition developed to spending state funds on a substation in an area which m any said would be useless for farming, University scientists replied that recent developments in cultivation techniques - in particular the dry-farming methods developed and popularized by Hardy W. Campbell - made farming practicable in the region, even though irrigation water was unavailable. At the same time E. A. Burnett optimistically declared that "the advance in the price of land in the last few years is indicative to the confidence which many people have in the ultimate success of the farmer in the western counties of our state. When crop production and stock raising are combined in the right proportion to secure the largest results from the land, we shall find that revenues from this sources have been greatly increased." This was undoubtedly correct, but despite such techniques as dry-land farming there was no way to guarantee that a crop of any kind could be raised in western Nebraska every year. Moreover, the techniques devised at North Platte demanded a heavy investment in equipment as well as extra hard work on the part of the farmer. But promoters of western Nebraska, life promoters in other plains states, claimed that ways had been found to cultivate the land without undue effort and with limited risk. "Irrigate with a harrow" became their cry; and in many respects this exploitation of dry farming was as harmful as the publicizing of the rain-follows-the-plow concept, which had lured unsuspecting farmers into central Nebraska a generation earlier. Quite unintentionally, University scientists had helped out those who wanted to attract settlers for speculative purposes. Only the promoters profited from the artificially pegged prices on the land which they said could produce crops of wheat and corn. And after the dream collapsed, the discouraged settlers were left encumbered with debt, trying to wrest a living from stubborn, inhospitable soil.

Entrepreneurs, real estate men, and agricultural journalists insisted that science had opened the way for settlement of Nebraska's last frontier, and University scientists did nothing to refute the claim (Not until 1913 did W.P. Snyder of the North Platte experiment station warn that the benefits of dry farming had been exaggerated and its shortcoming minimized.) Nonetheless, University agricultural leaders were placed in an uncomfortable position. The successful experiments which had helped solve problems in eastern Nebraska had, more than anything, sold scientific agriculture to Nebraska farmers. But they also led to the popular assumption that the scientists had provided answers to the problems of the semiarid region. The enactment of the Kinkaid Act in 1905, which provided a section homestead for settlers in the Sandhills region, also encouraged settlement in the western part of the state, and by 1909 the regents were bombarded by request to establish new agricultural substations. But as early as December, 1904, Professor Burnett had pointed out that the demand for this important work required additional funds and had urged the state to adopt "a well defined policy of agricultural investigation, as a matter of business, with the expectation of carrying it on from year to year, and depending on the benefits of these experiments to the entire commonwealth as a justification of the expenditure." In other words, experimental work required time and money, and although Burnett favored the establishment of new stations, he feared that available funds would be spread too thin, with too much work attempted in too many places.

Members of the Industrial College faculty outside the agriculture department also were engaged in interesting and important work. Professor Barbour, for example, in 1903, investigated Nebraska's coal, gold, silver, and natural gas deposits. Each year, Barbour said, Nebraskans wasted fifty thousand dollars in a futile search for natural wealth. His careful study of the state's coal deposits, which had been dreamed and schemed about ever since the 1950s, was of particu


lar importance; he offered solid, indisputable scientific proof that coal is commercial quantity and quality, did not exist in the state. The people must accept the limitations of the state's resources, he declared, and henceforth spend their money in support of projects that had at least some prospect of success.

In these years Lawrence Bruner was receiving international acclaim for his work in entomology. When locusts invaded Argentina, the Argentine government summoned Bruner to the scene. He was one of the faculty giants of the period, and as such as fair target for lampoons by irreverent undergraduates. A poem in the 1905 Sombrero presented this portrait of the professor:

He knows all there is about beetles and flies,

His head is as wise as a book;

He expects to hunt gold-bugs beyond the skies,

You've noticed his far-away look.

His whisker - what beauties - have a far better use,

Which is shown in times of great push;

When the bug under study fears sudden abuse,

Why, the insect can fly to the bush.

He labors to hard in the interest of knowledge,

To distinguish a flea from a louse;

I'm expecting to hear before I leave college,

That the bugs have made him "bug-house."

Dean Bessey was another prominent and beloved member of the Industrial College faculty. Although his botanical work continued to attract much notice, at this point in his career Bessey's interest centered on a plan for reforesting the Nebraska Sand hills. We have noted his earlier collaboration with Lawrence Bruner in a similar scheme; and in 1901, supported by Gifford Pinchot, later the head of the United States Forest Service, Bessey persuaded the federal government to underwrite a tree-planting project in the Sand hills. Conservation was receiving considerable amount of attention in the early 1900s, and one writer for a national magazine remarked that which the nation facing a timber shortage the experiments in the Sandhills tree culture would be watched with interest. In June, 1903, State Journal editorial noted, "It is.... suggested that the sand hills may in twenty-five years be covered with a luxuriant growth of pines and cedars from ten to eighteen feet high, and this will go far toward solving the timber problem of the future." Unfortunately, the results of the experiment did not measure up to expectations. People who believed the man-made forest would increase rainfall were disappointed; but those who said that the Sandhills would remain a worthless region unless it could produce timber were also wrong. It was to be the Sandhills grass which produced the wealth of the region. Thus the Nebraska National Forest stands today largely as a monument to the energy and inquiring mind of Dean Bessey, who proved that trees could be made to grow in the hear of the Sandhills but failed to bring about any substantial change in the economic development of the region.

Rivaling Dean Bessey as the best-known member of the Industrial College was the young Dr. George Condra, whose special interest was geology. Born in Iowa, he had received his three academic degrees from the University of Nebraska. Condra based his academic philosophy on what he referred to as "the end point" of learning - the point at which scientific investigations could be translated into practical use. He knew that much of Nebraska's natural history was still to be studied, and in 1908 remarked, "There is so much in Nebraska which challenges attention that the combined efforts of many workers are needed if we are to make


a good beginning in this generation." He was a man of limitless energy; it was remembered that in the days "before there were automobiles or roads that compare with those of today, George Condra was putting his bicycle in the baggage car of a train, riding out to some distant railroad station, then taking off across country astride the bike, armed with a geology hammer, soil auger, collecting bag and notebook." Almost singlehanded, Condra mounted a campaign to conserve Nebraska's natural resources. He was active and influential in both state and national organizations for soil and water conservation, and he helped persuade Governor Sheldon and the legislature to enact a law establishing a state conservation and survey division. For many years Condra directed the work of this important division which conducted soil surveys, geological surveys, studies of water resources, and similar work. He believed Nebraska scientists should devote intensive study to maintaining the fertility of the soil. IN his view, soil climate - which was influenced by the amount of rain, by the texture, depth, and composition of the soil, and by the cultivation and the kind of crop planted - was fully as important as air climate. Condra always acted with the fervor of a reformer, and he had a great impact on Nebraska. He was an outspoken advocate of the work which led to the soil and water conservation measures in Nebraska during the 1930's.

The Evolution of Extension Work

Each year the Nebraska farmers received some benefit from the work conducted by the University, but it remained very difficult to communicate with them, and the traditional antipathy of agrarians toward educated scientists seemed almost as strong as ever. Samuel Avery felt that a large part of the difficulty derived from the scientists' failure to understand the character of the people with whom they had to deal. To illustrate his point he included the following anecdote in an address to the 1909 state farmers' institute conference:

The story has been handed down that in the early days a professor fresh from the Atlantic Coast was brought to the University and thrust upon the institute platform. He was in reality a very eminent scientist but knew nothing about conditions in Nebraska. Somewhat at loss for a subject he guessed that the farmers might be interested in knowing of Darwin's theory of the work of earthworms in soil formation. His first mistake was his appearing in a swallow tail coat. I think there are parts of Nebraska where it would still be a little risky for a speaker clad in a dress suit to address farmers. Imagine the effect produced by such an appearance on the frontier twenty-five years ago. After the learned professor had talked about five minutes on earthworms, a venerable farmer arose and said, "Boys, this is a mighty wormy lecture. I am going home." Out he walked and the "boys" followed him. When the speaker finished there were but two others in the room-- the chairman of the meeting who remained for politeness [and] the janitor who was sleeping soundly in one corner of the room and whose sonorous snore took the place of the usual applause.

But the attitudes of both the scientist and the farmer were beginning to modify. Because of the great advances of agricultural science, information was now available which had real meaning for practical farmers. Moreover, the twentieth-century agricultural scientist combined theory with practice and in most instances was able to speak to farmers in a meaningful way. These developments affected the University's concept of the farmers' institute, and increasingly the men at the University saw to it that local farmers played the principal roles at the meetings. In 1900, Burnett said the speakers at the institutes should


be successful farmers, "not retired farmers, but men who have made their competence upon the farm and are still in the business they advocate." In 1905 the legislature enacted a law which allowed counties to appropriate up to one hundred dollars to defray local expenses of the institutes, and this gave real impetus to the movement. And the University continued to insist that local speakers discussing local problems should be encouraged to take part-- "The first talk may be a little wearisome, but the next will be better. When a person is more successful than those about him, he has a message that is worth listening to." Gradually the University was evolving an approach that would provide a successful basis for the agricultural extension work.

The institute's report for October, 1906, suggested that a women's department should be created, but had worked with the regular organization. In 1904-1905, for example, two women were on the regular force, and spoke on subjects of special interest to women. It was observed that many a farm wife, often overworked and lonely, was happy to be able to do her part in helping the farm community. A home economics bulletin in June, 1906, reported that a number of women's departments had been formed independently during the past year. The Nebraska Boys Agricultural Association and the Nebraska Girls Domestic Science Association also appeared at this time, obvious forerunners of the 4-H clubs. While they were, of course, a form of agricultural extension, they were not a branch of the farmers' institutes; they were supported by the University with farmers' institute funds in cooperation with the State Department of Public Instruction. A convention of the two groups in Lincoln in December, 1905, drew nearly seven hundred young people, and by the fall of 1907 forty counties had active organizations. The groups frequently held exhibitions and contests in work in domestic science and agriculture, for which prizes were given. Commenting on these organizations, Regent Coupland said that when the older farm people were "rejuvenated and inspired" by the farmers' institute program, "the young people of the country catch the spirit. They want to stay with father and mother to help work out some of the fascinating problems that country life affords. Parents desire to send their children away to gain special preparation to carry on the ever increasing, interesting investigations that life upon the land permits."

In 1904, University officials in cooperation with four railroads made plans to send "instructional trains" across the state. The cars would contain exhibits and lecture areas, and at each stop farmers would be invited abroad to receive the latest information about agricultural techniques. A "pure-seed [corn] special," said to be the first of its kind in the nation, rolled across the state in December, 1904; and plans were made to send out similar wheat, oats, alfalfa, hog, and beef specials. The following year in addition to pure-seed specials, there were also a seed-potato special and a Sandhills special. Some of the trips lasted a week or more; the lecturers lived on the trains, which one report referred to as "Farmers Institutes on wheels." Judging by the reports, the farmers were highly enthusiastic about these instructional trains, although in 1905, at the height of the anti-railroad fever, some farmers refused to visit the because they were regarded as attempts to buy the farmers' support and loyalty.

In addition to the thousands of farmers reached by the institutes, countless others were influenced by bulletins mailed out by the experiment station. By 1907 it was sending out 120,000 bulletins and answering 18,000 letters of inquiry per year. The Country Life movement also stimulated the dissemination of agricultural information. In 1908 President Theodore Roosevelt appointed a Commission on Country Life to study the problems of rural America and to find


ways of ending the "flight from the farm." Roosevelt looked to the land-grant colleges to become focal points in the campaign to rehabilitate and revitalize rural communities; and the term "agricultural extension" came into general use to describe the ways land-grant colleges tried to bring scientific knowledge and a better standard of living to American farmers.

Although the message of the University was being spread over the state to a far greater degree than ever before, in their 1909 Report the regents said that the demand for farmers' institutes and agricultural extension was continually increasing. They suggested another form of agricultural extension, in use in other states but untried in Nebraska. The great thing, they said,

is to induce independent initiative on the part of farmers, to inject into the very

heart of the farming community a spirit of reform in farm practice. No one can

help farmers in this like an intelligent fellow-farmer, with a few good advanced

ideas, who has push and natural leadership and can impart implicit belief with

his message. In this way and usually in this way only can farmer conservatism

be overcome. Theorists may be welcomed and listened to, but they are little

obeyed. Good farming must spread as early Christianity spread, by good tidings

passing from man to man, neighbor to neighbor.

Such a missionary method has been used with astonishing success in several

states. First, a farmer of the right sort is selected to conduct a simple and inex

pensive demonstration on his own farm. Second, a simple contract is drawn by

which he agrees to follow certain instructions. Third, the best seed is furnished

him and his name gets published in the papers. Fourth, each month when the field agent goes to inspect the demonstration many of the man's neighbors are invited, and he almost unconsciously snugs up his farm to receive them. All his crops are cultivated better. Fifth, a report of his superior crop, for it is sure to be such, is made in the country papers. Neighbors talk about it and want to buy seed. Sixth, he sells seed at a high price. Neighbors ask how he produced it. He is invited to address public assemblies. He has become a man of note, a leader, and cannot return to his old way. Soon there is a body of such men; a township, a county, and finally a state is transformed.

Here, at last, was a practical plan for extension work. But the persistent problem of finances remained-- how could a system of extension based on close contact with individual farmers be undertaken without a sizable operating budget? Repeatedly Burnett and other agricultural leaders pleaded with the legislature for extension work, but with little success. But all was not darkness. There were many signs that the federal government was becoming interested in agricultural extension, and as the federal plans coalesced they followed the philosophy and practice which had been worked out in Nebraska and other states. Consequently, when federal programs were drawn up in 1913 and 1914, the University of Nebraska was in a good position to implement the programs effectively.



An End and a Beginning

Early in January, 1908, Nebraska newspapers reported that Chancellor Andrews was going to resign from the University. Few editors professed to know what lay behind the decision, but Andrews' desertion of the silver standard in 1904 had ruffled the feathers of many influential Nebraska Democrats, including W. J. Bryan and at least one member of the Board of Regents. That Andrews should resign did not surprise Harvey Newbranch of the World-Herald, who attributed the Chancellor's difficulties to his relations with Rockefeller. There were "indications," said Newbranch, that Andrews was being asked to leave. But the State Journal denied that he was being "forced" to resign; he was giving up the chancellorship because of failing health, and two doctors' reports supported the Journal's story.

In view of the advance publicity no one was surprised when Andrews submitted his resignation, effective January 1, 1909; and the regents, in an unprecedented move, named him Chancellor Emeritus1. Many glowing tributes were paid to him-- even editor Newbranch conceded that he had "worked hard and faithfully for the upbuilding of the University"-- and the state Senate adopted a resolution citing Andrews' accomplishments. Indeed, there was much tangible evidence of what he had achieved-- new buildings on both city and farm campuses and new colleges and departments. Later on, in 1911, Andrews' successor, Samuel Avery, would say that the University's most marked development during the Andrews administration came in agricultural education and experimentation. For Andrews, "who had spent many years in the service of the denominational college of the older type, to grasp the opportunity of agricultural expansion in a new state, showed a very remarkable ability to appreciate growing educational needs," Avery said. But perhaps Andrews' greatest feat was to pilot the University safely through years when political contention might at any time have disrupted its work.

Andrews had led the University to a position of national prominence, but there is never stability in education. Change and crisis are normal conditions in a university; and even while he was still in office, there were indications that the University's academic standing, so laboriously built over the past twenty years, was eroding. On December 10, 1908, the Daily Nebraskan commented that Nebraska's "advance among leading schools has been rapid, but now


1: Andrews continued to live in Lincoln, and in 1912 went before a University committee to be examined for his Ph. D. in economics. He died in 1916.


has about come to a standstill, while around it on every side the state schools. . .

are gradually forging toward the front, and unless Nebraska gets on the move again it will soon be passed in the progressive moment." The editorial scored the citizenry and the legislature for lack of support and opined that an eastern man should head the University. By that time, however, the search for a new chancellor was already over. Nebraska newspapers had speculated that W. J. Bryan would be offered the post, but a well-known national magazine, Harper's Weekly, considered this unlikely because a state university "needs a skilled administrator who is a good judge of men, and it is questioned if Mr. Bryan is either." In any case, there is no evidence that the regents ever approached Bryan. On December 8 they elected Samuel Avery acting chancellor, and on December 12 Regent George Coupland announced that if Avery made good, as they thought he would, the Board would retain him as the permanent chancellor.

Chancellor Samuel Avery

Samuel Avery was born in Illinois in 1865, and the next year his family moved to a farm in Saline County, Nebraska, near Crete. After studying at Doane Academy, young Avery entered Doane College, receiving his B. A. in 1887. For six months he worked in a lumberyard in Weeping Water; then he taught school and helped on his father's farm until 1890, when he entered the University of Nebraska as a special student. He received his Bachelor of Science degree in 1892, and then-- alternating years of studying and teaching-- he went on to secure his advanced degrees: an M. A. from Nebraska in 1894 and a Ph. D. from Heidelberg in 1896. From 1897 to 1899 he was an adjunct professor of chemistry at Nebraska, and from 1899 to 1901 was a professor in the chemistry department at the University of Idaho. Avery returned to Nebraska in the fall of 1901 as professor of organic and analytical chemistry, and the following year became professor of agricultural chemistry and the chemist at the experiment station on the farm campus. In 1905 he became head professor of chemistry on the downtown campus.

Since his name had not been mentioned for the post, there was a good deal of surprise when Avery was appointed acting chancellor, but the faculty reacted positively; he was generally regarded as "a square man through and through." His appearance and attitudes were those of a small-town banker or successful farmer rather than a scholar, and some members of the Board of Regents thought this was all to the good. It meant that he could "speak the language of the people and the legislature." But it also meant that he failed to gain the respect of some faculty members, who considered him naive and provincial. Although his friends constantly felt it necessary to apologize for his lack of polish, one suspects that Avery was far more intelligent and perceptive than they realized. He knew that in Nebraska the middle course was the safest to pursue in higher education, and he worked within the framework of values that were inherent in a post-frontier society. But Avery's understanding of the Nebraska character does not mean that he was in any sense a bumpkin. After all, he administered the University for nineteen eventful years, which was in itself a noteworthy accomplishment.

Avery posed as a "reluctant Chancellor" and insisted that he would be happy to spend his time in a classroom and laboratory. Following the 1909 legislative session, in which the University fared quite well, he told the president of the Board of Regents, C. S. Allen, that he was ready to return to the chemistry department. "We want a good man as head of that important department," Allen replied. "You have been hobnobbing with the members of the legislature all winter and are spoiled. You are no longer fit to be anything


but chancellor." The post was officially offered to Avery at the next meeting of the Board in May, 1909. He accepted, then dashed home, awakened his wife to tell her the news, and asked, "Do you I was a darn fool?"

John Rice, a classicist who joined the University faculty in 1919, became a close friend of Avery, and devoted a chapter to him in his volumes of reminiscences. Rice's description of how Avery achieved the position of chancellor is revealing.

The regents... set out to find a new head, hope at first of a distinguished scholar; but after a long quest they gave up and appointed Avery. No one, not even the regents, could every explain how it had happened, and at the inaugural dinner the chairman of the board apologized, in the presence of the honored guest, assuring faculty, alumni, and friends that they had made a careful search but had been unable to find the man they wanted, and so had appointed the new chancellor, whom he was now delighted to introduce. No one could complain except Sam Avery, and he never did; but he knew. It had, in fact, been quite simple. He had merely been and kept on being a candidate. Whenever the regents met, whatever might happen to other names, his was always there, until at last he had worn them down to acquiescence.

It is apparent that there were paradoxical elements in Avery; he was a "reluctant Chancellor" and yet a constant candidate; a man of scholarly attainments and yet in many ways a parochial, uninspiring sort of man. He knew Nebraska well, and perhaps that was his greatest handicap. Because he tried to stay within the negative deliminations of Nebraska's rural heritage, he was bound to a colorless, unimaginative policy - one which he felt the people of the state would accept.

The Settlement of the Campus Removal Question

Enrollment statistics for the 1909-1917 period, given in the following table, show that the University continued to grow. The seeming drop after 1910-1911 is explained by two factors: the School of Music was no longer affiliated with the University, and students in extension were reclassified so that only those registered for college credit were included in the tabulation.2

Academic Year Enrollment

1909-1910 3,992

1910-1911 4,624

1911-1912 3,657

1912-1913 3,812

1913-1914 4,133

1914-1915 4,589

1915-1916 4,826

1916-1917 5,405

In enrollment the University ranked sixth among the nation's land-grant institutions, yet in quality it was falling back. In January, 1909 a State Journal editorial found it "humiliating to our pride" that the University "has not maintained its relative rank, but has fallen to the rear." Why? "Because the state does not give it the same financial support as other institutions in surrounding states enjoy." This was a statement of fact which "does not admit of debate."

It was nothing new for the University to labor under financial difficulties, but in 1909 the issue was not that of survival but of keeping pace with the

2 The full-time collegiate enrollment for 1909-1910 was 3, 119, and for 1910-1911 it was 3,629.


rapidly expanding responsibilities of higher education. Graduate training, research, professional education--these were now the major tasks of the univer

sities, and all involved large expenditures for buildings, equipment, libraries, and faculty. Was the University to follow the national trend, or was it to decide that it must settle for a less grandiose scheme of development? Here was the most important question that the University had ever been called upon to answer, but the people of Nebraska were not prepared to consider it. Popular attention was diverted from consideration of this profound and fundamental issue to the emotionally-charged but relatively minor question of whether or not to move the University to the farm campus. The location debate had long gone on in a desultory manner. For years Dean Bessey had advocated that the University be consolidated on the farm campus, and everyone interested in the institution knew that with every passing week conditions on the downtown campus became less bearable. In his outgoing message to the legislature in 1909, Governor Sheldon emphasized the University's need to enlarge the campus. The regents were prompted to engage an archi

tectural firm to study the University's needs, and the experts unanimously recommended that all new buildings be located on the farm campus. There was much support for the recommendation, since it appeared that the city campus could not be enlarged: to the north was the railroad, and to east, west, and south were prohibitively priced properties. Governor-elect Shallenberger thought the downtown buildings would bring about $250,000 at auction, which would be a good start for a building fund. Regent Coupland favored the consolidation scheme because, for one thing, the University's present architectural style was "neither Romanesque or picturesque, but 'peculiaresque,' " and the new buildings could follow a single architectural design. W. J. Bryan, who also endorsed the recommendation, wanted a University campus with buildings which people would not be ashamed to show visiting friends. At this time, only two regents--Coupland and Frank Haller of Omaha-

favored the consolidation of all University buildings and activities on the farm campus. Their reasons why the city campus should be abandoned were given in a World-Herald editorial of December 26, 1910. Two campuses, they said, promoted inefficiency, waste, and duplication. In addition, Haller was fearful that if two campuses were retained, the College of Agriculture, which had been re-created in 1909,3 would outstrip the Arts College. If this plan came to pass, Haller predicted in a letter to S. C. Bassett that Omaha would offer a site for the latter college and the regents would be inclined to accept. "Lincoln might just as well face the proposition that if they do not consolidate they are going to stand a good chance of losing the downtown campus of the Liberal Arts University," he concluded. In the report for the 1909-1910 biennium, the regents said that while some citizens no doubt wanted the University to have a "more magnificent physical plant," the immediate need was for more buildings; even "strictly temporary wooden structures" would be a help. If the legislature failed to provide funds for some kind of building, it would be necessary to restrict enrollment. The 1911 legislature responded by forming a joint committee to study the building and removal questions. After extended hearings, the committee concluded that conditions on both campuses were bad and "the actual congestion caused by numbers is greater at the city campus." Nebraska Hall and University Hall no longer were fit for occupancy. The committee estimated that thirty acres, or six square blocks, costing approximately $470,000, were needed to give the


3 See below, p. 203.


downtown campus breathing space. According to the committee, proponents of consolidation argued that abandoning the city campus would remove the student body from "too close contact" with city life; it would increase interest in the College of Agriculture, although there probably would be a drop in the enroll

ment of the School of Agriculture; it would make it possible to construct fire

proof buildings; and it would eliminate wasteful duplication. Their opponents argued that removal would deprive students of the cultural and social advantages of the city; it would bring about the decline of the School of Agriculture; it would work a hardship on students employed in downtown stores and restaurants; and it would cost at least $1,600,000 more than enlarging the city campus. After hearing the arguments and visiting both campuses, the committee members unanimously endorsed the program of removal and consolidation. "A more harmonious and more economically administered university may be built up at the farm campus," they reported. But they stressed that removal would be out of the question unless the legislature voted a special one-mill levy for eight years to finance the development of the new campus. If the legislature should reject the committee's recommendation and vote to retain two campuses, then a special levy of one-half mill would be needed to finance buying land adja

cent to the city campus and erecting buildings on both campuses. The committee urged the legislature to make an immediate decision; the future of the University truly hung in the balance. The Omaha Bee, while endorsing the committee's recommendation, warned that "removal will be opposed . . . by some honestly misguided and by others with selfish motives." The legislature must "look ahead, not for five years or ten years, but for fifty years. It is only a question whether relocation shall be authorized and begun now or whether it shall be deferred until later, when it will be much more costly." The State Journal noted that the Board of Regents was split over the issue and that the people of Lincoln also seemed to be divided; no doubt the cost of removal would be the determining factor. Many outstate Nebraskans saw the consolidation scheme as an attack on the agricultural branch of the University, and an Omaha editor chimed in that removal would have a harmful effect upon students enrolled for agricultural courses. "The fool society nonsense of frat, rat and cat societies [would] poison the ambition of the scholars at the agricultural school who now attend strictly to business." A removal bill, introduced by Senator James A. Ollis from Valley County, passed the upper chamber handily, but the situation was different in the House. Although many observers thought that a majority of the representatives favored the bill, it was clear that a well-organized opposition existed. H. C. Filley, later on the staff of the College of Agriculture, served as a representative in this session of the legislature, and he wrote later that the real reason for the opposition was that "the citizens of Lincoln who owned property in the rooming-house-boarding-house district between the campus and the Rock Island yards feared that university consolidation would lower the value of their property." Supporting them were the downtown Lincoln merchants, one of whom reportedly said that "a lot of business comes down Eleventh Street." Some alumni rejected the removal proposal on sentimental grounds. "It's where I courted my wife" was the not uncommon reaction of old grads. Nonetheless, Filley and the other supporters of the removal bill thought they could win; but the Lincoln lobbyists worked harder. When the vote came, many legislators who had previously supported the bill voted against it. One of those who switched leaned across the aisle and told Filley, "If I vote for a bill that would result in a large or unnecessary expenditure, I would never be able to face my friends when I go home." This was the central issue. The lobbyists


had played hard on the theme that this Democratic legislature already had passed a number of new appropriation bills, and the party would be called to account in the next election. Also, some legislators felt that the people should have a voice in the matter and that the question should be submitted to the voters under the newly enacted initiative and referendum statute. So it was that removal was defeated, at least for the time being, and the legislators turned their attention to the University budget. They granted adequate funds plus eighty-five thousand dollars for a new building on the downtown campus, a like amount for a building on the farm campus, and one hundred thousand dollars for a building in Omaha on the College of Medicine campus.

The legislature's failure to act on the removal disappointed University people. As the Daily Nebraskan said, it meant that "several more years are to be spent in doubt and darkness." For the next two years a constant dialogue about the issue was carried on over the state. In their 1913 Report, written in late 1912, the regents presented and discussed three alternative plans and declared that "the question must be decided, not by resolutions but appropriations; and that, unless the state of Nebraska is to be humiliated by the spectacle of its chief institution of learning lagging behind those of neighboring states, the decision should be made in this session of the legislature." The regents went on a tour of several Midwestern universities to see what other institutions were doing about campus expansion. Early in January, 1913, just before the legislature convened, they handed Governor John Morehead a summary of their findings which concluded that "consolidation of all the University's activities upon one campus is the ideal policy." The regents dismissed the argument that consolidation would lead to a decline in agricultural work; to the contrary, continued separation was a positive obstacle to the fulfillment of the College of Agriculture's objectives. Their recommendation that the entire University except the College of Medicine be located on the farm campus was contingent on the enactment of a special levy sufficient to raise two and one-half million dollars in the next six years. "The Board believes that by adopting such a policy the state can erect a modern university plant, giving maximum efficiency at minimum cost, of which the state may be justly proud," the statement concluded.

The first to voice objections were the directors of the alumni association, and they were quickly joined by Governor Morehead. The Governor thought consolidation would cost too much, and, answering those who argued that it would increase educational efficiency, he proposed that they support a plan to create a state board of higher education. The competition between the normal colleges and the University, and the overlapping of their functions, worried him more than the division of the University. But it had not gone unnoticed that for the first time the regents and the Chancellor had spoken unanimously for removal, and the state's major newspapers stated that they would back the regents. However they agreed that the most important thing was to get more building funds for the University, no matter what the decision regarding relocation might be. This coincided with Avery's thinking; he was afraid that the University's financial needs might be overlooked in the excitement. He met privately with Lincoln leaders to try to secure their support for a special building fund, and at a meeting of the alumni association he told the members that their opposition to removal must not keep them from working diligently for increased building funds.

When the removal bill was introduced into the House of Representatives, it met a decisive defeat, and the representatives voted a special one-half-mill levy appropriation for extension of the city campus. After thanking the House for its action, the regents, including Coupland and Haller, clambered aboard the


anti-removal bandwagon. Since the Governor and the House opposed removal, and since a prolongation of the issue over the site might involve the University in a long and fruitless controversy, the regents announced their acceptance of the House's decision to retain the downtown campus. At this point the Senate upset the apple cart by passing a removal bill, twenty-three to ten. Senators who voted in the affirmative argued that removal would be cheaper in the long run than expanding the downtown campus and that consolidation would encourage the University's agricultural and industrial activities. As a further reason for removing the campus from downtown, one senator remarked that "there has not been a proper municipal regard for the conservation of the morals of the students. Street fairs have been permitted to operate under the very windows of the University, and other questionable things have encroached upon the University environment."

For the legislature to be deadlocked over a controversial issue was nothing new, but there were unusual circumstances accompanying the present stalemate. For the first time within memory, according to veteran legislators, a caucus was called, not on the basis of party affiliation, but on the basis of support for a particular piece of legislation. The senators supporting removal took over from the lieutenant governor, Samuel R. McKelvie, the power to name the Senate's representatives on the Senate-House conference committee, thus ensuring that their people would be the only senators on the committee. The House, influenced by the Lincoln lobby, was checked by the Senate, dominated by rural interests, and the tightest deadlock in forty years was predicted. This was the situation that all University supporters hoped would not come to pass. When one critic blamed it on the "vacillating policy" of the Board of Regents, Regent Haller replied in an open letter in the State Journal in which he spoke of the "evident determination of the dominant farming element in each legislature to build up an independent agricultural university on the farm campus with the resultant danger of starving the liberal arts college on the town campus," or at least the danger of causing battles over appropriations. As for the regents' alleged vacillation, Haller said that their decision to oppose removal, after having originally recommended it, came only reluctantly, to save the appropriation when the Board was informed by a "trusted alumnus," a member of the Senate anti-removal faction, that the upper chamber would vote as the House had. Clearly, said Haller, the regents had been hoodwinked.

There were no signs that the deadlock would be broken quickly or easily. When the Senate appropriated $185,000 for new buildings on the farm campus and ignored the downtown campus, the House retaliated by voting new buildings on the downtown campus and providing nothing for the farm campus. When the middle of April came, the deadlock still held and lawmakers were beginning to drift home. Many believed that it would be necessary to call a special session; but finally, thanks to the efforts of Chancellor Avery and several of the regents, a satisfactory compromise was hammered out. The question of campus location was to be settled by a referendum in 1914, and the two houses agreed to vote a three-quarter-mill levy for six years to finance new buildings on the site chosen by the voters. Even though the legislature's decision meant another two years' delay, University people generally were relieved, and A. E. Sheldon wrote that the special mill levy produced "joy on the campus over the prospect of an enlarged university in the future." The World-Herald agreed that at least the mill levy assured the building of a superior university, but thought it would have been better if the legislature had come to a decision. At a "victory meeting" in Memorial Hall, Chancellor Avery said that henceforth the University would be "completely neutral" in the matter of removal. He thought that the refer


endum was the best course of action, but he was at pains to point out that unless the required number of signatures could be secured on the referendum petitions there would be no election. He also warned that if only a minority of voters turned out, whatever decision was made would undoubtedly be challenged in the future.

Avery urged every University supporter to solicit petition signatures and help get out the vote. Alumni and students responded, but they encountered a good deal of indifference. One alumnus who took part in the drive commented that "so remote from the immediate concern of most persons requested to sign were the problems of University welfare that it took about as much nerve to ask an unknown man to sign a location petition as it takes to ask a stranger for a chew." Representatives of Nebraska's agricultural organizations, meeting at the Nebraska Farmers Congress during the winter of 1913, said that lack of interest in the removal question was the result of lack of information, and the Congress voted unanimously to form a committee to study the problem, publish information, and make recommendations to the voters. The presidents of Ohio State, Wisconsin, Michigan State, and Minnesota universities were among those serving on the committee, which visited Lincoln to tour the campuses, and which conducted public hearings and studied earlier reports. These eminent administrators concluded that in the interest of efficiency, student morale, and economy, the University should be united on the farm campus.

But the downtown-campus party, in what H. C. Filley called "a demonstration of how money can be used by an organization to influence public opinion," formed the University Home Campus Extension Association, "raised funds, hired a publicity director, and proceeded to provide 'information.' " The group provided free pictures and material to newspaper editors, who were glad to run them; "most of the editors and readers of the paper had no way of knowing that many of the statements were somewhat colored." One piece, appearing in June, 1914, asked Nebraskans if it was their wish to place the University "beyond the reach of those who toil in order to surround it with more beautiful landscape . . . for the benefit of those who can live without work. The log cabin and the sod house have produced more greatness than has ever sprung from marble fronts. Too much luxury neutralizes energy and stunts or destroys mentality. Keep the university where it is and give the poor boy a chance." A small campus possessed many inherent advantages, and a campus larger than forty acres afforded too many secluded "spooning grounds." If the state offered such expansive facilities, "it must expect the usual results." The removalists had no central publicity agency, and countering this clever campaign was not easy. Haller and Coupland personally paid for the publication of arguments for removal, and C. H. Gustafson, president of the Nebraska Farmers Union, told members of his organization that the Lincoln street-car magnates, the real estate promoters and the O Street merchants were behind the campaign to retain the downtown campus. Room 5 of the Central Hotel, said Gustafson, was the headquarters of the University Home Campus Extension Association, "fathered by the 'interests' of Lincoln and . . . promoted and financially supported in the main by Lincoln businessmen."

With the approach of election day it seemed likely that voters would base their decision simply on the cost of consolidation. The anti-removalist propaganda had done its work, and there were clear signs that voters would be against any plan calling for additional tax money. (One Saunders County farmer complained to the State Journal that the farmers knew the money for an expanded university already had been voted, and since the election merely concerned where the funds would be spent, it was hardly worth the effort.) And when the people spoke out on the matter, they spoke with finality. The tabulated votes showed


66,883 for removal and 148,110 for the retention of the downtown campus. The regents declared themselves gratified by the "clearness and conclusiveness of the result"; they were certain that the issue had been permanently resolved. A tract of land running four blocks east and west by six blocks north ad south bordering the eastern and northern edges of the downtown campus was purchased, and plans were drawn for a dairy building on the farm campus. By the end of the next biennium the dairy building was completed, a biology building to be named in honor of Dean Bessey and a chemical laboratory were nearly ready, and plans for a Teachers College building and Social Sciences Hall had been drawn. Thus, in 1917 it seemed that the University stood on the threshold of a new phase of development.

Other Legislative Encounters

The 1909 and 1911 legislatures made a number of crucial decisions affecting the University, and it should be noted that the Democratic party, which controlled those legislatures was split into two factions-- the conservative or Bourbon wing, representing the established interests of eastern Nebraska, and the rural, western group, identified with the remnants of Populism. The latter agitated for an expansion of the University's agricultural work, yet at the same time insisted that the institution must practice the most rigorous economy. Feeling that the University's administration was not attuned to the true interests of the farm people, members of the western bloc adopted an obstructionist attitude toward many University proposals. And it was this situation that produced what Chancellor Avery called "the crisis of 1909."

As well as discussing the removal question for the first time, the 1909 legislature decreed a major revamping of the University's structure. Otto Kotouc of Humbolt had been elected to the House of Representatives shortly after his graduation from the University, and it was Koutoc whom Chancellor Avery asked to introduce a bill looking toward a revision of the University's Charter. The bill provided for seven colleges within the University-- the Graduate College, the College of Arts and Sciences, the College of Agriculture, the College of Engineering, Teachers College, the College of Law, and the College of Medicine. A final section of the bill gave to the regents authority to create other colleges and departments as they saw fit. Kotouc thought the bill would have an easy time, but there were strenuous objections to the section that empowered the regents to establish new colleges. Some representatives regarded it as an attempt to escape legislative control; others said that new colleges, indiscriminately founded by the regents, would mean a heavier burden on the taxpayers. It was only after this section of the bill was deleted that the legislature passed the measure giving the University its modern form.

In this session the regents also asked for a sizable increase in building

and salary appropriations. Even though the Democratic majority was elected on

a platform of economy in government, it was assumed that something would be done to help out the University. But from outstate papers came reports that the

University was "going to be taken down a peg," and representatives from western districts said the intended to abolish the "expensive and unnecessary" fellowship

system for graduate students. There were complaints of discrimination against

the agricultural branch, and the Daily Nebraskan reported that Custer County's

W. J. Taylor had said he would not support an appropriation for the College

of Medicine in Omaha. The representative from Merrick County chimed in

that "this state should spend its money in educating farmers, rather than in

puting finishing touches on quack doctors." Taylor called for "moving the


[agriculture] school to the people, not the people to the school" - an allusion to the perpetual desire of western legislatures to have a college of agriculture in their part of the country.

A.E. Sheldon called the 1909 session "the most factional" he had ever witnessed. The University came in for a "thorough soaking." Reportedly angered by the University's bold and active lobby, senators and representatives refused to support the requests for additional funds. Although the legislature increased the general University appropriation by nearly a hundred thousand dollars, most of this was to support new activities handed to the regents, in particular the management of agricultural substations at Valentine and Scottsbluff. Resenting these additional responsibilities, the regents said in their 1911 report, "The handling of such funds as the farmers' institute fund, the substations, even the experiment station itself, must be regarded as duties laid upon the Regents by people of the state, and should not be charged to higher education in Nebraska. If the members of the legislature, and the people of the state will bear in mind the things that have been delegated to the Regents to administer not at their request, and sometimes against their wishes, they will see the unfairness of looking at the grand total as administered by the Regents as representing the money used by the University of Nebraska."

In the same report the regents resorted to the overworked but legitimate gambit of hollering "Crisis!" The University needed the new buildings and the faculty deserved higher salaries, but instead of meeting those needs the legislature had looked the other way and saddled the institution with more responsibilities. Apparently the 1911 legislators did not get the message, for while they voted funds for the Law College building and the plant industry building, they also established the agricultural school at Curtis. Chancellor Avery stated that although much remained to be done and more buildings were needed, in his opinion this legislature had been "eminently fair." He added, however, that "of all the great institutions in the country, we are worse off in a material sense." and, after pointing out that Omaha's new high school building was probably worth all the buildings at Nebraska, asked, "Cannot the state of Nebraska do as well by its chief educational institution as the single school district of the metropolis does for its high school?

The 1913 session debated the removal issue again, voted $50,000 for the maintenance of the College of Medicine building in Omaha, and passed the special three-quarter-mill building levy. The money was not to be spent until the settlement of the removal question. It was after this session that many voices were raised to protest the University's plight. The regents and some highly respected faculty members reported that the University was losing ground academically and that a number of the experienced professors were leaving. In March, 1914, Chancellor Avery said that there was a growing interest in agricultural education, but that students who came tot he farm campus were welcomed by a run-down campus and woefully inadequate buildings. He also pointed out that nearly every major American university had a dormitory system, and he thought that all freshman boys and girls should live in University dormitories where their study habits and environment could be controlled. In respect to faculty salaries, buildings, and student housing, he said that the University was "in danger every year of losing its comparative high standing among the universities of the country."

In their 1915 Report the regents noted the legislature's propensity for assigning new jobs to the University, and said that each new responsibility was a drain on its limited resources. They asked the 1915 legislature "to create no new institutions, organizations, or departments ... until those things already


started are adequately provided for." They went on to say that it was always easier "to get money for new enterprises than to support the old ones that are doing excellent work," and-- nailing things down-- asserted that they had "enough Schools of Agriculture, substations, and various State activities to occupy their thought and energies for the next biennium." This statement did not sit well with some legislators, particularly W. J. Taylor. Taylor said he was through talking with the regents, for they refused to recognize that they were merely the legislature's agents, charged with the management of a state institution. Already, he said, the regents displayed too much independence, especially in financial matters. During the 1915 session he proposed that the University provide an itemized statement of its contemplated expenditures, but his proposal was rejected.

In defense of his actions, Taylor declared that "vast sums have been carelessly appropriated for the University by legislature after legislature, each seemingly fearing university influence." He was sure that the people of the state would be amazed to know how much tax money the University used, and would be even more amazed when they knew about the "influence and control the university exercises over secondary and rural schools." Broadening his attack, Taylor berated the University's accreditation policies which were based on the assumption that every Nebraska high school student intended to enter the University, "when the plain fact is that not one in one hundred ever attends it a day." Why did the University want the power to determine the structure and academic arrangement of public schools? "Because," said Taylor, "the university needs fuel to feed its furnace." He denied his opponents' charge that he wanted to create two rival universities. He was willing to accept the present arrangement, he said, on two conditions: first, that the University get out of accreditation and leave the control of local schools in the hands of local officials; and second, that "all agricultural education and allied activities be centered under a head co-ordinate with and separate from the chancellor of the university and that all appropriations be made and kept separately."

The Nebraska Farmers Union supported Taylor, and in February, 1917, insisted that the University be trimmed back. One member asked, "Why . . .

should a stage give so much of its energy and money to the building up of an

institution that directly benefits so few, unless it returns to the people who

support it some measure of service for the money expended?" There was nothing

new in this line of reasoning, but Taylor's references to the University's relation

to the state's public schools did reflect a new line of attack. The University

opposed the one-room country school and supported consolidation of rural

schools, and at this time a vociferous rural minority whose ideology included an

attachment to locally controlled rural schools was in the process of forming. The

group opposed consolidation, the free-tuition law, state approval of textbooks,

and the county-superintendent plan-in short, any idea or plan that seemed to

threaten their authority in the local district and promise higher school taxes.

It was in he cards that they would oppose the University, since they saw it as an

agent of educational change and reform. The motto of the Farmers Union became "Higher education shall not be built upon the prostrate form of the rural


A number of bills were introduced into the 1917 legislature which, in

Chancellor Avery's view, would have worked to the University's disadvantage.

None survived, but a bill calling for the abolition of the Board of Regents drew

quite a lot of support before it went down to defeat. Writing in the University

Journal in July, 1917, Avery said that "on the whole the spirit of the Legislature

towards the University was unusually good." There would be some "useful


new things" and the building activities would proceed, but salaries and maintenance would stay at the same level despite five hundred new students the past year. "One difficulty with the situation," he said, "is that it is easy to get concentrated on certain things. Powerful influences will help on those things in which they are especially interested, but will ignore the general needs of the institution. Outside of the Regents and a few of the highest administrative officers, the University's own employees have been more anxious to boost the few lines of work in which they are engaged than to help the general cause." The slogan for the next two years, said the Chancellor, "ought to be, no increase for special activities until more adequate provision is made for the main University and Farm teaching force."

The Legislature and the Regents

During the 1909-1917 period, the legislature examined various aspects of the University's administrative structure, and in some instances recommended that modifications be made. The 1917 legislature, for example, hired an efficiency expert, who studied the business and administrative arms of the University and suggested certain changes to the Board of Regents. Internal reform in those areas was badly needed, but the regents and Avery were so distracted by recurrent financial difficulties and persistent problems like the removal issue that they effected few changes in the University's machinery. This period also saw an increase in political fighting over the election of regents. Intensified partisan activities promoted the growth of a campaign for the nonpartisan election of regents, and the 1917 legislature made the office a nonpartisan position. Other adjustments in methods of electing regents were left to the constitutional convention of 1919-1920.

Another idea discussed in the 1909-1917 years was the creation of a single board of higher education for the University and all state colleges. Avery and the regents consistently opposed the plan, which was also rejected by representatives of the normal colleges. Asked to account for the attitude of the latter, one western politician said that every normal school dreamed of one day becoming a university, and "on that account ambitious normal school people might not like the change." In 1917 the University's self-appointed gadfly, Representative Taylor, introduced a bill which would have replaced the Board of Regents with a state board. The University went on record as opposed to the plan, which Avery and several regents saw as a distinct effort to cripple the University. The State Journal conceded that plausible arguments could be mustered in support of Taylor's point of view, but "the real friends of the University will hesitate before endorsing the bill." After all, the institution had functioned well under the existing arrangement and there seemed little need for such a drastic change.

It is clear what Taylor hoped to achieve with this bill. For many years the regents had been elected on an at-large basis, and in 1917 five of the six regents were from Douglas and Lancaster counties. Fearful that the University would be dominated by the eastern section of the state, Taylor wanted to abolish the Board of Regents and create a board of higher education whose members would be elected by districts. This would allow the outstate rural counties to balance the influence of the more populous eastern region. The plan as drawn by Taylor was quickly dropped by the legislature, but it was plain evidence of a regrowth of sectionalism. Potentially it was a very dangerous situation, and with the onset of a lengthy agricultural depression in the 1920's, opposition to the University would become more pronounced.



Academic Trends, 1909-1917

Even with the removal issue resolved and the construction of new buildings ensured by the special mill levy, Regent C.S. Allen believed that the University was no longer in a position to compete with the major universities of the nation. In a statement issued when illness forced him to resign from the Board of Regents in November, 1914, Allen said that over the past decade the University, "gauged by the standard of bigness," had steadily lost ground, and that in future its claim to recognition "must rest upon attendance relative to population and equipment relative to financial resources." Noting the recent ascension of industrial courses, he stressed the importance of the traditional liberal arts courses, which had provided the backbone of early universities and which had to be vigorous if the more recent studies were to be vigorous. "To restrict [educational] activity purely commercial and industrial ends," he said, "to make it a mere agency to create wealth, is to destroy its power for usefulness." The University should get out of "the contest for numbers" and concentrate on quality education.

Such gloomy pronouncements were not uncommon in these years, but they had no effect on the University's day-to-day activities. The Kotouc bill, organizing the University into seven colleges, had brought a new sense of direction and purpose; and although the regents continually indicated that they did not have sufficient funds to conduct existing programs properly, the trend toward the formation of new colleges and departments could not be resisted. In 1912, the School of Fine Arts, under the direction of Professor Paul H. Grummann, was created as a part of the College of Arts and Sciences. Not many students were interested in the fine arts, but Chancellor Avery hoped that the creation of the school would be "gratifying to those who feel that the University has an aesthetic as well as a materialistic mission within the state." By 1916 the school was prepared to offer a bachelor's degree in the field, and Grummann reported that many art and music teachers were being trained for the public schools. The dramatic department was directed by Professor H. Alice Howell, who had joined the University faculty shortly after the turn of the century. In 1915 Miss Howell formed a company of student actors, the University Players, which produced several plays each year. The School of Commerce was created as part of the College of Arts and Sciences in May, 1913, and the Graduate School of Education was organized within the Graduate College in the spring of 1914. in 1915 the School of Pharmacy was elevated to the status of a college. The 1916 Republican platform had called for the University to establish a journalism school and in


1917 a certificate in journalism was offered, but the School of Journalism would not come into being until 1923.

While almost every department of the University enjoyed increased enrollments, probably none grew more rapidly than the Department of Political Science and Sociology in the first two-and-a-half years of its existence. In the first semester of the 1908-1909 school year the enrollment was 392; in the second semester it was 550—a gain of 41 per cent from one semester to the next. The courses offered were a refreshing departure from the usual academic work; and in 1909, W. J. Bryan's suggestion that a school of politics be established in conjunction with the department attracted favorable comment. Bryan's plan called for the enrollment of students from overseas, particularly the Orient, who would study American political institutions, but the Republican Omaha Bee missed the point and attacked the idea as one that would introduce politics into the University. Although the state Senate passed a resolution endorsing the school, the House voted it down. Some representatives thought it merely a scheme to teach the voters the merits of the Democratic party, and one lawmaker added that in view of the drubbing Bryan had taken in the recent presidential campaign, it was obvious that the voters needed that kind of education.

Periodically the regents proclaimed that the College of Arts and Sciences remained the cornerstone of the University. In 1911, for example, the Board stated that it "must always remain the central college in our University organization. . . . It can no more be neglected for technical pursuits than can the higher life of the individual be neglected to increase his capacity as a bread-winner." But declarations of this sort did not halt the decline of the college's enrollment or win young men away from scientific and engineering courses. The new College of Engineering was prospering; the Mechanical Engineering building was ready for partial occupancy in 1909 and completed for work in all departments in 1911. The college looked forward eagerly to the construction of a building to house the departments of Electrical Engineering and Civil Engineering.

In 1910 an important change in the administration of the Graduate College came with the establishment of the Graduate Council, which had authority over all matters pertaining to the college's policies and to the structure of the various graduate programs. The following year the regents abolished all fees for graduate students, justifying the action on the ground that most of the graduate students were teaching assistants; as representation of scholarship they were "of great value to encouraging ideals of scholarship among the undergraduates." It was hoped that the abolition of fees would boost graduate enrollment, and in fact there was a modest upswing until the last two years of the 1909-1917 period.

Academic Year Graduate Enrollment

1909-1910 154

1910-1911 209

1911-1912 264

1912-1913 269

1913-1914 315

1914-1915 350

1915-1916 324

1916-1917 351

As public education in the state expanded, the need for trained teachers increased. In 1907 the legislature had appropriated fifty thousand dollars for the support of high school normal training students; and the founding of normal colleges at Kearney, Wayne, and Chadron was expected to relieve the shortage.


But the state looked to the University's Teachers College for leadership in this important field, and, as has been mentioned earlier, the college was not yet prepared to accept the responsibility. Since it had not yet been authorized to grant degrees, it operated in a kind of twilight zone. Future teachers enrolled in another college, usually the College of Arts and Sciences, and took two years of general college training, not being permitted to take professional education courses until their junior and senior years. As a result, the leaders of the college were constantly involved in a struggle for survival and power. Professor Luckey, who continued to insist that the University had no right to train teachers in competition with the normal colleges, won a minor triumph in 1914 when he was authorized by the regents to establish a Graduate School of Education in which to test out his theories. The summer session, under the direction of Teachers College, was rapidly becoming one of the most important services offered by the University for public school teachers and administrators. After 1909 teachers who attended four summer sessions were eligible for master's degrees; and in 1910, after a referendum of the students in the previous year's summer session, the session was lengthened to eight weeks and enrollment reached 511. At this time four innovations were introduced: the school of superintendents, the model high school, the model grade school, and special courses of instruction in agriculture, education, home economics, and industrial training.

The Extension Division, under J. L. McBrien, also was extremely active. It offered four kinds of work: correspondence study, instruction by lectures at centers in the state, debate,and public information. McBrien acknowledged that correspondence study did not take the place of regular college attendance, but he felt that it met a real need. More than ten thousand Nebraskans had enrolled for correspondence courses with eastern mail-order schools in the past fifteen years, and more than a half-million dollars in fees had left the state. The University offered better course work under proper supervision, at only one-fourth the cost of the commercial schools.

Changes in the field of public education had their influence on the University. In June of 1912, the regents announced that Greek and Latin would no longer be required for admission to the University. Their position about entrance requirements was reviewed in their 1913 report:

In the early days students [without qualifications] completed their preparatory work in the Latin School or preparatory department. Later, when this was abolished, the university permitted students who had attended a high school for three years or even less to enter conditionally and finish their preparatory work by taking more than the number of hours required for graduation. For a number of years, however, we have been gradually raising the standard for admission. In September, 1911, for instance, only those were conditionally admitted who could present 24 admission "points." The most radical recent change, however, was inaugurated at the beginning of the present school year, when the minimum for full admission was set at 30 "points," and that for conditional admission at 28. In this way we severed direct articulation with some three hundred three-year Nebraska high schools. In view of the fact that the free high school tuition law permits pupils from such schools to attend any four-year high school and thus complete a full high school course, this action has caused no special hardship to any one. Subsequent results have shown the wisdom of the university's action. Though this raising of standards has had a tendency to decrease attendance at the university, yet the four-year high schools have been strengthened, many three-year schools have been encouraged to become four-year schools, and no individual student has suffered.

In the same report the regents also announced that one year of college was a


requirement for admission to the College of Law, and that the medical course now was a six-year course, including two years of selected college work.

The College of Medicine

The 1902 arrangement with the Omaha Medical College had called for an eventual absorption by the University, and in 1909 the legislature voted twenty thousand dollars for the purchase of land in Omaha for the College of Medicine campus, reportedly induced to do so by the promise of a group of leading Omahans to donate fifty thousand dollars for the construction of a modern hospital and classroom building. The Omaha group failed to honor its pledge, but this was overshadowed by a bitter argument over the location of the college. The regents, in their biennial report written in late 1910, stated that the time had come "when the legislature should make a specific appropriation for the maintenance of the work in Omaha, and take over full financial control of the same, collecting all tuition fees and paying all bills, thus placing this college on the same basis as the other colleges of the University." They asked for $20,000 out of the state general fund for the maintenance of the work in Omaha, and proposed the erection of buildings to cost $100,000. Four years of the medical course would be given in Omaha and two in Lincoln. On December 25, 1910, a committee of the State Board of Health, which had examined the Omaha college's facilities, indicted them in a scathing report which concluded, "There is nothing left for the state of Nebraska to do but to go out of partnership and either own and control a medical department of the University of Nebraska or go out of business altogether." Earlier, on December 14, a vociferous group of Omaha physicians had declared that the college should remain in their city. They pointed to the famous report by Abraham Flexner, Medical Education in the United States and Canada, published in 1910, which emphasized the need for a laboratory education; since there were no facilities in Lincoln here was a reason for the last four years of the medical course to be given in Omaha. But a group of Lincoln doctors and people interested in the Creighton Medical College were just as insistent that the medical work be given in Lincoln.

A decision had to be made soon. The Omaha school was operating at a great loss, and there was considerable opposition over the state to its continuation. After a thorough airing of the problem in the 1911 legislature, a special committee recommended the Omaha location, and the legislature began to debate a hundred-thousand-dollar appropriation bill for the construction of a building for the college. But a medical college alumni committee continued to insist that it would be better to have "a united campus where all departments, library and scientific, are grouped on one campus and are under the direct supervision of the chancellor and one executive and administrative force." Fuel was added to the flames when a story circulated that Avery and the regents opposed the Omaha location, but did not dare to say so. The sharpest attack on the proposition, however, arose from the divided ranks of the medical profession itself. In the view of one doctor, the principal opposition to the College of Medicine came from homeopaths and eclectics who feared that its medical courses would be dominated by a single school if the college remained in Omaha. Representative Kotouc attempted to get the appropriation bill moving, motivated in part by the hope that if Omaha got the college its opposition to the University would diminish; but the chairman of the House appropriations committee was opposed to further expenditures and refused to bring the bill to the committee's attention. Prominent Omaha politicians also sought to change the chairman's mind, but to no avail. Finally the committee members decided to meet, and asked the


clerk of the legislature, Henry C. Richmond, to track down the chairman and escort him to the meeting. When the chairman refused to attend, the burly Richmond propelled the unhappy man into the room and closed and barred the door. The chairman said that he did not have the College of Medicine appropriation bill with him, but Mr. Kotouc knew that he habitually carried important bills in his inside coat pocket. At the insistence of Kotouc and other committee members, the chairman emptied his pockets, and there, among the other papers, was the bill. Eventually the measure was reported out of the committee without recommendation and passed the House. There was little opposition in the Senate, and the bill passed there, too, despite some frantic last-minute efforts by the eclectics and homeopaths to tack on amendments.

The bill had attracted many lobbyists, two of whom asked a Nance County physician, Dr. Homer Davis, to speak to the legislature. Dr. Davis was a quiet country practitioner, and though the legislators had been unimpressed by the testimony of Omaha and Lincoln doctors, who obviously had axes to grind, they listened attentively when Dr. Davis told them that the University Hospital was desperately needed, not just for the benefit of medical students, but to take care of poor rural patients. "The members of the committee with whom I talked told me that I had saved the day for this recommended appropriation," he recalled; and undoubtedly his testimony did contribute to the enactment of the first substantial appropriation for the College of Medicine.

Passage of the bill did not end the controversy. A Supreme Court decision was r4equired to ascertain whether the University could constitutionally support a branch in Omaha; but the medical profession itself continued to be the principal source of confusion and delay. The League of Medical Freedom, organized overnight to oppose the college, attacked the Board of Regents because the college was controlled by allopaths. The State Journal pointed out that the regents were merely carrying out the instructions of the legislature, which had appropriated funds for the college; it would have been easier for the University to offer only pre-medical work in Lincoln, severing the connection with the Omaha college and letting students go to any medical school they might happen to choose. Such a plan, the Journal said, "would involve the state in but slight expense and do away with the trouble and irritation caused by the present medical war." But good news balanced the bad, and in 1912 the American Medical Association classified the Nebraska College of Medicine as the only superior institution in the region, while the American Association of Medical Colleges also placed Nebraska in its highest category. These commendations tended to discourage criticism. The college moved to Omaha in 1913, and in 1915 when the legislature appropriated an additional $150,000 for buildings on the Omaha campus there was hardly a murmur of dissent.

While the legislative battles were being fought, a power struggle was going on within the new college. From 1902 to 1913 the following physicians played leading roles in the contention: Dr. Henry B. Ward, Dr. H. Winnett Orr, Dr. Robert H. Wolcott, Dr. Charles W. M. Poynter, and Dr. Irvin S. Cutter. Ward, it will be recalled, was a zoology professor at the University; he had been largely responsible for the formation of the college and was named dean of the college in Lincoln in 1902. In 1910, because of opposition from members of the Omaha faculty, Ward resigned and went to the University of Illinois; and Dr. Wolcott, who had come to Lincoln at Ward's urging and had been his assistant dean, was named acting dean. Wolcott hoped for the permanent appointment, but he was opposed by Poynter and Cutter. The latter, who was credited with "an acute insight into the needs of the Medical College and an amazing capacity to 'sell' those needs to the Regents and the Legislature," had reportedly influenced the


governor to sign the bill for the hundred-thousand-dollar appropriation. Cutter applied his talents in his own behalf with such success that in 1913, despite considerable opposition, he was appointed Director of Laboratories in Omaha. At this time Dr. W. O. Bridges was named dean of the college, but Cutter succeeded him in 1915 and held the deanship until 1925. As a result of his rivalry with Dr. Poynter, a deep antipathy developed between the two men, and it enlivened much of the subsequent history of the College of Medicine.

The College of Agriculture

Although the Industrial College had made clear advances during the nine years of the Andrews administration, by 1909 financial and philosophical pressures, as well as other lesser factors, resulted in the abandonment of the concept of the college. In its place the College of Agriculture and the College of Engineering were created. Edgar A. Burnett was named dean of the College of Agriculture. Burnett had received his undergraduate education at Michigan State Agricultural College, and from 1896 to 1909 he taught at South Dakota State College. He had come to the University of Nebraska in 1899 as professor of animal husbandry, and he also had served as associate dean of the Industrial College and director of the experiment station.

Robert P. Crawford has written that agriculture came into its own at this time. The experiment station and the University scientists brought many benefits to the farmers of the state; and as the farmers became better organized than ever before, they pressed the legislature for more money for agricultural research and for additional agricultural substations. In 1910, Burnett announced that there were about 200 students enrolled in agricultural courses; about 150 students in the College of Agriculture; and 352 in the School of Agriculture. Since Burnett had seen to a complete overhauling of the college's offerings, the curricula now presented were far different from those previously listed in the Catalogue. Most important, new courses now were available to meet the needs of modern farmers, economics and farm management being of particular significance; a marketing course was introduced somewhat later. These new courses helped to silence critics who said that the University was interested only in increasing farm production. Two members of the faculty who figured prominently in the new lines of work were Charles W. Pugsley, who in 1909 formed a Department of Agronomy and Farm Management, and H. C. Filley, who was to initiate a Department of Rural Economics in 1918. This department, Filley said, hoped "to be of assistance in investigating problems that the individual farmer cannot investigate for himself; to increase the direct marketing of fruits and vegetables; to assist in the formation of co-operative organizations; and to make Nebraska farming more profitable." Filley was especially interested in cooperative marketing, and he believed that his course in the subject was the first offered in the nation. His publications in this area also were leaders in the field.

Criticism of the courses departing from traditional patterns of agricultural education came not only from commercial and business quarters, but also from farmers who believed that the University had overstepped its bounds. Rural opposition to the College of Agriculture remained very much alive in the state, and after 1910 University leaders had noted with alarm a rising rural sentiment for the separation of the college from the University. Chancellor Avery told the 1912 session of the Nebraska Farmers Congress that such an idea was absurd. Agricultural information and training could be brought to the farmers by agricultural high schools and agricultural courses in the public schools. The problem, as Avery saw it, was to devise a plan that would make an efficient


farmer "out of the boy who has neither time nor inclination for college study." And a separate college of agriculture in the western part of the state would not fulfill the need as defined by the Chancellor.

In the 1915 legislative session, Representative Taylor of Custer County criticized the regents for not supporting properly the College of Agriculture and the experiment station, and urged the legislature to require of the regents an explanation of the failure of the college to perform adequately. In the Senate, C. W. Beal, also from Custer County, introduced a bill calling for the creation of a state agricultural activities board which would be responsible for all agricultural work of the state and would control the College of Agriculture, the experiment station, and the substations. The bill stressed that practical farmers would fill the positions on the proposed board. Although Representative Taylor preferred his own plan, which provided for the separation of the College of Agriculture from the University's administrative supervision and placed it directly under the legislature, in particular the House appropriations committee, nonetheless he was ready to do battle for Beal's bill. In shirt sleeves, standing before a blackboard on which every now and then he scrawled an indecipherable figure, Taylor went after the regents. He said that the one-mill levy enacted in 1899 was the work of a well-organized and well-financed University lobby; it promoted reckless waste, and the regents must be brought under the direct control of the legislature. He also attacked the University for its influence on the state's public schools. The educational reforms for which it was responsible meant that it was necessary for him to send his daughter to Merna to get more than eight grades of schooling, thereby spoiling her for farm work. The University professors, he said, talked "a different language than us hayseeds do," and the regents "resent our probing into what they are doing."

The University humor magazine, Awgwan, made fun of Taylor, "who removes his coat and paws the air for hours at each opportunity"; but a number of legislators, editors, and other influential citizens were impressed by his arguments, and the agricultural activities bill gained momentum. Chancellor Avery drew up a list of arguments against it and sent it to the home of the aged and critically ill Dean Bessey, hoping that Bessey, whose enormous prestige had not waned, would sign the statement and allow its distribution among the legislators. Bessey not only signed the prepared note but painfully added in his own hand:

After serving the University of Nebraska and the college of agriculture as a united institution for more than thirty years I greatly deplore any attempt in the legislature to weaken the connection between the university farm and the mother institution at the city campus.

It has been my duty to study the development of such institutions as this and I hope that there will be no change in the direction of the policy that financial or otherwise has characterized it for all those years of its development.

The message was read to the senators and representatives, and when the vote came, the agricultural activities bill was defeated.

The controversy was a reminder of the growth over the years of a powerful rural resentment of the University which expressed itself in the demand that educational matters be dictated by those who spoke for the farmers and not by eastern Nebraska "experts." Whether the subject was local school organization or the administration of the College of Agriculture, the arguments were the same. Politicians had long taken account of this resentment, and in 1908 the Democratic party had pledged itself to establish an agricultural college in western Nebraska. However, nothing was accomplished in the 1909 legislative session because the


outstaters could not agree on a location. In the 1911 session H.C. Filley, representing Gage County, introduced a bill to establish agricultural and domestic science courses in Nebraska high schools. Such courses, he said, would be of much more benefit to the farmers and their children than another agricultural college, no matter where it was located. Leaders in agricultural education agreed that the time to extend agricultural courses into the high schools had come, but whether the best course of action was to encourage existing high schools to add agricultural courses to their curricula or whether special high schools should be created was to be a continuing subject of debate. the 1911 legislature finally agreed to finance a single agricultural high school which was to be located in the western, dry-farming section of the state, and it appropriated one hundred thousand dollars for the project. The legislators handed the administration of the new school over to the Board of Regents, because of the University's years of experience operating the School of Agriculture on the farm campus. Not unexpectedly, the hundred-thousand-dollar appropriation for the high school touched off a scramble among the Nebraska towns for the prize. Broken Bow launched an intensive campaign, its advertisements declaring that Broken Bow "is just such as town as you would select for your boy when he goes away to school." Supporters of Curtis, in Frontier County, also made a forcible campaign. The decision was up to the State Board of Public Lands, which, after thirty-three ballots, voted to locate the school at Curtis. In 1913, the Curtis School of Agriculture began operations, offering courses in agriculture and the domestic sciences, as well as traditional secondary-level courses.

Although the regents knew that the founding of the Curtis school had taken considerable steam out of the drive for an agricultural college in western Nebraska, they continued to argue that secondary instruction in agriculture should be developed in existing high schools. The legislature did turn down this path in 1913, passing the Shumway Act, which provided state aid for agricultural course, manual training, and domestic science work in the high schools; and in 1917, Congress passed the Smith-Hughes Act, which provided a great incentive for vocational and agricultural training in the secondary schools. But these measures were still in the future, and in the meanwhile the regents were most unhappy that the legislature had dropped the Curtis school in their laps. They were even more concerned by the legislature's hasty creation of new substations. In 1909, the Board had initiated a Supreme Court case to test whether or not the legislature could force the University to assume direction of the Scotts Bluff substation, and the court had ruled in affirmative. Although, as has been mentioned earlier, the Board urgently requested the 1913 and 1915 legislatures not to hand the University any new duties, by 1917 the University "enjoyed" control over a fruit farm near Union and agricultural substations at North Platte, Valentine, and Scottsbluff, as well as the school at Curtis.1 in 1915 the legislature ordered the University to begin production of hog-cholera serum, and a plant was opened. Late in 1916, however, when the hog cholera outbreak seemed under control, the regents asked to be relieved of the work. "Teaching, investigation and the general diffusion of knowledge, not manufacturing or police inspection are the prime purposes of the University," the Board declared. They argued further that there were plenty of commercial plants, and that the University plant would have to be remodeled to produce serum of as high a grade of purity as that produced by commercial plants. They planned to

1 The station at Culbertson, authorized by the 1911 legislature, had been ordered sold by the 1915 legislature, and accordingly was sold in 1916.

keep the plant intact for an emergency, and in the 1917-1918 period, when another outbreak occurred, the plant was reopened at the governor's request even though no funds were provided for it.

While the regents were battling the legislature, the work of the College of Agriculture went on, showing particular progress in experimental programs. After 1912, no name better represented the importance of the University's agricultural research programs than that of Theodore A. Kiesselbach, who began work in experimental agronomy in that year and inaugurated the study of hybrid corn at the University on a serious and extensive scale. Successful programs also were developed in the Department of Animal Husbandry. In the belief that farmers and feeders might wish to observe the University's feeding experiments, the Agricultural College added an animal Feeders Day to the calendar at the farm campus. In 1916 courses in poultry husbandry were given, and by this year a very successful Department of Agricultural Engineering was in operation. The department was concerned with a broad spectrum of farm problems, ranging from the construction of roads to the study of implements and the design of functional farm buildings. Professor J. H. Frandsen and his colleagues in the dairy husbandry department were active, too, and Nebraska dairy cattle, especially those from the University's famous Holstein herd, consistently placed high in national dairy shows. In 1917, Professor Frandsen reported that Nebraska farmers were showing more interest in the dairy herds, for a dairy herd provided the farmer some protection against drought and hard times. When Dr. L. Van Es joined the College of Agricultural faculty in 1918, the University gained one of the nation's foremost veterinarians and animal pathologists. Dr. Van Es was expected to devote most of his time to experimental programs seeking to eradicate stock diseases.

Agricultural Extension

Farmers' institutes, special trains, and experiment station bulletins continued to convey the gospel of scientific agriculture to the farmers of Nebraska, and still farm leaders were unsatisfied and urged the regents to expand the University's work in agricultural extension. In their 1911 report the regents proposed that the State Board of Agriculture take charge of extension programs, but the legislature ignored this advice. Instructed to set up an agricultural extension program, the regents reorganized the work of the farmers' institutes "under the title of agricultural extension." The new department, they reported in 1915, "cared not only for the old work in farmers' institutes, but also for new agricultural activities paid for in part out of other state funds." Charles W. Pugsley was placed in charge of the program.

In 1911, Dean Burnett reported during the convention of the Association of American Agricultural Colleges and Experiment Stations that if public interest was any gauge, "extension work promises to be one of the very largest fields of endeavor in our whole agricultural domain." Many prominent Nebraskans agreed with Burnett, and at meetings in 1911 and 1912 agricultural leaders and University people laid the foundation for agricultural extension. One duty of the planners was to define the work of the farm demonstrators, also known as farm agents, who were to bring agricultural information to the farmers, and to help farm organizations to hire the agents. A few counties made plans to hire them, but in most instances, as in Merrick County where, in 1912, Nebraska's first farm agent was employed, their salaries were paid by private funds. The 1913 legislature authorized counties to use county funds for the partial support of farm demonstrators if 10 per cent of the landowning farmers in the


county signed a petition asking for the demonstrator's services. Once hired by the county, the demonstrator was to work under the direction of the University's agricultural extension department.

In 1914, after Congress passed the Smith-Lever Act, which provided federal money for the agricultural extension programs, the impact of the new movement was felt all over rural America. Some farm organizations welcomed the program with open arms—the Nebraska Farmers Congress, for example, in 1915 adopted a resolution asking that the work be expanded in the state—but there was a well-entrenched opposition which objected to the upstart farm demonstrators who would soon be "butting in" to tell the farmers how to farm. The reaction could not be attributed simply to rural provincialism, for there were city-dwellers who opposed agricultural extension. In March, 1914, a State Journal editorial, speaking for urban and commercial interests in the state, attacked the Smith-Lever Act because it represented a threat to local control of tax funds. The editorial posed a question: "Does Nebraska like the idea of having its local taxes dictated by Congress? Congress has already passed one bill . . . which virtually forces Nebraska to levy a tax of a quarter of a million dollars a year upon itself for purposes dictated by Congress. This is the Lever bill for the extension of agricultural education." While acknowledging the value of extension programs, the State Journal resented that the federal government was forcing the state and its local subdivisions to put up matching funds in order to secure federal money.

This reaction, which was very common across the state, indicated that a significant shift had come in Nebraskans' attitudes. For years they had accepted federal programs almost without question. Frontier farmers were pragmatists and their main concern was getting as much aid as possible from Washington. To the Populists, the problem was to bring the government under the control of rural America again, so that appropriate programs of aid and assistance might be formulated for the nation's farmers. But as the frontier vanished, the outlook of the Nebraska farmer and townsman changed. Convinced that they would never again exert influence within the government, farmers rejected federal programs and cried out that the government was encroaching upon their last domain, the local school district and the local government subdivisions. The enactment of the Federal Aid Road Act and the Smith-Lever Act brought these new attitudes into prominence, and it is interesting to note that in order to justify their opposition to federal programs the critics frequently referred to the "individualistic frontiersman" who did not need federal help to settle and develop Nebraska. This was, of course, hardly a tenable argument, since Nebraska frontiersmen had sought help from Washington on many occasions. Only when the frontier had passed did the myth of the individualistic frontiersman develop as a rationalization for resistance to federal programs. Unfortunately, the myth concealed the complex cultural, economic, and psychological phenomena which coalesced to produce a strong reaction against the federal government.

But this resistance did not prevent Nebraska from accepting the provisions of the Smith-Lever Act, and the 1915 legislature enrolled the state in the "cooperative agricultural extension work." The United States Department of Agriculture and the land-grant agricultural colleges were associated in financing and directing this program to provide "instruction and practical demonstration in agriculture and home economics to persons not attending or resident [in land-grant colleges] . . . and imparting to such persons information on said subjects through field demonstrations, publications, and otherwise." In 1916 there were nine cooperative county agents in the state, As Box Butte, Gage,


Seward, Thurston, Madison, Dawes, Dakota, Sheridan, and Kimball counties had decided to avail themselves of the program's services. In 1916, Esther Warner, '12, went to work in Seward County as the first woman home demonstration agent in the state.

Fearing that University funds might be diverted to support the extension program, the regents stressed in the 1915 and 1917 reports that money must be appropriated by the state to match federal funds, and that none of the state money could be farmers' institute money. While they recognized that "no activity of the University touches more people than agricultural extension," they pointed out that "the expense should not be regarded as a university expense, but rather as an expense for the benefit of the people of the state, and which is administered by the Regents." An important development occurred in August, 1917, when in connection with the war effort3 Congress passed a bill for "Stimulating Agriculture and Facilitating Distribution of Products." The law provided funds which enabled the state to place a county agent in most important agricultural counties, and also to enlarge the programs for home demonstrations and the boys' and girls' clubs. The Farmers Union, however, was irritated by the federal legislation. Previously the policy had been to give a county an agent only after an organization was formed, but now the counties were having agents "forced" on them. L. S. Herron, editor of the Union's official newspaper, portrayed the situation this way in October, 1917:

Here is presented to the farmers of Nebraska the interesting, if not welcomed alternative of organizing county farm bureaus to have charge of the county agents, with only supervision by state and federal authorities, or seeing the agents installed, perhaps by paternalistic officials, without farmers having any sort of control over their activities. Such is the dilemma which federal aid has brought us.

Thanks to the additional federal funds provided by the wartime measure, there were fifty county agents in the state in 1918 as compared with nine a year earlier. To promote an efficient organization of the agricultural extension programs, the Department of Agriculture issued a memorandum which instructed each land-grant university to form a special division to direct them. The new division was named the State Extension Service, and one of its most important early leaders in Nebraska was W. H. Brokaw, a Seward County farmer who had long been active in the extension movement. Chancellor Benton in 1871 had wondered how the farmers of Nebraska could best be reached with the message of the University; now, after fifty years the Extension Service provided the answer.

Faculty Affairs

As the years flowed by, death claimed some irreplaceable members of the University faculty. Dean Bessey died on February 25, 1915; and in 1918, Harry K. Wolfe passed away, as did Ellery W. Davis, brilliant mathematician and dean of the Arts College for seventeen years. There also was the continuing loss of professors to other, better-paying

institutions; the 1912 Cornhusker listed forty-nine persons of professorial rank who had left the University since 1900. As the State Journal said in 1909, "In the name of simple justice" the faculty should have a reduced teaching load. Moreover, the need for higher salaries was not open to dispute. In 1913 the regents asked the legislature for a sufficient appropriation to cover a flat 10 per cent boost in salaries, and again in 1915 and

3 For a discussion of the University during World War I, see Chapter Nineteen.

1917 asked for more money for salaries, but were rebuffed in each case. While Chancellor Avery repeatedly emphasized the need for higher salaries, he was a great man for seeing the bright side, and in June of 1912, he observed that the University should be proud its faculty members were not "mercenaries." He resented the remark, so frequently heard, that all the best professors had left; there were numerous able men and women on the faculty who realized that there were many advantages to teaching at the University of Nebraska. The next year, however, after the 1913 legislative session, he said that the University was losing its choicest men because of the salary problem; and he was tired of having it to serve as "a training ground for other universities."

Closely related to the salary question was the question of pensions, which at last became a topic for respectable conversation. The regents had long recognized the need for a pension fund, but had no idea where to obtain the money to create one. A possible answer came in 1908 when administrators of a fund established by Andrew Carnegie to provide pensions for faculty of private colleges announced that upon the request of representatives of state-supported institutions, funds also would be made available for their staff members. On learning that the administration was considering accepting the Carnegie offer, a yelp of dismay was emitted by the World-Herald--here was the Rockefeller situation all over again. Yes, indeed, the faculty should have pensions, said the paper, but the money should come from taxes, not from a "beneficiary of special privileges who is at war with the people." Writing in the University Journal in January, 1909, Professor George E. Howard said it would be "safe and wise" for the University to participate in the Carnegie plan. Salaries at western universities were at least 30 per cent lower than those paid at eastern universities, with Nebraska "well toward the bottom of the list," and the Carnegie plan already in effect for private schools was an added inducement for professors to leave for posts in eastern schools. Since the proposed grant had to be accepted by the legislature and would be under its control, he did not see how it could undermine the University's integrity. Other western state universities were accepting the grant; if Nebraska did not, it would be doubly handicapped. "Freedom of teaching is not in peril," he wrote. "Academic and democratic ideals are safe." These statements were quoted in the Omaha Bee; and it is interesting to note that thereafter the World-Herald ceased to mention Howard as a possible candidate for the post of chancellor.

Opponents of the Carnegie pension plan rallied around W. J. Bryan. Invited to the floor of the legislature in February, when the Carnegie plan was under discussion, Bryan called the idea "the most insidious poison that now threatens our nation. It will do more harm to us than all the efforts of the millionaires." Although he said that accepting the gift would "warp our teachers" and that the voters would vote out the party that voted the plan in, Bryan insisted that he was not trying to tell anyone how to vote, but merely presenting "logical arguments." The next day the Omaha Bee gleefully pointed out that a few years earlier, when Bryan had led a drive to get Carnegie libraries for Nebraska, a picture of Bryan and Carnegie, chatting together, all smiles, had appeared in all the newspapers. Why, then, did he oppose the Carnegie pension plan? And was he opposed to pensions as a matter of principle, or was it Carnegie's participation in the plan that led him to oppose it? These questions were raised by Professor Howard when he confronted Bryan before the legislative committee studying the proposal. Bryan replied that conditions had changed since he supported the Carnegie library drive; it was now apparent that Carnegie was attempting to create a steel trust which aimed at nothing less than the domination of the country. He reproached Howard and Professor Caldwell, who


also was present, for their stand; they were the last men he would have expected to forget the interests of the people in their zealousness for their interests. If the Carnegie money should be accepted, he said, "I can never hope to hear these professors denounce the steel trust in their classes." Ignoring Caldwell's interjection--"Come to my class and you will hear it!"--Bryan then repeated his charge that the University professors were interested only in their own personal gain. And though both Caldwell and Howard objected strongly to Bryan's insinuation, Bryan had the last word--"But I shall say it, sir, I shall say it for I have reason to believe that such is the situation there."

Debate went on endlessly and occasionally violently--during one discussion one representative hit another. Representatives from western Nebraska opposed the plan, supposedly because the legislature had voted against a college of agriculture for their section of the state, but it was Bryan who was chiefly responsible for the pension plan's defeat. There had been little opposition until his appearance before the legislature. As it was, the House voted down the proposal by four votes, fifty-one to forty-seven. But the Democratic party was beginning to grow restless under Bryan's leadership, and although his influence was strong enough to swing the tide in the House, eighteen Democratic representatives voted for the measure. If Bryan had entered the controversy only to demonstrate his hold on his party, as the State Journal said, the results must have disappointed him. In fact, it was apparent that Bryan was not particularly interested in the pension matter, for when a proposal for a tax-supported plan came before the legislature, Bryan did not appear to speak for it and the idea dropped from view. The University undoubtedly suffered from the defeat of the plan--even though the Carnegie endowment probably would not have brought in more than a few thousand dollars a year--but the principal loser was the Great Commoner. "Friends of the university," said a State Journal editorial, "cannot overlook the fact that while Mr. Bryan had leisure to appear before the house committee and vigorously fight the pension, he has not yet found time to make the same vigorous effort to give the university such financial support as would enable it to maintain its standing."

The incident produced some unfortunate repercussions, for there was deep suspicion when professors mixed in political matters, and none expressed this feeling more vehemently than James Dahlman, the Democratic candidate for governor in 1910, who told all University people to stay out of politics, or else! Apparently, however, the faculty was intimidated, for during the 1911 session of the legislature professors lobbied on both sides of the removal question. The student body was amused when Professor Aylsworth was "ejected from the State House on the charge of lobbying," but it was no laughing matter to Chancellor Avery, who was extremely annoyed that the faculty lobbyists were disregarding the rule which prohibited faculty members from going to the legislature in regard to institutional matters without first securing clearance from the regents. In February, 1911, the regents restated the regulation and issued formal reprimands to Professor H. R. Smith of the Department of Animal Husbandry, who had worked openly for the removal of the downtown campus to the farm campus, and to I. S. Cutter and J. S. Welch of the College of Medicine, who had tried to keep their college in Lincoln. Smith resigned to accept a post with the University of Minnesota, but Cutter and Welch eventually were reinstated.

Another faculty member who stirred up a political hornet's nest was the head of the Extension Division, J. L. McBrien. In 1910 and 1911 he had arranged state-wide speaking tours of Governor Aldrich, Congressman George W. Norris, and W. J. Bryan under the sponsorship of the University; and in February, 1911, it was alleged that they had used the tours to promote their political


careers. McBrien replied that the people of the state deserved the opportunity to hear their leaders discuss pertinent issues. In April the Senate adopted a resolution calling for the suspension of state support for the Extension Division unless it was reorganized under a different head; the people wanted to take "politics out of the university and politicians out of control of the departments of the university." In the House it was charged that McBrien was trying to build a political machine. The specific connection was the prohibition issue. McBrien was active in the county-option league, and those who attacked him most frequently were representatives belonging to the faction which wanted a bone-dry state. McBrien's supporters in the House finally called for a vote on the resolution, and it died by a vote of sixty-one to twenty-nine.

The history of any institution tends to give most prominence to the events that made headlines, and it should not be forgotten that during all these quarrels and controversies the work of the University went steadily on. An innovation during commencement week of 1915 was the presentation of a pageant, "The Founding of Lincoln," written by Professor H. B. Alexander and directed by R. D. Scott of the English department. The idea of the pageant came from Guy Reed, secretary of the alumni association, who hoped that it would stimulate the University to take a more positive role in encouraging the intellectual and artistic development of the state. A second pageant presented in 1916 told the story of Omaha, and also was well received. In other fields a number of faculty members were engaged in work that would figure importantly in Nebraska's future development. Members of the engineering faculty were involved in setting up the "good roads" campaign, and Professor G. R. Chatburn, head of the Department of Applied Mechanics, was recognized as an expert in the planning and construction of roads. Dean O. V. P. Stout of the College of Engineering was continuing his study of Nebraska's water resources. He estimated that approximately 500,000 h.p. of energy could be generated if the state's streams and rivers were properly harnessed. Professor Condra of the Department of Geology, whose point of view was that of a conservationist rather than an engineer, asked the federal government to assist in the proper development of Nebraska's water resources. Writing to Governor Aldrich in 1911, he said it would be to the state's advantage to cooperate with the federal government in this matter, since Nebraska was largely dependent on interstate water supplies. Condra was fearful that the campaign to promote Nebraska's development would suffer from the rural-urban split. "It will take a great deal of effort," he wrote, "to overcome the cheap talk of some of our legislators, and the prevailing prejudice and provincialism out in the state. A basis aside from selfishness must be found for this cooperation." They were prophetic words: when the "basis" was found, Nebraska would be ready for unprecedented advances in the field of water power and irrigation.



The Wartime University

A great deal has been written about the unique ability of American society to assimilate immigrants, but there is value in the concept only if it is recognized that sometimes the process did not function according to form. Nebraska's experience is a case in point. During the last decades of the nineteenth century and the first decade of the twentieth, thousands of immigrants arrived in the state. Many of them settled in, or established, communities were the languages, customs, and attitudes of the old country were maintained; as a result, on the eve of World War I there were Bohemian, Scandinavian, and German communities scattered over the state. The last-named were the most numerous; according to the census of 1910, more than 10 percent of Nebraska's population was of German descent.1 More than forty German-language newspapers were published, and in many parts of the state the German language was used in business, church, and school. Closely knit because of the retention of their language and customs, the German-Americans in Nebraska were a power, courted by politicians and chambers of commerce.

Members of the University faculty who had received their graduate training in Germany felt particularly close to the German people. Chancellor Avery appeared frequently at German-American functions, and invariably expressed his admiration for German kultur and higher education. In a 1909 speech typical of many he delivered before German-American audiences, he extolled the German system of education; and at a German-American rally in Lincoln, in October, 1910, speaking of Governor Ashton Shallenberger and Professor Lawrence Fossler, the Chancellor said, "These two distinguished friends of mine were German born, wholly or in part, but I without this advantage have acquired Germanism. For two years I was an academic Burger of Heidelberg. My legal protector was the noble Friedrich, grand duke of Baden, and I had every right of a citizen of that country. The proudest academic distinction that I ever won was granted to me in his name." In 1910 this kind of talk was good public relations; but after the American declaration of war on Germany in 1917, the recollection of the pro-German sentiments expressed by the Chancellor and members of the faculty were to create a grave problem for the University.

Until the outbreak of the Great War most Nebraskans were generally unconcerned about events in Europe; then, like all Americans, they watched the

1. According to the 1910 census, out of Nebraska's total population of 1, 192, 214, there 201,713 born in Germany or of German parentage.


newspaper headlines intently and wondered about the conflicting reports from the western front. University professors, on the other hand, had always maintained a deep interest in Continental developments. On August 5, 1914, the day after England declared war on Germany, Professor Luckey told a convocation that the war would "steep another generation in blood. For another fifty years men will nourish hatred against one another and world peace will receive a lasting blow." Chancellor Avery, however, predicted that the war would not last more than six months; a longer conflict would undoubtedly bankrupt all the participants. There was concern for five faculty members who were in Europe when the war broke out, but it became known that all were enroute home; and after the first shock of the news University life seemed to go on much as usual. To be sure, there were some minor inconveniences: the science departments complained that the supply of fine German apparatus had been cut off; the librarian said that European learned journals no longer arrived on schedule; and experiment station personnel urged state officials to begin developing the potash resources in the Sandhills lakes to compensate for the loss of German potash imports.

Following his proclamation of American neutrality, President Wilson, on August 19, 1914, appealed to all Americans to be "impartial in thought as well as in action," but it was quickly evident that many faculty members were already emotionally involved. In September, 1914, Professor Fling, who was openly committed to the French cause, delivered a violent attack upon the Germans and declared that he strenuously objected to the President's policy of neutrality. Fling was mildly rebuked by the Board of Regents for his outspoken remarks, and Chancellor Avery assured reporters that most of the faculty supported the President. But the German cause had its proponents, too. In early October, as stories of German atrocities appeared in the newspaper, Professor Paul Grummann called upon the people of the United States to suspend judgment "until Germany has had her day in court and is able to furnish her own court reporter." Later in October, Regent Frank Haller asserted that the war was not of Germany's making, and in an Omaha speech he blamed Russia and England for beginning the hostilities. As for the stories of German atrocities, he refused to believe them. "Let us be sane and judge without passion and we will see that our sympathies should be with the Teutonic race in this struggle," Haller concluded.

In 1916 the slogan "He kept us out of war" helped to re-elect President Wilson, but it soon became apparent that the United States involvement in the war was only a matter of time; and on January 5, 1917, the Daily Nebraskan reported that the federal government had granted the University a division of the ROTC (Reserve Officers Training Corps), a program implemented as part of the national preparedness campaign. Shortly thereafter a group of students who objected to compulsory military drill held a meeting at the Lindell Hotel to form an organization opposing it. The meeting was presided over by Anton H. Jensen and Ernest Lundeen, and by a University alumnus, C. A. Sorenson, who had been a member of the Ford Peace Mission to Europe. The meeting adopted a resolution opposing compulsory military training, and planned an appeal to the legislature. Subsequently, a bill to make the University military training voluntary was introduced in the legislature, but was dropped "by common consent" following the American declaration of war on April 6, 1917.

On April 18, Governor Keith Neville signed a bill establishing a State Council of Defense to supervise Nebraska's war effort. In its organization it followed the plan of the Council of National Defense. In addition to the Governor, the State Council was comprised of ten men and one woman, repre-


senting the various economic segments of the state. The chairman was a Lincoln hardware merchant, Robert M. Joyce, and the vice chairman was former Regent George Coupland, who was selected as agriculture's representative. Richard L. Metcalfe, Democratic wheel horse and editor, headed the Council's secret service committee, which was charged with investigation of disloyal activities. Henry C. Richmond was the Council's salaried secretary, and the group held its first meeting on May 8. At that time there was no member of the University faculty on the Council, but during the summer of 1917 Professor Sarka Hrbkova replaced one of the original members.

The Loyalty Question

On April 1, 1917, five days before the American declaration of war, the Lincoln Star printed a resolution adopted by a committee of faculty members who wanted to express public support for President Wilson's "strong foreign policy" toward Germany. Chancellor Avery, two economics professors, W. G. Langworthy Taylor and J. E. LeRossignol, and Mrs. Minnie Throop England, assistant professor of economics, were among those who signed the resolution, which read: "We stand for unqualified support of the administration and for defense of international dignity and solidarity in all events. Pacifism is untimely and dangerous." The opposite point of view was represented in what came to be known as the "peace petition," written on April 2 and telegraphed to President Wilson and to Nebraska's senators and congressmen in Washington: "We, the undersigned members of the faculty of the University of Nebraska, urge upon congress that it follow the precedent of the congress of 1789-1800 in its dealings with French depredations upon American commerce, by contenting itself with 'preparations for defense, and measures calculated to defend our commerce,' and that it use all honorable means of preventing American aggressive participation in the present European conflict." Among the signers were Professor Howard W. Caldwell and C. E. Persinger of the Department of History; L. E. Aylsworth of the Department of Political Science and Sociology; H. K. Wolfe, head of the Department of Psychology; Mary L. Fossler, assistant professor in chemistry; and Miss Annis S. Chaikin, secretary of the University Alumni Association. The petition was published in the State Journal on April 10 with the comment that of course it was to be understood all the signers were ready to support the war, now that it had been declared, but it should be known that they had hoped some other means could be found to settle matters.

University officials hoped that the faculty schism revealed in these two petitions would heal following the declaration of war, but Professor Persinger and Mrs. England continued the dispute in the letters-to-the-editor columns of the Lincoln newspapers. Persinger claimed that a majority of faculty members opposed the war, and in a letter appearing on April 9 condemned "the present use of the university for purposes of war propaganda, particularly for such affairs as the grandstanding 'war convocation' " announced for the coming week. Mrs. England, who maintained that an overwhelming number of faculty members and administrators stood behind the President, wrote in an April 12 letter that time would prove the University was "not a quiet retreat for pacifists, mollycoddles and German sympathizers but a true center for intelligent and active patriotism." Since a public quarrel on such a topic was certainly not good for the University's reputation, Chancellor Avery did his best to end it. On April 14 he announced that all those who had previously opposed the war would be welcomed back into the fold. It was time for all the faculty members


to declare themselves "in thought, word and deed, solidly behind the government." His words impressed neither the two antagonists nor Richard Metcalfe, editor of an Omaha paper, the Nebraskan, and future chairman of the State Council of Defense, who on April 19 wrote of Persinger: "If this university professor stood alone his protest could well be passed without notice"; but the University was "a thoroughly un-American nest--part copperhead and part pro-German--from which has come great embarrassment to those who would be a bit helpful in the cultivation of the American spirit."

On April 24 the University staged a patriotic parade and rally; any student or faculty member who refused to take part, said the Daily Nebraskan, was "a dirty yellow coward and his blood is as filthy as dish water." Crowds lined the Lincoln streets to watch more than four thousand students, plus regents, faculty members, veterans, the cadet band, and the University regiments parade to the City Auditorium, where they heard Chancellor Avery declare that the University stood ready to do whatever was necessary to facilitate the war effort. Other stirring speeches were delivered by Governor Neville and by University faculty, administrators, and students. It was at this time, according to a student writer, "that the University made its confession of faith; that it threw aside all past academic inquiries and took up the sword against autocracy." By May 3, more than five hundred students had withdrawn from the University to enlist in the armed forces, and enlistments were proceeding at a rapid rate. Earlier, on April 14, the Board of Regents had ruled that the University would give full credit in any subject to a student who entered military service before the end of the school year, provided his work had been satisfactory; and that seniors whose work was thus reported as passed would be graduated in June without having to pay the in absentia fee. Consequently, after the regular commencement, Chancellor Avery visited Fort Snelling to bestow degrees on Nebraska men.

The question of faculty loyalty came into the news following a commencement address delivered at Howells, Nebraska, on May 31 by Professor Luckey, the head of the Graduate School of Education. Luckey was understood to have said, "I do not want to fight and die in the trenches in a foreign land in a war that is not of my making and not my war." The last phrase, "not my war," angered many in the audience. "We were astonished at his un-American utterance," said the Howells Journal. Undoubtedly Luckey was "a man of letters," the paper said, but the speech showed that he was no longer qualified to teach at the University. Unpatriotic professors must not be allowed to influence the minds of young Nebraskans.

On July 10, 1917, the State Council of Defense issued a public statement summarizing its activities since the outbreak of the war. Progress in general had been satisfactory, but problems remained to be solved in certain areas, and the loyalty situation at the University was identified as one of those problems. The Council was certain that essentially the University was a loyal institution--its cooperation with the State Council had been wholehearted, so that in a practical sense it served as "an adjunct" of the Council--but the evidence of disloyalty could not be overlooked. On the University staff were persons who had so persistently "given encouragement, publicly and privately, to those who are out of harmony with the American cause" as to be reason for concern. The Board of Regents was urged to deal with the problem immediately. In his reply Chancellor Avery said that the University appreciated the State Council's concern. Disloyal activities should not be tolerated, but Avery doubted that the faculty members named by the Council were, in fact, disloyal. In every faculty, he said, there were a few "who have indulged in day dreams of internationalism, world


justice and universal peace to such an extent that they find it difficult to reconcile themselves to the thought of using force even in the most just cause." He said that the Council's "just and vigorous" statement would help the few remaining "pacifists and internationalists" to fall in line. And there was no need for the Board of Regents to take action since the Council's warning surely would put an end to the difficulties.

Professor Persinger refused to be cowed by the State Council's pronouncements. While he deplored that the United States had been "stampeded" into entering the war, he realized that as an American citizen he had to stand behind the declaration of war. But he did not relinquish his freedom of expression; the right to criticize and to dissent from government policies must be retained. In connection with the need to safeguard civil rights during wartime, Persinger disclosed an interesting aspect of the faculty quarrel. "The real trouble," he wrote in a letter in the Lincoln Star on July 12, "is that autocratic and aristocratic elements throughout the country are taking advantages of the war to over-ride democratic elements and ideas which they could have no hope of successfully attacking in the time of peace, and against this I attempt to wage just as vigorous a fight as I am able, whether it costs me my position in the University or not." Apparently, as Professor Persinger saw it, Mrs. England and the other members of the "war party" represented "autocratic and aristocratic elements" which wanted to gain control of the University.

On July 13, Governor Neville, who had been away when the State Council issued its statement of July 10, said that he approved of the action of the Council in his absence, and that University professors "will realize that during war there can be no such thing as academic freedom and that they will see the necessity of suppressing individual views not in keeping with the spirit of the country." But some University supporters deeply resented what they called the "irresponsible action" of the State Council in putting out an ambiguous blanket indictment which in effect cast suspicion over the whole University and undermined public confidence in the faculty. A report that tended to confuse gossip and opinion with valid evidence was sure to bring undeserved censure upon innocent professors. Among those who believed that the State Council had overstepped its authority was Frank L. Haller, president of the Board of Regents, who declared that the Council's statement was uncalled for "in the form which it appeared"; it should have been specific. The Council, he said, "just now, are specialists in defense and patriotism, and I believe they are overzealous." He further stated that he would oppose any action which infringed upon the academic freedom of the faculty. Richard Metcalfe replied that Haller's statement, as well as others from University people, created the impression "that it is an offense in Nebraska for men to plead for undivided allegiance and to protest against practices which tend to embarrass our government in the prosecution of this war." To Persinger freedom of speech meant only freedom to criticize the government. Persinger, Haller, and others of disloyal persuasion availed themselves of every opportunity to place their arguments before the public, and it was time for those who opposed un-Americanism in all forms to reply to these misguided citizens.

The exchange of accusations and innuendoes between Haller and Metcalfe, which was carried on in newspaper columns for several months, brought credit to neither man. Because of his pro-German position prior to 1917, Haller was

at a distinct disadvantage. Metcalfe played hard on the theme that Haller was protecting the pro-German professors on the faculty, and undertook to prove that he still was supporting Germany. Investigation of Haller's activities led Metcalfe back to the year 1914, when a series of pro-German letters signed


"Patricia Newcombe" appeared regularly in the World-Herald. After comparing Regent Haller's speeches and letters with the Patricia Newcombe letters, Metcalfe reached the conclusion that Haller had written them. Early in August, Lieutenant Governor Edgar Howard wrote a letter to the newspapers suggesting that the State Council "prefer charges before the federal authorities" against Haller. At the August 14 meeting of the State Council, Metcalfe said that Haller was not liable to federal charges because he had made the statements prior to the American declaration of war; but if Haller was not legally responsible for his statements he was morally responsible, since they were subject to "a patriotic public sentiment." Metcalfe therefore introduced a resolution that Haller either should publicly clear himself of the charges or he should resign; and if he did not resign the regents should remove him as chairman. The resolution was unanimously adopted. Subsequently a letter was sent to all local defense councils in Nebraska--and there was one in every county--asking them to circulate petitions calling for Haller's removal from the Board of Regents. But despite the State Council's assertion that Haller was "not entitled to a place on the controlling board of an American University," its case was very weak. It was impossible to prove Haller's guilt on the evidence submitted by Metcalfe, and Haller kept his own counsel throughout the episode.

On January 4, 1918, the State Council sent a letter to Chancellor Avery and the regents noting that instead of correcting the situation the University administration hesitated to bring "disloyal professors before the bar of justice," and its failure to do so encouraged "continued disloyalty." The Council urged the regents to immediately investigate complaints about the attitudes of some faculty members to the war, "and to make it clear to every faculty member that words or acts out of harmony with the government's purpose will not be tolerated"; and at their January 10 meeting the Council appointed a committee of two--former Regent Coupland and Professor Sarka Hrbkova--to call up professors to ask them about their attitudes to the war.

Letters appearing in Lincoln newspapers complained of the pro-German attitude of some of the faculty. In a March letter to the Lincoln Star, one student said that after hearing some of the German teachers talking, he was not certain whether he was in a country that was "at war with Germany or in Turkey or Austria or Bulgaria." He felt all Germans should be locked up. Another student wrote that many professors were sympathetic with Germany although they didn't say so publicly. He had heard one student say "just before he left for camp after enlisting, "I would feel better before going after the Germans in Germany if I could take an automatic and wing about a dozen German spies at the university. I'll tell you that fellows are safer in Germany or fighting Germany than you fellows here are among these German spies.' We have been told that even to hint at such a thing as an unpatriotic person in the university is treason itself. . . . There are approximately 200,000 German spies in America and do not allow yourselves to believe Lincoln is immune." The State Council also received scores of letters calling its attention to specific instances of faculty disloyalty. One letter indicted Professor Wolfe for repeatedly expressing pro-German views in his classes and alleged that Wolfe had said the German system was better than the American system and that it would and should survive. The superintendent of schools at Orleans had engaged Professor Grummann to speak at graduation exercises, but when he heard of Grummann's alleged disloyalty he asked the Council if he should cancel the engagement. Former Regent Coupland, speaking for the Council, recommended that the invitation be withdrawn. Many reports of Grummann's "lack of patriotism" had come to the Council, and "it would seem that only 100% Americans" should


be public speakers, not persons "under the shadow of disloyalty." A Mrs. A. M. Smith who had a daughter at the University, was distressed by many things the young lady had told her; it was obvious that there were pro-German professors at the University and nothing was being done to remove or silence them.

With nearly a half million American troops overseas, an atmosphere of wartime hysteria enveloped the state, the newspapers, and the campus. Undergraduates demonstrated against the two German clubs on campus and there were suggestions that they be disbanded. The iron fence enclosing the Schiller tree, planted as a memorial to the great German poet, was painted yellow, the plate identifying the tree was removed, and strands of yellow paper were hung from the branches. Signs castigating professors suspected of disloyalty were hung from the campus fence, and on April 12 an unsigned letter to the Daily Nebraskan asked: "How long will the students allow men, who have to 'explain' their statements to the State Council of Defense to remain as instructors? . . .Nebraska has loyal Americans in its faculty, but it also has at best some mighty luke-warm patriots. How long will Nebraska tolerate these questionable Americans?"

On April 19, the State Council sent another letter to the regents repeating the demand for a "thorough house-cleaning," with particular attention to the Department of American History and the Graduate School of Education, where a spirit of "philosophic pacifism" prevailed instead of "virile American leadership." The University should not tolerate faculty attitudes which were "negative, halting or hesitant" in support of the war. Faced by the problem of disloyal professors, other universities in the country had "taken vigorous action." The Council hoped that the Board of Regents would profit by these examples. Asked to comment on this letter, Regent J. E. Miller said that the Board would proceed on the assumption that the Council had "acted deliberately." He personally would be "exceedingly regretful to find" any intentional or overt disloyalty among the faculty. On April 22, before the regents had officially replied to the State Council, a Lincoln businessman, J. S. Ewart, added the name of Professor Tuckerman of the Department of Physics to the list of professors whom he marked for proscription. Ewart wrote the Council that he was present at a meeting where Tuckerman defended the pro-German professors and attacked Metcalfe. Why was it, he asked, that when patriotic professors talked about the war "we the common people understood them plainly, but when Professors Caldwell, Luckey, Aylsworth or Persinger spoke on the same topic, we charge them with being Pro-German or indifferent?" Tuckerman replied, "You common people haven't good common sense." Infuriated by this response, Ewart volunteered to appear before the State Council at any time to press charges against Tuckerman.

The University on Trial

At their meeting on April 25, 1918, the regents decided to schedule a public hearing as soon as possible and sent the following letter to the State Council.

The Board is in receipt of letters from officers, teachers, and friends of the University and from some of the persons accused in your letter of not being aggressively American, asking for a hearing in regard to these matters. The general public also is entitled to be informed and enabled to reach sound conclusions upon them. The Board of Regents has concluded that in view of the above and of the publication of your letter and the wide circulation given it, a public hearing should be called and the Nebraska State Council of Defense asked to


submit any evidence it may have bearing upon the matters involved. Any person accused should be given an opportunity to be heard in his own defense. Any person who, upon such a hearing, shall be shown to have said, taught, or advised anything which can fairly be said to interfere in any way with the carrying on of the struggle in which the enemy is engaged, or to have given aid or comfort to its enemies at home or abroad, or whose behavior is negative, halting, or hesitating in support of the government, shall be summarily dismissed from the service of the University. If it shall be shown that any employee of the institution has failed to do his part whenever called upon in the present struggle, whatever position such employee may fill, shall at once be vacated and a loyal successor appointed.

The State Council seemed to feel that the trial should be held not to allow the accused persons to clear themselves but to prove them guilty; and that the burden should be on the regents to prove innocence rather than on the Council to prove guilt. Eventually, however, they agreed to the regents' arrangements. At their May 17 meeting, the State Council read into the minutes a letter of accusation, to be released on May 20. It read in part: "We herewith transmit to you complaints involving the attitude of twelve instructors" who had "for one reason and another, assumed an attitude calculated to encourage among those who came under their influence . . . a spirit of inactivity, indifference and opposition towards this war . . . . " The letter included the following allegations:

Several instructors had evidenced partiality to the I.W.W. (Industrial Workers of the World).2

One instructor repeatedly belittled American ideals and extolled "German prowess."

One instructor who told his students before the U.S. declaration of war that he fully supported the policies of the German Empire had never "corrected his attitude before his classes."

Asserting that the United States was the refuge for thousands of French and British refugees, an instructor called them "cowardly patriots" and paid a tribute to German efficiency and courage.

One instructor had justified the sinking of the Lusitania before America entered the war, and said that reports of German atrocities were just newspaper stories.

One instructor declared that the majority of the University faculty did not favor the war, and repeatedly "offended the patriotic sense of the state."

One instructor, speaking in Howells, Nebraska, declared that the war was not of his making and that he did not want to fight in it.

One instructor wrote to his brother that America "was incompetent in every way and would amount to nothing in the war."

One instructor "sought to justify the instructors whose conduct had been questioned," and in the course of a discussion concerning the war told his listeners that the common people of the United States did not have good common sense.

Reaction to the State Council's disclosures followed no single pattern. The State Journal, for example, said that since only twelve members out of the faculty of 524 had been placed "under the council's ban," the situation could not be terribly serious. The Board of Regents could be expected to handle the situation quickly and efficiently. The Journal also pointed out that since the State Council did not accuse anyone specifically by name, everyone at the University was placed under suspicion. Many editors and politicians, however, believed that the Council had uncovered a serious situation, and called for a thorough investigation of the University. The annual meeting of the Nebraska


2 A revolutionary labor union organization, founded in 1905. Members were known as "wobblies."



Alumni Association late in May reflected the general uncertainly and confusion. One member introduced a resolution which pledged the association's support to the faculty members accused by the State Council, and such a wild discussion ensured that the president hastily adjourned the meeting.

On May 28, the day the hearing opened, the Lincoln Star published a list of the faculty members accused. The headline mentioned twelve instructors, but it gave only the following eleven: Paul H Grummann, head of the School of Fine Arts and formerly a professor of German; L.E. Aylsorth, professor of political science; C.E. Persinger, professor of American history; Annis Chaikin, secretary of the Nebraska Alumni Association; John P Senning, instructor in political science; Erwin P. Hopt, professor of agronomy; Henry Blumberg, professor of mathematics; Mary Fossler, assistant professor in chemistry; G.W.A. Luckey, professor of education; H.W. Caldwell, professor of American history; and A.S. Riddervold, assistant professor of civil engineering. The Star said it had obtained the names from Attorney Gurley of Omaha, representing the Defense Council. The same article reported that H.H. Wilson, a University graduate, had been appointed by the Board of Regents to act as floor manager of the proceedings, and that rules for the hearing would be established under his direction. It was to be an information investigation, and in no sense was the Board seeking to convict any of the accused. The board retained the right to rule upon the admissibility of evidence, and no testimony would be allowed which did not throw light upon the actions of the persons under investigation since the American declaration of war.

The evidence presented by the State Council had been obtained over a period of several months. Nearly thirty pages of sworn statements, along with affidavits, interviews, letters, and newspaper clippings, formed the relevant portion of the Council's materials. Evidence of this kind tended to vary in reliability, and it soon became apparent that the Council had based many of its cases upon evidence which was readily discredited. Usually the Council would receive a tip by phone or by letter, which it would then follow up. One of the professors who came under the Council's surveillance through a tip was Lawrence Fossler of the German department, who frequently had been cited for his pro-German attitude. The Council summoned Fossler and asked him to explain why he had told a group of teachers that the removal of the German language from the schools could not be justified. Similarly, Miss Madelen Wupper, another instructor in the German department, was closely questioned by members of the Council regarding her views. Eventually professors in this department concluded the the State Council had planted observers in their classes, for one "unsatisfactory" comment in a class session promptly brought a call to drop in for another "visit" with the State Council. There there was the case of Professor Barbour, who, according to an informant, had never "impressed any of his fellow workers as being anything but pro-German." A similar charge was made against C.A. Candy, professor of mathematics. Clara Conklin, head of the Department of Romance Languages, came to the Council with a heated protest against the favoritism which the regents continued to show towards the German department. Although only 138 students enrolled for German in the 1918 spring semester compared with more than 1,000 in the romance languages, the departments received equal appropriations from the Board of Regents. On the sheet carrying Miss Conklin's statement was the notation that the information could be used but that her name must not be mentioned.

One of the first cases to be considered in the hearing, which was held in the Law College building on the University campus, was that of Professor


Paul Grumman. A student said that she had gained the impression from Grummann's classes that he was not as open and loyal in support of this country as a university professor should be. Professor Sarka Hrbkova testified that she and Grumman had gone to a convocation denouncing German atrocities in Serbia, and afterward Grummann told the speaker that his speech was very good, "but you know I am a German." Miss Bertha Duteil said that Grummann had justified the sinking of the Lusitania and asserted that he had said stories of German atrocities were untrue. When she had read Grummann's statement in the paper implying his loyalty after the declaration of war and had congratulated him on it, he has said there were some things "one had to do for policy's sake." Speaking in Grummunn's behalf, Professor H.B. Alexander told the World-Herald that he had heard Grummann say to Professor Fling, "No person is more strongly opposed than I to the military autocracy and junkerdom of German, for few have suffered more than I because of it."

When Professor L.E. Aylsworth's actions and attitudes came up for discussion, several witnesses testified that Aylsworth showed very little enthusiasm for the war. He referred to German atrocity stories as "newspaper buncombe"; and reportedly had said to a solicitor for Liberty bonds, "This is a rich man's war and let him pay for it." He objected to the fact that the Lincoln Liberty Loan committee kept a public records of every citizen's donations and purchases. According to a newspaper story in January, 1918, he had told his class that faculty members did not deserve criticism, and that because men did not ride the "war wave" or believe in jingoism did not make them unpatriotic.

The case against C.E. Persinger was thought to be particularly strong, and at the hearing a University faculty member added to the evidence against him. Dr. George E. Condra said that Persinger was "more of a critic than a booster for real Americanism." Professor LeRossignol of the Department of Economics said that Persinger was a "balker" and exercised "poor judgement," but he did not consider him disloyal. After hearing this testimony, H.H. Wilson concluded that Persinger as an "erratice person." It was indicative of his instability that he obviously favored socialism over the American system of government, and he had frequently said that wealth should be drafted to pay for the war, just as American boys were being drafted to pay for victory with their blood. The letters Persinger had written to the newspapers "breathed the poisonous atmosphere of disloyalty and sedition and if the Professor had any influence over the minds of the students.... that influence was certainly exerted on the side of our enemies." Returning to Persinger's alleged eccentricity, Wilson pointed out that he admitted he was not a joiner; he did not mix socially with other members of the faculty; and he sympathized with a group he called the "intellectual aristocracy" who wanted to abolish the College of Arts and Licences and offer nothing but vocational training at the University. This kind of ridiculous thinking, said Wilson, branded Persinger as a "thorough-going scholastic heretic... His unsoundness is not restricted to disloyalty to his country." Summing up, Wilson said, "I do not contend that every erratic man is disloyal, but on the other had every disloyal man is likely to be erratic."

The evidence against Miss Annis Chaikin was extremely flimsy. Dr. W.G. Langworthy Taylor had stated that she had been "every exclusive of the attitude and behavior of the I.W.W.'s and that she had not marched in the University's loyalty parade. Similarly, the evidence against Mary Fossler was very superficial. One student stated that she had heard Miss Fossler say that the Germans cared for their old people much better than did the Americans. Miss Fossler was then alleged to have said, " I would rather be any woman sweeping the


streets of Berlin than to be an old woman in America." It was she who had said that the country was full of French and English who had come to America to get out of war service. After referring to them as "cowardly patriots," she had said, "And then they sneer at the gallant Germans especially the doctors who brave every danger to save the lives of the wounded enemy as well as their own."

A long succession of witnesses appeared to testify against Professor H. W. Caldwell. He belonged to the Open Forum, an evening discussion group, and one member said he had heard Caldwell say he would like to present a paper defending the I.W.W. This "shocked and astounded" the informant, who had never expected to hear a University professor hold such an opinion. Caldwell had delivered a paper, "When the War is Over--How to Solve World Problems," and club members were unable to agree on the point of view it represented. According to Jesse H. Newlon, superintendent of the Lincoln schools, the paper "held forth the ideals for which we are fighting," but another club member said it was a paper "on what seemed to be internationalism" and concluded that Caldwell was not an aggressive patriot. Many professors, students, and friends offered testimonials to Professor Caldwell's patriotism and loyalty. Under Wilson's questioning, however, Caldwell admitted that prior to the American declaration of war he had hoped that some means might be found to avoid the conflict. But he added that once war was declared, "I was favorable to it, the American government and President Wilson as any man in the university."

The evidence against John Senning was entirely hearsay. A woman student said that she had overheard two other young women say that Senning openly supported the German cause, but under questioning she remembered that she had heard this in 1915. Information secured by the State Council showed that Professor Hopt was a pacifist, but that was no secret, for Hopt had never concealed his pacifist views. He had refused to participate in Liberty Loan drives, but had greatly over-subscribed his contributions to the Red Cross and the Salvation Army. In summing up the case against Hopt, Wilson said that pacifism was unrealistic and that every citizen ought to support Liberty Loan drives, for it put "intelligent punch and vigor behind an enlightened patriotic sentiment." Hopt happened to be one of the most popular instructors in the College of Agriculture, but Wilson said, "The University . . . cannot and must not tolerate in one of its faculties one whose very presence and example is destructive of the foundation of their institutions."

Dr. W. G. Langworthy Taylor, professor of economics, testified that Professor Blumberg of the Department of Mathematics had apologized for the I.W.W. and had declared that the tyranny in this country was "something awful." In the course of his interrogation, Blumberg denied that he was a socialist and that he had ever said the forces of capitalism had forced us into the war. As for his defense of the I.W.W., Blumberg said his concern was for a group of human beings who were being persecuted, rather than for the ideology they embraced.

Finally, the regents summoned Dr. Luckey to the stand. Ever since his commencement address at Howells, Luckey had remained a central figure in the loyalty dispute. But before referring to the Howells incident, the State Council introduced other evidence. In several speeches delivered to the Open Forum, Luckey allegedly uttered "pro-German remarks." On one occasion he had said, "I would as leave be dominated or live under the dominating influence of Kaiser Wilhelm as under the dominating influence of Kaiser Teddy." A representative of the State Council who had interviewed Luckey said he regarded


him as an "educated numbskull." in his examination of Luckey, Wilson dwelled upon the Howells speech. The disputed phrase, Luckey said, had been taken out of context and erroneously reported. At Wilson's request, Luckey read the objectionable portion of the speech:

Nevertheless I can see how one might be willing to fight and to sacrifice his life for a great principle or ideal. The most liberty-loving might be induced to use force under emergencies when the end south justifies the means. In fact, I should be willing to fight and if need be die for the truer success of the young people into whose faces I am looking and the many others with human possibilities like them. But I could not consciously fight and die in the trenches in a war which I had nothing to do in creating and was not absolutely convinced of the righteousness of the cause.

Wilson then asked Luckey to define what he meant by war. Luckey replied that war, as used in his speech, implied aggressive action; and that he could defend bloodshed only for defensive purposes. Wilson said, "War may be defensive as well as offensive.... It may be right was well as wrong," and concluded that Luckey was advising his young listeners "as forcibly as the English language could do it, that it was not their conscientious duty to support their country in a war unless the war was of their own creating." In Wilson's view, "No more seditious remark ever fell from the lips of misguided,