Sunday, March 16, 2008

Homestead 72nd Anniversary

Homestead National Monument of America celebrates its 72nd anniversary on March 19, 2008. Seventy-two years earlier on March 19, 1936 with one stroke of the pen President Franklin D. Roosevelt created a new unit in the National Park System on the site of the Daniel Freeman homestead.

The following words were included in the legislation:

"...lay out said land in a suitable and enduring manner so that the same may be maintained as an appropriate monument to retain for posterity a proper memorial emblematical of the hardships and the pioneer life through which the early settlers passed in the settlement, cultivation and civilization of the Great West."

The signing of the bill was the culmination of almost 30 years of effort.

As early as 1909, concerned citizens of Nebraska had urged Congress to create a national park site on the Freeman property, the location of one of the very first land parcels claimed under the Homestead Act on January 1, 1863.

In 1925 that Senator George W. Norris, a powerful congressional leader from Nebraska, joined the fight to see the Freeman land preserved as a national park.

In 1934, the Homestead National Park Association was formed by several prominent Beatrice citizens. Senator Norris had a proposal for the creation of the national park site before the U.S. House of Representatives by August, 1935.

George Norris represented Nebraska in Congress for over forty years, first as a U. S. Congressman [1903-1912] and later as U. S. Senator [1913-1942]. As a Congressman, Norris led the fight to limit the autocratic powers of Speaker Joseph “Boss” Cannon. As a Senator Norris promoted the idea of rural electrification and sponsored the Bill that created Homestead National Monument of America.

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