NL Hometown Stories – Senator George W. Norris

Ohio native George Norris taught school to pay his way through college. He visited Washington D.C., and then settled in southeast Nebraska, where he had relatives and the deed to an 80-acre farm his mother owned. Norris remained in the state the rest of his life, and left a legacy of accomplishments still being enjoyed by American citizens today.

Norris moved west, settling in Beaver City and opening a law practice. After being elected as district judge for Nebraska’s Fourteenth District, Norris moved to McCook in 1899  to be near the district’s center. The same strong ethic of integrity and hard work that got Norris through school took him back to Washington D.C., where he served his adopted state of Nebraska in Congress for more than 40 years.

George W. Norris promoted the idea of a one-house legislature. Nebraskan voters agreed with him and in 1937 the Nebraska Unicameral was formed. It took him 12 years, but the Tennessee Valley Authority Act he championed finally passed in 1933. The legislation allowed for dams to be built to control flooding and provide electricity to rural America. It is perhaps his greatest legacy.

In this Nebraska Life Hometown Video, Clark and Dawna Bates portray George W. Norris and his wife, Ellie, reflecting on his accomplishments after leaving politics for a group of visitors gathered in the garden of the Norris Home, a Nebraska State Historic Site.

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