Test knowledge of notable Nebraskan - Omaha.com
Published Saturday, January 5, 2013 at 1:00 am / Updated at 3:07 pm
Test knowledge of notable Nebraskan
George W. Norris quiz answers
1. D. The McCook house, 706 Norris Ave., was his home base from 1902 until his death in 1944. Norris’ second wife, Ellie, donated the house and all its furnishings to the Nebraska State Historical Society in 1968. Exhibits in the basement of the house trace the senator’s life and career.

2. C. John F. Kennedy had long been interested in the topic of political courage, beginning with his senior thesis at Harvard University. Kennedy’s election to the House in 1946 and the Senate in 1952 gave him personal experience in dealing with the conflicting pressures that legislators face. When Kennedy took a leave of absence from the Senate in 1954 to recover from back surgery, it gave him the opportunity to study the topic of political courage. The project resulted in the publication of “Profiles in Courage,” which focuses on the careers of eight senators Kennedy believed had shown great courage under enormous pressure from their parties and their constituents. The book received the Pulitzer Prize for history in 1957.

3. C. Jo Davidson is credited with scores of public monuments. More than 200 are cataloged by the Smithsonian Institution. These include the statue of Walt Whitman in Bear Mountain State Park, N.Y.; the statue of Franklin Roosevelt at Hyde Park, N.Y.; and the statues of Woodrow Wilson and Abraham Lincoln in the collection of the New Jersey State Museum in Trenton. The Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery opened a permanent exhibition in 2006 that features 14 of Davidson’s sculptures.

4. A. Ellie Norris, who outlived her husband by several decades, told The World-Herald in a 1970 interview: “Actually, he was a dyed-in-the-wool Republican, but he never stopped growing and some in the Republican Party stood still. They simply dropped behind him along the way.” She also said; “It’s a wife speaking and I don’t want to be guilty of braggadocio, but I think there are few men who have accomplished more for the people than George William accomplished in Congress.” George Norris’ first wife, Pluma Lashley Norris, bore three daughters before she died in 1901. Ellie Leonard Norris, who wed George in 1903, raised the young girls and was his lifelong companion.

5. A. The “lame-duck” amendment also provides that Congress must meet at least once yearly and that the vice president-elect would become president if the president-elect died before inauguration.

6. B. Norris spoke those words to a reporter from the McCook (Neb.) Gazette two months before he died on Sept. 2, 1944, at age 83. He had suffered a stroke five days earlier and never fully regained consciousness.

7. A. Norris wore out two sets of tires driving throughout the state to campaign for a one-house legislature. He said the two-house system was modeled after the British Parliament, which is made up of the House of Commons, with representatives elected by the people, and the House of Lords, with its aristocratic members appointed by the king. “The constitutions of our various states are built upon the idea that there is but one class. If this be true, there is no sense or reason in having the same thing done twice, especially if it is to be done by two bodies of men elected in the same way and having the same jurisdiction,” Norris said.

8. B. Norris Middle School is at 2235 S. 46th St. and is in the Omaha Public Schools. Norris Elementary, in the Millard Public Schools, is at 2424 Weir St.

9. B. Norris graduated from the law department of Valparaiso (Ind.) University in 1883 and was admitted to the bar the same year. He moved to Beaver City, Neb., in 1885, and practiced law. He was Furnas County attorney for three terms and district judge of the 14th District from 1895-1902 before pursuing politics.

10. D. The green-and-black stamp cost 4 cents when issued on the 100th anniversary of his birth. Today, collectors value a mint-condition Norris stamp at 30 cents or more.

Today is George W. Norris Day in Nebraska.

State law says that, on this day, Nebraska schools are to have “suitable exercises” to recognize what Norris’ work still means to Nebraskans and the nation.

Some historians consider George William Norris one of the greatest U.S. politicians. He represented Nebraska for 40 years combined in the House and Senate.

He was a registered Republican most of his life, but he believed that it was his duty to act and vote according to his conscience — not according to party views.

In Nebraska, Norris was the driving force behind the state’s having the nation’s only one-house legislature.

Nationally, he was the Senate powerhouse behind the 1933 Tennessee Valley Authority Act. The TVA built dams on the Tennessee River and its tributaries to control flooding, generate low-cost electricity and create jobs during the Great Depression.

Norris also worked to pass the 1936 Rural Electrification Act. Not only did this connect rural America with the rest of the nation, it also made farming more efficient and profitable.

Those weren’t the limits of Norris’ accomplishments, however.

To honor Norris on his special day, we offer a quiz about him. Test how much you know about this noteworthy Nebraskan.

1. What Nebraska city has the Senator George Norris State Historic Site, which was his residence?

A. Lincoln

B. Beatrice

C. Beaver City

D. McCook

2. Who lauded Norris in the book “Profiles in Courage,” which won the Pulitzer Prize for history?

A. Theodore “Ted” Sorensen

B. George F. Will

C. John F. Kennedy

D. Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr.

3. George Norris was inducted into the Nebraska Hall of Fame in 1961 as part of the 100th anniversary of his birth. He had posed earlier for the bust by an artist who also sculpted many world and national leaders. Who was this famous sculptor?

A. John Biggers

B. Gutzon Borglum

C. Jo Davidson

D. James Earl Fraser

4. Norris was elected to both the House and the Senate as a Republican, yet he publicly criticized Republican Presidents Warren Harding, Calvin Coolidge and Herbert Hoover. Norris endorsed Hoover’s Democratic rival, Al Smith, and backed all of Democratic candidate Franklin D. Roosevelt’s presidential campaigns. With support from FDR and the Nebraska Democratic Party, Norris ran and won his Senate seat as an independent in 1936 before losing re-election in 1942. Where did Norris’ second wife, Ellie, say he fit on the political spectrum?

A. Republican

B. Democrat

C. Independent

D. Libertarian

5. Norris was the man behind the 20th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. What does that amendment do?

A. It sets the time and date when terms of office end for the president, vice president, senators and representatives.

B. It gives women the right to vote in national elections.

C. It repealed Prohibition.

D. It provides that senators be elected by popular vote and not by the Electoral College.

6. How long before his death did Norris tell his hometown newspaper on his July 11 birthday: “I never expected to live this long; this birthday only means that it is getting closer to the end. I am not as strong as I used to be and I am very nervous”?

A. One year

B. Two months

C. Three weeks

D. Four days

7. Norris promoted the concept of a nonpartisan, one-house state legislature. He believed that such a system would curb abuses of conference committees, which allowed the ruling party to rewrite legislation to favor its own positions. Nebraska voters enthusiastically endorsed the idea in 1934, but the change did not take effect immediately. In what year did Nebraska’s Legislature first meet as a one-house, nonpartisan body?

A. 1937

B. 1940

C. 1943

D. 1946

8. Norris worked with President Franklin Roosevelt to push through Congress the New Deal legislation that created the Tennessee Valley Authority. Tennessee has a plethora of things named for George Norris. The town of Norris, Tenn., housed the workers who built nearby Norris Dam, the first in the TVA’s chain of dams. The dam impounds Norris Lake. Tennessee’s Norris State Park includes the lake and dam. Nebraska has fewer things named for the man. The State Capitol in Lincoln has the George W. Norris Legislative Chamber. In the Omaha area are Norris Middle School and Norris Elementary School. What districts are they in, respectively?

A. Bellevue Public Schools and Omaha Public Schools

B. Omaha Public Schools and Millard Public Schools

C. Millard Public Schools and Westside Community Schools

D. Westside Community Schools and Papillion-La Vista School District

9. What career field had Norris worked at in Nebraska before entering politics?

A. He was a physician.

B. He was a lawyer.

C. He was a college professor.

D. He was a banker.

10. The U.S. Postal Service put George Norris on a stamp in 1961. The stamp referred to him as “Gentle Knight of Progressive Ideals.” What did the stamp cost when it was issued?

A. 7 cents

B. 23 cents

C. 12 cents

D. 4 cents

Contact the writer: Sue Story Truax

sue.truax@owh.com    |   402-444-1165

Sue writes obituaries and covers community news and schools for Omaha.com's Living section, primarily Community Connection.

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