Senator George Norris

Senator George Norris

Senator George William Norris was a man of vision who was dedicated to the common man.  He was a fearless speaker whose integrity could never be doubted. Yet he always spoke in a conversational fashion without fancy oratorical effects. His manner was likable and mild, and he knew that he could be mistaken. Norris was widely looked upon as an idealist who would fight for his beliefs to the bitter end regardless of a person or political party.


George W. Norris was born on a farm in Sandusky County, Ohio.  He was the eleventh child and second son of Chauncey and Mary Magdalene Norris.  When "Willie" was only three his father died of pneumonia and his only brother, a soldier in General Sherman's army, died of wounds received at Resaca, Ga.

While a pupil at the local district school, Norris spent summers working on the family farm or for neighboring farmers.  He attended Baldwin University (later known as Baldwin-Wallace College) in Ohio in 1877-78.  After teaching school for a year to earn money he entered Northern Indiana Normal School and Business Institute (later know as Valparaiso University). There he studied law, excelled in rhetoric and debate, and recieved the LL.B. degree in 1883.


Chief Author of the 1933 act, which created the Tennessee Valley Authority 

The Tennessee Valley Authority was to supervise the multipurpose development of the Tennessee River. Senator George Norris of Nebraska proposed the plan that the river be dammed to prevent flooding, produce electricity, and rebuild the eroded farmland. Coincidently, the first dam built by the TVA was called Norris Dam, and his name was given to the model community developed nearby.

Responsible for the Lame Duck amendment 

The Lame Duck Amendment (20th Amendment) shifted the date of presidential inaugurations from March to January, eliminating the holdover session of the outgoing Congress formerly held between the election and the presidential inauguration.

Author of the Norris-La Guardia Anti-Injuction Act of 1932 

The Norris-La Guardia Anti-Injuction Act curbed the use of injunctions in labor disputes, barred the enforcement of "yellow-dog" (anti-union) contracts, and asserted the right of labor to organize and bargain collectively.

Nebraska Unicameral Legislature.

Senator George Norris felt the bicameral legislation, which was modeled after the British Parliament, was unnecessary due to the fact that American government was built upon the idea there was but one class.

"...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." -George Norris-

Senator George Norris' impact assembled enough voters for an overwhelming decision to make Nebraska the only one-house legislature in the country.  The final vote was 286,086 for and 193,152 against a unicameral system.


Senator George Norris State Historical Site : more information on Senator George Norris 
Nebraska Unicameral : learn about Nebraska's Unicameral Legislature