Birthday: July 11, 1861
Died At Age: 83
Sun Sign: Cancer
Also Known As: Judge George William Norris
Born in: York Township, Sandusky County, Ohio
Famous as: Former US Senator
political ideology: Republican
Spouse/Ex-: Ellie Leonard, Pluma Lashley
Died on: September 2, 1944
place of death: McCook
U.S. State: Ohio
Founder/Co-Founder: Tennessee Valley Authority
education: Baldwin Wallace University, Valparaiso University, History of Baldwin Wallace University
Who was George W. Norris?
George William Norris was a progressive and liberal U.S. politician. He started his political career from the state of Nebraska and served five terms in the United States House of Representatives as a Republican from 1903 until 1913 and five terms in the United States Senate from 1913 until 1943. His political reforms and advocacy of a Progressive Legislature brought him honor and accolades. Out of all his contributions the most significant ones are making the ownership of hydroelectric plants public, the 20th Amendment to the Constitution, the establishment of the Tennessee Valley Authority for flood control and electricity in the Tennessee River region. His participation in the Norris-La Guardia Act was widely appreciated for debarring labor injunctions in labor disputes. Due to his close collaborations with the President Roosevelt, he came to be popularly known as the ‘Democrat of Democrats’. His powerful crusading against the immoral and vice got him the honor of being amongst the top five Senators in the U.S. history.
Childhood & Early life
George William Norris was born on July 11, 1861 in Sandusky, Ohio, into a family of underprivileged Scots-Irish farmers.
His childhood was tough as he lost his father at the tender age of four. His mother, Mary’s support and encouragement motivated George towards some serious education so that their financial miseries could be abated.
He started attending district schools and his exemplary debating skills supported his choice of law as a career. He did work on farms and also taught in school while studying at the Baldwin University, Berea, in order to support his mother in running a family of 11 children.
He completed graduation from the law School of Valparaiso University in 1883 after which he returned home where he taught and worked as a clerk in a local law office simultaneously.
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After spending two years at the local law office, he finally started practice in Beaver City, Nebraska, and in 1899 inaugurated his own office in McCook.
George Norris was appointed the Furnas County prosecutor in 1892 and the district judge in 1895.
He became a member of the Congress in 1902 and remained so for another four years in a row.
He led a revolutionary group in 1910 that worked on combating the autocracy of the Speaker, Joseph G. Cannon in the House.
The National Progressive Republican League was created in January 1911 under his leadership.
Although he supported Roosevelt’s Republican Convention but did not become a part of the Progressive Party.
In 1913, he was elected to the U. S. Senate. He was very much against the non- progressive legislative program, the foreign policy and the war announcement by Woodrow Wilson and also opposed America becoming the member of the League of Nations and participation in the World War.
Post his renouncing the Republican label, he won the Senate seat as an independent in 1936 with Roosevelt’s support. Failing to be re-elected, he retired in 1942.
He spent his last years working on his autobiography entitled, ‘Fighting Liberal’ which was published in 1945, a year post his death
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Awards & Achievements
By opposing the privatization of the hydroelectric set ups in 1920, George Norris became a leader of the farm relief legislation.
In spite of severe opposition to the bill for governmental holdings in 1928, the Tennessee Valley Authority was created in 1931; post which he became the “father of the TVA” and the very first dam under this project was named as the Norris Dam.
One of Norris’ greatest achievements was in the form of the Twentieth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution which was proposed and passed in 1923 and 1933 respectively. It is also famous as the “Lame Duck” amendment. This amendment eradicated the lameness of the Congress by changing the President’s inauguration date.
The twentieth Amendment played a pivotal role in introducing an exclusive non-partisan, unicameral legislature in Nebraska in 1934.
George Norris became the first person to be placed in the ‘Nebraska Hall of Fame’ in 1961.
John F. Kennedy’s ‘Profiles in Courage’ comprising of eight senators lists George Norris too for his oppositions to the Speaker’s autocracy and arming of the U.S. merchant ships during World War I.
George Norris’ house in McCook has been converted into a museum by the Nebraska State Historical Society and is placed in the National Register of Historic Places.
The main north-south Street through the downtown McCook, Nebraska, is named as George Norris Avenue.
Many schools have been named after George W. Norris such as George W. Norris Middle School in Omaha, Nebraska, the George W. Norris K – 12 school system near Firth, Nebraska, and George W. Norris Elementary School in Millard Public.
The merger of many public power districts in southeastern Nebraska in 1941 formed a new set up that was called as the Norris Public Power District.
Personal Life & Legacy
George Norris married Pluma Lashley in 1889 from whom he had three daughters. Post Pluma’s death, he remarried Ellie Leonard in 1903.
He passed away at the age of 83 on September 2, 1944 in McCook and was cremated at the Memorial Park Cemetery.