Education and Human Sciences, College of (CEHS)


First Advisor

Leroy T. Laase

Date of this Version



Thesis (M.A.)--University of Nebraska, 1957. Department of Speech and Dramatic Art.


Copyright 1957, the author. Used by permission.


The people of forty-seven states in this country are governed by bicameral or two-house legislatures. The people of the forty-eighth, Nebraskans, are governed by a unicameral or one-house legislature.

On November 6, 1934, the people of Nebraska provided by amendment to their state constitution, a one-house legislature to be composed of between thirty and fifty members to be elected on a non-partisan ballot. The number of solons was later set at forty-three, and 1957 marked the twentieth anniversary of the first unicameral session in Nebraska.

Senator George W. Norris is generally regarded by all as the father of the unicameral legislature and he is generally given credit for slnglehandedly inducing the people of Nebraska to adopt the unicameral. The aged senator took to the stump in the fall of 1934, speaking in all parts of the state in support of the amendment.

By what means did Senator George W. Norris persuade the people of Nebraska to adopt the unicameral legislature? From the perspective of public address, the present study is confined to Norris's speaking, although he did circulate much printed material during the campaign. Since Norris spoke extemporaneously during the campaign, there are no manuscripts to analyze. Therefore, the methods were both historical and critical in that the only available materials on the speeches are in the state's newspapers of the period. The accounts are fragmentary, the speeches were many, therefore a composite of his persuasive appeals was formed.

The composite appeals were analyzed in terms of the classical tripartite division of proof: logical, emotional, and ethical appeals. The senator's speeches and their sources are critiqued, as well. Many of the newspaper accounts were poorly written, and often biased.

Included are the history of the movement in Nebraska, as well as the public opinion toward the amendment in 1934, Norris's itinerary, each speech situation, and the results of the campaign.

Advisor: Dr. Leroy T. Laase