The editorials of George H. Gibson constitute the core of Editing Populism's sources. His political and social ideology is examined via his relationship with and response to the Omaha Platform of 1892 and George Herron's 1894 commencement address at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. The responses of other area newspapers are used to provide historical context for reactions to both Herron's address and the Populist platform. Gibson's editorials appear in the archive under the three different names the paper had throughout his time as editor: the Alliance-Independent, Wealth Makers, and Nebraska Independent.
The digital archive will be expanded as Editing Populism continues to be developed.Newspapers by Topic:
Herron's Address | The Omaha Platform | The Silver Issue | Applied Christianity Socialism | Anarchy | Political Fusion
"A New Political Vision" | 7 June 1894 | Wealth Makers
Gibson announces George Herron’s upcoming address at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, and offers readers an introduction to the man. He calls Herron “the great moral teacher of the age,” and asserts that Herron has received more of God’s “present message” than any other man. Gibson outlines several of Herron’s primary beliefs and reveals the reason for Herron’s interest in Populism as well as part of the reason for his own affinity for Herron when he states that Herron “sees in the political uprising in the west a force that is making for righteousness.” Gibson clearly shared Herron’s view that the political and social turbulence of the times was an opportunity to push society towards the creation of a Christian state.
"Some Strong Talk" | 13 June 1894 | Evening News
The Evening News reported on Herron's commencement address in a much more detached manner than that of most of the other area newspapers. Its only comments were that the address was "scholarly and interesting," as evidenced by the fact that most members of the "vast" audience listened to the speech with "rapt attention." It did, however, allow that some of Herron's views were "pronounced," and reproduced a brief sample for its readers. In an editorial in the next edition, the paper assessed the truth of some of Herron's specific remarks.
"He Took Exceptions" | 13 June 1894 | Lincoln Daily Call
The evening edition of the Lincoln Daily Call reported on Herron’s commencement address much more kindly than did most other area newspapers. It stated that the audience enjoyed Herron’s oration and, even if they could not agree with him, were left with the impression that he was a man with a strong desire to help his fellow humans. It described the commencement ceremony in full, including a brief account of Herron’s main points. Rather than praising Crounse for his denouncement of Herron’s ideas, as most local papers did, the Lincoln Daily Call stated that Crounse’s reply was “untimely.” However, the paper reversed its position in its next issue.
"Prof. Herron's Address" | 14 June 1894 | Evening News
This editorial in the Evening News is quite similar to those found in the Lincoln Weekly Herald in the days following Herron's address. Although it describes his address as unoriginal and "decidedly socialistic in character," the Evening News nonetheless asserts that speeches such as Herron’s are necessary to correcting the problems of government because they help convert thought into action. The paper then assesses the truth of a number of Herron's statements regarding the corrupt nature of U.S. politics. Although it disavows his argument that the United States government is a failure, it concedes that his accusations of corruption contain a degree of truth (something which most of the other area papers flatly denied). It concludes that the primary cause for negative responses to Herron’s views was the fact that they were ill-suited to the occasion of a commencement ceremony.
"Herron-Crounse" | 14 June 1894 | Lincoln Daily Call
The day after Herron’s address, the Lincoln Daily Call reversed its position regarding his remarks. This editorial not only condemns Herron as “socialistic,” it also criticizes the university in general (and Chancellor Canfield specifically) for allowing him to speak in the first place. It accuses the university of leaning towards Populism, which it characterizes as “narrow-minded,” and also suggests that the university attempted to expunge the address from the public record by refusing to furnish a verbatim copy to the local press. Governor Crounse, on the other hand, is praised as a “patriotic, loyal American citizen.”
"The University Address" | 14 June 1894 | Nebraska State Journal
The Nebraska State Journal was only one of the local newspapers to frown upon Herron’s address, although it did so with a more reasonable tone than some. In this editorial, the Journal describes Herron’s views as “radically socialistic” and comparable to anarchy, but (unlike other papers) it stops short of declaring Herron an anarchist. The Journal also states that Herron was entitled to present alternative views, and that people are intelligent enough to judge the value of such views for themselves (although it asserts that any synopses of the address that readers have seen in print are only toned-down versions of the original). The paper guides its readers in their judgment a bit with its assertion that American society and government are not generally corrupt, and that only the foolish and inexperienced think otherwise.
"Very Spicy Commencement" | 14 June 1894 | Nebraska State Journal
Despite stating that any synopses of Herron’s address would be toned-down versions of the actual oration, the Nebraska State Journal published this lengthy editorial. It gives a very detailed account of the June 13th commencement ceremony, including comprehensive coverage of both Herron’s address and Governor Crounse’s reply. Most newspapers that supported Herron did not provide more than a summary or a few sentences of Crounse’s remarks. (This was the case with the Wealth Makers, under Gibson’s editorship.) The Journal, however, provided one of the most complete accounts of Crounse's rejoinder of all the area papers.
"State University Close" | 14 June 1894 | Omaha Bee
The Omaha Bee, a paper known for its negative stance with regard to the Populist platform in general and the silver issue specifically, declared that Herron's "radical" views astonished all those who "followed him closely" throughout the address. It points out that a member of the Nebraska Supreme Court credited Herron for his "polished" oral abilities, but denounced his ideas as "radical," "socialist," "anarchistic," and "dangerous." The Bee reprinted what it itself described as a "brief and unsatisfactory summary" of Herron's address. It focuses primarily upon Herron's more dramatic remarks.
"From the State Capital" | 14 June 1894 | Omaha World Herald
The Omaha World Herald only had a small article on Herron's commencement address, reporting on the sensation caused by the speaker's "radical views." It reprinted a handful of Herron's more controversial remarks.
"Made Them Mad" | 16 June 1894 | Lincoln Weekly Herald
The Lincoln Weekly Herald was another of the few area newspapers which lent support to the ideas in Herron’s commencement address. In this article, the Herald agrees with (and restates) many of Herron’s assertions regarding political corruption. It asserts that local republicans such as Governor Crounse attempted to associate Herron with anarchy and condemned the university for allowing him to speak because Herron dared to open the eyes of the nation’s future leaders to the shortcomings of government. The Herald concludes that the address was “a powerful and logical expression of deep and advanced thought on political economics.”
"The Statesman and the Politician" | 16 June 1894 | Lincoln Weekly Herald
This letter to the editor, printed in the Lincoln Weekly Herald, also contains admiration of Herron and censure of Governor Crounse. Most of the letter consists of attacks on Crounse, whom the author believes made “an egregious ass of himself” with his reply to Herron. Along with suggestions that Crounse lashed out because he knew he was part of the corruption which Herron spoke of, the letter also expresses strong distaste for the lack of “manliness and courtesy” shown to an invited speaker. The letter's author clearly agrees with Herron's assertions that American government was not true to the teachings of Jesus Christ.
"Mr. Hewitt's Views" | 18 June 1894 | Lincoln Daily Call
In this editorial, the Lincoln Daily Call recommends the June 17th sermon of Reverend John Hewitt (of Lincoln’s Trinity Church) as a preferable alternative to the sort of Christianity expounded in Herron’s commencement address. It states that Rev. Hewitt also criticized American government and institutions, but did so in a way which was more “bright, truthful, inspiring, and hopeful.”
"Not Dangerous" | 20 June 1894 | Nebraska State Journal
In this editorial, the Nebraska State Journal defends itself against criticism from readers (and perhaps other newspapers) that it did not denounce Professor Herron’s commencement address strongly enough. In a rather sarcastic tone, the Journal asserts that Herron’s remarks do not represent a threat, as such large doses of socialism are easily rejected. It expresses admiration of Herron for his honesty and frankness, although it also acknowledges that smaller, more “insidious” forms of socialism are dangerous. On the same page, however, the Journal includes reprinted editorials from three other newspapers which condemn Herron and support Crounse. If it was not willing to criticize Herron more heavily itself, the Journal was certainly willing to demonstrate that others were doing so.
"Professor Herron" | 20 June 1894 | Nebraska State Journal
This is one of three reprinted editorials which the Nebraska State Journal included on the same page as its own editorial - in which the Journal refused to cave in to pressure to condemn Herron's commencement remarks as dangerous. This short piece, from the Des Moines Register, expresses a view of Herron which is very similar to that of the Journal. However, the Register cautions Dr. Herron that his hope to apply his ideas to the entire world is more than a little idealistic.
"Professor Herron" | 20 June 1894 | Nebraska State Journal
This is another of the three reprinted editorials which the Nebraska State Journal included on the same page as its own editorial, refusing to condemn Herron's commencement remarks as dangerous. This piece from the New York Tribune takes a harsh view of Herron.
"Professor Herron: In Justice to Common Sense, Decency and the United States" | 20 June 1894 | Nebraska State Journal
This is the last of three reprinted editorials which the Nebraska State Journal included on the same page as its own editorial - in which the Journal refused to cave in to pressure to condemn Herron's commencement remarks as dangerous. This brief piece, from the New York Sun, expresses strong admiration for Governor Crounse’s actions.
"Brother Editors, Take Notice" | 21 June 1894 | Wealth Makers
Gibson gives very strong support to Herron in this editorial, which appeared in the same edition as a nearly complete printing of Herron's commencement address. Gibson not only defends Herron against accusations that he is an anarchist, he also declares that Herron's idea of a Christian State is "what the Populist's are working for." Clearly, Gibson viewed Herron as a sort of intellectual and spiritual mentor.
"The Great Oration" | 21 June 1894 | Wealth Makers
Self-declared Christian Socialist George Davis Herron delivered the commencement address at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln on the morning of Wednesday, June 13, 1894. It caused a great deal of controversy. The Wealth Makers, under George H. Gibson’s editorship, gave strong support to Herron and was the only area paper to print such a large portion of the address. In the address, Herron denounced the idea that competition is a positive guiding principle for humanity. He vigorously attacked land speculators, railroads, the entire U.S. political system, and even Christian churches. He argued on behalf of the establishment of a Christian state, with the person of Jesus Christ as its spiritual, social, and political ideal. He believed a Christian political order was the only way to unite humanity and ensure social justice. His remarks were roundly condemned, both by the governor at the commencement ceremony and afterwards by most of the area newspapers. The Wealth Makers continued its coverage of the address in its June 28, 1894 issue, reprinting a series of related lectures given by Herron.
"The Reproach of Christ" | 21 June 1894 | Wealth Makers
In this editorial, Gibson denounces the actions of Governor Crounse (who spoke out against Herron directly following the delivery of his address). Gibson again reveals his strong admiration of Herron, this time via his bold insults of Governor Crounse's personal character and insinuations that Crounse was an enemy of true Christianity.
"Crounse and Renomination" | 22 June 1894 | Lincoln Daily Call
More than a week after Herron’s address, the Lincoln Daily Call was still condemning it. In this editorial, the paper speculates that Governor Crounse will be renominated – as a direct result of his “patriotic” reply to Herron. It also equates Populism with Socialism, stating that "thinking people" have become disgusted with the presence of both in Nebraska over the past three years.
"Prof. Herron" | 23 June 1894 | Lincoln Weekly Herald
The Lincoln Weekly Herald restates its loyalty to Herron’s ideas in this editorial. It notes that since Herron’s address, at least one prominent minister in Lincoln has criticized it as unchristian and anarchistic. The editorial reproduces some of Herron’s primary assertions, stating that it is up to readers to decide for themselves the nature and validity of his ideas.
"Christianity Applied" | 28 June 1894 | Wealth Makers
This article is a continuation of the Wealth Makers' coverage of George Herron's June 13th commencement address. It is a summary of a combination of related lectures which Herron gave at Iowa College in Grinnell, Iowa (now Grinnell College), where he was Professor and Chair of Applied Christianity. While not part of his original address, the ideas expressed in his lectures are similar to those found in his commencement address at UNL. Herron’s rhetoric is quite radical here, as he declares America a “fallen nation” and predicts doom, anarchy, and chaos unless the country denounces materialism and repents. He again advocates a new form of Christianity to solve the nation’s problems, with Jesus Christ as the source of both political and social organization.
"God Pity the Rich!" | 28 June 1894 | Wealth Makers
Gibson also used his editorials to defend Herron against attacks from local churchmen who criticized his address. In this editorial Gibson dissects the sermon of Dr. Lasby of Lincoln's St. Paul Methodist Episcopal Church, arguing that Lasby simply did not understand the word of God and was foolish to believe that God had “no cry against the rich.” Gibson follows Herron’s lead, advancing his own definition of Christianity and accusing the Church of self-righteousness and unholy alliance with the wealthy.
"The Wounded Buzzard" | 28 June 1894 | Wealth Makers
Gibson continued his attacks of Governor Crounse's character, again suggesting that Crounse did not like Herron’s address because he knew he was guilty of the sort of corruption Herron condemned as unchristian and ruinous to society.
"A Republican View" | 30 June 1894 | Lincoln Weekly Herald
The Lincoln Weekly Herald reprinted editorials by two other Nebraska newspapers which shared its support of Herron’s address and condemnation of Governor Crounse’s response, as if attempting to emphasize the "proper" reaction to Herron's pronouncements. This reprint is of an editorial in a paper in Plattsmouth, Nebraska.
"They Dare Not" | 30 June 1894 | Lincoln Weekly Herald
This is another editorial reprinted by the Lincoln Weekly Herald from a paper in York, Nebraska, which also gave support to the views expressed in Herron’s address and denounced Governor Crounse’s response.
"Distinguished Men Who Are Populists" | 7 July 1894 | Lincoln Weekly Herald
In this editorial, the Lincoln Weekly Herald defends Populism by providing a list of important people who adhere to its ideology. Among them, the Herald asserts, are Professor Herron and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s chancellor at the time, James Canfield.