Douglas County History

About Douglas County

History

Douglas County was established in 1854. It was named after Stephen Arnold Douglas (1813-1861). He was elected to the United States House of Representatives in 1842. Mr. Douglas was a tremendous speaker and he became an outstanding spokesman for a policy of national expansion. Stephen Douglas was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1847, from the State of Illinois. Senator Douglas introduced the bill in 1854 that created the Kansas-Nebraska Act. This act made Kansas and Nebraska organized territories and allowed them to determine whether to be a free state or slave state by ‘popular sovereignty’. It also repealed the Missouri Compromise, which stated that slavery was prohibited north of 36-30′ latitude. The Missouri Compromise had previously kept the number of free and slave states numerically equal. In 1858, while campaigning for a third term as a U.S. Senator, Douglas was opposed by Abraham Lincoln . They engaged in a momentous series of debates on the slavery issue. Douglas, known as the “little giant” was reelected, but Lincoln gained a national reputation. In 1860, Douglas won the Democratic Party nomination for President. Southern Democrats nominated their own candidate and the split in the Party resulted in the election of the Republican candidate, Abraham Lincoln. When the American Civil War broke out, Douglas gave Lincoln loyal support.

Fast Facts

Population, 4-1-2010 517,110 Highest elevation above sea level 1315′
Total area in square miles 339.6 Latitude (72nd & Dodge) 41-15′ N
Land area in square miles 331.0 Longitude (72nd & Dodge) 96-01′ W
North/South length in miles 14 Number of Cities 6
East/West width in miles 31 County Seat Omaha
Lowest elevation above sea level 965′ County established in 1854

Governmental Structure

Douglas County, incorporated in 1854, forms part of one of the nation’s major metropolitan areas along the Missouri River, with Omaha as its largest city. The county has a broad-based economy with strong trade, service, and manufacturing sectors, with many corporations headquartered in the county. This is the major insurance and telemarketing center of the United States. The employment base is diverse and employment remains stable. Douglas County’s unemployment rate has consistently remained below the state and national averages.

The county operates under the board of commissioners-administrator form of government. Policymaking and legislative authority is vested in the Board of Commissioners, which consists of seven members. The Board of Commissioners is responsible, among other things, for passing resolutions, adopting the budget, appointing committees and hiring the county’s chief administrative officer. The board is elected within their respective districts. Board members are elected to four-year terms, staggered, with three or four members elected every two years. The Chief Administrative Officer is responsible for carrying out the policies and resolutions of the Board, for overseeing the day-to-day operations of the county, and for appointing the heads of county departments that do not have an elected official.

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