The Senate and House approved the Louisiana Purchase, acquiring nearly 800,000 square miles of land extending from the Mississippi River to the Rockies, including the future state of Nebraska.
Nebraska was admitted to the Union as the 37th state. Congressional Republicans had passed a statehood bill for Nebraska in 1866, but President Andrew Johnson vetoed the measure. A second attempt in February of 1867 was more successful, with Congress overriding Johnson's veto to establish statehood for Nebraska. Nebraska is the only state admitted to the Union over a presidential veto.
Thomas W. Tipton of Brownville and John M. Thayer of Omaha took the oath of office as Nebraska's first two U.S. senators. The senators then drew lots to determine class assignment. Tipton drew Class 1, with a term to expire on March 3, 1869. Thayer drew Class 2, with a term to expire March 3, 1871.
Algernon S. Paddock of Beatrice became chairman of the Senate Committee on Agriculture (today's Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry), a position he held from 1877 to 1879, and again from 1889 to 1893.
The Senate elected Edward K. Valentine of Nebraska as sergeant at arms. Born in Iowa, Valentine had settled in Nebraska after the Civil War where he studied law and opened a law practice in West Point. He represented Nebraska in the U.S. House of Representatives for four years before becoming the Senate's sergeant at arms.
The Senate elected Senator Charles F. Manderson of Omaha as president pro tempore. Manderson served three terms as the Senate's presiding officer: March 2, 1891, to December 6, 1891; December 7, 1861, to March 3, 1893; and March 4, 1893, to March 22, 1893.
The Twentieth Amendment to the Constitution, originally proposed by Nebraska senator George W. Norris, was ratified by the states. The amendment ended the so-called lame duck sessions of Congress by changing the date of presidential inaugurations from March 4 to January 20.
Senator George Norris ended his Senate career as Nebraska's longest-serving senator, having served a total of 29 years, 10 months.
Eva K. Bowring of Merriman was appointed to the Senate seat left vacant by the death of Dwight Griswold of Scotts Bluff, becoming Nebraska's first woman senator. She was not a candidate for election to the remainder of the vacancy, but was replaced by Hazel H. Abel of Lincoln, Nebraska's second woman senator.
Future senator J. Robert (Bob) Kerrey of Omaha received the Congressional Medal of Honor. Wounded in Vietnam, Kerrey was awarded the Medal of Honor for "conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life." Kerrey was elected to the Senate in 1988.