September 1, 1884
Voters decided by an eight-to-one margin not to pay millions of dollars worth of state bonds. Formally known as the Fishback Amendment, it was the first amendment to the state constitution since its adoption in 1874. This vote ended a political debate that had raged for years within the Democratic Party. One strong faction, the “repudiationists,” had argued that the bonds were unconstitutional because they had been passed in a climate of bribery and fraud. William M. Fishback went on to lead the fight for the constitutional amendment that bore his name. The legislation failed in 1880 because of a legal technicality, but it passed in 1884, wiping out in one stroke three-fourths of the state’s debt.