How Nevada became BATTLE BORN
For the newbies or as a reminder to those long-time residents of how amazing our history is, it was from Carson City the telegraph that changed the fate of the Civil War, abolished slavery and assured the reelection of Abraham Lincoln was sent by James W. Nye, then the Governor of the Territory of Nevada.
It was a good marriage: Nevada wanted statehood and Lincoln wanted this then conservative, mostly Republican state, to assure votes needed for his reelection. It was on September 2, 1863, the voters within the Nevada Territory voted 6 to 1 to approve the concept of statehood; however, 39 delegates first had to draft a state constitution for voter approval. Voters did not like the verbiage brought forth in January of 1864 imposing a mining tax, thus resoundingly defeating the constitution.
The 38th U.S. Congress, however, was not dissuaded, creating an enabling act in March 1864 – signed by President Lincoln – to begin admission proceedings pending a binding state constitution. This state then was Pro-Unionist and Republican.
A second attempt at righting the defeated state constitution was drafted in July 1864, now containing the outlawing of slavery and that all public lands would be retained by the federal government never to be taxed among other strong commitments to the Union. Most important was the clause that miners would be taxed only on their net proceeds – inserted to assure passage of the document – and was unanimously adopted by the voters in September 1864 by a 10-1 vote.
The next step was to telegraph the entire adopted state constitution -16,543 words – to Washington DC, the longest and most expensive telegram at the time transmitted between 7-12 hours, depending on the resource, and overseen by James. H. Guild, superintendent of Carson City telegraph office. Lincoln admitted Nevada as the 36th state to the Union on October 31, 1864 even though it was one of the least populated territories -but one of the most economically viable- at that time. Only one other state – West Virginia – was admitted for statehood during the Civil War when it separated from Confederate Virginia in June of 1863.
In his proclamation #119 on October 31, 1864, President Lincoln declared, “Be it known that I, Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States, in accordance with the duty imposed upon me by the act of Congress aforesaid, do hereby declare and proclaim that the said State of Nevada is admitted into the Union on an equal footing with the original States.”
Carson City District Judge Clark J. Guild convinced the community to hold the first Nevada Day Parade on October 31, 1938. Celebration of Nevada Statehood became official in 1939 when it became a state holiday. Carson City has always been at the very epicenter of state history, and in 1864, U.S. history as well.