Our Opinion: Statehood not a sure bet
This editorial also appears in today’s issue of The Record-Courier:
Not even a Nevadan would have taken the bet a territory only four years old would have become a state on Oct. 31, 1864.
The odds were against it. There was some question as to whether there were even enough people living in the territory to qualify for statehood at the time.
Former Nevada Archivist Guy Rocha points out Nevada’s territorial status in 1861 secured the riches of the Comstock for the Union, so statehood was not a requirement for Union victory.
Rocha said the state’s existence was the result of political considerations, which were exacerbated by the length of time it took to get through the process.
Congress passed the statehood acts for Nevada, Nebraska and Colorado on March 21, 1864, while President Lincoln was still facing challenges from Nevada explorer and fellow Republican Gen. John C. Fremont and Democrat Gen. George McClellan. That threat evaporated during September when Fremont dropped out of the race. By that time, Nevada’s statehood effort was already in motion.
Nevada’s constitution, which prohibited slavery, had to be telegraphed to Washington, D.C., because it hadn’t arrived by land or sea.
While indeed Battle Born, Nevada’s statehood was more about the world after the Civil War, which was essentially more than five months later.
It was a different United States that emerged from the Civil War and the Silver State was part of that. The defeated South was occupied and the Constitution was being amended to free the slaves and give them the vote.
As we remember the confluence of circumstances that occurred in 1864, we should also remember our state’s part in removing the stain of slavery from our nation.