The former traversed the western edge of northern Nevada to central California and back along the Old Spanish Trail in the south. The latter expedition, on which he was accompanied by Joseph Walker and Kit Carson, explored the central portions of the state. Settlement of Nevada The fur trappers, California immigrants, and explorers who visited the Great Basin in the s, s, and s had no intention of settling in the region now known as Nevada. To them it was merely a place where they hunted or passed through on the way to a new land or to an adventure, respectively.
Permanent settlement of Nevada would not come until the latter part of the s. Political scientists Eleanore Bushnell and Don Driggs, among others, have noted that the settlement of Nevada came as a result of three contemporaneous events:. None of these momentous events had much to do initially with Nevada.
No Mexican War battles were fought here, the Mormons first settled in what is now Utah, and the first discovery of gold came in California. Like the fur trappers, California immigrants, and explorers who had traveled the land before, few among the next groups of travelers through the Great Basin saw it as an area of inherent desirability.
Yet these three milestones ultimately conjoined to lead to the permanent settlement and eventual statehood of Nevada. Conflict with and persecution by more traditional Christian groups led Smith to move the Mormons to Ohio, Missouri, and Nauvoo, Illinois. The murder of the Mormon prophet in a Carthage, Illinois, jail led his successor, Brigham Young, to move the group once more. The journey, from to , of 15, men, women, and children eventually came to rest at the Great Salt Lake, an area still within the sovereignty of Mexico. While the Mormons were on their way to the Great Salt Lake, the United States was engaged in a war with Mexico for control of California and what is today the southwestern United States.
Polk launched the war in , a war that ended successfully for the Americans in with the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo.
Even then, though, Las Vegas had competition and a reputation. They added in several thousand feet of copper wire—yet another connection to northern Nevada and to the Montana magnate who created their town—and managed to provide coverage to most of the Clark town site. Created by the Las Vegas Promotion Society, a precursor to the Chamber of Commerce, it lobbied the railroad to help remove waste that could cause not just fires, but even worse. Harmon, Art Ham Sr. He married and started a family. Shepperson Series In Nevada History. Shepperson series in Nevada history.
The Great Basin was now firmly and legally ensconced in the hands of the United States. Beginning in , thousands traveled from the east to California in search of riches; some came by sea around South America the Panama Canal was yet to be built , while others traveled overland along the routes used by earlier California immigrants through the northern Great Basin. As already noted, none of these three events initially had anything to do with Nevada.
After the Great Basin was no longer foreign territory, the Mormons aggressively moved into its northern and southern regions to proselytize and establish settlements, and the influx of California gold seekers through the region created a need for supply stations along the overland route, including the area now known as Nevada.
That act, debated by Congress for two years over the heated issue of slavery, established California as a free, that is, nonslave, state even though it had, unlike other states added after the original thirteen colonies, never been a territory and divided the remainder of the Mexican Cession of into the territories of New Mexico and Utah, which could, upon statehood, determine for themselves whether to allow slavery. New Mexico Territory included not only. New Mexico but also most of Arizona and the southern 10 percent of present-day Nevada.
The newly created Utah Territory included all of present-day Utah, small parts of Colorado and Wyoming, and the northern 90 percent of present-day Nevada. Congress thus not only changed the name of the Mormon territory from Deseret to Utah but also included only half of the area Young and his followers had earlier claimed. It is doubtful that the Mormons would have achieved even that but for the death of President Zachary Taylor in July Taylor opposed the Mormon cause and was unsympathetic to state or territorial status for them.
His successor, Millard Fillmore, however, was favorably impressed by the Mormons and their representative, Dr. John M. Bernhisel, who had been dispatched to Washington, D. Although abandoned with the onset of winter, the post became a permanent settlement the following year when a party led by John Reese sought to establish a farming and trading community and fort.
In the name of this first permanent settlement in Nevada was changed to Genoa. Gentile population in the area was augmented by the discovery in of gold in Gold Canyon just east of the California border. Gold miners from California and new gold seekers from the East soon established residence in the region as well, although they generally had no intention of making the place a permanent home. The area that is now southern Nevada was also being settled during this time. The mission was to serve a dual purpose: establish supply stations along the Old Spanish Trail just as Mormon.
Their task was, in many ways, a hard and thankless one, performed in a hostile environment. The Las Vegas Mission eventually was abandoned as a result of a split in the community between Bringhurst and Nathaniel V. Jones, whom Brigham Young had sent to the mission in to mine lead ore in the area. This division was part of a larger conflict within the Mormon community over whether its primary purpose was to proselytize or mine. By most of the missionaries had returned to Utah, leaving only a small band under the authority of Benjamin R. Establishing a Government From the first moments of their arrival in the Carson Valley in , the settlers agitated for separation from the Mormon-dominated Utah territorial government.
Separated as they were by five hundred miles from the territorial capital, first in Fillmore City and later in Salt Lake City, and ignored by Brigham Young, who concentrated on organizing that part of the territory that was nearest to him, the western settlers were left with no established government and no protection from bandits and Indian attacks. During the course of these meetings, the settlers created a squatter government to establish bylaws and regulations for the community and to create public offices.
Seven Utah counties were extended to the California border in order to include the western Utah Territory. County seats remained in present-day Utah, however, and with such a distance between them, county officials persisted in their failure to exercise any authority over their newly acquired western lands. In January the territorial legislature created Carson County, an extremely large new county in the western Great Basin. Once again, however, no immediate attempts were made by the Utah authorities to exercise control over their newest creation.
In they hired attorney William A.
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Cornwall to write a constitution for the Carson Valley. Very little is known about the Cornwall Constitution, and most Nevada history books fail even to mention it. What we do know is that the powers of government were to be exercised by an elected group consisting of a sheriff, a president, a secretary, and a three-member court. In January the Utah Legislature took several actions that indicated a serious desire to maintain territorial control over the Carson Valley. Judicial District, and George P. Styles was assigned as presiding judge.
In those terms, Hyde was incredibly successful. Arriving in Carson Valley in June, Hyde. Determining that they were, he called for county elections to be held at Mormon Station on September All but one of the victorious candidates in the contest were Mormon, thanks to the immigration of Mormons into the area. Not surprisingly, non-Mormons in the area were displeased with the now- realized Mormon domination of the Carson County government.
The gentiles were convinced that the law was not administered fairly to Mormon and non- Mormon alike and were particularly dissatisfied with the practice of polygamy exercised by Hyde and others. Mormon domination of the Carson County government led non-Mormons in the area to petition once more, in November , for annexation to California. Unlike its February predecessor, this petition was looked upon favorably by the California Legislature.
Unfortunately for those seeking annexation, Congress failed to act on their plea. Territorial and Mormon control over the western territory, however, was not destined to last. Probate Judge Hyde left Carson County to return to Salt Lake City in November ; whether he was frustrated with his position or recalled by Young is open to dispute.
In January he illustrated his contempt for the people of the Carson Valley when he wrote to seek compensation for the sawmill he had left behind in his hasty departure:.
You shall be visited of the Lord of Hosts with thunder and with earthquakes and with floods, with pestilence and with famine until your names are not known amongst men, for you have rejected the authority of God, trampled upon his laws and his ordinances, and given yourselves up to serve the god of this world; to rioting in debauchery, in abominations, drunkenness and corruption.
You have chuckled and gloried in taking the property of the Mormons, and withholding from them the benefits thereof. You have despised rule and authority, and put God and man at defiance. If perchance, however, there should be an honest man amongst you, I would advise him to leave; but let him not go to California for safety, for he will not find it there.
He was followed to Salt Lake City by a large party of Mormons in July , and all of the faithful were officially called back to Salt Lake City by Brigham Young in September of that year to fend off what Young believed was an imminent invasion of Utah by federal troops in what. The official beginning of the Utah War came in July when President James Buchanan removed Brigham Young as territorial governor and appointed a new, non-Mormon government headed by Alfred Cumming.
The anticipated arrival of the new territorial government, accompanied as it was by 2, federal troops led by General Albert Sidney Johnston, struck fear into the hearts of the Mormons. It was then that Young called upon all Mormons, including approximately 1, in the Carson Valley, to return to the capital to fend off the anticipated federal invasion. In addition, Young issued an order prohibiting an armed force from entering the Salt Lake Valley and declared martial law.
Kane, who had made friends with the Mormons when they had lived in Nauvoo. In April the Utah War, such as it was, officially ended when Buchanan granted amnesty to all who swore allegiance to the Union. A bill granting territorial status, which included a change of name from Sierra. Nevada to Nevada, passed the House Committee on Territories, but the full Congress adjourned before acting on the petition.
The congressional failure to act was based in part on the pre—Civil War sectional strife over slavery that was even then dividing the nation: the territorial bill was held up in the House by Speaker James L. Of lesser, but still significant, importance, the federal government hoped that the newly appointed non-Mormon government of Alfred Cumming would resolve the antagonism in the western territory between Mormons and gentiles. In addition to petitioning for separate territorial status, the settlers attempted to establish a more immediate mechanism for protecting law and order in the region.
The committee proved ineffectual, and in March the settlers met again, this time to establish a vigilante committee to maintain law and order. The vigilantes were equally unsuccessful in holding the criminal element in check, although they did try, and sentence, several people. Thorrington was hanged for being an accessory after the fact to murder, although substantial evidence supports his innocence.
Once again, Utah Territory attempted to establish control over its wayward western province, this time by appointing, in , John S. Child as probate judge to reorganize local government in the Carson Valley. Child called for new elections in October, elections noted for such intense conflict and voter fraud that the results in four of the six precincts were discarded because of charges of fraudulent voting.
In January Utah officially reestablished Carson County, gave it a single representative in the territorial legislature, and combined it with two other counties to form the Second U. Judicial District. The failure of Judge Child to effectively reorganize Carson County led the settlers to call for a mass meeting in Carson City on June 6, , to take up once more the issue of separate territorial status. At that meeting an election was called for July 14 to choose a delegate to represent the interests of the Carson Valley in Washington, D. Nevada Territory James M. The convention delegates met in Genoa on July 18, The only remedy for this unnatural war, now raging between the Mormons and the Anti- Mormons in Utah, is to be found in the immediate separation of these people under two distinct governmental organizations.
One thing is inevitable,—the Mormons and Anti- Mormons will never, and can never live together in peace, under one government. A nine-day convention, presided over by Colonel John J. Musser, voted to secede from Utah Territory, produced a territorial constitution modeled upon that of the state of California, and adopted the name Nevada. A ratifying election was held on September 7 concurrent with elections for a governor and territorial legislature. Support for the constitution was substantial.
Musser, alone testified to the result. In any event, Isaac Roop was elected territorial governor and the legislature was to meet on December The legislature did meet on that date but was unable to act for lack of a quorum; only four members attended. Roop, however, did continue to act as governor for some time. Undeterred by the unauthorized actions of the settlers, U. Although not a Mormon, Cradlebaugh was a representative of the Utah territorial government, and Carson County residents refused to work with him.
In yet one more attempt to establish control over the western settlers, Probate Judge Child attempted unsuccessfully to hold court in September and also called for new elections on October 8. Under those rather disconcerting and unsupportive circumstances, the winning candidates refused to take office.
Child could finally enjoy some sense of achievement in August when elections were successfully held to select various officeholders, including a representative to the Utah Territorial Assembly. Attempts by the western settlers to achieve separate territorial status and some measure of law and order were exacerbated by three significant, contemporaneous events. In September James M. He was replaced by the aforementioned John J. Musser, who was unable to persuade Congress during its — session to establish an independent territory in Carson County.
Flenniken as the new judge of the Second U. Thus was created the unworkable situation of two federal judges attempting to enforce the law. The ineffectiveness of any government authority to maintain law and order was further exacerbated by a third event: the discovery of gold and silver in what became known as the Comstock Lode. The Comstock Lode brought with it a huge tide of humanity, including miners and the tradespeople who sought to supply them. New towns sprang up overnight, and thousands of people rushed to make their fortunes.
In addition to dealing with the general lawlessness to be expected with the sudden, unplanned influx of so many fortune seekers, the western territory now had a new problem with which to cope: conflict between various parties over ownership of lucrative mining claims. Thus, the years to were marked by anarchy and confusion, without any strong authority to establish law and order and without an effective government.
Confusion was at an all-time high, with at least three governments in operation: the provisional government of Isaac Roop, the Utah territorial government of Probate Judge John S. Child, and the divided federal court authority exercised by warring U. District Judges John Cradlebaugh and R. A San Francisco newspaper of the time noted that. There is no government. Nominally the Mormon government bears sway over that portion of the territory as well as over Salt Lake City.
But practically Mormon laws are a nullity, they are not enforced, nor could they be. Should a Mormon judge or justice of the peace attempt to hold his court at Carson City or Virginia City, he would not only find that he possessed no power to execute the mandates of his court, but also that all attempts to do so would endanger his personal safety. Politically, the people are in a chaotic state, without law and without a Constitutional [sic] government. The present position of the people is deplorable. The evils to which they are exposed are terrible to contemplate and the coming season it is to be feared, will witness scenes of anarchy and bloodshed, fearful to behold, as the rich silver mines will attract thither a large crowd of desperate and abandoned men, who, in the absence of law and a well-established government will give full scope to their vicious inclinations.
Musser, finally persuaded Congress to establish a separate territory in western Utah. Musser was aided by the election of Abraham Lincoln as president and the resulting secession from the Union of the southern states. With the pro-slavery states no longer represented in Congress and unable to block the territory bill, passage was virtually guaranteed.
On February 26, , the U. Senate passed legislation entitled An Act to Organize the Territory of Nevada; the House of Representatives followed suit on March 2, and President Buchanan signed it into law later that day. Thus, after ten years of uninterrupted pleas and petitions, the western Utah settlers achieved their goal: the establishment of Nevada Territory. Seward, and the two had campaigned in the West for Lincoln during the election; Clemens had studied law in the St.
Governor Nye arrived in Nevada on July 7, Nye soon issued three proclamations: the first named his appointees to various territorial offices July 12 ; the second announced the creation of a judiciary July 17 , and the third called for elections to be held on August 31 for the purpose of selecting a delegate to Congress and members of the territorial legislature July The lawlessness that characterized Nevada demanded the creation of courts to enforce law and order; indeed, aside from the Mormon question, the absence of legal authority was the major reason the settlers had lobbied for separate territorial status.
Following the dictates of Section 9 of the Territorial Act of , Nye established a supreme court, three district courts, probate courts, and justices of the peace. Three Lincoln-appointed territorial judges each heard cases on original jurisdiction in one of the district courts, and all three sat en banc as the supreme court to hear appeals. The lower-court judges were appointed by Nye until such time as elections could be held. Also elected were nine members to serve in the Council and fifteen to serve in the House of Representatives, the upper and lower houses, respectively, of the territorial legislature.
The legislature met only three times: in , , and During this first session the legislature passed pieces of legislation organizing the territory. Some of the more noteworthy acts were those adopting the common law of England, forming nine counties in the territory to be governed by three-member boards of commissioners, and establishing a system of common schools.
Two of the most controversial issues facing this first legislative session were the permanent location of the capital and the generation of revenue for supporting the territorial government. The question of where to locate the territorial capital was, apparently, a difficult and emotional one, resulting in charges of underhanded dealing and a barroom brawl in the Ormsby House Hotel between a Virginia City councilman and a Carson City representative.
By a vote of 15 to 9, it was decided that Carson City, and not Virginia City, would be the capital. The issue of how best to raise revenue in the territory was a precursor of the events that would disrupt and derail later attempts to write a state constitution. The mining-dominated legislature vehemently objected. Counties could, in addition, adopt a levy of up to sixty cents more per one hundred dollars valuation on all property within their jurisdictions. The mines and their products would be untaxed. Statehood Although Nevada had been a territory for little more than a year when the second session of the legislature met in , an election was called for September to determine support for statehood and, assuming support, the selection of thirty- nine delegates to a convention to draft a constitution for the State of Washoe.
Support for statehood in the fledgling territory was overwhelming, with a vote of 6, in favor and 1, opposed. The Constitution The delegates to this unauthorized convention were optimistic not only that Congress would grant statehood but also that their handiwork would be as overwhelmingly supported by the citizens as the question of statehood had been in the September election. In that, they were sadly mistaken. Although many issues divided the delegates during the course of their deliberations, two of the most controversial spelled overwhelming defeat at the polls for the constitution they had so carefully and painstakingly crafted.
Just as mine taxation had led to a dispute between Governor Nye and the legislature, so it disrupted the convention. Indeed, the additional cost to be borne by a state government, as opposed to a territorial one, was a common concern among some members of various anti-statehood. It would mean a tax on the shafts, drifts, and bedrock tunnels of the mines whether they were productive or not. Instead the Stewart faction favored taxing only the net proceeds of the mines. Convention delegates decided to offer a single slate of officeholders on the ballot with the constitution; thus, in voting for the constitution, one would also vote for a particular slate of candidates.
This proved deadly. Even though the mining-tax issue created a serious rift in the territory, it is possible that the constitution, voted on by itself, could have been ratified. But the slate of candidates, to the chagrin of many, had been handpicked by Stewart in a pair of rather nasty Union Party conventions, first in Storey County and later at the territorial convention in Carson City.
The split in the Union Party had a twofold, negative impact on the quest for ratification. As historian David A. The unlikely combination of disappointed Union Party office seekers, small miners, merchants, farmers, and a few Democrats residing in the territory—who supported the Confederacy and wished, therefore, not to become a Union state— was large enough to ensure the overwhelming defeat of the constitution in the January election.
The four-to-one vote against the constitution, 8, to 2,, was ironically similar to that which had favored statehood earlier. Nonetheless, as will be discussed later, the mining depression that gripped Nevada Territory in mid reduced statehood desires within the territory itself. Within twenty days after the defeat of the constitution, a bill was introduced into Congress allowing the territories of Nevada, Colorado, and Nebraska to hold constitutional conventions and establish state governments.
The bill, introduced on February 8, , by Senator James R. Doolittle of Wisconsin, a Republican, easily passed both houses of Congress and was signed by President Lincoln on March First, Lincoln desired additional votes in Congress to assure the two-thirds vote he needed in both houses for passage of the Thirteenth Amendment, which would abolish. Finally, with the third-party candidacy of John C.
The Constitution Acting quickly, Governor Nye on May 2 called for an election to be held on June 6 for the purpose of choosing thirty-nine delegates to attend a second constitutional convention. Unlike the gathering in , this convention was legally authorized by Congress and, ultimately, successful.
The convention, presided over by J. Neely Johnson, former governor of California, met in Carson City on July 4 and concluded its work on July 27; thirty-five of the thirty-nine elected delegates attended. The demographic makeup of the convention was similar to that of its predecessor: ten members had served in the convention; most were from California; lawyers and mining interests dominated; and all but one, Francis Proctor, a Democrat from Nye County, were Union Party members.
Unlike the convention, antagonists John W. North and William M. Stewart were not delegates. The Nevada Enabling Act established a number of limitations on the type of constitution the convention delegates could draft. Those restrictions, to which the delegates faithfully adhered, included the following:. Citizens outside Nevada must not be discriminated against in taxation; and 5 there must be no taxation of federal property in the state.
There were a great many areas of dispute among the delegates at the convention; some of the most interesting and significant included the naming of the state and the ever-present issue of mine taxation. The delegates also agreed early in their proceedings to use the failed constitution as the basis for its new draft.
The constitution differed in two major respects from its failed predecessor. On the divisive issue of mine taxation, the delegates had apparently learned their lesson. Their strong feelings on the question were generated by at least two complementary issues: equity and colonization. In regard to equity, the cow-county delegates thought it unfair that mines be taxed only on the basis of their net proceeds, as some had suggested, while all other types of property were taxed on their assessed value.
George A. The colony has untold wealth of gold and silver, and the mother country manages. At the other end of the spectrum were those who did not want the mines taxed at all. Convention president Johnson, a lawyer from Ormsby County, concluded that this provision of the Enabling Act rendered the state powerless to tax the mines, which were situated on unappropriated federal lands. The mining-tax debate was a long, divisive one in the convention; several proposals were offered and rejected by both sides.
The unlikely alliance of small miners, farmers, and disappointed office seekers who had defeated the constitution now fell apart, victim of its own internal disagreements. The compromise was not without cost, however. The mining exemption from taxes marked a turning point in the convention; thereafter, the small miners, who had previously supported positions taken by the cow-county delegates, began voting uniformly on the side of the large mining interests. Nourse and Israel Crawford, an editor from Ormsby County, to vote against the constitution.
This time the constitutional ratification vote and the election for state officials would take place. Thus, in the ratification election, the voters would be free to support statehood and the constitution without necessarily voting for a particular slate of candidates they might find unacceptable. Support for the constitution was overwhelming.
At the convention it received a positive vote of 19 to 2, and in the September 7 election it was decisively supported by a popular vote of 10, to 1,, a margin of more than eight to one. Thus, in the course of approximately one year, the residents of Nevada had made a complete turnaround from rejecting to accepting a state constitution. Two other issues, however, bear brief mention here. The first of these was a mining depression that hit the territory hard in It had two effects on the acceptance of the constitution.
Better to pay even double taxes, if by doing so we can make our property ten times more productively valuable, than to pay even less and let property continue to depreciate. If we should have flush times again, we must vote for the State Constitution. The second issue, to be noted again in chapter 8, was the sad and disreputable state of the territorial judiciary. The residents of Nevada Territory were now as resolute in ridding themselves of the federally appointed territorial judiciary as they had been in in ridding themselves of the Mormon-dominated judiciary emanating from Utah.
Although the judges had behaved in a sometimes-unprofessional manner, much of the opposition to them was politically motivated and engineered by William M. As historian Hubert Howe Bancroft has noted:.
Probably the first federal judges would have been able to hold their own against the criminal element in Nevada; but opposed to the combined capital and legal talent of California and Nevada, as they sometimes were, in important mining suits, they were powerless. Statutes regarding the points at issue did not exist, and the questions involved were largely determined by the rules and regulations of mining districts, and the application of common law. Immense fees were paid to able and oftentimes unprincipled lawyers, and money lavished on suborned witnesses.
On August 22, , North and the other two territorial judges, Powhatan B. That they did so was in no. Capital will refuse to go there for investment unless at heavy premium for risk, and men of families will decline to make a spot for their homes where vice instead of virtue reigns. As Robert M. Her Temple of Justice had been transformed into a den of iniquity. House of Representatives at that time, prior to the Seventeenth Amendment, U. Republicans won the presidential ballot, all executive and judicial seats, and all but two of the legislative contests.
Republican H. Worthington voted in favor of the Thirteenth Amendment, but Stewart and Nye were not sworn into office in time to join him; the state ratified it in Peck, was stuck in a snowstorm in Aurora and could not attend the convocation to vote. The Nevada State Constitution The State of Nevada continues to function under its constitution, although that document has been amended over times since. Its contents are not particularly remarkable or unique, based as they are on the constitutions of California and New York.
The Constitution of the State of Nevada consists of nineteen articles that perform the functions of all such documents: creation of an organized government, distribution of government power among its divisions, and the protection of individual rights from government infringement. Because the Tenth Amendment of the U. Constitution reserves to the states all powers not delegated to the federal government or prohibited by it to the states, state constitutions do not grant powers but seek to structure and limit those powers reserved to the states.
Therefore, like the constitutions of the other forty-nine states, the Nevada Constitution tends to be longer and more specific than the federal Constitution, particularly in regard to express limitations on the power of the state. Daniel J. By the way of comparison, the U. Constitution contains provisions and consists of only 7, words. The Nevada Constitution, on the other hand, has more than twice that number of provisions and more than three times as many words.
Civil Rights Nevada, like most states, has a mixed and sometimes pitiful historical record in protecting the civil rights of its citizens. The roots of discrimination against ethnic, religious, and other minorities run deep in Nevada history. For example, delegates to the constitutional convention, the very convention at which those awe-inspiring words were written and adopted, also agreed upon Article 2, which gave the right to vote to white males only.
Indeed, Nelson E. Why should we condescend to make any. Things were little better after the granting of statehood, when the state legislature amended the law to allow blacks, but not Indians or Chinese, to testify against a white person. Native Americans Although virtually all minorities in the United States have been discriminated against at one time or another, Native Americans have arguably been the only group targeted for genocide. As noted in chapter 1, prehistoric peoples entered the. Great Basin as early as 15, years ago via a land bridge between Asia and North America at the present site of the Bering Strait near Alaska.
Those who settled in present-day Nevada eventually came to be known as the Northern Paiutes in northern and western Nevada , Southern Paiutes in southern Nevada , Shoshones in northern and eastern Nevada , and the Washos in a small area of western Nevada. The influx of new settlers and treasure seekers to the Great Basin led to numerous conflicts with the various tribes.
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