October 31, 2013
“This Nevada Day is particularly special, as it marks the beginning of a year-long celebration of the 150th anniversary of the Battle Born State’s entrance into the Union.”
“Today – and throughout this special year – we should celebrate everything that makes the Silver State extraordinary and successful. Happy Nevada Day.”
Washington, D.C. – Nevada Senator Harry Reid spoke on the Senate floor today regarding the significance of Nevada Day. Below are his remarks as prepared for delivery:
October 31st has always been a special day for me, since it marks the admission of the great state of Nevada to the Union. There are always parades and celebrations at home, many of which I have sadly missed because I have been serving my constituents in Congress. But October 31st is special for another reason. It is my little brother Larry’s birthday. Today it is my pleasure to wish my brother and the Silver State a very happy birthday.
This Nevada Day is particularly special, as it marks the beginning of a year-long celebration of the 150th anniversary of the Battle Born State’s entrance into the Union. For thousands of years, Nevada was home to Native American peoples. But on October 31, 1864, in the midst of the Civil War, Nevada became the 36th state.
Nevada was one of only two states to join the Union during the war. The first was West Virginia, which seceded from Virginia to remain part of the Union and gained its statehood on June 30, 1863.
Union sympathizers had rushed to finalize Nevada’s statehood in order to ensure Lincoln’s reelection. In fact, they were so eager to mint a state that they telegraphed the new Nevada constitution to Congress. At the time, it was the longest telegram ever sent, coming in at 16,543 words and costing $59,294.92 in today’s dollars. Eight days later, President Abraham Lincoln was elected to a second term in the White House.
Nevada is also one of only two states to significantly expand its borders after its admission to the Union. Eastern and southern Nevada joined the state in the late 1860’s, after gold was discovered in the region.
Many Nevadans believe that the state was only allowed to join to the Union so its mineral riches could help fund the Northern war effort. That is a myth. The tale probably stems from the fact that the Nevada territory was created in 1861 so its gold and silver could be used to help the Union rather than the Confederacy. The state’s slogan, Battle Born – a reference to the war – and an erroneous episode of Bonanza – which depicted a constitutional convention in Carson City – may have helped cement the legend.
The 150th anniversary of our admission to the Union is a wonderful time to study and reflect on this shared history. It is also a time to build a foundation for another 150 years of innovation and accomplishment for our state. Nevada – from the mountains and high deserts of the east to the geothermal wells of the north, from glittering Lake Tahoe in the west to shining Las Vegas in the South, from Indian Country to the mining towns and ranching communities – is a unique state in today’s modern Union. And today – and throughout this special year – we should celebrate everything that makes the Silver State extraordinary and successful. Happy Nevada Day.
RenoBruce R. Thompson
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