Washington, D.C. – Nevada Senator Harry Reid spoke on the Senate floor today regarding the year-long celebration of Nevada’s statehood. Below are his remarks as prepared for delivery:
Throughout this year, my home state of Nevada will celebrate the 150th anniversary of its path to statehood. Next week, while I will be home visiting with constituents and family in Nevada, the Battle Born state will celebrate the day that Congress passed and President Abraham Lincoln signed legislation paving the way for Nevada to become the 36th state.
Congress was in a rush to welcome Nevada to the Union. The Civil War was raging.
The only other state admitted to the Union during the war was West Virginia, which seceded from Virginia to remain part of the Union in 1863. Congress didn’t want to wait until its next session to admit another new state – a new state that could swing the presidential election in Lincoln’s favor and provide crucial votes for the 13th Amendment, which abolished slavery. And Nevadans had already rejected one proposed state Constitution. So there was no time to waste.
On March 21, 1864, in the waning hours of the 38th Congress, a law was passed allowing Nevada to enter the union whenever voters finally passed and President Lincoln approved a state constitution. It wasn’t the normal course of business. Typically Congress would get the final word on admission of a new state to the Union. But these weren’t normal times.
Even today, we acknowledge Nevada’s unique path to statehood on our state flag with the words: “Battle Born.”
Throughout this year, we will celebrate Nevada’s 150th birthday with events in every corner of the state. From my hometown of Searchlight to Virginia City to Elko, there is a 150th anniversary event to match every interest. We’ll mark Nevada’s second constitutional convention, the day Nevada voters finally approved its constitution and the day – October 31, 1864 – that Lincoln proclaimed Nevada’s statehood.
The 150th anniversary of our admission to the Union provides a wonderful opportunity to study Nevada’s history. It is also a chance to reflect on Nevada’s unique pioneer spirit – a spirit that continues to make our state special today.