Name: Adrian Alberto
School: Advanced Technologies Academy
Despite being rushed into statehood with minimal population, Nevada’s statehood was both legal according to the Northwest Ordinance of 1787 and extremely beneficial to the goals of the Union during the Civil War. Controversy surrounds the lack of population required for statehood and rushed pursuit of statehood. However, neither of those completely detracted from the legality of Nevada’s statehood. Besides a loophole in the ordinance, Nevada provided both the resources needed to finance the Civil War and aided in presidency of Abraham Lincoln, who wanted to push the 13th Amendment.
Lack of population is by far the most cited argument against statehood. The Northwest Ordinance of 1787 states that if a territory must have 60,000 free inhabitants in order to pursue statehood. It is true that Nevada’s census only recorded approximately 47,000 of those required inhabitants. Nevada was also exempt from this rule, given that it only applied to states within the old Northwest (“Myth #102- Battle Born and Legal”). “Provided, the constitution and government so to be formed, shall be republican, and in conformity to the principles contained in these articles; and, so far as it can be consistent with the general interest of the confederacy, such admission shall be allowed at an earlier period, and when there may be a less number of free inhabitants in the State than sixty thousand” (“Northwest Ordinance”).
Nevada’s statehood was necessary to fund the Union side ofthe Civil War through its silver and gold mines. The Comstock Lode, a lode of silver ore located in what was originally western Utah Territory, added four hundred million dollars to government finances, on top of the men sent to fight for the Union from the territory (”National Archives Celebrates the I 45th Anniversary of Nevada Statehood”). By gaining coffers through silver instead of through taxes, the federal government prevented the possibility of the funding landing in Confederate hands. It is important to note that these benefits were acquired prior to the actual process of statehood during Nevada’s status as a territory (”National Archives Celebrates the 145th Anniversary of Nevada Statehood”). This nullifies the assumption that conversion from territory was an economic concern.
Economics aside, politics remain the prime rationale for pushing statehood. Being a mining-based territory, having Nevada as a state would support a Republican dominance in Congress due to its relation to industrialism present in northern states. It would also allow Abraham Lincoln’s reelection during the presidential election of 1864. Union sympathizers found this to be so important that the entire state constitution was sent by telegraph in order to guarantee arrival to the United States Congress before the presidential election. Lincoln’s presidency would soon lead to the finality of the 13th Amendment, abolishing slavery, and reconstruction policies for the South considering that the Civil War at this point in time had already started to end.
The propositions against statehood -lack of population and Nevada’s position in the Civil War- do not take into account the considerations provided in this article. Nevada’s state motto, “Battle Born”, is accurate in that Nevada was issued statehood during the Civil War, but is inaccurate in that statehood was directly caused by the Civil War alone. Despite its controversy, the conditions in which Nevada became a state were sufficient under the provisions made by the Northwest Ordinance of 1787. Lincoln’s second term of presidency led to various movements of civil rights, primarily the freedoms and rights of the black population involved in slavery in the southern Confederate states. Based on the urgency shown by Union sympathizers, it is made apparent that statehood was pushed with reason and necessity. Although Nevada did not serve as the absolute deciding factor in the outcome of the presidential election, it would be inappropriate to rule out its legitimacy and importance. The causes, process, and outcomes of this case should serve as a positive example should the United States enter under similar conflict. The United States of today would allow Nevada to convert from territory to state under the conditions present during the Civil War.
Guy Rocha, “Why Did Nevada Become A State?” Web. 3 Oct. 2013. “The Making of the Nevada State Constitution.” Web. 3 Oct. 2013. “Myth #102- Battle Born and Legal.” Web. 3 Oct. 2013.
“National Archives Celebrates the 145th Anniversary ofNevada Statehood.” Web. 3 Oct. 2013. Northwest Ordinance, July 13, 1787; (National Archives Microfilm Publication M332, roll 9);
Miscellaneous Papers of the Continental Congress, 1774-1789; Records of the Continental and Confederation Congresses and the Constitutional Convention, 1774-1789, Record Group
360; National Archives.