Name: Parker Johnson
School: Advanced Technologies Academy

Acceptance and the Union: Nevada’s Entrance into Statehood

When Nevada was admitted into the United States in1864, many doubts were raised over the legitimacy of its claim to statehood.  Although it did not meet many of the obligations listed under the Northwest  Ordinance of 1787, the Constitution  did not have any true requirements for statehood.  Additionally, although it was used, controversially, to help Abraham Lincoln in the presidential election, all of the requirements outlined  specifically by the Constitution were followed  and many of Nevada’s claims for statehood were legitimate.  Even though many ofthe circumstances surrounding Nevada’s admission to the Union were controversial, the state and the federal government followed all ofthe policies listed in the Constitution  as relating to statehood, and Nevada was rightfully granted statehood.

Not only did Nevada have legitimate claims to statehood, it followed  all of the requirements as set forth in the Constitution in regards to new states. In the Constitution of the United States the requirements are clear on the topic of new states, and in the 1860’s, there were a few distinct requirements  for admittance into the Union.  Although not always enforced, it was common practice for a state to be a territory of the U.S. before being admitted, and just over three years earlier, Nevada had been established as an organized territory by Abraham Lincoln and Congress, checking the first state hood requirement. Then, as the territorial government  is made known of the desires of their inhabitants  concerning state hood, by the direction ofthe Federal Congress, the territory was required to hold a constitutional convention to author the new constitution for the state.  In July of 1864, many prominent Nevadans met in Carson City to write a constitution, and soon after that, in early September of the same year, the general public voted, passing the constitution. Nevada’s path to statehood was a very short one, but one in which everything was done correctly.

Nevada was correctly admitted into the Union because of the wording and interpretation of the Constitution at that time, and the need in the North for economic and political support gave Congress the push it needed to make Nevada a state.  In Article IV, it states, “New States may be admitted by the Congress into this Union; but no new States shall be formed or erected within the Jurisdiction of any other State; nor any State be formed by the Junction of two or more States, or parts of States, without the Consent of the Legislatures of the States concerned as well as of the Congress.” Congress could accept basically any territory or area into the Union as long as it had followed the guidelines detailed above.  At the time of Nevada’s admittance to the Union, the country was divided, with only about half of the normal states represented in the federal government. However, as the South had by this time long declared independence, only the Northern  states were left to vote on Nevada’s application for statehood.  6 years earlier with the discovery of the Comstock Lode in Northern Nevada,the economic benefits of admitting Nevada to the Union had just started to emerge.  Even though the Civil war had started to die down by the end of 1864, the United States government  was still strapped for cash, and Nevada’s rich gold and silver mines would prove to be a major help, providing the federal government with much needed bullionto pay for its army and to pay for debts at home and abroad.

Additionally, the Lincoln administration was in dire need of support to apply many of their key policies, including the abolition  of slavery. Before Nevada’s entrance into the Union, President Lincoln lacked the firm support, not only for the abolition  of slavery but for presidential reelection.  In the race of 1864, Lincoln fought a three-way  race against Generals George B. McClellan and John C. Fremont, and was in dire need of popular and electoral votes. With the inclusion of Nevada as a state right before the November election, Lincoln gave himself more strength and confidence going into the actual election.  Then, going forward, Nevada could also help to ratify the ground breaking legislation that would abolish slavery for good.  Nevada’s acceptance into the Union allowed for greater political and economic support for the United States government at that time.

Nevada was admitted into the Union on very thin claims but had taken care of all of the requirements necessary for statehood.  Although in the Northwest ordinance multiple sections tell of population and law requirements for acceptance into the Union, the Nevada Territory had never been subject to any of the areas that required a set population and was thus only subject to the constraints of the Constitution. In the Constitution, it only requires that the state desire to be part ofthe United States and that Congress allows it to be. Nevada was able to become a state in 1864 due to the non-specific rules regarding entrance into the Union and a need for help both politically  and economically  in the government, which lead to Nevada being seen in a favorable light.  Nevada fulfilled all the requirements for statehood  and was rightfully made a state on October 31,1864.


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