October 31st is Halloween and this year (2014) also the 150th birthday of Nevada. Having this day off provided me with a chance to reflect and read an email message from Senator Harry Reid reminding us of Nevada’s unique pioneer spirit.
In 1864, as the Civil War dragged on, many in Congress were in a rush to grant statehood to Nevada and did not want to wait until the next session of Congress. A new state would help swing that year’s presidential election towards President Lincoln and provide crucial votes for passage of the 13th Amendment, abolishing slavery.
On March 21, 1864, in the waning hours of the 38th Congress, Congress passed legislation allowing Nevada to join the Union once voters passed and President Lincoln approved a state constitution. It was not the normal course of business. Typically Congress would get the final word on admission of a new state to the Union, but as the country was in the midst of the Civil War, these were not normal times.
Nevada voters approved a state constitution on October 31, 1864, and President Lincoln proclaimed statehood. Today, we acknowledge Nevada’s unique path to statehood on our state flag with the words “Battle Born.”
I hope you know about your statehood day and celebrate it with pride and honor. I’m happy to be an American and am grateful I have the privilege and responsibility to vote.
I hope you’ll be voting today and using your power to make good choices for our communities and states.