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It is written in William Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, “Beware the Ides of March.” History buffs know that this is in reference to Caesar’s assassination on March 15, 44 B.C. Thankfully, in Nevada, the Ides of March have a much happier connotation, as there are two monumental anniversaries in the state’s history that fall around the notorious date.
The first is Nevada’s creation as a territory on March 2, 1861 by the United States Congress. Nevada Territory was a federal territory, a part of the Union, and consisted of nine original counties. President Abraham Lincoln appointed Governor James Warren Nye to lead and guide the territory in its pre-statehood days.
Nye, a former Police Commissioner in New York, helped quell any and all Civil War demonstrations in support of the Confederacy. Although the tax system was much less effective than it is today, what little that could be collected in Nevada went to support the Union cause.
Nye held down the Nevada fort for three years before Congress approved the Enabling Act for Nevada on March 21, 1864. The Civil War was winding down, and Lincoln was looking for support to win reelection. If Nevada were a state, it would supply crucial electoral votes and help ratify the 13th Amendment, which ultimately abolished slavery.
Lincoln proclaimed Nevada a state on October 31, 1864, a week before national election, and went on to win the presidency in decisive fashion. Interestingly, Nevada is not the only “Battle Born” state; West Virginia was admitted to the Union on June 20, 1863.
So there you have it: two more legitimate excuses to celebrate Nevada’s sesquicentennial in 2014. If you’re looking for one day to party on account of both anniversaries, March 15 is a Saturday this year. Just saying.
On March 21, 2014, Nevada will celebrate the 150th anniversary of the Enabling Act with a Battle Born Birthday Cake Celebration in Carson City. A 1,300-pound cake, in the shape of the Silver State, will be served as part of the festivities. This will not be the state’s first colossal cake, as the 1964 centennial was heralded in similar fashion. Click here for more information.
March also happens to be Women’s History Month, and so we’ve dedicated one of our feature stories to this important subject. Nevada Women’s Legacy events have been held, and will be held, throughout the state to honor these phenomenal females. Click here for more information.
This is our fourth of eight Sesquicentennial Special Editions. Author and historian Ron Soodalter continues his eight-part sesquicentennial series with Part IV, which explains how copper, gold, and silver booms helped rescue Nevada from a late-1800s statewide depression.
Also in this issue are stories on the new Downtown Container Park in Las Vegas, the northeastern Nevada hamlet of Jarbidge, and the fascinating Southern Nevada ghost town of St. Thomas. At Nevada Magazine, we recognize that this is a special time for Nevada and Nevada lovers, and we are honored to celebrate Nevada’s 150th birthday in our pages.
After we went to press for the March/April 2014 issue, I accepted a job as the Communications Program Manager with the City of Reno. My last day with Nevada Magazine will be February 27. It has been a sincere pleasure serving the official state magazine for eight years — the last seven as managing editor. I’ve developed an unequivocal passion and appreciation for the Silver State’s landscapes, history, and people. Even though I’m not Battle Born, I’ll always be Nevada Proud.
Matthew B. Brown, Managing Editor