Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Nevada, "Battle Born" on Oct. 31, 1864

Nevada state flag
October 31, 1864 is the date of Nevada's statehood. Nevada is the 36th state.

Nevada's statehood date is on Halloween, a fact not lost to school children studying the history of Nevada.  It makes it a magical kind of date that is probably pretty easy to remember. 

At the time, Halloween was not at all the Main Street holiday. Looking back at the date and the history with modern eyes, however, we can see the birth of the 36th state as being "battle born," just like the state flag claims. I guess that is one way of saying that Nevada was born out of a cauldron of heated debate with many of the prime "characters" occupying the seats of state as well as federal government.

In terms of national debate, 1864 was extra special as it also was an election year. Just like the 2012 election, several of the same topics were defining the national debate: war (civil), morality (slavery), and the economy (of both the industrialized North and the agricultural South). 

Like many territories that became states in this era, there was a divvying up of who would be slave and who would be free. The issue of Nevada's statehood is generally described as being one that was hurried through Congress right before the November election. 

One interesting fact is that territories wanting statehood had to have a state constitution. Nevada's constitution was approved by Nevada voters on September 7, 1864. To speed things up, it was sent by telegram, a 19th century version of email. This particular telegram is considered to be the longest telegram ever sent up to that time ( It also was the most expensive costing, in 1864 money, $3,416.77.

Nevada has had four state flags during its history. The first design was in 1905 (by Gov. John Sparks and Cabinet member, Col. Henry Day). The flag was redesigned in 1915 (by Clara Crisler) and in 1929 (by Don Louis Shellback). The current Nevada state flag was designed in 1991 (by Verne R. Horton).

The 1905 flag included a blue field with the name Nevada centered in the middle. (Nevada, by the way, comes from the Spanish meaning "snow covered.") The word "gold" was above the state name, and the word "silver" was below it, representing Nevada's rich, mineral history. Because it was the 36th state, there were 36 stars in either gold or silver.
Nevada's Crisler state flag

The Crisler state flag included the state seal and 36 gold and silver stars plus a 37th whose symbolism proved confusing in historical and vexillological terms.

For more information about Nevada, visit the Nevada State Legislature online

Let it fly!
sources: Nevada State Legislature,,, and

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Columbus Day Trivia Quiz

Officially, Columbus Day is October 12. We thought it might be fun to see what you know about Christopher Columbus.

Commemorative stamps (c. 1892) of Columbus' voyage.
 The answers to the quiz are below. Have fun!

1. What country do historians generally believe was Columbus' native country?
a. Spain
b. Italy
c. Portugal
d. Morocco

2. Under the flag of which country did Columbus sail?
a. Spain
b. Italy
c. Portugal
d. France

3. What was Columbus looking for?
a. gold
b. slaves
c. new land for an expanding Europe
d. a new way to China and India

4. How many voyages did Columbus make to the New World?
a. 1
b. 2
c. 4
d. 6

5. What year did Columbus sail to the New World?
a. 1792
b. 1692
c. 1592
d. 1492

6. When Columbus set sail, most Europeans believed the world was flat and that his ships would fall off. 
a. true
b. false

7. Within 10 years of discovering the New World, Columbus was arrested and brought back in chains to Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand. Why?
a. for bringing new diseases to Europe 
b. for mismanagement of Royal monies
c. for enslaving people
d. a and b
e. a and c
f. all of the above

8. Columbus is the first explorer to discover the New World.
a. true
b. false

9. The first time Columbus Day was officially celebrated in the US was which year?
a. 1692
b. 1792
c. 1892
d. 1992

10. Which World's Fair celebrated Columbus' voyage?
a. The 1893 Chicago World's Fair: The Columbian Expo
b. The 1893 World's Fair in NYC
c. The 1892 World's Far in Madrid, Spain
d. The 1892 Washington, DC, World's Fair: Exposition of the 3 Americas

Let it fly!

Visit USFlagstore's Columbus Day Sale and save 15% off of any purchase – and that's in addition to what's on sale! Use coupon code Columbus15.
Thomas Moran's painting of the Chicago World's Fair (Brooklyn Museum)

1. b. Italy. Genoa, to be exact.
2. a. Spain
3. d. A new way to India and China which would have lead to increased trade with those countries and more wealth so "a" also could be considered correct.
4. c. 4 The last voyage was after his arrest – and his pardon by King Ferdinand.
5. d. 1492
6. a. True
7. F. all of the above.
8. False. The Viking Leif Ericson is considered to have discovered the New World c. 1000 A.D. He landed in Canada.
9. c. 1892, the 400th anniversary of Columbus' landing in the New World. President Harrison made it a federal holiday. 
10. a. The 1893 Chicago World's Fair: The Columbia Expo. It was incredible! It had the first ferris wheel and the fairgrounds were electrified at night!