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

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