Fundamentals of Nevada History
Fundamentals of Nevada History
The Nevada constitution was framed by a convention of delegates chosen by the people. The convention met at Carson City on July 4, 1864, and adjourned on July 28 of the same year. On the 1st Wednesday of September 1864, the constitution was approved by the vote of the people of the Territory of Nevada, and on October 31, 1864, President Lincoln proclaimed that the State of Nevada was admitted into the Union on an equal footing with the original states.
Nevada’s history of race relations in the 1950s and 1960s was compared by journalists and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) to that of some southern American states, notably Mississippi. Although not as formalized in law Nevada still provided many examples of racism against minorities in housing, employment, and public accommodation.
Early beginnings of the civil rights movement in Nevada can be traced at least as far back as 1959 when planning for the February 1960 Winter Olympic Games at Squaw Valley was underway. The U.S. Justice Department was concerned because of the impact racial discrimination in public accommodations might have on international visitors and was anxious that nothing should occur to mar or blot that event. Likewise, the California Attorney General was concerned because Olympic visitors would be visiting and staying in northern Nevada where people of color would be treated with bias.
Mining has been integral to Nevada’s history, from Native American use of its mineral wealth to fashion arrowheads, spear points, and tools to today’s modern industrial mining operations. Nevada’s silver deposits were the key to statehood; a driving force in the state’s economy in the mid-nineteenth century, they were a major reason for Nevada’s admission into the United States in 1864. While gaming and tourism now dominate the state’s economy, Nevada remains a nationally and internationally significant source of metals and minerals.
Because of hostility from miners and their sympathizers, Nevada’s territorial and states antigambling laws were mostly unenforced from 1859 until the Comstock Lode mining booms collapsed in the 1870s. After 1881, the state attempted to restrict gambling through licensing and other statutory controls. Opponents of gambling and prostitution became organized and in the Progressive Era at last persuaded state legislators to prohibit gambling statewide in 1910 as part of a nationwide anti-gaming crusade.
During the Great Depression in the United States, Nevada legalized gambling terming it gaming in 1931; (the Northern Club received the first license). At the time, the leading proponents of gambling expected that it would be a short term fix until the state’s economic base widened to include less cyclical industries. However, re-outlawing gambling has never been seriously considered since, and the industry has become Nevada’s primary source of revenue today. Gambling taxes account for 34% of state revenue.
Also in 1931 the residence requirement for divorce was reduced to six weeks, making Reno a famous mecca for the quickie divorce and people from all over the country to take the cure. In the 1930s, Reno’s Bank Club was the state’s largest employer. It was also the largest casino in the world until Harold’s Club surpassed it in the 1950s.
The Second World War was very good to Reno as local bases and those in Northern California helped boost the economy. In the late 1940s “Bugsy” Siegel helped get Las Vegas on the map by first building the most expensive casino in the world, the Flamingo, and then by being gunned down in his Beverly Hills home. Las Vegas casinos of the 1950s were mostly low-rise building taking advantage of the wide-open spaces that Reno didn’t offer in the downtown area of Virginia Street. However, Las Vegas boomed with new luxurious hotels in the 1960s and the city’s gambling casinos drew players from all over the world, and away from Reno and Lake Tahoe.