Telegraphing Nevada’s Constitution
In 1864, while the Civil War was in progress, efforts were made to bring the state of Nevada into the Union. In July a convention wrote a Constitution, which the people approved in September. Before the statehood became official, the U.S. Congress had to approve it. At that time a contest a presidential election was in progress. Abraham Lincoln was running for reelection against General George B. McClellan, the Democrat candidate. The Republicans in Congress wanted to expedite Nevada’s entrance into the Union so that they could vote for Lincoln in the November election.
The Congress needed to have Nevada’s Constitution before they would vote for the state to be admitted. Paper copies were sent by train, but as October came to a close they still had not arrived in Washington. Unsure they would arrive in time, the territorial governor decided to send the Constitution by telegraph. It took two days, October 26-27, to send the 16,543 word document. This was the longest telegraph ever sent up to that time, and after paying by the word the total came to $4,303.27. This would equal more than $63,000 today. Nevada’s Constitution was received on time and the state was admitted to the Union just one week to the election. They cast their electoral votes for Lincoln, and helped him win in a landslide.