Politics and Government

U.S. Ambassadors from Nevada

Several Nevadans have served as United States diplomats. The earliest were known as ministers, a term that was confusing since it also applied to cabinet members in some nations and to diplomats of the second rank. It has given way to the now better-known term of ambassador.

Henry Worthington, Nevada's first member of the U.S. House of Representatives, was also Nevada's first ambassador. He served as minister to Uruguay and the Argentine Republic from 1868 to 1869.

American Civil Liberties Union of Nevada

The American Civil Liberties Union of Nevada is one of the Silver State's most active and important non-governmental organizations. It was created by a group of volunteers in 1966 and was formally accepted as the state affiliate of the national ACLU in 1967. By the late 1990s, the ACLU of Nevada was a professionally staffed advocacy organization dealing with a wide range of state and local public policy issues and regularly winning legal challenges in the state and federal courts.

Tasker Oddie

Tasker Oddie was practicing real estate law in New York when a client sent him to Nevada to resolve legal issues. Oddie adopted the state where he spent the rest of his life engaged in mining, agriculture, and politics. Born in Brooklyn, New York, on October 24, 1870, he earned a law degree at New York University in 1895. He settled in Nevada three years later.

Storey County Courthouse

Organized in 1861, Storey County is named after Captain Edward Storey who died during the 1860 Pyramid Lake War. Virginia City has always been the county's seat of government. Officials initially operated from a variety of structures, the last of which stood on B Street, one block above the main commercial corridor. The Great Fire of 1875 destroyed this building and many of its records.

Single Ledge Case

One of the most important legal contests in early Nevada history involved two pairs of corporations owning adjacent Comstock mines. The Chollar (pronounced "collar") and Potosi Mines and the Ophir and Burning Moscow had similar situations. In both cases, lawyers argued that either a single ore body was dipping from one mine to the next or there were multiple ore bodies (or ledges), which neighboring mines had a right to develop independently. Lawyers filed the first of several lawsuits in December 1861.

Responsibilities of the Nevada Legislature and Term Limits

Generally, the Nevada Legislature, which meets every two years, enacts the laws of the state; specifies the tax rates levied on individuals, businesses, property, gaming, and sales; appropriates funds collected for the support of public institutions and the administration of state government; proposes amendments to the state constitution; and considers legislation proposed by initiative petition. In addition, the legislature is directed by the state constitution to establish a state university; a public school system; and a statewide, uniform system of local government.


During America's "Progressive Era" (1890s through 1920s, ) populists in Nevada adopted several major political reforms, including initiative, referendum, and recall. The right to referendum was the first reform, enacted in 1904. Referendum is a direct vote of the people whether to approve or repeal a law enacted by the state legislature. A referendum (or public vote) occurs only after the legislature passes a law, and in Nevada, a referendum can only be amended by another vote of the people.

Recall Elections

Introduction: The right to recall a public officer was added to the Nevada Constitution in 1912. By circulating a petition and qualifying for the ballot, voters can remove any elected official except a United States Senator or Representative in Congress. Between 1993 and 2004, 108 notices of recall were filed with the secretary of state.

Presidential Primaries in Nevada

In 2006, the Democratic Party approved plans to hold a presidential caucus in 2008 in Nevada, just after the first caucus in Iowa and before the first primary in New Hampshire. It was the latest maneuver in a long history of presidential primaries and caucuses in Nevada.

Primary elections became widespread as a reform device during the Progressive Era. They were seen as a way to take nominating power out of caucuses and off the floors and smoke-filled rooms of political conventions, and put it in the hands of voters.

Pershing County Courthouse

Pershing County was carved out of Humboldt County's southern region after arguments over public funds necessitated a division of the territory. The state legislature created Nevada's seventeenth county in 1919 and designated Lovelock as the county seat. The county was named after General John J. "Blackjack" Pershing.


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