%> Nevada Riches: The Land and People of the Silver State
Nevada Government & Politics
Territory & Statehood

Establishing a Territory

In 1860, the Territory of Nevada was created, separate from the Utah Territory.  The Organic Act for a territory functioned the same way a constitution did for a state.  Boundaries were set and powers were distributed to the officers of the executive, legislative and judicial branches of territorial government, and terms of office were set at four years for each of the federally appointed officers.

Both governor and a legislative assembly held the legislative power composed of a nine-member council and thirteen member House of Representatives.  They could meet the first time for sixty days and for no more than forty days at each subsequent meeting.  They were to choose the capitol.  The governor could approve or veto legislation and they were sent to Washington to be reviewed by Congress, which also had the power to veto local legislation.  Each house could expand its ranks as needed to a maximum of thirteen for the council and twenty-six for the house.  No member of the legislature could hold any position created by its laws, nor could he receive any money under contract with the territorial government.

Congress set the boundaries of Nevada Territory.  Three of the boundaries were straight lines, bordering Oregon on the north, Utah on the east and New Mexico Territory to the south.  On a map, these boundaries were well defined, but no one knew where they were on the ground.  It defined the California-Nevada border on the west as the crest of the Sierra Nevada.  Some of the territory was in the state of California, which had set its own boundary as 120 degrees west longitude from the Greenwich Meridian, and was not to be included in the territory until California agreed to the change.

Click the next two links to hear more about the roots of government in 1862 Carson City.

Photo Credit:
Nevada Historical Society