%> Nevada Riches: The Land and People of the Silver State
Nevada Government & Politics
Riches, Ranching & Railroads
(1850-1900)

Mining and Politics

The Comstock, the mining district that emerged around the mammoth Comstock ore ledge in Gold Canyon in northwestern Nevada, was a dominant economic factor in Nevada in the 19th century, and the mine owners wielded a great deal of political power.  A major disagreement developed over payment of taxes on the proceeds of the mines.  State law limited the amount of tax imposed, a situation that favored mining interests.

A series of squabbles between the legislature and mine owners resulted in a new assessment on money made in the mines, which the miners refused to pay.  Laws were passed favoring the mining interests, which two governors vetoed.  The U.S. Supreme Court declared mining exemptions unconstitutional, and mine owners finally had to pay their taxes and penalties.  Mining lobbyists, however, had managed to influence state lawmakers into making laws that reduced their taxes, even though citizens had clearly expressed their opposition to such action.  The mining interests were an important and influential political force in the early years of Nevada statehood, and continued their control well into the 20th century.
 

Photo Credit:
Nevada Historical Society