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

William Stewart

William Morris Stewart was born August 9, 1825 or 1827 (sources vary) in Lyons, New York.  He attended Yale University in 1848-1849 but did not graduate before leaving for the California gold fields in January, 1850.  In California, Stewart developed mining and water ditch interests and played a key role in framing laws regulating quartz mining in California.  He studied law in 1852 and became a lawyer, specializing in mining law.

Stewart moved to Nevada in 1859 where he was an influential member of the First Territorial Legislature.  He was elected a delegate to the first Nevada Constitutional Convention in 1863 and elected the first U.S. Senator from Nevada in 1864.

During Stewart's first period in the Senate, 1864-1875, Stewart was author of the National Mining Laws of 1866, 1870, and 1872; and the Fifteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, giving African-Americans the rights of citizenship.

Between 1875-1887 Stewart again practiced law and involved himself in mining ventures.  During his second service in the Senate, 1887-1905, Stewart focused on efforts to obtain free coinage of silver, development of a national system of reclamation of arid lands in the west, improvement of education for Native Americans, and development of the University of Nevada.

Stewart made and lost several fortunes in his lifetime and ended his years working on mining interests in Bullfrog and Rhyolite, Nevada.  He died April 23, 1909.
 

Photo Credit:
Nevada Historical Society