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William Morris Stewart: A Featured Biography


Senator William Morris Stewart.

Known as the "silver senator," William Stewart represented the people of Nevada for more than 20 years in the Senate. The Gold Rush brought Stewart west where he amassed a fortune as a mining litigator. He settled in Nevada and entered politics. Stewart was an instrumental figure in the state's 1863 constitutional convention and he became Nevada's first senator in 1865. As a senator, he drafted the final version of the 15th Amendment, and, famously, employed Mark Twain as a personal secretary. In 1875, Stewart retired to private practice in Nevada, only to return to the Senate in 1887. He ran as a Silver Party candidate in 1892 and 1898 because he opposed the Republican Party's position on demonetizing silver, though he ultimately rejoined the Republican caucus in 1899. As chairman of the Committee on Pacific Railroads and the Committee on Indian Affairs, Senator Stewart advocated western interests such as regional economic development, safer mining practices, and land irrigation rights.