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States in the Senate | Nevada Timeline

Introduction   |   Senators   |   Timeline


Engraved print of Comstock Lode mine


The Comstock Lode was discovered under what is now Virginia City, NV. This find was later described as "the richest treasure of silver and gold ever discovered anywhere on earth in so concentrated an area." It yielded more than $300 million in bullion during its first 20 years of operation. This discovery created a large class of millionaires and multimillionaires, many of whom participated in the development of Nevada's mineral resources over the next two decades.


March 2

Congress created the Nevada Territory. On July 11, territorial governor James Warren Nye established the territorial government.


Nevada's 1864 constitution

October 31

Based on authority granted by Congress, President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed Nevada to be the 36th state of the Union.


James W. Nye (R-NV)

February 1

William M. Stewart of Virginia City and former territorial governor James W. Nye of Carson City took office as Nevada's first two U.S. senators. They drew lots to determine their class assignments. Stewart drew Class 1, with a term to expire March 3, 1869. Nye drew Class 3, with a term to expire March 3, 1867.


Map of Nevada, 1893

May 5

Nevada assumed its current borders when Congress added lands carved from the Utah and Arizona territories.


Mark Twain


Senator William Stewart hired Mark Twain to be his personal secretary. Twain quit within weeks.


January 17

The Senate passed the Coinage Act fixing the nation's currency to the gold standard and eliminating silver as a monetary standard. It was signed into law on February 12, 1873. Nevada senator William Stewart denounced this action, known in western states as the "Crime of '73."


William Stewart (R-NV)

December 12

William Stewart became chairman of the Senate Committee on Mines and Mining.


John P. Jones (R-NV)


Nevada senators William Stewart and John P. Jones of Gold Hill joined with other western senators, known as the "Bonanza Kings," to successfully block all other legislation in order to secure passage of the Sherman Silver Purchase Act, which established a plan for limited purchase of silver by the federal government. The act was signed on July 14, 1890.


"Senatorial Courtesy."

October 30

In spite of a 46-day filibuster by western senators under the leadership of Senators Stewart and Jones, the Senate repealed the Sherman Silver Purchase Act.


William M. Stewart (R-NV)


Accusations that Senator Stewart's supporters intimidated his political opposition in the Nevada legislature marred his final reelection. This incident increased support in the state for direct election of U.S. senators.


Francis Newlands (D-NV)

June 17

President Theodore Roosevelt signed the National Reclamation Act, which was principally sponsored by Representative (and later senator) Francis Newlands of Reno. The act established a national policy for desert irrigation.


March 3

Senator John P. Jones ended his 30-year Senate career. He held the record for longest service of any Nevada senator until 2017, when Senator Harry Reid retired with 30 years of service.



Beginning in 1908, candidates for Nevada’s state legislature were bound by a ballot measure entitled "Choice for U.S. Senator" which essentially pledged any legislative candidate to elect the senatorial candidate who received the largest number of popular votes, regardless of party affiliations.


Key Pittman (D-NV)

January 28

In a referendum, Key Pittman of Tonopah won election to a Senate seat by 89 votes, the smallest margin in any U.S. Senate race to that time.


Francis Francis Newlands (D-NV)

March 15

Francis Newlands became chairman of the Committee on Interstate Commerce (today's Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation).


Seventeenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution

November 3

Incumbent senator Francis Newlands became Nevada’s first directly elected senator under the terms of the Seventeenth Amendment. For the first time, women were allowed to vote in Nevada. This came almost six years before ratification of the U.S. Constitution's Nineteenth Amendment, providing that right to all eligible American women.


Charles Henderson (D-NV)

March 4

Bearing a quarter-century-old grudge over a Nevada land deal, a constituent entered the Senate office of retiring Nevada senator Charles Henderson of Elko and shot him in the wrist. Henderson was not seriously wounded and the assailant quickly surrendered.


Foreign Relations Committee members listen to testimony

March 9

Key Pittman became chairman of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, serving until his death in 1940.


PPT Seal

March 9

Key Pittman was elected Senate president pro tempore, a position he held until his death in 1940.


Patrick A. McCarran (D-NV)

February 4

Patrick A. McCarran of Reno became chairman of the Senate Committee on the Judiciary and served until 1947. He chaired that committee again from 1949 to 1953.


Statue of Patrick A. McCarran, National Statuary Hall Collection

March 23

Nevada dedicated its first entry in the National Statuary Hall Collection, a bronze statue of Senator Patrick A. McCarran. McCarran served on the Nevada supreme court from 1913 to 1918 and in the U.S. Senate from 1933 until his death in 1954.


Howard W. Cannon (D-NV)

November 3

In the closest Senate election race in U.S. history to that date, incumbent Democrat Howard W. Cannon of Las Vegas defeated Republican lieutenant governor Paul Laxalt by 48 votes. A recount gave the election to Cannon by a margin of 84 votes, the narrowest margin ever. Laxalt later won election to the Senate in 1974.



Howard Cannon became chairman of the Senate Committee on Rules and Administration, serving until 1978, when he became chairman of the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation. He chaired that committee until 1981, when the Democrats lost control of the Senate.


Golden Gavel Award

September 28

Senator Chic Hecht of Las Vegas won the Golden Gavel Award for presiding over the Senate for 100 hours in a single session. He won a second Golden Gavel on September 9, 1986.


October 12

Senator Richard Bryan of Las Vegas won the Golden Gavel Award for presiding over the Senate for 100 hours in a single session.


Harry Reid (D-NV)

December 2

Senate Democrats elected Harry Reid of Searchlight to be their assistant leader (Democratic whip). Reid had been serving as the Democratic Policy Committee co-chair since 1995.


June 6

Harry Reid became chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Ethics after Senator James Jeffords of Vermont left the Republican Party and started caucusing with the Democrats, giving the Democrats a one-vote majority. Senator Reid served as chairman until 2003.


November 16

Senate Democrats elected Harry Reid to be their floor leader and conference chairman. In 2007, when Democrats took control of the Senate, he became Senate majority leader. He became minority leader in 2015 when Republicans took control of the Senate and served until his retirement on January 3, 2017.


Statue of Sarah Winnemucca, National Statuary Hall Collection

March 10

The state dedicated its second entry in the U.S. Capitol's National Statuary Hall Collection, bronze statue of Sarah Winnemucca (1841-1891), a member of the Paiute tribe, educator, defender of human rights, and author of the first book by a Native American woman (Life Among the Piutes: Their Wrongs and Claims, 1883).


Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV)

January 3

Catherine Cortez Masto of Las Vegas became Nevada's first woman senator and its first Hispanic American senator.


November 15

Catherine Cortez Masto of Las Vegas was named chairwoman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee for the 116th Congress.