Newspaper column: 150 years of Nevada being 15 percent of a state

On Oct. 31, 1864 — 150 years ago today — President Lincoln declared, “Now, therefore, be it known, that I, Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States, in accordance with the duty imposed upon me by the act of congress aforesaid, do hereby declare and proclaim that the said State of Nevada is admitted into the Union on an equal footing with the original states,” and Nevada became the 36th of these United States.

Equal footing? Nevada did not get so much as a toehold, as recounted in this week’s newspaper column, available online at The Ely Times, the Elko Daily Free Press and the Mesquite Local News.

To this date 85 percent of the land betwixt the borders of the “state” of Nevada are completely controlled by Parliament on the Potomac, which by most definitions would make Nevada more of a colony than a sovereign state. Of all the states, Nevada has the greatest portion of land controlled by the federal bureaucracy.

As if to underscore Nevada’s tenuous standing in regard to its fellow states, the state Constitution, inked in the waning days of the bloody Civil War, contains what can only be described as an unconditional refutation of the words of Thomas Jefferson in the Declaration of Independence.

Jefferson wrote in 1776 to justify the separation of the American colonies from the despotic rule of England, “Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government …”

In the Paramount Allegiance Clause, the Nevada Constitution uses similar language but then eviscerates and denies its meaning.

“All political power is inherent in the people[.] Government is instituted for the protection, security and benefit of the people; and they have the right to alter or reform the same whenever the public good may require it,” the document reads, pointedly and obviously omitting the key word “abolish.” “But the Paramount Allegiance of every citizen is due to the Federal Government in the exercise of all its Constitutional powers … The Constitution of the United States confers full power on the Federal Government to maintain and Perpetuate its existance [existence], and whensoever any portion of the States, or people thereof attempt to secede from the Federal Union, or forcibly resist the Execution of its laws, the Federal Government may, by warrant of the Constitution, employ armed force in compelling obedience to its Authority.”

Though such wording was common in Reconstruction Era state constitutions, only three still retain them.

It’s not like the states haven’t challenged Washington’s hegemony.

In fact the Western states petitioned Washington over its refusal to turn over federal land to the states. “It is of pressing moment that the public lands should become the property of their citizens, with the least delay compatible with the national interest. …” the petition states.

It argues, “When these States stipulated not to tax the lands of the United States until they were sold, they rested upon the implied engagement of Congress to cause them to be sold, within a reasonable time.”

Actually the petition was successful. It was issued in 1828 by the “Western states” of Illinois, Indiana, Missouri, Arkansas, Louisiana, Alabama, and Florida. Today, the federal government controls only 4 percent of the lands in those “Western” states, while it controls 50 percent of the current Western states.

In a 1996 constitutional amendment, Nevada voters asked that federal land be turned over to the state. Congress has simply ignored “the Right of the People to alter” their government for 18 years.

As if to timely illustrate Washington’s total control of land within the state boundaries, Nevada’s senior senator, Harry Reid, recently drafted a bill that would remove from most productive uses more than 800,000 acres of land in the Garden and Coal valleys in Lincoln and Nye counties.

Whether it passes is entirely up to Congress, in which Nevada has only six out of 535 votes. Nevada’s governor, its lawmakers, the local county commissioners, the residents have no vote, no adequate representation.

Local officials have opposed the withdrawal of the land, just as the officials and residents of Lyon County opposed the 48,000-acre Wovoka Wilderness designation that Harry Reid insisted on as a condition for allowing Yerington to buy at market value 12,500 acres of federal land for commercial use — a bill that has passed the House but is languishing in Reid’s Senate.

Happy, sesquicentennial, Nevada, though not of “statehood.”

Newspaper column redux: No cessation of secessionist feelings

In light of John L. Smith’s musings today on the secessionist spirit that still haunts the land as Nevada approaches its sesquicentennial of statehood — that’s 150 years for those of you in Green Valley — I thought I would repost a newspaper column from November 2012, especially since it has disappeared into the ether in the meantime.

John L. Smith

“A recent Reuters online survey suggests almost one in every four Americans wants to secede from the United States. That includes 34 percent of those surveyed in the Southwest, 26 percent in the Rockies, 25 percent in the Southeast, and 22 percent in the Far West (where Nevada was placed.)” John writes.

“As you might imagine, 53 percent of voters who identify themselves with the Tea Party movement would like to leave the Union. The rest of the nation, I suspect, would spring for the bus fare.”

So here is that newspaper column from two years ago in all its satirical sendup:

Some public relations genius at the Obama White House came up with a foolproof way to engender good will among the little people and make them think their voices are heard. So they created a section on the website called We the People where said people could directly “petition” the president over various issues, and, if enough people sign the petition, the president’s staff would reply.

Fools always find a way.

After Obama’s re-election “petitions” started calling for various states to secede from the Union in protest over federal usurpation of powers not enumerated in the Constitution. Louisiana was the first. Texas was the first to reach the requisite 25,000 signers to garner a reply. That’s a poke in the eye with your own stick.

Of course, the petitions have the legal standing and weight of the steam off a pile of fresh manure.

Most of them say: “We petition the Obama administration to: Peacefully grant the State of Arizona (or Louisiana or Texas or Arkansas or Oklahoma) to withdraw from the United States of American and create its own NEW government.” They then quote the Declaration of Independence on how governments are instituted among men and it is the right of the people to alter or abolish them.

The website now has petitions for secession from all 50 states. Nevada has two.

One of those is a cut-and-paste from previous petitions. The other actually spells out reasons Nevada has a right to secede. The version online is shortened due to a word limit. (It has since been scrubbed from the ether.)

I have been provided an unexpurgated version:

“The State of Nevada hereby petitions that it be granted the lawful right to secede from the United States of America and form its own new government as a free and sovereign nation with dominion over all unappropriated land therein and with no obligations to the current federal government.

“Whereas, the State of Nevada was admitted into the union under the presumption and presidential declaration that it would be on equal footing with every other state previously admitted, but was extortion-ately required to include in its charter that all unappropriated lands within the boundaries of the state more than 85 percent of the state be forever placed under the control of the federal government.

“Whereas, the voters of the State of Nevada voted in 1996 to amend the State Constitution to remove the Disclaimer Clause that surrendered said unappropriated land, but the Congress and the President have, in violation of the right to petition said federal government for redress of grievances, ignored the will of the voters.

“Therefore, the people of the State petition to be allowed to peacefully secede from the United States and form its own government except for the County of Clark, which could join California or Arizona because the original statehood ordinance was fraudulent and agreed to under duress, and is thus null and void.

“Therefore, all laws and ordinances by which the State of Nevada became a member of the Union would be repealed and all obligations on the part of the State or the people thereof to observe the same would be withdrawn.”

Now, before you jump on the computer and eagerly sign the petition, you should be warned that the Battle Born State has a Paramount Allegiance Clause in its Civil War-era Constitution and doing so might be construed as sedition.

“All political power is inherent in the people[.] Government is instituted for the protection, security and benefit of the people; and they have the right to alter or reform the same whenever the public good may require it,” it reads. “But the Paramount Allegiance of every citizen is due to the Federal Government… whensoever any portion of the States, or people thereof attempt to secede … the Federal Government may … employ armed force…”

Thus, Nevadans have the God-given right to alter or reform our government but authorize the federal government to bring guns and kill us if we try.

As one-time Nevadan Mark Twain said of writers: “ours is a useful trade, a worthy calling; that with all its lightness and frivolity it has one serious purpose, one aim, one specialty, and it is constant to it the deriding of shams, the exposure of pretentious falsities, the laughing of stupid superstitions out of existence … the natural friend of human rights and human liberties.”


Other commentary from the time:

Senseless and futile gesture

White House responds

A call for secession

Creating shams

Drop by next week for another installment of the newspaper column on the sesquicentennial.