Sagebrush State the Political History Research Paper

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The Nevada state constitution also emphasizes freedom of religion as one of the most important rights. The second statement of the constitution's opening Ordinance states: "That perfect toleration of religious sentiment shall be secured, and no inhabitant of said state shall ever be molested, in person or property, on account of his or her mode of religious worship." That this freedom should be listed so prominently in the state constitution makes perfect sense within the context of the historical development of state history.

One of the reasons that the residents of what would become Nevada desired statehood was that they were looking for a sanctuary from the Mormons who were the majority of the population in the Utah Territory. The non-Mormons were directly aware of the costs of living in what was in some ways a theocratic state and wanted to ensure that they, as members of minority communities of faith (or as agnostics or atheists), received the full protection of the state government (in alliance with the federal government) to protect them.

Civil rights can also be defined as protecting the ability of each person to participate in the public life of the state and the nation without meeting with repression or any degree of discrimination. The U.S. Constitution, in the First Amendment argues that the federal government will not limit the "right of the people peaceably to assemble" or "to petition the Government for a redress of grievances." By including these rights, the Framers emphasized the essentially participatory nature of democracy.

Of course, the rights enumerated in the Bill of Rights were not in fact extended to all Americans during the 18th century. It was not until the 19th century and the Civil War that the Constitution was amended in an attempt to ensure that black men would share in the same rights that had in large measure been claimed only by whites, and in some cases white men. It is important to note that constitutional rights were given to different groups of Americans at different times: White woman were granted freedom of religion more or less in the same degree as white men from the beginning of the country, for example, while blacks were still enslaved.

By the middle of the 19th century, and as a part of the West that was in key cultural ways remote from the slave institutions of the South, Nevadans decided from the initiation of statehood to bar slavery from its territory. This too is set forth in the Ordinance: "That there shall be in this state neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, otherwise than in the punishment for crimes, whereof the party shall have been duly convicted."

As was true on the national level, not all groups of citizens living in Nevada received comparable rights at the same time. Women in Nevada, like most of their sisters across the nation, were denied the franchise for generations after statehood. Although attempts to grant women their rightful franchise date back at least to 1869, when the state legislature debated whether to remove the word "male" from the section of the constitution that defined suffrage rights.

Although there was no national suffrage for women in 1869 -- and would not be until 1920, when the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution granted to women their equal status as full citizens -- there were at the time no federal laws prohibiting female suffrage. The Nevada Legislature could have moved to amend the state constitution to allow women to vote. The legislators declined to do so, and women in Nevada would have to wait until 1914. At that point, Article Two, Section One of the state constitution was amended to read: "There shall be no denial of the elective franchise at any election on account of sex."

Six years later, the federal government would follow in the footsteps of a number of Western localities with the ratification of the 19th Amendment: "The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex. Congress shall have power to enforce this article…

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