Constitution by wire


In the midst of the Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln eagerly sought the statehood of the pro-Unionist and largely Republican Nevada Territory. Certified copies of the Nevada Constitution, sent earlier by overland mail and by sea, had failed to arrive in Washington, DC, by October 24, 1864, so Governor Nye of the Nevada Territory ordered that it be sent by wire. This message, transmitted in Morse code, contains the entire text of the Nevada State Constitution. With no direct link from Carson City to Washington, DC, telegrapher James H. Guild worked seven hours to transmit the message to Salt Lake City, where it was resent to Chicago, then Philadelphia, and finally to the War Department’s telegraph office in Washington, DC, where this 175-page transcription was made. The final page shows the total word count (16,543) and cost ($4303.27—or $59,229 in today’s dollars) of the transmission.

National Archives, General Records of the Department of State


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