Known affectionately as “Old Grey Eagle,” JAMES WARREN NYE was born in DeRuyter, Madison County, New York. He was serving as President of the New York Metropolitan Board of Police when President Abraham Lincoln commissioned him as Governor of Nevada Territory on March 22, 1861. He then continued as Acting Governor of the new State of Nevada under the newly-adopted State Constitution prior to the swearing in of the first elected Governor, Henry G. Blasdel. On October 31, 1864, Nye’s first action as Acting Governor was to certify President Lincoln’ proclamation declaring Nevada a state. Nye went on to oversee the first state elections the following month, and made appointments prior to Henry Blasdel’s swearing in that included judgeships, county commissioner positions, and military commissions. Immediately after leaving office, Nye was elected by the state legislature to one of Nevada’s two new seats in the U.S. Senate. Because terms are staggered in the U.S. Senate—both among and within states—Nye and his new colleague in the Senate necessarily began Nevada’s representation in Congress with different length terms, and Nye drew the shorter of the two, which ended in 1867. However, he was reelected by the legislature, serving another full Senate term of six years. Nye died on Christmas day in 1876 in White Plains, New York and was buried in Woodlawn Cemetery. The last territorial legislature of Nevada named a county in his honor.
"Who Was the First Governor of the State of Nevada?"—by Guy Rocha, Nevada State Archivist