Gov. James Gibbons made his first mistake only minutes after his public swearing-in.

Gibbons took the oath of office for the third time at a ceremonial inauguration in front of the Nevada Capitol and then began a short inaugural speech. In those remarks he referred to James W. Nye taking the oath of office as Nevada’s first state governor.

“When Nevada’s first Governor, James Nye, placed his hand upon the Bible, he affirmed that the supreme executive power of this state shall be vested in a Chief Magistrate, and he solemnly swore to see that all laws are faithfully executed,” Gibbons said. “It is this same oath that I have taken, and I am equal to the challenge. On that day in 1864, Governor Nye initiated a long-lasting tradition for governors who, in addition to their constitutional duties, assumed the enormous task of leading the people of Nevada—a tradition of striking the right balance and course for our fledgling population and determining this rugged western state’s destiny.”

Nye never took such an oath. He was the appointed governor of the Territory of Nevada, not the State of Nevada. While he continued serving as governor until the first elected state governor could take office, Nye did not take an oath as state governor in 1864 or any other time.

Historians say it’s an easy mistake to make because Nye’s short period as state governor is little known and less understood.

The first state governor to take the oath of office was Henry Blasdel.

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Dennis Myers

Dennis Myers was the news editor of the Reno News & Review. He was a journalist for more than four decades. In 1987-88 he was chief deputy secretary of state of Nevada. He was coauthor of Uniquely...