More than fifty years before the U.S. Constitution was amended to guarantee women equal voting rights, Wyoming granted women the right to vote on this day in 1869.
Women’s Suffrage In WY
- Wyoming was still a territory in 1869 when a bill was signed into law granting women the right to vote, sit on juries, and hold public office.
- Some lawmakers didn’t take the bill seriously; others saw it as way to increase population in the new territory.
- When WY applied for statehood in 1889, the legislature said it would rather stay out of the Union for 100 years than join without voting rights for women.
- No one really knows why Wyoming took a stand on women suffrage.
- Many historians credit Esther Hobart Morris. As a young widow and mother, she quickly realized the societal and legal constraints for women in America.
- After she remarried and moved to the Wyoming territory, she reportedly advocated for women’s voting rights; she soon became the territory’s first female justice of the peace.
Name To Know:
- On September 6, 1870 in Laramie, WY, the nearly 70-year-old became the FIRST woman to legally vote in the U.S. since 1807, when New Jersey rescinded women’s voting rights.
- Swain beat #2 (a 27-year-old) to the polls by 30 minutes.
- In 2008, the U.S. Congress passed a resolution proclaiming September 6th as “Louisa Swain Day.”
- Fighting for a woman’s right to vote happened on *both* state & fed levels.
- Before the 19th Amendment passed in 1920 granting women the right to vote in all (federal, state & local) elections, 15 states allowed women to vote in state elections and 12 had laws allowing women to vote for president.
- Women in 21 states gained the right to vote as a result of the 19th Amendment.
December 10 is “Wyoming Day” to honor the first of many achievements toward women’s equality in the Equality State. Wyoming, which is also home to the U.S.’s first female governor, elected its first female U.S. senator last month — Republican Cynthia Lummis.
by Jenna Lee,