On this day in history, Dec. 10, 1869, Wyoming is first territory to grant women the right to vote


Wyoming led the nation in allowing women the right to vote on this day in history, Dec. 10, 1869.

The then-western territory was the first in American history to approve women’s suffrage after Wyoming legislators passed and signed a bill into law.

Yet according to History.com, part of the decision was stirred by interest in free publicity — and other “unsavory” motives.

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Some men recognized the importance of women during the settlement of the frontier, but others believed that voting for women’s suffrage would strengthen conservative voting blocks, History.com reports.

In the state of Wyoming specifically, men were also motivated by loneliness.

Suffrage postcard, with a four-starred American flag, celebrating Wyoming as the first of four states to grant women full voting rights, endorsed by the National Woman's Suffrage Association, published by the Cargill Company, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1910.

Suffrage postcard, with a four-starred American flag, celebrating Wyoming as the first of four states to grant women full voting rights, endorsed by the National Woman’s Suffrage Association, published by the Cargill Company, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1910.
(Ken Florey Suffrage Collection/Gado/Getty Images)

In 1869, the population of Wyoming had more than 6,000 adult males and only about 1,000 females, History.com reports.

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY, AUGUST 18, 1920, THE 19TH AMENDMENT IS RATIFIED, GRANTING WOMEN THE RIGHT TO VOTE

These men hoped that the right to vote would attract more women to the state.

Other suffrage movement leaders — such as territorial legislator William Bright — did have more respectable intentions, according to History.com.

Titled "Scene at the polls in Cheyenne," this colorized engraving shows a group of women as they line up on the sidewalk to cast their ballots through an open window, Cheyenne, Wyoming Territory, 1888.

Titled “Scene at the polls in Cheyenne,” this colorized engraving shows a group of women as they line up on the sidewalk to cast their ballots through an open window, Cheyenne, Wyoming Territory, 1888.
(Stock Montage/Getty Images)

Bright was convinced by his wife that denying women the right to vote was a gross injustice.

Territorial secretary Edward M. Lee, meanwhile, had backed women’s suffrage for years, arguing that it was unfair for his mother to be denied the same privilege that was granted to Black males.

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Wyoming’s legislators ultimately boosted the bill in the hope it would bring their territory free national publicity.

Territorial Gov. John A. Campbell signed it into law.

The territory had been formed by an act of Congress just a year before, on July 25, 1868.

Hon. J. A. Campbell, between 1860 and 1875 — politician, soldier, lieutenant colonel in the Union Army, governor of the Wyoming Territory.

Hon. J. A. Campbell, between 1860 and 1875 — politician, soldier, lieutenant colonel in the Union Army, governor of the Wyoming Territory.
(Heritage Art/Heritage Images via Getty Images)

Campbell, who served as a Union officer in the Civil Warwas appointed governor by President Ulysses S. Grant.

After Campbell signed the landmark bill, a list of other firsts for women quickly followed, according to the Wyoming State Library.

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Louisa Swain of Laramie cast the first documented vote by a woman in the United States in the territorial election of Sept. 6, 1870.

That same year, Esther Hobart Morris was appointed the first female justice of the peace in the United States — and Martha Symons Boies Atkinson became the first female bailiff in the nation.

Suffragettes carry a banner announcing that "women have full suffrage in Wyoming, Colorado, Utah and Idaho" at the Women of all Nations Parade in New York on May 3, 1916.

Suffragettes carry a banner announcing that “women have full suffrage in Wyoming, Colorado, Utah and Idaho” at the Women of all Nations Parade in New York on May 3, 1916.
(Paul Thompson/Topical Press Agency/Getty Images)

The United States did not grant women the right to vote until Aug. 18, 1920.

That’s when the 19th Amendment was ratified in the Constitution.

“This action forged Wyoming’s place in history as the Equality State,” Wyoming Secretary of State Edward Buchanan stated in the reissued state Constitution in 2018.

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“A half-century later, the U.S. Constitution followed Wyoming and granted those same rights through the 19th Amendment.”

Fox News Digital’s Kerry J. Byrne contributed to this report.



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