Let the Women Vote!
If. It had been two years since a thin pair of iron rails had joined the American continent together from one end to the other. It was June 1871. And too famous and controversy all women were making their first trip west on the newly completed transcontinental railroad. Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton were leaders of the women's rights movement. And on this trip they would need something unusual for that day. American women who had already won the right to vote women suffrage gained its first rung in and out in the American was. For Sting's. Wyoming. Utah Colorado and Idaho were the only ones to grant women the right to vote in the 19th century. The front tier the raw sparsely populated edge of civilization led the woman's battle. Tom. Thanks. With the NG with.
With. With. You. And with the. Funding for. Let the women vote was provided by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. The R. Harold Burton foundation the George S. and Dolores dory Eccles Foundation and the Lawrence T and Janet t d Foundation a. Who could have predicted that a little known event held in a Methodist church along the banks of the Erie Canal in upstate New York could change the world. The place was Seneca Falls where Elizabeth Cady Stanton lived with her merchant husband and seven children there in 1848 Stanton and her friend Lucretia Mott organized a woman's rights convention with a declaration
stunning for its time. We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men and women are created equal. Both women have been active in the anti-slavery movement where they've had to fight for equal participation of women in those organizations. For the Seneca Falls convention they drew up a declaration of sentiments. A list of injuries of man towards woman he has never permitted her to exercise her inalienable right to the elective franchise. Taken from her all right in property even to the wages she earns. He has denied her the facilities for obtaining a thorough education. With the meeting in Seneca Falls and the declaration of sentiments wanting rights for women religiously politically economically educationally there begins a whole discussion of
the rights of of women that is related to women's sphere and her role in society. The women's rights movement challenge the role of women in the 19th century a society in which married women legally existed only as part of their husbands. There are three. Domesticity. This is. The Victorian woman could concern herself with events outside her home. That was a virtue and a woman's tears were very. This is part of the womanhood if you if you look at it in terms of
its political meaning. And so to give women was to change the power relationship of women to the state and women to their husbands and women in the home.
For the first. Territorial. Become a territory just before. The first legislature passed. Women suffer a kind of a public to attract attention to the new territory. What better way is there to get international press coverage on our new territory. As for that just as allow the women
to go to the polls. Once during the session after the presentation and in the full expectation of a gubernatorial pass in France women bring it up to purify the. Discourse. The first woman voter in Wyoming was Mrs. allies a swing a gentle white haired housewife Quakerish an appearance on the day of the election. She put on a clean white apron and with a little tin pail for the purpose of buying some yeast went to the polls. The radical measure had little influence on national politics because citizens in territories could not vote for president Congress or their own governor.
So Easterners didn't feel that the national politics would be significantly impacted if the experimental woman suffrage in the West. Across the Territory women embraced their new civic duty. Yes Wyoming became the first star in the suffrage for. Two months later Wyoming's neighbor would become the second.
Most Americans were incensed over polygamy. One influential newspaper in the east came up with a novel idea to end the practice. Let the women. Perhaps it would result in casting polygamy and Mormonism in general. The New York Times this was picked up by Susan B Anthony at that time and measures were introduced into Congress to give the vote to women because they would use it. They were sure to vote the freedom for themselves. The Mormon newspaper The Deseret News welcomed the suffrage idea. Our ladies can prove to the world that in a society where men are worthy of the name women can be enfranchised without running wild or becoming unsexed. The desert Meanwhile Congress tried to end polygamy one bill written by Representative Shelby Cullom of Illinois galvanized Mormon women into action at a meeting of their relief society organization.
To express our feelings in relation to the. Longer remain silent. The vote was unanimous. Six hundred seventy. Mormon women. Begin to express their nation at the proposed legislation against. People to defend the citizens of the United States. Us.
Protest. Thank. You. That she does. What. There are absolutely. No idea. That Mormon women. Were able to speak for the individual Mormon institutions that Mormon women have brains. There was no legislation.
Support. For polygamy. Willing to trust women with the vote. It didn't take long for the. One month passed unanimously. The Territorial Legislature men and women. Were given the right to sustain policies made by. Political suffrage. It was not a radical an idea here in Utah and among Mormon women for women elsewhere in the country. A popular Journal of the time was amazed at the law.
After two defeats in the first suffrage law was under attack. Back. In just two hours women voters had brought changes to the polling places. I saw the rough mountain whenever the women approached the polls and heard the warning of one of uplifted fingers saying Be quiet. A woman is coming. Women threaten the powerful liquor interests because the women serve on juries and we're serious about enforcing the Sunday. After the grand jury had been in session today. The dance house keepers and the gamblers fled out of the city in dismay. The indictment of women grand jurors. Pressured by the saloon keepers the mostly Democratic legislature passed a bill to repeal women's suffrage getting revenge on the women who had voted mostly Republican
in the last election. Governor John Campbell was offered in 2000 but instead for woman suffrage. There. By one vote.
Wireless. Would be better for. You. Regardless of what any newspaper might say about her. Anthony was invigorated to be in the West. Ever since four o'clock this morning we have been moving over the soil that is really the land of the free and the home of the brave. Wyoming the territory in which women are recognized political equals of men. Susan B Anthony. Anthony and Stanton traveled to Salt Lake City. They had been invited by a group of Mormon dissidents but on their way the women got another invitation. We have just received letters from Salt Lake City saying that Brigham to let Miss Susan and Mrs. Elizabeth speak in the tabernacle. Elizabeth Cady Stanton. Perhaps it wasn't so extraordinary. Famous people of the day were often invited to
speak at the Tabernacle. But Stanton and Anthony were outspoken in their radical views. Stanton even believed religion was nothing more than superstition. And yet they had been invited by the Mormon leader to speak from the pulpit of the tabernacle. For here we have for the first time in the history of the world Republicanism people men and women enjoy rights. Thank you thank you. The women speak and words like other people from the Mormon women would use the ballot to polygamy. I would rather be a woman among Mormons women than among Gentiles without the ballot. If there is slavery among the women of Utah it is their own. But they are within
their own hands too. They held their audience in thrall for three or four hours in the tabernacle and then spoke to Mormon women by themselves in a smaller gathering afterwards at length and really made some connections with some of the women who had later that decade become very active in the national suffrage movement. And apparently she spoke on a wide ranging number of subjects from birth control to the domination of man in marriage and the other other controversy. Issues. She decided to say it all after this convocation the doors of the tabernacle were closed to our ministrations and they would be after two days Anthony and Stanton switched their attention to the group of Mormon dissidents helping dedicate their new meeting house. The liberal. After a week in Salt Lake City carefully playing to both Mormons and non-Mormons
Stanton and Anthony boarded the California. Dissident group eventually a strong alliance with the Mormon women. When the national outrage over polygamy would strip the vote from all Utah women. The One. In the new. Suffragist they were a very interesting
good looking. The delegates voted down unlimited woman suffrage but instead made two concessions. First they promised there would be a vote on the issue within a year. And second they did allow women to participate in school board elections in keeping with the idea that women were in charge of the whole family. That was their sphere if you will. They were they were not to be involved in public affairs but they could be involved. And the next year. Where there were very few women most of the men who lived in the town were working class miners who had to make
because they were afraid she was going to take away their saloons and their privileges. But they said so for example to give a stump speech for the campaign. She actually. Hard time population in the Spanish speaking population influenced by the church and the Bishop of
Vogue in her aftermath but disappointed in her was a woman who wished for female suffrage the right were heartbroken over the. 16 years before the women's vote.
Just for. A medium build. Early. But for many people they understood polygamy is just the tip of the iceberg is just the obvious place to attack Mormonism. What they're really troubled by is Mormon hierarchy or more theology in a democratic society. Dear Barbara it is also been Election Day and I voted for the very first time. Yes ma'am I voted a straight Gentile ticket. Of course the Mormons won the day. Georgia. All Utah women could vote but many people saw the female vote as just another way the Mormons kept their control over the territory.
This became a concern because of course it doubled as a Mormon the Mormon electorate in Utah. And although the Mormons did not need the women's vote to be in a huge majority for most of the 19th century Nevertheless the anti polygamists in Utah saw that woman suffrage was a way of maintaining Mormon had Germany in the territory as Congress tried to attack polygamy Eastern suffrage leaders were put in a delicate position. How do you support their Mormon allies without offending the rest of the country. They went into Congress and argued against this proposed legislation to disenfranchise Utah's women. And so what happened was the Utah leaders church leaders were impressed because suddenly they had non-Mormons with no stake in polygamy arguing. On behalf of Utah women keeping the vote.
I do not believe in polygamy and I'm not a convert to the Mormon faith but I do believe in humanity and justice in freedom of religious convictions. Lockwood but quickly or.
Not only to defend women leadership women 13000 amendment were amazed at the number of signatures that were able to get far more than any other state or territory. Women are such good organizers. We should invite them to our young William Brigham Young went to the national suffrage meeting. First went to Washington as delegates to the national convention. We were not sure how we would be treated. There were
women part of the movement. To our surprise at Elizabeth Cady Stanton. Who spoke before several congressional committees as well as before President Rutherford B Hayes. Their attempt to sway the opinions of Congress and the president came to. The U.S. Supreme Court had ruled on polygamy declaring that even though it was a religious principle it was nevertheless unconstitutional. The ruling was that. Marriage as a religious belief. Could not. Practice. With that Congress with polygamy. It passed several laws stripping the church of its independence and simultaneously taking the polygamists. And. The taking away of the suffrage from women is an inexcusable wrong especially so when men who profess to
be the friends of women that means nothing at all but is a lot of political best. Those bills may have passed much earlier had it not been for the help of the Eastern suffragist who really resisted that link between Woman Suffrage and anti polygamy legislation. They wanted to separate those two issues. And. They had no quarrel with disenfranchising. Polygamists. But all women. After 17 years as citizens. Utah women lost the right to the ballot. In the mid 80s. Women suffrage survived in only one place.
Women in the territory. Women would be. With Women. It was the only place in America women could vote for offices not just the school board. At the statehood celebration in Cheyenne. The women presented an American flag in honor of their achievement.
This measure makes us more hope for wives. Of women. Women. Mother. Teresa Jenkins. The same became a state. The women held rallies and marches campaigning for their voting rights to be included in the new constitution. One of their leaders was done away. I have a major suffrage leader. I worked out of Portland Oregon most of the time. Dunaway gave an impassioned speech before the Constitutional Convention using racial arguments common for that day. She said women should vote since less deserving men already did. There are ignorant and prejudiced voting classes of. Foreign born voters who cannot speak our language or comprehend the first principles of our free institutions.
Right special appeal to Westerners. I think those who argue against women of color. Another woman's Christian Temperance. Act. Was a fiery speaker. Her attacks also extended to another group in Idaho. The Mormons put power in the hands of your wives and
mothers with which they can level blow at. The new constitution is finally written and all women off the voting rolls. The legislature however did promise to put the. In the future. Now the women.
Including women and children. The Colorado women approached Susan B Anthony for help again but she brushed them off. Have you converted all those Mexicans she asked bluntly remembering the rough treatment she'd had sixteen years before the national organization though did send Carrie Chapman Catt to help organize. I have a voice like a fog horn and can be heard an out of door meetings. I have a Sunday school speech. The Bible and women's suffrage which will not offend the most orthodox and has done some good among conservatives. Carrie Chapman can work with the existing political party newspapers. Editorial is one important voice was. Very important.
Party party party your party reported. I suggest that you get. By this time there was a small African-American community in Denver. Elizabeth with her husband in the early. Treasure. One of the only examples where there was racial suffrage. And. Of course it was the women primarily.
As the women worked among the miners they also campaigned for their suffrage referendum. The miners were ready to listen. And so there was a need for a change a dramatic change. That change was going to be that women could vote and if women could vote these terrible problems would never happen again. The Colorado women worked hard organizing support and convincing male voters the time had come. Their efforts paid off. The referendum passed decisively by 6000 votes. Well that can't be true. It is too good to be true. Oh how glad I am that at last we have knocked down our first date by the popular vote. Susan B Anthony. And so once again there were two stars in the suffrage flag. The
1893 victory was an important win for the national suffrage movement because Colorado was more populated than Wyoming and not like Utah.
In some communities the suffrage meeting became an extension of the Mormon womens organization Relief Society and suffrage seem to fit with what many Mormons have always believed about the origins of the women's rights movement. When Joseph Smith turned the key to women that's a phrase that comes out of the Relief Society minutes that he was symbolically opening this new century for women where women would have. Greater freedoms and opportunities than they had ever had before. The fact that he had made this statement in 1842 and at the convention in Seneca Falls didn't take place until 1848. They really felt that Joseph Smith had opened up a new era for women by turning. Had become a training ground for women in the public life. If you look at someone like Wells represents women before the president of the United States. Spokeswoman.
She's writing in her diary. First time I spoke. With men present. It is a big transformation for her and for other women. The work that was begun in the Relief Society to me was extended in the suffrage associations. Property taxes. Yeah. She does not have the vote. This is taxation without representation. And the Revolutionary War. Can we. Down to the socket dissociation spaghetti noodles to regain the vote as long as Mormon still practiced polygamy. The church now is under enormous pressure from the repressive anti polygamy laws. Finally in 1890 church president Wilford Woodruff took the extraordinary step of issuing a manifesto on its surface the manifesto merely urged church members to obey the law but its effect was to defuse the
polygamy issue. This was the beginning of the end of the installation of Mormon practices then certainly the end of plural marriage with the polygamy issue out of the way things moved quickly toward statehood. Delegates met in 1895 in the city and county building to write a state constitution. The women organize to make sure their voting rights would be included both state political parties endorse the idea. Everyone was confident then the anti-Mormon newspaper the Salt Lake Tribune came out against. By the adoption of this Utah will join a small group of freak States its insertion in the body of the Constitution as proposed will invite many votes adverse to statehood. The Salt Lake Tribune 18. To the surprise of many a Mormon general authority. Roberts went against Church wishes and jumped in on the side against. He warned that pressing for woman suffrage could endanger statehood and besides he said a
woman's place was in the home. The influence of women as it operates upon me never came from the rostrum. It never came from the pulpit with a woman in it. It never came from the lecturer's platform with a woman speaking. It comes from the fires. It comes from the plus of association with mothers of sisters of wives of doth. Not as Democrats or Republicans. Roberts was an electrifying speaker. His opposition and high church office threw the convention into a tailspin. But it went on and on and on for days and days and days. And it began to really get on people's nerves because the money was running out. They only had $30000 to run the whole convention for what they thought would be a short time. As the debate dragged on specific times were set for Roberts to speak.
People stood on the furniture to get a peek inside the convention hall. And Roberts did not disappoint them. Each man who was married in the exercise of his privilege of suffrage. For his family. And gentlemen must not be carried away with the idea that they act independently of the influence of the. Their stands by his side a counselor. And he cannot escape pairing her opposing Roberts was another Mormon church leader Orson F.. Whitney. He reminded Roberts that women as well as men had voted to sustain him in his church office. Women held up their hands to elect a man who upon the floor of this convention says that women ought not to be permitted to vote. If the church can afford to be liberal Why cannot the state was. There were several days of spirited debate.
When the that. I. Promised. The national suffrage organization.
That. Developed. Speak on behalf of the issues. One of the men who spoke in favor was William Baulderstone editor of The Idaho Statesman newspaper. Paper put out a special women's edition of the Statesman five months before the election giving equal voice to both sides of the issue including women who opposed suffrage give her equal property rights equal business rights when she is unfortunate enough to need them. Give her the right to the children she bears. Ask her to help when the work is in her sphere. But do not give her full suffrage. Do not give her more than her fair share of the burden. Fanny Lyon Cobb as the campaign for suffrage heated up one prominent name was missing.
Susan B Anthony told Abigail Scott Donna why to get out of Idaho and go back to Oregon because you saw that Abigail what was offensive to many of the people what was causing some problems there. One group Dunaway had offended was the Mormons. Their rights had been restored after the church had issued the manifesto on polygamy. And now they were an important voting bloc in the southern counties. The auto campaign was successful with a vote two to one in favor. Now in 1996 there were four stars in the suffrage flag. All neighbors in the Rocky Mountain.
The four victories in the West Wyoming Colorado Utah and Idaho became important symbols in the National Campaign for suffrage. But in reality the four western states provided examples for both sides in the fight. They can say. It's going fine when there hasn't been an overthrow of all things good and beautiful. Women have not suddenly become the sexist. Women have not suddenly stopped getting married and taken up cigar smoking and disowned their children. So they had the suffrage proponents will say it's going just fine. This is working. Some are disappointed but nothing. Like on the other hand the anti-suffrage proponents will say to westerners Well you know who they are. They are the Renegades they're outside the pale of civilization. They're Mormon. They're half breeds.
Let's contain it. You can see what a dangerous idea this is on the West look at Colorado. They had a terrible labor strike that they couldn't handle and they had to ask the federal government to send in troops. Do you know why they had to do that because the men. In Colorado have become enervated a feminist because women have the vote in Colorado and they would argue. Woman. Had passed woman suffrage.
Women voters out west cast ballots for president and Congress added political clout to the national bridge back east. The fight continued with massive marches in the city pickets at the White House. Finally national suffrage passed in 1940. It had been 50 since Wyoming had taken the first step. Half a century. Why did it begin in the West place. From the sophisticated ideas of the historic progress but because in the West because I want to
work many of them had pushed hand carts they had come across look at Oregon State and look at the others that were settled by families where the woman had simply had to step up and do anything necessary for survival. Tradition and women in particular saw an opportunity to assert themselves that they might not have been allowed to do. In the West. Soon after winning the Western women. In Colorado three women were elected to the legislature.
In Wyoming. First woman judge cannon became the first woman senator. In Idaho. Women voters helped pass. The ballot in West. Colorado.
With the. With. The. With the at the. With the. With. The. With the with. And. With. With the with with the with the the and. With the. Funding for. Let the women vote was provided by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. The are Harold Burton foundation the Georgists and
- Let the Women Vote!
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- PBS Utah (Salt Lake City, Utah)
- The Walter J. Brown Media Archives & Peabody Awards Collection at the University of Georgia (Athens, Georgia)
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The Walter J. Brown Media Archives & Peabody Awards Collection at the
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