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Letter to the editor: Swain was not first woman to vote

Letter to the editor: Swain was not first woman to vote


The Sept. 6, 2020, article about Louisa Swain's vote perpetuates the myth that she “was the first woman to vote in a general election.” That is simply not true.

The rightly celebrated Dec. 10, 1869 Suffrage Act gave Wyoming Territory women the same right to vote as men in all elections, a first in the nation. The next election they could vote in was held on Sept. 6, 1870. That is when Louisa Swain became the first woman in Wyoming to vote. However, under a female suffrage act passed by Utah Territory on Feb. 12, 1870, a few women voted in a municipal election on Feb. 14, 1870. More importantly, thousands of women voted legally in the general election in Utah Territory on Aug. 8, 1870, the month before Louisa Swain cast her vote. They voted on the same basis as men and became the first women to vote for a delegate to the United States Congress.

What then is the importance of the Swain vote and how narrowly should it be defined? She was the first woman in America to vote under a law that granted women equal political rights. Unlike Utah, the earlier Wyoming Territory Suffrage Act not only allowed women to vote on an equal basis with men, but for the first time in the United States also allowed them to hold all public offices.

Kim Viner

Laramie, Wyo.



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