Asked in SportsHistory of the United StatesPolitics and GovernmentWomen's Suffrage
What was the first state to let women vote?
October 22, 2010 2:40AM
Technically it was New Jersey, but that right was taken away from New Jersey women in 1807. Wyoming became the first place to let women vote where that right was never taken away. The story of course is much more complicated (as is all history) so see the details below.
In 1756, Lydia Chapin Taft, also known as Lydia Taft, became the first legal woman voter in America. She voted on at least three occasions in an open New England Town Meeting, at Uxbridge, Massachusetts, with the consent of the electorate. This was between 1756 and 1768, during America's colonial period, while under the control of Britain. There are possibly other women who voted during this period too, but the right given was only temporary and not protected by the law.
New Jersey granted women the vote (with the same property qualifications as for men, although, since married women did not own property in their own right, only unmarried women and widows qualified) under the state constitution of 1776, where the word "inhabitants" was used without qualification of sex or race. New Jersey women, along with "aliens...persons of color, or negroes," lost the vote in 1807, when the franchise was restricted to white males, partly in order, ostensibly at least, to combat electoral fraud by simplifying the conditions for eligibility.
The territory of Wyoming passed their suffrage law on December 10, 1869, and the following year, women begin serving on juries in the territory. This became the first time the right to vote for women was protected by law and was never taken away. Wyoming became a state in 1890, and the suffrage law just carried over into its state constitution. Although suffrage was granted to the women of Wyoming first, Utah was the first place where women were allowed to vote under the law (See next section why).
The territorial legislature of the Utah Territory gave women the right to vote (but not hold public office) on February 10, 1870, and it was signed into law two days later. Sarah Young, the niece of Brigham Young, is reported to be the very first women to vote in Utah. This voting happened on February 14, 1870, after both Wyoming and Utah had granted suffrage to women, but before Wyoming had held a election. Thus Utah was the first place where a women voted, and her right to vote was protected and allowed by law. However the United States Congress disenfranchised Utah women, and took away their voting rights, with the Edmunds-Tucker Act of 1887. It was not until Utah was granted statehood in 1896 that women were again allowed to vote.
In 1893 the state of Colorado adopted an amendment granting women the right to vote. A few other States and Territories would soon grant women the right to vote (full suffrage), yet some states would allow women to vote on just a few things such as a presidential election (this is called partial suffrage).
Then finally on August 18, 1920, the 19th Amendment to the Constitution, granting all women the right to vote, was ratified. It was signed into law by Secretary of State Bainbridge Colby on August 26, 1920.
The following is a list of States where full suffrage had been granted to women prior to the 19th Amendment in 1920 -
- New York
- South Dakota
NOTE:These are only states which allowed full suffrage, many others allowed partial voting rights for women (such as elections at the state level).