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Woman Suffrage Dominated Politics in Utah
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Struggle for Statehood Chronology
In 1895 Utahns Wondered When Statehood Would Come
A State is Born
Party Politics and Utah Statehood
The Constitutional Convention is Called
Constitution Was Framed in City and County Building
African American Community and Politics, 1890-1910
The Broad Ax and the Plain Dealer Kept Utah's African Americans Informed
Clarence E. Allen Was Utah's First Congressman
How Utah Lost One of Its U.S. Senate Seats in 1899
Salt Lake Native Was Interred in the Kremlin Wall
The Shooting of Arthur Brown, Ex-Senator From Utah
Convict Labor Helped to Build Utah's Road
Strawberry Valley, 1st Federal Reclamation Project
Women's Suffrage in Utah
Woman Suffrage Dominated Politics in Utah
Kanab Residents Chose Women to Run Their Town, 1912
Ruth May Fox, Forgotten Suffragist
Soren Hanson's "House That Eggs Built"
Utah Arts Council
Utah State Historical Society
The Beginning of Public Support For Libraries
The Pasta King of the Mountain West
Celebrating the New Year in Salt Lake's Chinatown
Electrifying Utah-Engineer Lucien L. Nunn
A Brewer-Sportsman's Prairie Style Home in Ogden
Saltair
Saltair Village Was a Unique Place to Live
Boxing Fans Take the Plunge at Saltair
Castilla Hot Springs Attracted Many Visitors
Minstrel Shows
Utah State Capitol
Utah in the Spanish American War
Captain Richard W. Young and Spanish-American War
A Soldier's Life at Fort Douglas in the Early 1900's
Methodist Women Missionaries Worked Hard in Utah
Flour Mills
Guano Sifters on Gunnison Island
The Lehi Beet Sugar Factory
The Salt Industry Was One of the First Enterprises
From Free Salt to a Major Industry
Hospitals and Health Crazes in the Late 1800's
The Myths and Legends of Butch Cassidy
Butch Cassidy
Would the New State of Utah Go Metric?
A Look at Working Women in the Early 20th Century
Jobs in 1900
Explosion of Pleasant Valley Coal Company
The Lucin Cutoff
Southern Utah's First High School
Life Was Precarious in Turn-of-the-Century Utah
Salt Lake City Had Its Typhoid Mary
Vaccinations in Wasatch County
Promoting Physical Fitness
Woman's Home Association Tried to Help the "Fallen"
Juvenile Delinquency Posed Problems For Utahns
Traveling Gypsies Brought an Exotic Lifestyle to Utah
The First Large Factory in Utah
The Rise and Fall of Ogden's Packing Industry
Newsboys Claimed Their Street Corners in Downtown
The Bamberger Electric Railway
The First Cars in Two Small Towns
A Bicyclist Challenges the Great Salt Lake Desert
Daredevils of the Sky-Early Aeronauts in Utah
Ogden Defeats Salt Lake City in a War of the Wheels
Utah's Immigrants at the Turn of the Century
Boys' Potato Growing Clubs
Joe Hill and the I.W.W.
Socialist Women and Joe Hill
A Bit of Polynesia Remains
Justice Zane and Antipolygamy
The Salt Lake Valley Smelter War

Yvette D. Ison
History Blazer January 1995

The debate over woman suffrage dominated politics in Utah throughout the 1890s. Though the issue was raging throughout the United States, Utah's historic background created unique concerns and attitudes towards the debate.

Unlike other states and territories, Utah had legalized woman suffrage with territorial legislation in 1870. When Congress passed the Edmunds-Tucker Act of 1887, however, voting rights for women were abolished along with plural marriages. Utah women took action to reclaim the franchise. In 1889 they founded the Woman Suffrage Association of Utah.

Keeping in touch with the leaders of the LDS church, the new organization enjoyed widespread support from Mormons throughout the territory. In September 1894 the Woman's Exponent, an unofficial organ of the LDS Relief Society, published figures showing that 19 Utah counties had suffrage organizations. Both the Republican and Democratic conventions of that year strongly endorsed universal suffrage as part of their electoral goals. It seemed that with such strong support on all sides woman suffrage would inevitably succeed in Utah.

Then, during the Utah Constitutional Convention that began in March 1895, some delegates in both the Democratic and Republican parties began to argue against including woman suffrage in the new state's Constitution. Brigham H. Roberts, a Democrat from Davis County, was one of the most vocal contenders. He asserted that woman suffrage would make Utah a "freak state" in the eyes of the majority of states that opposed the franchise for women. Such a perception, he believed, would endanger Utah's chance for statehood. Another argument put forth against woman suffrage held that if women entered the political arena they would be dragged from their "high pinnacles" of virtue and purity by the process.

Amid these doubts, Emmeline B. Wells, president of the LDS Relief Society and of the Woman Suffrage Association of Utah as well, continued to remind politicians that Utah had seen no such negative effects from the seventeen years of universal suffrage women had already enjoyed in the territory.

Woman suffrage was undoubtedly the hottest topic at the Constitutional Convention and among its supporters and antagonists out on the street. Tension between the two camps intensified. During one such clash, non-Mormon women united in the Opera House to rally against suffrage. Mormon suffragettes reportedly infiltrated the meeting to prevent a unanimous vote.

Despite the efforts of those opposed to woman suffrage, the delegates to the Constitutional Convention passed it by more than a two-thirds majority. During the November 5, 1895, election some 80 percent of Utah's voters--still all male--approved the new Constitution. Utah had indeed chosen to remain one of the few places in the nation to accept universal suffrage. Fear that such a situation would ruin Utah's chance for statehood were unfounded. Two months later, on January 4, 1896, Utah became the 45th state of the United States.

 

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