Some historians argue that the nature of the frontier led to women getting their hands dirty in labor and in politics earlier than their eastern counterparts.
But it's complicated.
The first suffrage bill was put forward in post-bellum Wyoming by William Bright who was so opposed to the 14th Amendment, he wanted to guarantee that if Black men could vote, white women could, too. African-American, Chinese, and Latinx communities fought for suffrage in Colorado, Arizona, Nevada, and California.
In Utah, women led by Eliza Snow formed philanthropic societies and successfully lobbied for suffrage by 1870, but Congress stripped away that right in 1887 when it passed the Edmonds-Tucker Act in an effort to curb the practice of polygamy.
The Washington Territory Supreme Court revoked the right to vote when the liquor industry, worried that votes for women meant prohibition, successfully convinced the court to take their rights away. Fed up Washington suffragists led by Cora Smith Eaton marched up to the summit of Mount Rainier carrying a Votes for Women banner in tow. Their publicity stunt was the talk of the nation. Soon Washington granted full suffrage and other states caved as suffrage swept the West.
- 1 minute, 48 seconds
Women in the western states and territories won the first victories in the fight for woman suffrage. But there were difficult battles marked by reversals, defeats, and questionable alliances. Ranger Kait shares some of the stories. Who are the trailblazers who have paved the way for you?