History of Women And The Right To Vote - Mormonism Won That Victory FIRST In Utah!

Susan B. Anthony With Utah And Other Suffrage Leaders Of That Era

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BYU archivesl All rights reserved.

Mormonism - Women - and POWER?

Women and Mormonism is today as volatile an issue as it was in the early days of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day-Saints.

The status of women in the Church has been an often heated debate for various reasons, not the least of which - is the very historical fact that...

  • The Territory of Utah, which ultimately became a state - was the first in the history of the United States of American - to give "Women" the right to vote!

Considering the history as the "world" perpetuates Mormonism and women... this is nothing less that a complete enigma!

Women And Mormonism -- Gaining The Right To Vote - Victory!

Women's Suffrage--the right of women to vote--was won twice in Utah. It was granted first in 1870 by the territorial legislature but revoked by Congress in 1887 as part of a national effort to obliterate the practice of polygamy. In 1895 it was restored, when the right to vote and hold office was written into the constitution of the newly formed state.

The vote for women in Utah territory was initiated by an anti-polygamy sect on the east coast; they felt that if they could help out the Mormon women with getting the right to vote - that these dominated Mormon women would take that power and use it to then end polygamy and their eternal suffering.

Polygamy was and never has been understood by those outside the Mormon Church; but Brigham Young and others realized that giving Utah women the vote would not mean the end of polygamy. What Mormons understood was -- that it "could" change the predominant national image of Utah women as downtrodden and oppressed and could help to stem a tide of anti-polygamy legislation by Congress.

Without any opposing votes on the matter, the territorial legislature passed an act giving the vote to women on 10 February 1869. Although, women were still not allowed to hold any political office as yet.

The process for Utah to become a state, did eventually necessitate the abandonment of polygamy. And of course, this was the result of coercive legislature by the United States in opposing polygamy in Utah.

Women of Mormonism

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BYU archivesl All rights reserved.

A Mormon Woman Votes First In Utah -- Keeping Women's Rights In Motion!

Reportedly - on 14 February, the first woman to cast her vote, was in a municipal election - and was none other than Sarah Young, who just happen to be the grandniece of Brigham Young, then President of the Church.

One of Mormonisms claim to victory - in the history of U.S. politics - is that the very first woman to receive the right to vote in a territory of the United States -- and exercise that right - was a Mormon women!

Sarah young, the grandniece of Brigham Young, who was the current President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day-Saints... made history in politics not only for women in the United States, but most importantly at that time - these devout Mormon women - sent a loud message to the world - as to how they saw their status in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day-Saints.

Unfortunately, the vote was taken away by the Edmunds-Tucker antipolygamy act in 1887. This was a very tight screw....

Wilford Woodruff - Announced the Manifesto 1890

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BYU archivesl All rights reserved.

The Very Careful Politics Of Religion.

The United States, was relentless - in their determination to put an end to polygamy among the Mormons. The ability for the U.S. Government to turn the screws so tight that the ultimate decision of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day-Saints - was that they must comply!

The current President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, was Wilford Woodruff. By 1890, after much trial of the Mormon people -- he foresaw prophetically -- that the Church could not progress any further under the current circumstances which the practice of polygamy had brought upon the Church and its people.

The Mormons wanted statehood! Thus, we have the history of the infamous 1890 "manifesto" which was finally submitted, and which opened the way for the Mormons living in Utah territory to finally become a "State of the Union"!

Women's Suffrage Movement...

Women and Mormonism Today...

It still remains a subject, that finds many women of active Mormonism - reluctant to discuss with those outside of the LDS Church.

The history of Mormonism and women has been so falsely distorted, that unfortunately - those who want to "know" are so colored by the mis-information and mis-understandings that abound about Mormon women, polygamy, priesthood... and thus the status of Mormon women in the Church today - has actually become recluse... other than hearing from the occasional squeaky wheel. Unfortunately in the opposition of anything positive about women and Mormonism.

As we reflect back on the history of women and The Church of Jesus Christ, beyond the many distortions perpetuated around Joseph Smith - we then find a rich and powerful history - which is the legacy of the Mormon women who knew... and Mormon women who know!

Meaning the women of Mormonism today - know and understand our history in a way that when the world is ready to hear it - the women of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day-Saints will begin to speak it.

A Mormon Woman Speaks About Mormonism and Women Today...

I firmly believe that I am speaking for many active LDS women of Mormonism today - when I say - that we honor these early women of our Church. LDS women who have studied this time-period and history of the Mormon Church - know, that there is no need to defend the history of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day-Saints.

We will speak our truth - to those who want to "know" and "understand" not only our past as Mormon women... but most important to us today - is our future history of Mormonism.

Mormon women believe, contrary to much popular distortion - that we maintain a power - not understood in mainstream society.

LDS women actually understand the many fallibilities of humanity - and are willing to move forward inspite of them.

Today, I personally and publicly honor the early women of Mormonism for their courage, their faith and their commitment - to God and their families -- and to standing when standing was not so popular for any woman... politics aside.

And STAND they DID!

The honorable women of Mormonism today, will continue to STAND!

tDMg

LdsNana-AskMormon

Sister Suffragette - Mary Poppins... Who would have thought?

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Feel free to exercise your right to speak out.. 33 comments

Laura in L.A. 8 years ago

LDSNana


stephhicks68 profile image

stephhicks68 8 years ago from Bend, Oregon

Nicely set out - some interesting history here!


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LdsNana-AskMormon 8 years ago from Southern California Author

Thank you stephhicks68 -

I appreciate you stopping by and taking the time to leave a comment.

And yes... interesting history we have - don't we? LOL

Depending on reception here, I hope to go into more detail about that very detail:-)

tDMg

LdsNana-AskMormon


stephhicks68 profile image

stephhicks68 8 years ago from Bend, Oregon

Oh, I think you should! I would love to read more. Great job, again!


LdsNana-AskMormon profile image

LdsNana-AskMormon 8 years ago from Southern California Author

Thanks Steph -

I actually have one on Emma Smith in the hopper literally, as well as one on well behaved women.

And of course - it is "black" history month... LOL

But honestly - I would really like to cross-over a bit and write some history on the Mormon Church. It really is facinating when the anti element is removed and we can make it relevant to the Church today.

Very difficult for those critics of the Church to allow this though. We will see how it goes here first.

But, thank you for your support.

tDMg

LdsNana-AskMormon


stephhicks68 profile image

stephhicks68 8 years ago from Bend, Oregon


Laura in L.A. 8 years ago

LDSNana,

I love this HUB! Indeed there is a ton of misconception assumed and perpetuated about LDS Women then and now which I will put on record is a particularly sore peev of mine. Like you, I too am so enobled to be a Mormon Woman and find no greater inspiration than in those who have called themselves as such before me! THUS I can get so utterly frustrated when i encounter false and often demeaning information about them as well as about the mormon women of today who are equally amazing!

Hence I love your hub and hope to see more like it! -- as it highlights one of many vast and largely unknown nuances of Mormon Women's History that challenges the assumptions people commonly make about these truly strong and amazing women of early Mormonism AND gone unchecked feeds false perceptions of LDS WOMEN today!

Interestingly, these early Mormon women went on to campaign and advocate in behalf of all U.S. women nationally to also receive the vote. Emmeline B. Wells, leader of the hierarchy of the women's arm of the LDS Church (the Relief Society) was dually foremost among them supporting other sufferagists around the country. even then, there was dispute within the national sufferage movement as to whether associating their cause with "those Mormons" would help or hurt the cause at various times. Hopefully we can learn from history.

I think the more their lives are understood, respected and at the least among LDS revered, the better LDS women today will be understood. SO thanks again for your work here LDS NANA!


LdsNana-AskMormon profile image

LdsNana-AskMormon 8 years ago from Southern California Author

Laura in L.A.

Thank you for the wonderful and relevant content you have added to this Hub. It is credible!

I hope to write on some of the women that you have mentioned above. My good friend is a descendant of the Wells family and Emmaline's strength is still manifest in her women descendants of Mormonism:-)

I have a great respect and admiration for early women of Mormonism, such as Emmaline Wells, Eliza R. Snow, Mary Fielding Smith, Elizabeth Ann Whitney, etc... These are fabulous women... as women, religion aside.

But it is through their religion that they were shown to be great. I love that about them. I see this today in many Mormon women that I personally know - and the fact that they are who they are - because they know who they are.

Powerful!

Again, thank you for your great comments.

tDMg,

LdsNana-AskMormon


Lissie profile image

Lissie 8 years ago from New Zealand

Great Hub! I don't agree with a lot of what you write but Id just like to say you have really improved and this one is much better written and I learnt something! Though as a NZer we were the first country to give women the vote. I thought Wisconsin was the first US state - would you like to comment?


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LdsNana-AskMormon 8 years ago from Southern California Author

Lissie -

Hi. Thanks for the pat on the back:-) I am working hard on my skills for writing here on HP.

This is really quite an interesting twist on New Jersey. I think you will get a kick out of this too...

New Jersey did this, but actually it was by a mistake. LOL So, it was not legitimate at all.

They did not grant women the right to vote. They thought that they did not have to state that women could not vote because they became their husband's dependents once married under the doctrine of couverture.(have you ever heard of that?)

This is where once a woman was married, they were seen as one in thought. So her husband could just take care of the voting... easy, huh? Of course they thought the same, right?

But women challenged this by voting. The state then changed the law in 1807 because women were attempting to vote.... darn those females!

Now Lissie, you Nzers rock too!

Much of the information regarding women's suffrage is very sporatic to accumulate. I found quite a bit of conflicting information from various territories of the U.S. and those that were already enjoying statehood as to "who" really wins this title.

It is really not surprising to find, that Mormons were not recognized for this effort in much of U.S. History. Yet, it really was the work of these east coast chicks that really supported this happening.

Unlike the rest of the U.S. that did not want to give women the vote, here we have another enigma -- Mormon males were all for their women having the vote. In that way the "Mormon" movement could gain strength.

The history really is quite interesting in contrast to the rest of the U.S. at the time. Very similar to today when we consider women and Mormonism - and how outsiders interpret Mormonism in general.

But then came B.H. Roberts, a well-know LDS Historian and an early leader of the Church. He did not like the women having quite the power that they were marching around with and created quite stir from what I understand. LOL

Once the Mormon women had this power revoked, within two years they were back at the suffrage movement with full support of the leaders of the church... meaning the men:-)

Many people just cannot figure out the flip-flop of support with women and equal rights in the LDS Church. It is not the teachings per se of the Church that seem from the outside looking in that have evolved, but society that has had such radical changes, that LDS have pulled away from.

The women's suffrage movement has become radical when compared to the more peaceful way of speaking as was done, with the first era of suffrage.

Many see this as Mormon women losing status and power in the LDS Church. This is incredibly misunderstood. Another Hub perhaps:-)

Thanks for commenting Lissie.

tDMg

LdsNana-AskMormon


Mike 8 years ago

Hello Kat,

It's always a pleasure to visit you. Excellent topic and a wonderful response. I feel that women are more in-tune to the spirit, on a moment by moment bases and I believe history supports my feelings. I also feel that you did an excellent work on bringing that to the surface in your article. I enjoyed it. Your article shows a lot of research. Good work.


Ahmadinejad profile image

Ahmadinejad 8 years ago from Philadelpia

I thought this article very interesting. Thanks for taking the time to post it.

Rachel

www.ahamdinejad-bollinger.com


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LdsNana-AskMormon 8 years ago from Southern California Author

Mike -

As always, thank you for taking the time and coming over to Hubpages. Your comments about women and their ability to be in tune with the Spirit are touching. How very kind a thing to say.

Women are amazing creatures..... yes?

tDMg,

LdsNana-AskMormon


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LdsNana-AskMormon 8 years ago from Southern California Author

Rachel

Thank you for reading this hub and commenting. I really appreciate it.

tDMg

LdsNana-AskMormon


wanderer 8 years ago

I enjoyed reading your posts. I like the courage you are showing in your topics : ) Go for it.


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LdsNana-AskMormon 8 years ago from Southern California Author

Wanderer -

Thank you for commenting and giving a compliment that is very personal and much appreciated.

tDMg

LdsNana-AskMormon


recoveringredneck profile image

recoveringredneck 8 years ago from Idaho

I was flabberghasted when I received your email advising me of how this hub was actually stolen by another hubber. I thought there was something a little "off" about this guy. He just didn't seem the type to be an expert on womens movement in Utah. I'm glad you kept a copy of the comment on made on his hub I will repost it for you. P.S. I love that you included the clip from Mary Poppins. That's one of my favorite scenes in that movie. It wasn't until I was older and married that I realized all the underlying humor of her involement in the womens movement and in less than seconds she was almost catering to her husbands every whim. Makes you wonder how far off that really was. Well here's my post.

Good hub! Keep it up. Another fact so few know about Polgamy in the Mormon church, is that back in the time when it was practiced (well over a hundred years ago I might add), it was only practiced by a very small percentage of the actual membership at that time. Less than 5% is my understanding. They also had to be worthy members much like those who hold temple recommends today have too. Not to mention that in the 1800's women typically outnumbered men. Men were scarce for a variety of reason and many women in the church had no way of providing for themselves (government welfare didn't exist at that time either). I never understood why everyone assumes Mormons still practice polgamy. It's ancient history people, let it go! I also have never understood why people feel that women are shunted or kept under their husbands thumbs in the Mormon church. Yes, it's true that women cannot hold the Priesthood, but frankly I wouldn't want the responsibility! I have enough on my plate, if non-members understood what all came with the ability to hold the Priesthood than they wouldn't feel this way I'm sure. Women hold very high offices in the church even without the Priesthood. They speak in General conference, and every male member in high authority of the church speaks nothing but the highest compliments and respect of their wives. Women are GOLDEN in the church as I see it. If nothing else they bend over backwards for us because they know how valuable we are in the church. I LOVE being a Mormon Woman and wouldn't have it any other way.Okay I'm off my soapbox, thanks for listening. ;-)


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LdsNana-AskMormon 8 years ago from Southern California Author

Hey recoveringredneck!

That is a mouthful! LOL Thank you:-)

I have no problem with your "soapbox"... as long as you don't mind sharing it with a few more good LDS women of Mormonism!

On Mary Poppins - Ah yes, sweet... but very powerful when you understand the era. The first wave of feminism or suffrage, was very peaceful. Women were able to continue being women, say what they wanted to say... and eventually they got the vote universally in the early nineteen hundreds.

Second wave... Mary Poppins' groups of gals.... now, women of the movement were referred to as "Suffragettes"! Hows that for racy? Well, that is when the Women of Mormonism, let's say... although still going after the vote they had had and enjoyed, they were not nearly as vocal because the women in general were not so "well behaved" about what they wanted any longer. They were now demanding their wants. Not attractive nor how " "Jesus" would have gone about it necessarily...

Women and politicking became not very lady-like! LOL But, hey... it was this group of ladies who nailed that vote of the U.S.!

Now let's bring it up to the twentieth century and the E.R.A. movement. That was not only loud, but a movement that active LDS women were wont to stay clear of! Now a few brave souls did lay themselves in front of the train... bam! Not a good outcome for these women of Mormonism.

Equal rights for women is an important cause... one of the most important! But not the way the world sees equality necessarily. On most issues today - we stand with all women. When it comes to the policies of the LDS Church - the women of Mormonism today - still stand with living prophets on these issues and not necessarily their husbands:-)

There.... thanks for sharing your soapbox!

tDMg

LdsNana-AskMormon

P.S. It has been found that the issue of not enough men to go around as a reason for polygamy... not valid. There were plenty of men, just not good "worthy" men, etc...

You might read Richard Bushman' recently published book on Joseph Smith. He does an excellent job with giving a very legitimate look at the LDS Church and the actual statistics of the time, of which you speak... regarding polygamy and true Church History of Mormonism:-)

Great book!


car89 8 years ago

WYOMING WAS THE FIRST STATE TO LET WOMEN VOTE AND HOLD OFFICE! UTAH FOLLOWED A MONTH LATER.


LdsNana-AskMormon profile image

LdsNana-AskMormon 8 years ago from Southern California Author

car89 - I hope this clarifies a bit...

Jean Bickmore White Utah History Encyclopedia

Women's Suffrage--the right of women to vote--was won twice in Utah. It was granted first in 1870 by the territorial legislature but revoked by Congress in 1887 as part of a national effort to rid the territory of polygamy. It was restored in 1895, when the right to vote and hold office was written into the constitution of the new state.

Susan B. Anthony with suffrage leaders from Utah and elsewhere.

In sharp contrast to the long fight for women's suffrage nationally, the vote came to Utah women in 1870 without any effort on their part. It had been promoted by a group of men who had left the Mormon church, the Godbeites, in their Utah Magazine, but to no immediate effect. At the same time, an unsuccessful effort to gain the vote for women in Utah territory had been launched in the East by antipolygamy forces; they were convinced that Utah women would vote to end plural marriage if given the chance. Brigham Young and others realized that giving Utah women the vote would not mean the end of polygamy, but it could change the predominant national image of Utah women as downtrodden and oppressed and could help to stem a tide of antipolygamy legislation by Congress. With no dissenting votes, the territorial legislature passed an act giving the vote (but not the right to hold office) to women on 10 February 1869.

The act was signed two days later by the acting governor, S. A. Mann, and on 14 February, the first woman voter in the municipal election reportedly was Sarah Young, grandniece of Brigham Young. Utah thus became the second territory to give the vote to women; Wyoming had passed a women's suffrage act in 1869.

No states permitted women to vote at the time.

Note: I do not necessarily agree with this historians take on how the women in Utah obtained the vote first, nonetheless, they did.

http://historytogo.utah.gov/utah_chapters/statehoo...

Thank you for your comment. Many women, throughout the U.S and it's outlying territories have fought for womens rights. We honor these women today and hope that we can boldly follow in their footsteps to maintain equal rights in this Country.

tDMg

LdsNana-AskMormon


Art & Ann Merrick 8 years ago

According to Wikipedia women were first give the right to vote in Wyoming in 1869 and was not repealed at statehood. Wyoming women voted in the US presidential election in 1872.


MormonSoprano profile image

MormonSoprano 8 years ago from Utah, U.S.A.

Very good hub - great photos. The women of the LDS faith have always been very involved and vocal and strong in their communities. The LDS Womans Relief Society was and is a powerful orgaization which encourages all Mormon women to be a powerful force for good, and to have independent thought.


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LdsNana-AskMormon 8 years ago from Southern California Author

MormonSoprano -

Independent thought... yes, this is truly the mark of the LDS women - during anytime in our history. Isn't is fascinating, that this is just the opposite of what our opposition perpetuates about the women of Mormonism, today?

The many women in the Church, that I am most familiar with, are among the most brave and courageous women, when it comes to speaking out about, and teaching truth!

I feel honored to have such a rich legacy, which has come to all LDS women today - of sacrifice, boldness, and courage to live their faith!

tDMg

LdsNana-AskMormon


Claudia Goldstein 8 years ago

Thank you for sharing this information. I'm so glad being a woman to have the right to vote. Glad you were able to post this.


TLC Grandparent profile image

TLC Grandparent 8 years ago from Maryland, USA

This is an interesting history about these courageous women. Many of my Mormon pioneer ancestors were right there involved in winning the right for women to vote - some in Utah, some in Arizona. Thanks for the history lesson. It makes me appreciate what these women went through.


Hope 8 years ago

I want to know what states the women sufferages won. I homeschool, (I'm 11) and I am writing a report on that, making a game with cards that ask you stuff... SO... That's what I need to know. I have two weeks.

Thanks!


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LdsNana-AskMormon 8 years ago from Southern California Author

Hope -

If you wil leave me your email, or email me here on Hubpages... I will see what I can do to send you some credible information. What a great project!

tDMg

LdsNana-AskMormon


LondonGirl profile image

LondonGirl 7 years ago from London

Interesting hub, thanks for writing it.

I'm not clear, though, whether you are defending the practice of polygamy or not? Both seem to come across, to some extent.

I have been born and brought up in the Anglican Church, and it is only recently that the Church of England has allowed women to be ordained. It's something I support strongly, however.


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LdsNana-AskMormon 7 years ago from Southern California Author

LondonGirl-

The topic of polygamy is only brought forth in this piece, because of underlying reasons that women in Utah originally were given the vote, and then had it taken away - based greatly on the practice of polygamy. I am not in anyway arguing for or against the practice of polygamy.

However, I am not critical of the women of early Mormon history, who practiced polygamy. These women were powerful and independent thinking gals. I love that our history proves this fact. They had strong faith in God, that they were doing His will. That, is something to be admired, even though it is very difficult for many to understand.

tDMg

LdsNana-AskMormon


LondonGirl profile image

LondonGirl 7 years ago from London

Do you think women should be able to become priests?


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LdsNana-AskMormon 7 years ago from Southern California Author

Hi LondonGirl -

For me, it's not a matter of whether women should, or should not be given authority to administrate, in the Church. Women are just as able as men to do any job, in the Church, equally. In Mormonism, men and women see themselves as equal partners, with different responsibilities; both with the goal, to strengthen the family.

tDMg

LdsNana-AskMormon


Tim Peterson 6 years ago

Wyoming was first in any account of history except your own.


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LdsNana-AskMormon 6 years ago from Southern California Author

You might want to read the entire comments section for more information, and my response to your position.

tDMg

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