Tag archive

Women’s Suffrage

Gordon Celebrates Louisa Swain, First Woman To Vote In U.S.

in elections/News
6204

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

Gov. Mark Gordon celebrated women’s suffrage on Friday by honoring the first woman to ever cast a ballot in the United States, Louisa Swain.

Swain made history on Sept. 6, 1870 when she awoke early and voted in Laramie’s municipal election.

“There was too much good sense in our community for any jeers or sneers to be seen on such an occasion,” The Laramie Daily Sentinel reported after Swain voted.

On Sunday, there was a re-enactment and celebration of Swain’s groundbreaking vote at History House Plaza in Laramie, where U.S. Senate candidate Cynthia Lummis spoke.

Gordon took photos in front of a semi-trailer that’s been driven across the country in honor of Swain. It started in Washington, D.C. and ended its journey in Laramie on Saturday.

“It was wonderful to celebrate outside the Capitol with the 4 female drivers who piloted this truck from Washington, D.C., to Wyoming,” Gordon wrote in a tweet.

The Wyoming Territorial Legislature passed a law in December 1869 allowing women 21 and older to vote in every election. It marked the first time anywhere in the world that women were allowed to vote.

In 2008, the Wyoming Legislature passed a bill declaring Sept. 6 as Louisa Swain Day.

***For All Things Wyoming, Sign-Up For Our Daily Newsletter***

Deadly highways, new capitol, coal collapse, new governor & UW president forced out

in Column/Bill Sniffin
Cowboy State 2019
2596

By Bill Sniffin, My Wyoming columnist

The year 2019 will go into the Cowboy State’s history books for a great many reasons – many of them not very pretty.

One big example was Wyoming’s normally benign highways turned deadly in 2019, as a nearly all-time record was set for people killed in traffic accidents.

As of this Dec. 15, some 142 people had died compared to 111 for the entire year of 2018. And getting close to previous all-time record of 150 set in 2014.

Worst economic news came with the bankruptcies of coal companies and the human toll that resulted from them.

In Gillette, companies are still sorting out the aftermath of the Blackjewel companies’ financial demise.  Two huge mines, the Belle Ayr and the Eagle Butte, were shut down by that financial fiasco by the national coal company giant, idling 600 workers.

On the bright side, it looks like many of the Gillette area jobs will be preserved for the near future.

A worse situation is in the small towns of Kemmerer and Diamondville, both a coal mine and a power plant are in the process of being shut down, leaving 300 workers idled. And even long time retirement benefits are threatened because of the bankruptcy actions.

On a bigger statewide picture, the Rocky Mountain Power Co. says it will be closing down giant power plants in Rock Springs, Glenrock, and Gillette sooner than previously expected. 

The demise of the fossil fuel industry both nationally and locally could be welcome news to folks who believe that industry causes climate change, but the harsh reality to Wyoming citizens is that this will be a cold, hard reality check to thousands of people relying on paychecks from that industry.

The Donald Trump presidency has seen the elimination of some onerous regulations such as one rule that resulted in a fine to a Wyoming rancher of millions of dollars for building a small pond. That rule was eliminated and the rancher was saved.  

Bad news hit the ag community when a major canal collapsed near Torrington during prime irrigation season.  High summer temperatures almost ruined crops before repairs were made and the water flowed again to 488 producers in two states.

As of the country’s most windy state, the good news is that thousands of huge turbines continued to be developed in 2019.  Plus there are more on the drawing boards. 

Squabbles over how, or whether, to tax these whirling behemoths will be a continual bone of contention going forward.

The year saw the installation of a new governor, Mark Gordon, who is arguably the most prepared person for the job we have seen in the last 50 years.  He had been the State Treasurer.

Our biggest state institution, the University of Wyoming, sustained a big shock when the trustees failed to renew the contract of President Laurie Nichols. It was all done in secret; no reasons were ever given. She has moved on to Black Hills State in Spearfish and UW is on the hunt for a new president. Lots of controversy swirled around that situation, including efforts by state media to learn the rationale behind the dismissal, but at this time, still no answers have been forthcoming.

In 2019, Wyoming citizens saw their state capitol building turned into a treasure. After fours years and $337 million ($581 for every man, woman, and child in the state), this amazing edifice opened in mid-summer to rave reviews. The facility rivals any museum or attraction in the state, according to former Thermopolis publisher Pat Schmidt, who now lives in Cheyenne.

Longtime geologist Ron Baugh of Casper has a dim view of our energy future: “The first thing that comes to mind about the high (low) points of the last year is the continued demise of the coal industry and the continued shrinking of Wyoming’s tax base,” he says. “This will have a continued negative impact on every person, town and county in the State. If not felt individually, it has and will continue to be felt collectively.” 

“I believe that Wyoming is on the brink of major changes the likes of which we old timers have not seen in our lifetimes. I hope that Wyoming can make the changes and still be Wyoming,” he concludes. 

Also in 2019, moves were made whereby the state’s seven community colleges can start offering four-year degrees in some fields. This was heralded by Brad Tyndall, the president of Central Wyoming College in Riverton.

Wyoming was founded because of the railroads. In 2019 we celebrated the 150th anniversary of the construction of the rails across the country. Wyoming and the nation celebrated the driving of the golden spike in Promontory Summit in Utah Territory on May 10, 1869.

 In commemoration of that, the biggest steam locomotive ever, the newly-restored #1404 Big Boy, left Cheyenne and traveled west and back again to celebrate the event, delighting crowds wherever it went.

And perhaps the biggest surprise of the year was Kanye West adopting Wyoming as his new home. The musical superstar bought ranches near Cody and Greybull and is planning on moving some of his business interests to the Cowboy State.

And finally, we all celebrated the 150th anniversary of Wyoming giving women the right to vote.  What a wonderful milestone that only Wyomingites can celebrate! It can be argued about the why and how it came into being way back when in 1869, but the fact remains it happened here first and it was real.

Next: Looking ahead to 2020.

Check out additional columns at www.billsniffin.com. He has published six books.  His coffee table book series has sold 34,000 copies. You can find more stories by Bill Sniffin by going to CowboyStateDaily.com.

March, rally recognize 150 years of suffrage in Wyoming

in News
2516

By Robert Geha, Cowboy State Daily

Several of the participants in a march Tuesday to commemorate the anniversary of women’s suffrage in Wyoming said the event helped draw attention to instances of inequality that still need to be addressed.

On Dec. 10, 1869, territorial Gov. John Campbell signed the legislation giving Wyoming women the right to vote and hold elected office. Suffrage in Wyoming came 50 years before Congress approved legislation giving women across the country the right to vote.

“And unfortunately, Washington doesn’t know that,” said Gov. Mark Gordon, who participated in the march to the Capitol. “So we need to make sure they understand. We were the first.”

Despite Wyoming leading the nation in the area of suffrage, the state still needs to address areas of inequality, said Britney Wallesch, executive director of Black Dog Animal Rescue and a participant in the march.

“The wage gap is certainly a problem, as we know, in this state,” she said. “Lack of female representation in our elected offices is still a problem. But I think that this march and this day and this year of celebration is a bit of encouragement that things will begin to change.”

Former state Sen. E. Jayne Mockler agreed more work needs to be done.

“We do have a long way to go,” she said. “We have a lot of inequality in a lot of areas in this country and that’s what this is about, is recognizing that it’s important to get out there and finish the work.”

The secret to resolving some of the issues still facing society is to get more women elected to office, said Rep. Cathy Connolly, D-Laramie.

State Auditor Kristi Racines said the state could benefit by having more women in elected office.

“The more points of view we have, the better decisions we make, the better debate we have,” she said. “So I think that’s really important that we continue working toward that.”

Wyoming Suffrage to be commemorated through music

in arts and culture
2507

By Tim Mandese, Cowboy State Daily

The Wyoming Symphony Orchestra has commissioned an original work from rising American composer Stephanie Ann Boyd to celebrate the 150th anniversary of women’s suffrage in Wyoming and the 100th anniversary of suffrage in the United States.

One hundred fifty years ago, Wyoming led the nation in women’s suffrage by giving women the right to vote with the passage of the Wyoming Suffrage Act of 1869.

WSO Executive Director Rachel Bailey led the search for just the right composer to capture the essence of the historic event. It was at the suggestion of Music Director Christopher Dragon that the WSO reached out to Boyd. 

“Her music is very poetic and she also deals with women’s themes, which really fit into what we were doing,” said Bailey. “The Wyoming Symphony Orchestra will debut this commissioned pieceon April 18. It will be a very exciting day for us and Wyoming as a whole as they celebrate thisreally historic anniversary.”

Visiting Wyoming for the first time Dec. 6-9, Boyd gathered inspiration for her forthcoming musical composition to celebrate the moment in the Cowboy State’s history. 

“Wyoming, of course, put through women’s suffrage about 50 years before everybody else, and so we’re taking the inspiration of that, and the stories of the women that were instrumental in that, and writing a piece about them, but also writing essentially a 25-minute minute love letter to Wyoming.” Boyd said.

A first draft of the composition should be ready by the end of this year. 

“I usually compose pretty fast, so usually I work about a month on a piece like this, but again that’s like a seven-hour a day sort of thing,” Boyd said. “I call myself a melodist because melody is the most important thing to me, but audiences will find that my work is very emotional and very exciting to listen to.”

Boyd expressed her gratitude at being a part of the commemoration of suffrage through performing arts.

“It’s an incredible honor,” she said. “I know that Christopher Dragon has admired my music for some time but being able to write for an orchestra, and an orchestra like this, is really a special and beautiful opportunity for me and I’m pleased that I get to help tell this story of Wyoming.”

The performance will be in Casper’s John F. Welsh Auditorium. Tickets are on sale now, and those interested in attending are advised to buy tickets early, since a sellout is expected.

Tickets can be purchased at the WSO website.

Esther Hobart Morris Symbolizes Equal Rights

in Column
Esther Hobart Morris
2433

By Nancy Guthrie, Mary B. Guthrie, and Rosalind Routt Schliske

This year, three noteworthy events occurred in Wyoming—the celebration of the 150th anniversary of women’s suffrage, the designation of 2019 as the “Year of Wyoming Women,” and the reopening of the newly renovated Wyoming Capitol.

The July 10 celebration of the reopening of the Wyoming Capitol was an extraordinary event. Wyoming residents are rightfully proud of the fine work done on that special building. 

However, the project is not finished because the heroic bronze statue of Esther Hobart Morris, the “Mother of Women’s Suffrage in Wyoming” and first woman justice of the peace in the world, has been banished to the basement connector between the Capitol and Herschler Building. 

It is unfortunate that the statue was not restored to its proper place in front of the Capitol. 

Since 1963, the large statue of Mrs. Morris has been a reminder to all who visited the Capitol that Wyoming was the first governmental entity in the world to grant women the right to vote and to hold public office.

We have driven by the Capitol thousands of times and have been thrilled to see the statue of Morris, an important reminder of Wyoming’s history and the strong women who settled this state. Regardless of the time of day or weather conditions, visitors posed with and took photos of the imposing statue while marveling at the historic 1869 decision to give women the right to vote.

The state is missing an opportunity to educate visitors about our history and the accomplishments of Esther Hobart Morris and other Wyoming women pioneers. It is shortsighted to consign her statue and all it symbolizes to the basement of a state office building that is only open during business hours on weekdays.

We respect the hard work and dedication of the members of the committee that oversaw the Capitol renovation. Indeed, they are to be commended. But the decision to remove our Esther from the front of the Capitol should be revisited.

While we have heard several reasons for the statue’s removal, including fear of vandalism and aesthetics, these concerns can be addressed by experts.

In this “Year of Wyoming Women,” it would be fitting to celebrate Wyoming women by moving Esther back outside the Capitol where she belongs so that everyone who sees her would be reminded about Wyoming’s  contribution to women’s rights.

We are not the only people who would like to see the statue moved outside. Many have expressed the view to us that Esther should be visible to all at all times.  

The Capitol is lovingly referred to as “the People’s House.” State leaders should listen to and address the concerns of Wyoming people who treasure its rich history.

LET’S BRING ESTHER HOME.

(Note: Nancy Guthrie, a retired state district court judge, was Wyoming’s first female county attorney.  Mary B. Guthrie was the first woman to serve as Cheyenne City Attorney. Rosalind Routt Schliske is professor emeritus of mass media at Laramie County Community College, where she taught journalism for 40 years.   As members of the Cheyenne League of Women Voters, Mary and Rosalind co-wrote the play marking Wyoming’s 150th anniversary of women’s suffrage and performed it at the grand reopening of the Wyoming Capitol on July 10.)

Wyoming Legislature: Where they are

in News
Wyoming Legislature bill analysis where they are
988

Here is the status of some bills making their way through the Legislature’s general session:

HB 14 — Creating the “Mountain Daylight Savings Time” zone for Wyoming. Defeated in Senate “Committee of the Whole.”

HB 38 — Raising legislative expense reimbursements from $109 per day to $149. Vetoed by Gov. Mark Gordon.

HB 52 — Giving preference to Wyoming-made products in furnishing state buildings. Awaiting governor’s signature.

HB 66 — Setting a statewide lodging tax of 5 percent. Approved in second reading in Senate.

HB 71 — Raising the penalty for violating equal pay rules to $500 per day. Signed into law by Gov. Mark Gordon.

HB 140 — Imposing a 48-hour waiting period to perform abortions. No action will be taken in Senate committee before the end of session.

HB 145 — Eliminating the death penalty. Killed in Senate “Committee of the Whole.”

HB 192 — Requiring photo ID to vote. Killed on third reading in House.

HB 220 — Imposing an income tax on out-of-state companies with business locations in Wyoming. Died without review in Senate Corporations, Elections and Political Subdivisions Committee.

HB 251 — Authorizing Wyoming to sue the state of Washington over it refusal to allow the construction of a coal port. Approved in second reading in Senate.

HJ 1 — Asking the federal government to delist the grizzly bear. Signed by Gov. Mark Gordon.

SF 46 — Limiting the length of a prescription of opioids to 14 days. Approved in second reading in House.SF 57 — Setting a deadline for the release of public documents by government agencies. Awaiting report of “joint conference committee” to resolve Senate, House differences.

SF 119 — Making all expenditures by the state auditor’s office public and available for review. Died without review in House Appropriations Committee.

SF 129 — Repealing requirements for reports from the state Department of Education. Awaiting governor’s signature.

SF 148 — Allowing the state to seize and operate federal facilities — including national parks — under certain conditions. Killed in House Minerals Committee.

SF 149 — Creating a “Capitol Complex” around the state Capitol and giving the state building commission authority for planning in the area. Approved in first reading in the House.

SF 160 — Requiring changes in voter party affiliation to take place two weeks before absentee ballots are distributed. Died without review by House Corporations, Elections and Political Subdivisions Committee.

SJ 3 — Declaring Dec. 10, 2019, as Wyoming Women’s Suffrage Day. Signed into law by governor.

‘Suffrage Day’ measure first from session signed into law

in News
A Grou of proud women wearing yellow rose lapels, ALT=Law declares Wyoming Women's Suffrage Day
916

By Cowboy State Daily

A measure setting aside a day to recognize Wyoming as the first state in the nation to give women the right to vote became the first bill of the Legislature’s 2019 session to be signed into law Wednesday.

Senate Joint Resolution 3, setting Dec. 10 as “Wyoming Women’s Suffrage Day, was the first of eight bills signed into law by Gov. Mark Gordon on Wednesday.The date marks the day in 1869 when Territorial Gov. John Campbell signed the bill giving women the right to vote in Wyoming.

The measure, sponsored by Sen. Affie Ellis, R-Cheyenne, was unanimously approved by both the House and Senate.

Other measures signed into law by Gordon on Wednesday included: SF 11, moving back the deadline for the governor to submit a budget to legislators from Dec. 1 to the third Monday in November; SF 21, requiring candidates for elected office to list the addresses of their homes for the last five years on their applications for nomination or election, and SF 17, adding electronic records to the list of documents that county clerks must keep available for examination.

‘Wyoming Women’s Suffrage Day’ headed for governor’s desk

in News
Historical Newspaper illustration of Women's Sufferage, ALT=Women's Suffrage Day Wyoming
893

By Cowboy State Daily

Wyoming's Suffrage Day bill headed for Governor Mark Gordon's desk. Photo from scene at polls with first woman voter.
Image from Library of Congress: Woman suffrage in Wyoming Territory. — Scene at the polls in Cheyenne / from a photo. by Kirkland. )

Wyoming will celebrate “Wyoming Women’s Suffrage Day” in December under a bill headed to the governor’s desk.

Senate Joint Resolution 3 would have the state recognize the day on Dec. 10.

The bill was sponsored by Sen. Affie Ellis, R-Cheyenne, and was co-sponsored by a number of legislators, including every woman serving in the House and Senate.

Dec. 10 is the 150th anniversary of the day Wyoming — then a territory — became the first to adopt a law giving women the right to vote.

The bill won unanimous approval from members of the House and Senate and on Friday was signed as an “enrolled joint resolution” by Senate President Drew Perkins, R-Casper. It next heads to the desk of House Speaker Steve Harshman, R-Casper, for his signature before going to Gov. Mark Gordon for signing.

Go to Top