Today, Governor Herbert is ceremonially signing a resolution that passed the Utah Legislature proposing Utah send a statue of Dr. Martha Hughes Cannon to Washington, D.C.
On February 14, 1870, the first American woman to cast a vote in a state-wide election, Seraph Young, did so right here in Utah. Fast forward 148 years to February 14, 2018, when a concurrent resolution to have Dr. Martha Hughes Cannon represent Utah in the nation’s Capital passed the House.
Dr. Cannon was a leader in the women’s suffrage movement. She obtained two medical degrees, from the University of Michigan and the University of Pennsylvania, and a bachelor’s degree in public speaking from the National School of Elocution and Oratory in Philadelphia.
In 1870, women were granted the right to vote in Utah—50 years before the 19th Amendment granted that right nationwide—but
Congress removed it in the Edmunds-Tucker Act of 1887. Martha was a key player in ensuring that the right of women to vote and hold public office were included in the Utah Constitution in 1895.
Shortly afterward, Dr. Cannon ran for Utah State Senate and won against a number of candidates, including none other than her own husband. She became the first-ever female state senator in the United States in 1896, more than 20 years before most women in the country were even able to cast a vote.
Each state is represented by two historical figures in theNational Statuary Hall in Washington D.C., with ours being Brigham Young and Philo T. Farnsworth. SCR1 recommends replacing Farnsworth’s statue, which has been there for 32 years, with one of Dr. Martha Hughes Cannon.
“Martha Hughes Cannon embodies the grit, talents, and vision of citizens of Utah, both as we look back at her era and as we look forward to our future,” said the House bill sponsor Rep. Becky Edwards on Twitter. “Let’s use her example as inspiration to do something good today!”
2020 will mark the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment and the 55th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act, which made voting possible for all women. As our nation commemorates women’s suffrage in 2020, Utah will be standing up to celebrate its own historic and groundbreaking role in this effort.