State of Equality

Yesterday I had the pleasure of driving across the great state of Wyoming. If you’re a fan of endless miles of grasslands, punctuated intermittently with rivers, hills, and lovely rock outcroppings, that drive is for you.

Come to think of it, the 80 MPH speed limit helps too.

And then there’s the sky. It was glorious all day. Here’s a shot from out my window:

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See? Amazing. And I know Wyoming’s neighbor to the north is nicknamed “Big Sky Country,” but clearly Montana doesn’t corner the market on that kind of beauty.

On the other hand, Wyoming has a pretty good nickname of its own. Turns out Wyoming is  known as the “Equality State.” From the official state website:

Wyoming is also known as the “Equality State” because of the rights women have traditionally enjoyed here. Wyoming women were the first in the nation to vote, serve on juries and hold public office.

In 1869, Wyoming’s territorial legislature became the first government in the world to grant “female suffrage” by enacting a bill granting Wyoming women the right to vote. The act was signed into law on December 10 of that year by Governor A.J. Campbell.

Less than three months after the signing of that act, on February 17, 1870, the “Mother of Women Suffrage in Wyoming”-Ester Hobart Morris of South Pass City-became the first woman ever to be appointed a justice of the peace. Laramie was also the site for the first equal suffrage vote cast in the nation by a woman-Mrs. Louisa Swain on September 6, 1870.

In 1894, Estelle Reel (Mrs. Cort F. Meyer) became one of the first women in the United States elected to a state office, that of Wyoming State Superintendent of Public Instruction.

In 1924, Mrs. Nellie Tayloe Ross was the first elected woman governor to take office in the United States. She took office on January 5, 1925, 20 days before “Ma” Ferguson of Texas (elected on the same day) took office. Mrs. Ross went on to become the first woman to be appointed Director of the United States Mint-a position she held for 20 years, from 1933 to 1953. In 1991, women held three of the state’s five top elective positions and a total of 23 women hold seats in the Wyoming Legislature, three in the Senate and 20 in the House.

Good for you Wyoming. That’s a history to be proud of. Keep on challenging Tertullian, Equality State!

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One response to “State of Equality”

  1. gailwallace55 says :

    This is so cool!

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