Monday, March 18, 2013

Louisa Swain, First Woman to Vote in the USA

Sarah J. McNeal

Louisa Swain, First Woman to Vote in the USA
In the early years of the 20th Century, my grandmother McNeal dedicated herself to women’s suffrage, working hard for women to have the right to vote. Although I never met her, since she died long before I was born, Matilda McNeal inspired me with her forward thinking and activism.
So when I discovered that a woman had voted in a general election in Wyoming long before the 19th Amendment was passed in the United States giving the right for all women to vote, well, I had to learn more about her.
Louis was the daughter of a sea captain that was lost at sea when she was still a child. She and her mother moved to Charleston, South Carolina where, sadly, her mother died. Now an orphan, Louisa moved to Baltimore, Maryland to live with her uncle, Ephraim Gardner. There she met and married Stephen Swain who owned a chair factory. After their fourth child was born they moved to Ohio and later they moved again to Indiana. Louisa Swain and her husband, Stephen, moved to Wyoming from their home in Maryland to be closer to their son and his family in 1869.  Louisa and her husband were in their late 60’s then. In that same year, the Territorial Legislature, composed of twenty men, approved the measure that was revolutionary for its time stating: “Every woman of the age of twenty-one years, residing in this territory may at every election to be held under the law therefore, may cast her vote.”  The bill’s sponsor, William Bright, shared his wife, Julia’s, belief that suffrage was a basic right of every American citizen.
Unlike other states, Wyoming had no organized campaign to win suffrage, no parade or public demonstration. Women did, however, keep vigil outside Governor John A. Campbell’s office until he signed the bill into law. In other states, women had suffered terrible atrocities, t6rt4re even, in their fight for their rights and were held up to public ridicule for their activism. God bless the state of Wyoming.
So, on September 6, 1870, Louisa Swain cast the first vote by a woman in a general election in the United States of America.
One of the reasons I decided to use Wyoming as the home of my fictional characters, the Wildings, besides its wild and beautiful countryside, was because of their motto, “The Equality State”…and they mean it.
Harmonica Joe's Reluctant Bride has a heroine from present day who falls back into 1910. Good thing women could vote in Wyoming then because Lola was not the kind of woman to be deprived of her rights.

A haunted house, a trunk and a date with destiny.


Lola Barton discovers a warp in time in an old trunk when she falls into 1910. She finds herself married to Joseph Wilding, a stranger shadowed by secrets. Mistaken for Callie McGraw, a thief and a woman of ill repute, Lola finds her life is threatened by a scoundrel. Joe stands between her and certain death. With danger threatening all around and secrets keeping them apart, can Joe and Lola find their destiny together? Or will time and circumstance forever divide them?

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  1. Interesting post, Sarah. I would love to visit Wyoming. I have admired the fact that women were treated better there long before it became a law in other states.

  2. Hi Sarah, I too have always admired the progressive nature of Wyoming. In my first book the heroine and her outlaw settle there. Wyoming is also a tremendously beautiful place LOL. Wonderful to visit and wonderful history to learn.

    Great post!

  3. I don't think a lot of women take voting as serious as they should. It is a honor and a right this country gives us to vote for our representatives. I am sorry when I hear that not even 50% of the voters even show up on voting day. I proudly say I have not missed one voting day since I became old enough to do it.

    Great post, Sarah.

  4. Maybe Wyoming really appreciate those tough pioneer women. I have visited Wyoming and it's a beautiful state. Thank you so much for coming by and leaving a comment, Caroline.

  5. Hey Tanya. What's the title of the book you mentioned? Thank you for coming by. I really appreciate it.

  6. I agree, Paisley, women (and men) don't take their constitutional right to vote seriously. In some countries people have had to fight to get the vote.
    Thank you so much for coming by today.

  7. I love anything set in the west, so Wyoming would be a great place to set a book.

  8. Hey Quilt Lady. So good to see you here. I agree, the west is a great place for stories. Wyoming ia a beautiful state and its people are rugged individulalists.


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