In just three weeks it will be Election Day. This year’s vote is particularly significant to women in Utah. October marks the 100th anniversary of Utah ratifying the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
As part of the celebration and commemoration of the anniversary, an original copy of the Senate Joint Resolution No. 1 (SJR 1) will be on display from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday at the Utah State Capitol.
This is the beginning of a year-long processional of events and celebrations honoring and remembering the women in the 19th and 20th century who fought to give women in Utah, the United Sates and throughout the world the right to vote.
“Utah was the first suffrage state to ratify the 19th Amendment,” said Sen. Deidre Henderson (R-Spanish Fork), co-chair of the Martha Hughes Cannon Statue Oversight Committee, in a press release. “It is important to remember the people who fought to include women’s voting rights in the U.S. Constitution. We all benefit from their efforts and sacrifice. My hope is that we express our appreciation to them by prizing the gift of political freedom they have given us.”
Martha Hughes Cannon was the first woman elected to the Utah State Senate and any state senate in the country. She became the leader of the Utah Women’s Suffrage Association and traveled to many conferences. She had close associations with Susan B. Anthony and was the featured speaker at the Women’s Congress at the World’s Colombian Exhibition of 1893.
Next year, the nation will celebrate the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment and the 55th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act, which made voting possible for all women. Utah will celebrate the 150th anniversary of Utah women’s first votes and recognize the national anniversaries by sending a statue of Dr. Martha Hughes Cannon, to the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C. to represent Utah.
Sen. Elizabeth Hayward, sponsor of SJR 1, and Reps. Delora Blakely, Dr. Grace Stratton Airey and Anna T. Piercey, who presided over the House during the ratification vote were the four Utah women legislators that led the 19th Amendment ratification efforts during a special session of the state Legislature.
“We are reminded that Utah women have been leading out on issues like suffrage and equal rights since the earliest days of our state,” said Rep. Karen Kwan (D-Taylorsville), co-chair of the Martha Hughes Cannon Statue Oversight Committee, said in a press release. “These women leaders showed tremendous courage and foresight in challenging the social norms of their time. They inspire us to continue reaching for yet more opportunities and accomplishments for Utah women in our own time.”
In 1919, Senate President J.W. Funk and Speaker of the House John E. Heppler signed the resolution. Then, Gov. Simon Bamberger signed SJR 1 on Oct. 3, 1919, officially making Utah the 17th state to ratify the 19th Amendment, according to the press release.
In part, the joint resolution states, “The State of Utah has always favored equal suffrage, and many of its citizens, both men and women, through personal efforts, and untiring energy, have labored for the adoption of the suffrage amendment to the Constitution of the United States.”
Henderson and Kwan encourage Utahns to join them in celebrating this monumental anniversary by visiting the State Senate this week.
At 4 p.m. Wednesday, Henderson and Kwan will recognize members of the Hayward and Bamberger family on the Senate floor during Advice and Consent.