Why Wyoming Women Were Granted Voting Rights 50 Years Before the 19th Amendment

An 1888 issue of Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper depicts women's suffrage in the Wyoming territory.
An 1888 issue of Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper depicts women's suffrage in the Wyoming territory.
Library of Congress, Public Domain // Wikimedia Commons

More than 50 years before the 19th Amendment gave women across the United States full voting rights, legislators in the Wyoming Territory passed a bill granting suffrage to white female residents aged 21 years and older.

The bill was a political gambit, according to Tom Rea of the Wyoming State Historical Society. On July 25, 1868, the federal government established Wyoming as an official territory—and it needed a government. Eventually, newly elected president Ulysses S. Grant appointed a few of his Republican colleagues to oversee the region. Shortly after Republican John Campbell began his tenure as Wyoming’s new governor in 1869, he issued an official legal opinion that no territorial resident should be denied the opportunity to vote based on race.

But Wyoming’s territorial legislature was made up entirely of Democrats (which was then the party of small government) who, according to official documents, didn't seem interested in advancing the rights of people of color. But they felt differently about women’s rights. In the late 1860s, Wyoming passed bills ensuring equal pay for all teachers, regardless of gender, and guaranteeing married women individual property rights (separate from their husbands). In some ways, women’s suffrage was the logical next step.

While some legislators did sincerely believe in supporting women’s rights, other lawmakers had different motives for suggesting that women should be able to vote. Men outnumbered women by a 6-to-1 ratio at the time, so Wyoming leaders hoped the new measure might attract more single women to the territory. Other Democratic leaders hoped the proposal would put Governor Campbell in a tough position: If Campbell, who had a history of supporting voting rights for black Americans, vetoed a bill granting voting rights to women, he would look hypocritical. And if the proposal did pass, Democrats hoped women voters would give them the credit and support their party.

The bill eventually passed seven votes to four, with one abstention. After taking several days to decide on his position, Governor Campbell signed the bill into law on December 10, 1869—making Wyoming the first state to allow women the right to vote and to elect a governor.

But Democrats who had hoped that women would use their new power to support the political party that made it happen for them were quickly disappointed. In 1870, women voters helped send a Republican territorial representative to Congress. One year later, they elected a few Republicans to the territorial legislature. Democrats blamed women voters for their defeats, and they soon passed a bill rescinding women’s suffrage—but it was too late. Campbell vetoed the repeal, and Democrats fell one vote short of the number needed to override the governor’s decision.

Though it wasn't a smooth transition for Wyoming, other Western territories soon followed suit. Utah passed suffrage laws in 1870 (women were later disenfranchised by the 1887 Edmunds-Tucker Act, but they regained the right to vote in 1896), and Washington and Montana gave women the right to vote in the 1880s. By 1919, women had full voting rights in 15 states, 13 of which were west of the Mississippi River.

Because of its status as the first state to grant women suffrage, Wyoming calls itself the Equality State. While the full truth of that moniker remains somewhat debatable, the state certainly deserves recognition for its role as an early trailblazer.

Amazon's Under-the-Radar Coupon Page Features Deals on Home Goods, Electronics, and Groceries

Stock Catalog, Flickr // CC BY 2.0
Stock Catalog, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

This article contains affiliate links to products selected by our editors. Mental Floss may receive a commission for purchases made through these links.

Now that Prime Day is over, and with Black Friday and Cyber Monday still a few weeks away, online deals may seem harder to come by. And while it can be a hassle to scour the internet for promo codes, buy-one-get-one deals, and flash sales, Amazon actually has an extensive coupon page you might not know about that features deals to look through every day.

As pointed out by People, the coupon page breaks deals down by categories, like electronics, home & kitchen, and groceries (the coupons even work with SNAP benefits). Since most of the deals revolve around the essentials, it's easy to stock up on items like Cottonelle toilet paper, Tide Pods, Cascade dishwasher detergent, and a 50 pack of surgical masks whenever you're running low.

But the low prices don't just stop at necessities. If you’re looking for the best deal on headphones, all you have to do is go to the electronics coupon page and it will bring up a deal on these COWIN E7 PRO noise-canceling headphones, which are now $80, thanks to a $10 coupon you could have missed.

Alternatively, if you are looking for deals on specific brands, you can search for their coupons from the page. So if you've had your eye on the Homall S-Racer gaming chair, you’ll find there's currently a coupon that saves you 5 percent, thanks to a simple search.

To discover all the deals you have been missing out on, head over to the Amazon Coupons page.

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A Short, Sweet History of Candy Corn

Love it or hate it, candy corn is here to stay.
Love it or hate it, candy corn is here to stay.
Evan-Amos, Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

Depending on which survey you happen to be looking at, candy corn is either the best or the worst Halloween candy ever created. If that proves anything, it’s that the tricolor treat is extremely polarizing. But whether you consider candy corn a confectionery abomination or the sweetest part of the spooky season, you can’t deny that it’s an integral part of the holiday—and it’s been around for nearly 150 years.

On this episode of Food History, Mental Floss’s Justin Dodd is tracing candy corn’s long, storied existence all the way back to the 1880s, when confectioner George Renninger started molding buttercream into different shapes—including corn kernels, which he tossed at actual chickens to see if it would fool them. His white-, orange-, and yellow-striped snack eventually caught the attention of Goelitz Confectionery Company (now Jelly Belly), which started mass-producing what was then sometimes called “chicken feed” rather than “candy corn.”

But what exactly is candy corn? Why do we associate it with Halloween? And will it ever disappear? Find answers to these questions and more in the video below.

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