Women Reformers and the Suffragettes

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Why was it that Western states took the lead in granting women's suffrage?

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If we look at a map of the United States, we note that all of the west, from California to the Rocky Mountains states, whether full states or territories, had granted women the vote before the passage of the nineteenth amendment in June of 1919. Many of these states and territories granted women the vote before 1900.

The first territory to do so was Wyoming, which allowed women to vote in 1869. This was in part because a Wyoming woman, Esther Hobart Morris, the first female Justice of the Peace in the United States, fought hard for female suffrage. She was representative of other areas of the sparsely populated west that offered women opportunities and a chance to agitate for change not available in the far more settled eastern states.

It is also believed that the western states were willing to grant women the vote on the theory it would encourage more women to move west: the west had an overabundance of men and not enough women. Fewer women in these areas also meant that extending the...

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