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The First Woman to Vote in American History

Neatorama presents a guest post from actor, comedian, and voiceover artist Eddie Deezen. Visit Eddie at his website or at Facebook.

According to recent statistics, there are more women voters in America than men. Women, at least in recent years, tend to vote Democrat. Men are, in the main, Republican voters.

The democratic party is currently 57% female. The GOP is just the reverse, with males making up 57% of the party. The biggest single voting block in the United States is now single women, who constitute 25% of our electorate.

Okay, here's a good bar bet question for you: “Who was the first woman in American history to vote in an election?"

The 19th amendment to the Constitution guaranteed women the right to vote. Many people are under the mistaken belief that no woman ever voted before this amendment was passed. Women had actually been voting for many years before the 19th amendment. States and territories had their own laws.

In the year 1869, the governor of the Wyoming territory approved and passed a woman's suffrage bill. And in the following year, a woman named Louisa Ann Swain cast the first vote by a woman in an American election.

Swain was a 70-year-old housewife. She was born Louisa Ann Gardner in 1801 in Norfolk, Virginia. Louisa was the daughter of a sea captain, who sadly was lost at sea when she was seven. Upon his death, she and er mother moved to Charleston, West Virginia.

Louisa’s mother passed away while the two were living in Charleston. She then was shuttled off to live with her uncle in Baltimore, Maryland. In Baltimore, Louisa met Stephen Swain, who operated a chair factory.

The couple soon fell in love and married in 1821. Together, they raised four children. The Swain family moved to Ohio, then Indiana, before finally settling in Laramie, Wyoming. It was in Laramie, when Louisa was almost 70 years old, that she changed forever the course of American politics.

On the fine morning of September 6, 1870, Louisa Swain rose early, and put on her apron, bonnet and shawl. She carried a tin bucket with her because she wanted to purchase some yeast from a local merchant. As Louisa passed a local Laramie polling place, she decided to cast a vote.

And in this simple way, history was made.

The Laramie newspaper described Swain as "a gentle, white haired housewife, Quakerish in appearance.” She had to reassure reporters that voting made her no less of a woman. Interestingly, when the first woman ran for president (Victoria Woodhull in 1872), Louisa Swain voted against her.

The first-ever female voter in the United States, Louisa Ann Swain, died on September 25, 1880, in Lutherville, Maryland. On September 6, 2008, Congress officially voted the day to be "Louisa Ann Swain Day" by House Concurrent Resolution 378.


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A little disappointed Eddie...not ONE of the women in those pictures is barefoot and pregnant. Not ONE!
I never knew women had been voting long before the 19th Amendment. Interesting.
And not to be mean but ol' Louisa Swain looks like she died about 2 years before that photo was taken. YOWZA!
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