The Jury is Out
Why do you suppose that three TERRITORIES out west (prior to statehood), were the first to grant women the right to vote, own property, support equal pay and allow the fair sex to serve on juries? These included: Wyoming Territory1869, Utah Territory 1870 to 1887 and Washington Territory1883 to 1887. Four ‘STATES’ granted women’s suffrage during the 19th century. They were: Wyoming “The Equality State” (1890), Utah (1896), Colorado (1893), and Idaho in (1896).
“Washington Territorial Chief Justice Robert S. Greene praised female jurors because he thought they would be more likely than scruffy frontier men to uphold law and order: “Vices that one sex will tolerate, both sexes, if together, will abominate and punish.” A female observer who traveled from Massachusetts to observe the innovative “mixed juries” noted as a pleasant side effect that the male jurors were less likely to smoke in court when ladies were present. Outside the courtroom, female voters were credited with electing local officials committed to cracking down on moral offenses involving alcohol, prostitution, and gambling.”
More than the fact that ‘it’ occurred…..I find it more interesting as to ‘where it’ occurred. Perhaps ‘out west’ women were not seen as less than or as decoration. Why was it that folks venturing into lands, without established government control, were able to set aside societal traditions? Perchance those who lived in a land, which took heart and soul to thrive in, knew that allowing the participation of women in community politics was living in integrity.
The following websites document a bit of the history of women serving on juries in the 1800’s.
Washington Women History
First State to Let Women Vote