can we talk about Esther Hobart Morris????
she dope fyi
- •this is esther. she is a fierce lady who fought against slavery and for suffrage and also is my distant relative.
- •she was born in new york in 1814, orphaned young, and ran her own successful millinery business by the time she was in her 20s.
- •she was also a young activist, speaking out against slavery and fighting for women's right to organize societies aiming to abolish slavery.she was even involved in one altercation attempting to stop slavery advocates from destroying her abolition-friendly church in oswego, ny, which by some reports was the first antislavery church established in the country. susan b anthony who???
- •in 1841 she married and in 1844 she was widowed. but when she picked up her son and went to settle her husband's estate in illinois, they were like, "yikes, sorry lady, but you're a lady so we can't really give this to you. laws and all that." so that sucks. but she started another millinery and moved on.
- •in 1850, she remarried and had twin sons. once all her sons were grown, her husband and son from her first marriage moved out to south pass city, wyoming to open a saloon. a year later, in 1869, esther and the twins joined them, traveling by train and then stagecoach.
- •she wasn't there for long before things were really heating up. in november 1869, william h. bright introduced territorial legislature that would give women the right to vote. a lot of accounts credit esther (and bright's suffragette wife julia) as a big supporter. some even say she was a driving force behind it.my fifth grade history report, a children's book about esther called "i could do that!" and candidate captain h.g. nickerson would have you believe that esther invited bright and his political opposition and many other influential people over for tea and then locked them in her home until both candidates agreed that they'd fight for women's suffrage if elected. ok the locked in part only comes from family lore i've heard, not the children's book.
- •all 20 men on the legislature voted to pass the bill and on dec 10 (my brother's birthday!) that year, governor john campbell signed it into law.wyoming became the first american territory/state/anything to give women the right to vote. this is part of why it took so long to achieve statehood—they refused to make it official until they could legally take their women's votes with them. also population issues bc wyoming. worth noting that, despite this and even after statehood, women still couldn't vote in the presidential election until the 19 amendment passed in 1920.
- •some pissbaby judge named james w. stillman decided he didn't like that and resigned in protest, but esther was just like "boy, bye" and took his job.
- •did you read that right??? esther became the first female justice of the peace in america EVER, in part bc of this legislation and some crybaby's fit.take that stillman. bet you weren't expecting that.
- •within a year, women were also serving on wyoming juries. wyoming claims the first woman to cast a vote, the first woman justice of the peace, the first woman bailiff, the first woman elected to statewide office, and the first woman governor.guess who helped pioneer that progress.
- •as a justice of the peace, esther presided over 26 cases, both criminal and civil, and none of her rulings were ever turned over on appeal.after her appointment on valentine's day, 1970, she served for eight and a half months.
- •according to american heritage magazine, she was taking no prisoners, despite her lack of experience. one lawyer who practiced in her court said, "to pettifoggers, she showed no mercy." they also claim that at one point, she had her own husband, with his reputation as "a brawler, an idler and a drunk," arrested for assault and battery.pettifogger: n. an inferior legal practitioner, especially one who deals with petty cases or employs dubious practices.
- •the south pass news (led by editor archy slack, esther's first son) was all about her and when dumb idiots failed to reelect her after her first term, the wyoming tribune wrote, "the people of sweetwater had not the good sense or judgment to nominate and elect her for the ensuing term."so that's a pretty cool endorsement.
- •in 1872, she left her husband and wandered for a few years—laramie, wy to albany, ny to springfield, ill—before settling back in cheyenne in the 80s.esther attended both the american woman suffrage association convention in 1872 and the national suffrage convention in 1876.
- •she's one of the wyoming statues in D.C.'s statuary hall in the capitol building and they have the same statue in cheyenne at the wyoming state capitol building.
- •she was also six feet tall and smoked cigars. AND she's my great-great-great-great grandma. or something. maybe five greats.plus she's one of my namesakes! her middle name, hobart, is one of my middle names.
- •esther hobart morris, proponent of the legislative act which in 1869 gave distinction to the territory of wyoming as the 1st government in the world to grant women equal rightsthat's me and my brother and esther!
- •so like. vote and stuff. and remember her when you do. because she's boss as hell.