Colorado Women: Political Firsts

Colorado made history in women’s rights on November 6, 1894 when three women were elected State Representatives. Pueblo County’s Carrie Clyde Holly, along with Clara Cressingham and Frances Klock, both elected from Arapahoe County, were sworn in on January 2, 1895 as members of the Colorado House of Representatives. They became the first female state legislators in the nation. Their election occurred 26 years before women gained the right to vote with the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
          Holly was the first woman to introduce a bill; House Bill 24 was an Equal Rights Amendment to the Colorado Constitution. It failed to pass.
          Klock was the first woman to chair a committee: the Indian and Veterans Affairs Committee.
          Cressingham was the first woman to fill a legislative leadership position. She served as secretary of the Republican Caucus.
          Holly and Cressingham were both born in New York City and Klock was a native of Massachusetts. The fact that all three women came from the East, where the first women’s rights convention was held (Seneca Falls, NY 1848), may have sparked their desire to seek public office.
          Western states led the way for women’s entrance into politics. Wyoming was the first state to grant women the right to vote in 1890 and Colorado followed in 1893. Two years after Colorado elected the first female State Representatives, Martha Hughes Cannon became the first female State Senator, elected in Utah. In 1917, Jeannette Rankin from Montana became the first woman elected to Congress.
          To learn more about these women, see:
House Joint Resolution No. 710, Commemorating the 100th anniversary of the election of the nation’s first female state legislators
The Colorado Statesman, 8/8/2008,
Center for American Women and Politics
National Women’s History Museum

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Published in: on June 14, 2010 at 6:00 am  Leave a Comment  
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