Women won the right to vote in a number of countries before they won it in the U.S. New Zealand was the first, back in 1893, to pass women’s suffrage. Australia followed in 1902. Then came Finland, Norway, Denmark, Canada, Austria, Germany, Poland, Russia, the Netherlands, and finally, on Aug. 26, 1920, with the passage of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution, the United States.
It may have taken the country that long to come around, but a number of pre-statehood territories and early states were trailblazers in the fight for women’s suffrage.
One of the earliest examples was New Jersey, which granted to single women owning property “worth fifty pounds” the right to vote between the Declaration of Independence in 1776 and 1807 — when the privilege was rescinded due to political manoeuvrings. In 1838, widows with school-age children could vote in Kentucky school elections; in Kansas, a similar limited rights measure pass in 1861.
The American West has always had an independent streak, though, and the Territory of Wyoming became the first place in America to pass universal women’s suffrage in 1869. When it was admitted to the Union, Wyoming also became the first state to let women vote.
While participation in the democratic process is a fundamental right and responsibility of American citizens age 18 and older, not everybody takes advantage of it — these are the states with the highest voter turnout today.
The first seven states to enfranchise women were all in the West. Here’s the whole list of the 19 American territories and states that passed women’s suffrage before the passage of the 19th Amendment.