WASHINGTON, D.C. – Last Thursday, the U.S. Senate unanimously passed by voice vote a bill by U.S. Senators Cynthia Lummis (R-WY), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), John Barrasso (R-WY), and Ben Cardin (D-MD) honoring Louisa Swain, a women’s rights pioneer. This bill, Senator Lummis’ first stand-alone legislation to pass the Senate, rededicates a federal building located at 308 W 21st Street in Cheyenne, Wyoming, in honor of LouisaSwain and her election vote.
At 70 years old, Swain – a Laramie resident – cast her vote in the general election of 1870, 50 years before women’s voting rights were recognized in the rest of the country. Her vote made her the pioneering woman who cast the first legal vote in a general election under Wyoming law. She later moved to Maryland, and was laid to rest in Baltimore.
“As the first woman to serve Wyoming in the U.S. Senate, it is an honor to have my first bill that passes the U.S. Senate be one that commemorates a true pioneer from the states of Wyoming and Maryland,” Senator Lummis said about her bill. “I can’t think of a better name for a federal building in the first state to recognize this right and enshrine full suffrage for women in law. It’s been an honor working with colleagues in Wyoming and Maryland on this bill to honor a pioneer so important to both of our states.”
“Louisa Swain broke new ground in the fight for women’s suffrage, and her work to push our nation towards greater democracy must not be forgotten. Maryland is proud that after her historic vote, Ms. Swain went on to call our state home and was laid to rest at the Friends Burial Ground in Baltimore. I was proud to introduce this bipartisan legislation with Senator Lummis, and I’m glad that the Senate unanimously passed this fitting tribute to honor Ms. Swain’s contributions to our nation,” said Senator Van Hollen.
“Wyoming has the honor of being home to many exceptional women who have shaped our state and nation. As the Equality State, we proudly celebrate Wyoming’s trailblazing women and their efforts to advance the rights of women,” said Senator Barrasso. “Dedicating a federal building in honor of Louisa Swain is a fitting tribute to her historic election vote, a critical milestone in ensuring the full participation of women in our democracy.”
“Marylanders have a long history of standing tall for women’s rights, and Louisa Swain is a prime example. Her historic act of casting the first legal ballot reminds us of how far we have come on women’s rights, and how far we still have to go,” said Senator Cardin. “Standing up for equality is always the right thing to do, and I am gratified to have been able to help the effort to ensure that we have a new monument to that fact in Cheyenne, Wyoming.”
The legislation now heads to the House of Representatives for consideration.