On February 14, 1870, Seraph Young voted in Utah two days after Utah’s territorial legislature granted women the right to vote. She was, in the words of Better Days 2020, the "first woman to vote under a women’s equal suffrage law" in the United States. Six months later, women in Utah had the opportunity to vote in the general election that took place. The hope for equality for women in Utah and the United States was on the horizon.
However, seventeen years later, the United States federal government revoked the voting rights of Utah women as part of the anti-polygamy Edmunds–Tucker Act of 1878, which disfranchised all women in Utah, including whether or not they Latter-day Saints. However, Utah’s women continued to campaign for their voting rights. In 1894, just four years after the practice of polygamy officially ended in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, the United States passed the Enabling Act, which invited Utah to apply for statehood. Utah became a state in 1896, and the constitutional convention included Article Four in the state constitution, which granted women the right to vote and hold office. Twenty-four years later, in 1920, Congress finally granted women across the United States the right to vote with the ratification of the 19th Amendment.
The fight for women’s rights in America did not end here. Other acts were passed through the years that protected and enforced voting rights for women of color. For example, the Voting Rights Act of 1965 secured African Americans’ right to.
The memorial “A Path Forward” takes visitors through a timeline of these milestones of women’s suffrage in Utah and the United States. Tourists first follow footsteps engraved on the ground of the monument honoring Seraph Young as the first woman to vote in a United States election. Next to the footsteps is a sculpted table displaying the Enabling Act. Article 4 of the Utah Constitution is etched on the ground next to the table. A series of arches, each one progressively wider than the previous, represents the expansion of women’s suffrage rights. The first arch includes quotes from suffragists who played a significant role in the women’s suffrage movement including Sojourner Truth, Emmeline B. Wells, Martha Hughes Cannon, Susan B. Anthony, and many more.
Emmeline B. Wells wrote in her journal, “I desire to do all in my power to help elevate the condition of my own people, especially women.” The “A Path Forward” monument honors courageous suffragists who, like Wells, fought for women’s right to vote. Today, we have the opportunity to honor them and their valiant efforts.