June 23, 2021

Van Hollen, Lummis introduce bill to name Cheyenne federal building after Women’s Rights Pioneer Louisa Swain

U.S. Senators Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) and Cynthia Lummis (R-WY) introduced a bill to honor Louisa Swain, a catalyst for women’s suffrage in the United States, by naming a federal building in Cheyenne, Wyoming, after her. In 1869, Wyoming became the first state or territory in the U.S. to recognize women’s voting rights as equal to the voting rights of men, and Louisa Swain was the first woman to cast the historic first vote under that law on September 6, 1870.

At 70 years old, Swain – a Laramie resident – cast her vote in the general election of 1870, which was 50 years before women’s voting rights were recognized in the rest of the country. Her contribution to women’s suffrage is commemorated through the Louisa Swain Foundation, a group committed to preserving her legacy and celebrating her mark on history.

“Louisa Swain broke new ground in the fight for women’s suffrage. Her work to push our nation towards greater democracy wholly merits this recognition. Maryland is proud that after her historic vote, Mrs. Swain went on to call our state home and was laid to rest here at the Friends Burial Ground in Baltimore. I’m glad to join Senator Lummis in introducing this bipartisan legislation to further honor her contributions to our nation,” said Senator Van Hollen.

Senator Lummis, an honorary committee member of the Louisa Swain Foundation, said, “I can’t think of a better name for a federal building in the first state to recognize a woman’s right to vote. Many women played an essential role in the journey toward suffrage, but Louisa Swain’s contribution was the shot heard around the world. She greatly deserves this recognition.”

Following passage of this legislation, the federal building, located at 308 W 21st St in Cheyenne, Wyoming, would be rededicated in honor of Louisa Swain’s historic vote.

In addition to being the first state or territory to recognize women’s suffrage, Wyoming also boasts the first female justice of the peace (Esther Hobart Morris), the first town governed by all women (the town of Jackson in 1920), and the first women to serve on a jury. As a result, Wyoming is known as the “Equality State.”