The Making of the Constitution of Wyoming #324: William A. Richards Family Papers
In September 1889, men from the ten counties in the Wyoming Territory gathered in Cheyenne. They were lawyers, businessmen, bankers and cattlemen. They met for 28 days to draft the Wyoming Constitution. The only woman involved in the proceedings was Miss Louise Smith, who was paid fifteen dollars a day to serve as stenographer to the assembled group.
Many subjects were debated, with women’s suffrage being the first topic of discussion. The majority favored including language in the new constitution that would continue to support women’s right to vote and hold office. After much deliberation, the majority also decided that only those able to read the constitution would be allowed to vote.
The matter of water rights and irrigation was a topic of great interest. The framers of the constitution took the unusual step of declaring that the waters of the state were the property of the state.
Read W.E. Chaplin’s first-hand account of the creation of the Wyoming Constitution in the William A. Richards Family papers at UW’s American Heritage Center.