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Mrs. Morris’ Tea Party #389: Grace Raymond Hebard Papers

Esther Hobart Morris spent eleven months as the first female Justice of the Peace in the United States. She was also an early suffragist. But parts of her role in history are debated.

Morris arrived in the Wyoming Territory in 1868. She had moved from Illinois with her husband, who had opened a saloon in the booming gold mining camp of South Pass City.

Some historians believe that Morris was instrumental in lobbying politicians of the time to introduce a woman’s suffrage bill. They recount that Morris hosted a tea party attended by the candidates for the legislature representing South Pass City.

At the tea party, she is said to have demanded that both contenders promise to propose a bill giving the women of the Wyoming Territory voting rights. Other historians dispute this story.

Regardless, Morris remains a revered figure in Wyoming history. A statue of Morris resides in Cheyenne and a second statue is in U.S. Capitol.

Learn more about Esther Hobart Morris in the Grace Raymond Hebard papers at UW’s American Heritage Center.

For more information, visit the American Heritage Center site.