‘Votes for women!’ — 110 years ago marked the first time in California history that women were elected to the Legislature.

“The first woman elected to the Legislature in California!” reads the large banner across the top of the rotunda inside the Capitol, which is also celebrating its centennial anniversary.

Today, women have only been elected as county officials, although a recent study found that women with no college degrees were twice as likely to be elected to office as those with a college degree.

But back in 1875, the first woman to ever serve in a California legislative body was the state’s most famous politician at the time — Susan B. Anthony.

With the help of a few allies, Anthony used her growing fame and social media connections to defeat Republican incumbent Daniel Sickles in a hotly contested race over which would be the first woman elected to the state Assembly.

As the news of her victory soon spread, the anti-suffragist movement swelled in California, and Anthony was eventually defeated in the general election in 1876 — but not before earning a powerful legacy for the woman who defeated him.

Today, Anthony’s birthday is being celebrated in the same way the suffragists of her day celebrated the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment: by taking a moment to celebrate other women for their important contributions to society on the 100th anniversary of their own personal triumph.

“One step at a time,” actress Alyssa Milano wrote on her own Facebook account on Monday, “today we honor @SusanBAnthony and her work for women’s rights and equality… we also celebrate other women, past and present, who make women’s rights a reality.”

And Twitter users have used the occasion to share historical accounts and pictures from the suffragists who came before Anthony, as well as their own stories of victory.

In honor of #SusanBAnthony’s 100th birthday, I’m giving you another chance. Let’s #GetEqual. pic.twitter.com/R3e8Mh

Leave a Comment