Clara Cressingham

First Leadership Position for a Woman and Sugar Beet Supporter

In 1893 Colorado became the first state in which women got the right to vote through popular election. The following year, 3 women were elected on November 6, 1894 to serve in the Colorado General Assembly.

At only 32 years old, Clara Cressingham was the youngest of these three trailblazers. She had moved from New York with her husband, worked as a writer, and was raising two children when she was elected to the General Assembly, representing a Denver district.   

As secretary of the Republican caucus, Cressingham was the first woman to fill a leadership position. She quickly established herself as someone who could do more than take notes.

Cressingham is credited with passing the first law introduced by a woman. It set a government–provided bounty of $3 per ton on sugar beets raised in the state and sold to a factory within its borders, thus boosting the budding Colorado sugar beet industry. Other bills she introduced during her two years in the House addressed the creation of a state board of arbitration and a system of free schools. Along with the other two women in the legislature, she successfully supported a bill to create homes for delinquent girls. 

More information about Clara Cressingham:

Colorado General Assembly Biographical Information

Colorado Joint Resolution honoring first women in legislature


Note: The information on this page is made available through the generosity of the Colorado Legislative Women’s Caucus, which has asked us to preserve, maintain and promote information they gathered.

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