Childhood home of USA’s first female state senator, Llandudno

Childhood home of USA’s first female state senator, Llandudno

llandudno_martha_hughes_cannon
Used by permission,
Utah State Historical Society

Martha Hughes Cannon lived as a child in a house on this side of the Great Orme. She became the USA’s first female state senator when she was elected to represent Utah in November 1896.

Martha Hughes was born in Llandudno in 1857 at an unknown address somewhere in Madoc Street. Her last known address, as recorded in the passenger list of the ship that took her family to New York in 1860, was “Tanygraig”, probably referring to a house of that name at the top of the steps leading from the south-west corner of this grassy triangle. Another house called Tanygraig was also on this slope overlooking Llandudno.

llandudno_martha_h_cannon_with_baby
Used by permission,
Utah State Historical Society

The family emigrated as Mormons but Martha’s sister died en route to Salt Lake City, Utah, and her father Peter soon after arrival. Martha studied chemistry and medicine at university, before setting up a medical practice in Salt Lake City. In 1884, she entered a polygamous marriage with an older man, Angus Cannon, becoming his fourth wife.

Martha campaigned for women to be allowed to vote in elections. In 1896 she was one of 10 candidates for five Utah seats in the Senate. Angus unsuccessfully stood as a Republican but Martha, a Democrat, won a seat. The photos shown here were taken while she was a senator. The lower one, dated 1899, includes her baby daughter Mattie.

During her two terms in the Senate, she helped to improve laws relating to sanitation, female workers and disabled people. She died in Los Angeles in 1932.

With thanks to Wil Aaron

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