Wyoming Statehood Celebration Speeches - Theresa A. Jenkins

"Theresa A. Jenkins was then introduced to the immense audience. Proceeding to the front of the platform, the lady in clear, forceful tones which penetrated to the very outskirts of the crowd, began and delivered without notes or manuscript an address which in ability, logic and eloquence has rarely if ever been equaled by any woman of the land. She was grandly equal to the occasion," (Cheyenne Daily Sun July 24, 1890 p. 1).

"Mr. President, Governor Warren, and gentlemen of the State of Wyoming.

"On behalf of the ladies present and in the name of many who are not with us to-day, I am requested to make this expression of our appreciation of the great benefit conferred upon us your hands, and confirmed by the congress of these United States. Happy are our hearts today, and our lips but sound a faint echo of the gratitude within our bosoms. While we rejoice with you that our young commonwealth has been permitted to place upon this beautiful banner her bright prophetic star, how much more reason have we for enthusiastic demonstration. The republican spirit of 189O, with a generosity unrivaled in all the annals of political economy, has admitted into the national jurisprudence the voice of woman. We have been placed upon the very summit of freedom and the broad plain of universal equality. Think ye that our tongues are silent or that we have no need to sing our anthems of praise? History chronicles no such an event on all its pages, and the bells of the past ring out no such victory.

"We have never been compelled to petition or protest; we have ever been treated with a patient hearing and our practical suggestions have been most courteously received and in the future we but desire a continuance of these favors. We ask of our law makers just laws for the enlargement and perpetuity of our educational facilities; we ask of our legislators wise and magnanimous measures for the erection and maintenance of our benevolent institutions; we ask of you, laws for the better protection of the moral as well as the physical natures of our boys and our girls, even though the maverick be neglected and taxpayers and burden bearers as we are, may we not expect the proper enforcement of these laws as well as the framing of them.

"Bartholdi's Statue of Liberty enlightening the world is fashioned in the form of a woman and placed upon a pedestal carved from the everlasting granite of the New England hills, but the women of Wyoming have been placed upon a firmer foundation and hold a more brilliant torch.

"In the days of the past there came to this region a woman who had been reared among the hardy minds of the east. She brought with her, her family, her garden seeds, her doctrine of woman's equality before the law. Her sons live to do her honor, her garden seeds have been planted and she has proven to the world that this desolate plain can he made to blossom as the rose, and to-day she sits with us at the age of 77 a free citizen equal with her sons. Esther Morris, like Queen Esther of old, has dared to brave the anger of man rather than her own people should perish.

"We ask no trophies at our feet, no laurel on our brows, but we do ask for these two, Mrs. Morris and Mrs. Post, a wreath of immortelles fashioned in the motto of "Faithfulness," and hung on the walls of "Endurance," and this young girl guard of honor, picked from the flowers of the state, who to-day have walked through the dusty streets that they might be beside this beloved flag, may well emulate these examples, preferring ever to sacrifice personal comfort to duly and pride to patriotism.

"These words of thankfulness would be incomplete were we to neglect to utter the sentiments of all our hearts in enumerating among our noble friends the names of the framers of our constitution. In the list,cherished In the hearts of us all, stands out that of M. C.Brown, president of the convention: George W. Baxter, who introduced our clause in the constitution; J. K. Jeffrey, chairman of the committee, and J. W. Hoyt; who without malice, trickery or subterfuge granted us our wishes, and we claim the right today to do these heroes reverence, and in this galaxy of stars which every woman wears today a diadem of gems shines out, the fairest and rarest of them all, F. E. Warren and J. M. Carey, and ye who applaud say never again a prophet has honor save in his own country.

"And as the star of Bethlehem shed its soft, effulgent rays over an inland plain where lay cradled a new deliverance, so today this forty-fourth star, eight pointed as we would have it, casts its illumination from the icy regions of the north to the magical blossoms which ripen into tropical fruit beneath the radiant sunshine of our southern skies, from our lofty mountain ranges with snow-capped peaks towering through the clouds to the very door steps of heaven, east and west to the sea-kissed shores of our continent.

"May these salty surges carry this reflection on their swelling tide even to the mines of Siberia, where exiled woman, groaning in degradation and slavery, may catch some glimmer of hope, and, listening, hear some note of a glad hosanna that rings out tonight from this, our inland plain, not, perhaps, from the lips of angels, but from the hearts of women as we proclaim aloud our glad tidings of great joy, the political redemption of our sex.

"And may that beautiful bow of color which spanned our eastern boundary at The golden sunset hour of July 10, I890, be but a faint promise of the prosperity, the stability, the harmony of our magnificent domain, guided (not governed) by the hand of man clasped in the hand of woman."