Discovering America’s First Women Voters, 1800 - 1807
In 2018 the Museum of the American Revolution discovered polling records that document for the first time a generation of women voters in early New Jersey. To date, we have discovered 163 women voters on nine poll lists who cast ballots across the state from 1800 to 1807. These lists introduce new stories of the first women voters in the United States – stories of the forgotten women who pioneered the vote.
The poll lists suggest women’s political significance and participation in local, state, and federal elections in early New Jersey. This first in-depth analysis of these nine poll lists from New Jersey refutes any presumption that women in the Early Republic were only passive witnesses and bystanders of the political processes that shaped the new nation.
Not only has the Museum discovered evidence of women voters in early New Jersey, we have also identified the names of at least four free Black male voters on one of the poll lists. While we have yet to confirm the identity of any free Black women voters, the presence of both women and free Black voters on these poll lists reveals the inclusive nature of the electoral system in New Jersey in the first few decades following American independence.
Who Women Voted For
Bedminster Township, Somerset County, New Jersey, October 1800
Women Voted Together
Montgomery Township, Somerset County, New Jersey, October 1801
Women Voted Year After Year
Upper Penns Neck Township, Salem County, New Jersey, December 1800; October 1801; October 1802; October 1803; December 1803; October 1806
Women Voted Until 1807
Chester Township, Burlington County, New Jersey, October 1807