Martha Hughes Cannon


Martha (Mattie) Hughes Cannon (1857 – 1932) A Welsh-born immigrant, her family immigrated to the United States as converts to the Mormon church and traveled West to settle in Utah territory. She started working at the age of fourteen. At sixteen she enrolled in the University of Deseret, now called the University of Utah, receiving a Bachelors in Chemistry.

From there she attended the University of Michigan and received her MD. She became the fourth of six wives in a polygamous marriage to Angus M. Cannon, a prominent Mormon leader during the anti-polygamy crusade. “Mattie” exiled herself to Europe so she wouldn’t have to testify against her husband.

Upon returning to Utah, “Mattie” worked as a doctor and fought for women’s rights. She helped put women enfranchisement into Utah’s constitution when it was granted statehood in 1896.

On November 3, 1896 “Mattie” became the first female State Senator elected in the United States, defeating her own husband, who was also on the ballot. She was the author of Utah sanitation laws and was a founder and member of Utah’s first State Board of Health.

Read more of the amazing feisty woman.