10
Dec
08

On This Day, 12-10-2008: Otis Redding

December 10, 1869

Wyoming grants women the vote

Motivated more by interest in free publicity than a commitment to gender equality, Wyoming territorial legislators pass a bill that is signed into law granting women the right to vote.

Western states led the nation in approving women’s suffrage, but some of them had rather unsavory motives. Though some men recognized the important role women played in frontier settlement, others voted for women’s suffrage only to bolster the strength of conservative voting blocks. In Wyoming, some men were also motivated by sheer loneliness–in 1869, the territory had over 6,000 adult males and only 1,000 females, and area men hoped women would be more likely to settle in the rugged and isolated country if they were granted the right to vote.

Some of the suffrage movement’s leaders did have more respectable reasons for supporting women’s right to vote. William Bright, a territorial legislator who was in his mid-forties, had a persuasive young wife who convinced him that denying women the vote was a gross injustice. The other major backer, Edward M. Lee, the territorial secretary who had championed the cause for years, argued that it was unfair for his mother to be denied a privilege granted to African-American males.

Ultimately, though, appeals to justice and equality did not pass the legislation–most Wyoming legislators supported Bright and Lee’s bill because they thought it would win the territory free national publicity and might attract more single marriageable women to the region. Territorial Governor John A. Campbell appreciated the publicity power of the policy and signed the bill into law, making Wyoming the first territory or state in the history of the nation to grant women this fundamental right of citizenship.

“Wyoming grants women the vote.” 2008. The History Channel website. 10 Dec 2008, 11:39 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=4363.

Otis Redding:  Sitting on the Dock of the Bay

December 10, 1967

Music star dies in Wisconsin plane crash

A plane crash in Madison, Wisconsin, kills soul singer Otis Redding and members of the Bar-Kays band on this day in 1967. The plane crashed into Lake Monona, several miles from the Madison airport.

One survivor, Ben Cauley of the Bar-Kays, later reported that he had been asleep until just before the crash. He saw his friend in the band, Phalon Jones, look out the window of the small plane and exclaim “Oh no!” and, before he knew it, he was in a frigid lake holding onto a seat cushion. The following day, the lake was dragged and the bodies of the victims were recovered. A storm in Madison that day was a factor in the crash but the exact cause was never determined.

Redding was not the only well-known singer to die in a plane crash. In 1959, Buddy Holly, along with the lesser known J.P. “Big Bopper” Richardson and Ritchie Valens, were killed in a crash that is thought to have inspired Don McLean’s well-known song “American Pie.” Country singer Patsy Cline died in a 1963 crash. Ten years later, Jim Croce perished in one in Louisiana. Key members of the band Lynyrd Skynyrd died in an accident 1977. Singer John Denver was killed piloting his own plane in 1997.

Four months after his death at the age of 26, Otis Redding’s “(Sittin’ on the) Dock of the Bay,” the last song he ever recorded, reached the top spot on the pop music charts. It was his first No. 1 hit.

“Music star dies in Wisconsin plane crash.” 2008. The History Channel website. 10 Dec 2008, 11:36 http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history.do?action=Article&id=52521.

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