The Church Historian's Press The Church Historian's Press

January 1879


8 January

Arrived in Washington, DC, with Zina Young Williams to attend the National Woman Suffrage Association convention and to protest repressive legislation.

10 January

Spoke at a morning session of the National Woman Suffrage Association convention.

13 January

Met with President Rutherford B. Hayes and Lucy Webb Hayes in the White House library.

17 January

Spoke before the Judiciary Committee of the House of Representatives.

5 February

Reported on her Washington, DC, journey to John Taylor.

20 February

“I thank God I was the first to represent our women in the Halls of Congress.”

8 March

Reported that Charlotte Cobb Godbe, contesting for leadership of the Utah suffrage effort, “struck at me with a serpents fangs today.”

1 January 1879 • Wednesday

We had no company to dinner– Aunt Lucy [Woodward Hewlings] and ourselves, few callers– Aunt Zina [Diantha Huntington Young] and I were at the Pres. [John Taylor’s] Office, it was decided myself and one1 go to Washington.2

2 January 1879 • Thursday

All arrangements completed– good-bye said to friends– girls attended Will[iam] Jennings party– several friends called to see me. packed all my things. felt very lonely indeed– so many sick– blessings etc.

3 January 1879 • Friday

Started on 7 o’clock train all-well Annie [Elizabeth Ann Wells] & Louie [Louise Martha Wells] came down to the train Louie came on to Ogden. Bid Annie Good bye at Salt Lake bid Louie Good by at Ogden first day out of Utah [p. 23] {p. 23}

4 January 1879 • Saturday

Last night my first night in a railway carriage– all well this morning past Cheyenne [Wyoming] took dinner there– saw a herd of antelope perhaps 70 very pleasant day. saw Ben [Benjamin F.] Riter there–

5 January 1879 • Sunday

To-day we parted with the boys, our hearts were very sad, we could not see the man to whom our letter was addressed so had to pay for our tickets, the boys bid us good by on the train

6 January 1879 • Monday

<St Nicholas>3 This morn rose at 1/2 past 8 breakfasted on the train pleasant morning everybody kind to us. Arrived in Chicago at three and a few minutes. Went to the Office of C. & N. W. R4 got on the train. P. Ft. W. & C.5 [p. 24] {p. 24} met Mason C. Griggs of Chicago–

7 January 1879 • Tuesday

Did not sleep well have not slept since leaving home Zina took breakfast at Alliance <Ohio> fetched me coffee & buckwheat cakes we are in Penn. Crossed the Susquehanna and so many rivers Monongehala Alleghany

8 January 1879 • Wednesday

Arrived6 in Philadelphia at three o’clock took the cars for Washington about 6. more tunnels, more rivers. past through Baltimore, felt very ill indeed arrived about 1/2 past 12. Riggs House7 The same

9 January 1879 • Thursday

Last evening we met Mrs. [Elizabeth Cady] Stanton, Miss [Susan B.] Anthony Mrs. [Sara Andrews] Spencer Mr. [George Q.] Cannon our delegate– Mrs. [Jane Snow] Spofford– landlady and others, I was very ill. Our room was a pleasant one opening on the Treas. Dep.t. was most cordially received. went to the N.W.S.A. [p. 25] {p. 25} at Lincoln Hall.8 spoke in the evening.

10 January 1879 • Friday

To Lincoln Hall, very cold house very full– spoke a few minutes in the morning. Worrying all the time about home– was appointd on a Committee to wait on Pres. [Rutherford B.] Hayes. Have been cordially received everywhere–

11 January 1879 • Saturday

At. Ten o’clock we were called together in the red-parlor in an executive meeting many distinguished ladies were present. In the afternoon went to Mrs. [Lucy Webb] Hayes reception was introduced to both and had a most delightful interview made an appointment for Monday at 10 o’clock.

12 January 1879 • Sunday

Snowed furiously went to hear Rev. Mr. Mason preach on a subject ahead of the times. Afternoon at Mrs. Spencer’s helping with the Memorial of W.S . to Pres. Hayes.9 [p. 26] {p. 26}

13 January 1879 • Monday

<Telegram this morning all better–> In the morning went to see the Chief Executive of the Land Pres. Hayes. He was with his secretary and one other gentleman yet he invited us into his library– and I said just what I had time to say Mrs. Hayes came and we talked to her.10

14 January 1879 • Tuesday

This morn. went to Photo-gallery had pictures taken11 Called on Mrs. [Rosina McKinstry] Parnells saw Scotts monument12 Went to Pres. Hayes reception in the evening. saw many elegantly dressed ladies.

15 January 1879 • Wednesday

Zina and I went to Mrs. Parnell’s in the morning and to the “Louise Home” founded by Mr. [William W.] Corcoran of Wash. at the request of his daughter Louise,13 Zina went to the Art Gallery and I came home to write and think. there are so many compli- [p. 27] {p. 27}

16 January 1879 • Thursday

<went to the Capitol to Memorial Services of Prof. [Joseph] Henry–>14 We did some writing and I addressed a letter to Mr. [James P.] Knott of Kentucky Chairman of House Judiciary Committee, called at his house and saw Mrs. [Amelia Archer] Purrington who spoke a good word for me and I got an appointment in the morning.15 Zina went to see her cousin Seraph [Young Ford] and I re

17 January 1879 • Friday

We were before the Judiciary Committee of the house and Zina Mrs. Spencer and myself all spoke, Mr. [Elbridge G.] Lapham of New York and others were strongly impressed, good must result.

18 January 1879 • Saturday

We went to Mrs. Hayes reception and I took with me the “Women of Mormondom”16 and a letter to her ladyship– got the man who attends at the House to present them to her– in the evening went to Br. Cannon’s house with Mrs. Spencer [p. 28] {p. 28} her husband,17 Zina, & Mrs. [Theresa Juan] Lewis–

19 January 1879 • Sunday

A very dull day for us very cold and windy. Seraph and husband and Mrs. [Marilla Young] Ricker and Br. Cannon were here18 Mrs. Spencer came in the afternoon and we drove to the houses of some of the Senators. Mr. [Allen G.] Thurman was specially kind and told us to come to the Com.19 in the morning so did Senator [George F.] Edmunds.

20 January 1879 • Monday

Monday morning went to the Capitol found Senator Edmunds waiting for us. saw most of the members of that Com. even [Isaac P.] Christiancy met Gen, [Henry A.] Morrow20 delighted to meet him. Senator [John H.] Mitchell was very kind– went home with Mrs. Spencer–

21 January 1879 • Tuesday

<Letters from home>21 All day preparing memorials for Congress. Mrs. Spencer extremely kind to us I was really quite ill Zina went to the Smithsonian I felt as if we were accomplishing something. Br. Cannon views it with favor. [p. 29] {p. 29}

22 January 1879 • Wednesday

Was all day writing went over to see Br. Cannon in the evening and Mrs. Kimball arrived from Philadelphia, spent the evening very eagerly chatting, Drove to the houses of some influntial Senators.

23 January 1879 • Thursday

Called on Speaker [Samuel J.] Randall of the House & Senator Thurman of New York

met Mr. Eliot of the New York Evening Post22 Memorial introduced into the House, by Speaker Randall and called for reading by Clark [John B. Clark Jr.] of Mo. [Martin I.] Townsend of New York objected to the Judiciary Com. reporting

24 January 1879 • Friday

Friday 24. A beautiful day Mrs. Kimball first in the morning, then Mr. Cannon next then to the Capitol to learn the fate of our memorial in the hands of the Senate In the evening Went to the Capitol to hear the report of Judiciary Committee [p. 30] {p. 30}

25 January 1879 • Saturday

About 1 o’clock was taken with faintness & palpitation, sent for Dr. [Joshua O.] Stanton gave me something for my nervous and mental excitement, was suffering all day afterwards, went in the evening to see Senator Thurman, Dr. Edison, Mrs. Purrington. Br. Cannon came to see us.

26 January 1879 • Sunday

Laid in bed all day, moved into a more pleasant room. Mrs. [Imogene Robinson] Morrell the artist exceedingly kind. Minnie C. Moreau called on us. was writing all the evening. Mrs. Spofford and sister Miss Snow came for some time

27 January 1879 • Monday

We went to the Treasury Department met Col. Irish saw the famous swords of Twiggs.23 went to the Art Gallery and then took lunch with Mrs. Purrington, saw Dr. [blank] a poet etc spent the evening with Br. Cannon [p. 31] {p. 31}

28 January 1879 • Tuesday

We went to see Senator Thurman according to appointment. he was very kind, told us to See Senators [Timothy O.] Howe, [George F.] Hoar[,] [Roscoe] Conkling[,] Edmonds [George F. Edmunds], saw Senator [Blanche K.] Bruce, saw Howe talked to him to Mrs. Sargents [Ellen Clark Sargent] to call.

29 January 1879 • Wednesday

Mrs. Spencr went us to– see Senator Hoar and afterwards to the Attorney General’s but we went to the Smithsonian the Agricultural Department. went to Br. Cannon’s

30 January 1879 • Thursday

Went to Senator Edmunds to see a sculptor Mrs. Harriet [McDivitt] Ketcham, a very charming woman, her sister Miss McDivit [Ella McDivitt]. then went to the Capitol then to the Hotel, then to the White House, then to the soldiers Home24 then stat [p. 32] {p. 32} then left on the Pittsburg Ft. Wayme [Fort Wayne] & Chicago

31 January 1879 • Friday

We journeyed on a man named Stute [or Stule] took a fit of some sort came near dying, left him at Mansfield [Ohio], Mr. Salmon of Wisconsin was very attentive to us. S[l]ept in our clothes.


  1. [1]Zina Young Williams.

  2. [2]EBW and Zina Williams were assigned by church leaders to attend the National Woman Suffrage Association meetings in Washington, DC, in January 1879; their purposes were to lend Utah’s support for universal women’s suffrage and to lobby Congress concerning repressive legislation against the Latter-day Saints. (Madsen, Advocate for Women, 161–168.)

  3. [3]EBW may have confused St. Nicholas Day, observed on 6 December, with Epiphany, observed on 6 January. (Encyclopedia Britannica Online, s.v. “St. Nicholas Day,” accessed 3 Mar. 2020,; Encyclopedia Britannica Online, s.v. “Epiphany,” accessed 3 Mar. 2020,

  4. [4]Chicago and North Western Railway.

  5. [5]Pittsburgh, Fort Wayne, and Chicago Railway.

  6. [6]text: Written over an illegible word.

  7. [7]Riggs House was a private hotel that was used as headquarters of the National Woman Suffrage Association. It also provided lodging for prominent visitors to Washington, DC, including Susan B. Anthony and George Q. Cannon. (Madsen, Advocate for Women, 162–163, 177n66; Bitton, George Q. Cannon, 225.)

  8. [8]Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony, Sara Andrews Spencer, and Jane H. Spofford were leaders in the National Woman Suffrage Association; their meetings were held in Lincoln Hall, located on Ninth and D Streets. George Q. Cannon was the Utah territorial delegate and a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. (“Notes and News,” Woman’s Exponent, 1 Jan. 1879, 7:113; Carol Cornwall Madsen, Intimate History, 184–185.)

  9. [9]A committee from the National Woman Suffrage Association presented a petition for women’s suffrage, which EBW reprinted in the Woman’s Exponent. (“Petitions and Memorials,” Woman’s Exponent, 15 Feb. 1879, 7:197.)

  10. [10]text: A line has been drawn beneath the entry for Monday, 13 January; the entry runs slightly beyond the Tuesday preprinted heading. This line may have been added later to more fully separate the entries. A reporter called “Miss Grundy” witnessed the interview. EBW and Zina Williams “laid their case before the President and he showed such kindly sympathy with them when they proved what misery would follow in Utah the enforcement of the act of 1862 against polygamy. He told them he would not trust so important a matter to his memory of a verbal interview, but wished them to put their case in writing and lay it before him. He seemed pained, evidently, reflecting how little he could do to help them since the United States Supreme Court has rendered a decision within a month against polygamy in Utah.” (Miss Grundy, “Mormon Ladies Calling at the White House,” Woman’s Exponent, 15 Mar. 1879, 7:212.) The U.S. Supreme Court rendered its decision in Reynolds v. United States, ruling that a law banning polygamy was constitutional. (An Act to Punish and Prevent the Practice of Polygamy, 12:501; Cannon, Journal, 11 Jan. 1879.)

  11. [11]The widely distributed photo of EBW in her silk, brocaded dress holding a pen and seated at a desk was most likely photographed in the Charles M. Bell Studio on Pennsylvania Avenue. (Madsen, Intimate History, 189n48; “C. M. Bell Studio Collection.”)

  12. [12]In 1874, an equestrian statue created by Henry Kirke Brown was erected in honor of General Winfield Scott at Scott Circle at the intersection of Massachusetts Avenue and 16th Street in Washington, DC. (Encyclopedia Britannica Online, s.v. “Winfield Scott,” accessed 3 Mar. 2020,; “Equestrian Statue.”)

  13. [13]The Louise Home was a residence for “genteel but impoverished women.” (Mackay, “Corcoran Mansion.”)

  14. [14]Joseph Henry (1797–1878), physicist and inventor, served as the first director of the Smithsonian Institute. EBW and her party joined an audience of eminent people memorializing Henry in the assembly room of the House of Representatives. (“Henry, Joseph,” in Malone, Dictionary of American Biography, 8:550–553; Memorial of Joseph Henry, 37–122.)

  15. [15]text: The following sentence is written below the heading for 17 January but is partially enclosed in a wavy line, indicating that the text belongs with the 16 January entry.

  16. [16]Women of Mormondom was written by Edward W. Tullidge with the help of Eliza R. Snow, EBW, and other leading women of the church. It presents autobiographies, notable experiences, and aspects of the faith of the Latter-day Saints.

  17. [17]Henry C. Spencer.

  18. [18]George Q. Cannon described activities on 19 January in his journal as well: “Spent the most of the day at the Riggs House with Sisters Wells and Williams. Mr. Seth Ford, who is blind, and his wife, who was Seraph Young, a granddaughter of Phineas H. Young, and their two children were there.” (Cannon, Journal, 19 Jan. 1879.)

  19. [19]Judiciary Committee.

  20. [20]Henry Andrew Morrow (1829–1891), commander of the Michigan Twenty-Fourth Infantry Division during the Civil War, was commanding officer at Camp Douglas, which was east of Salt Lake City, from 1872 to 1873. (“Henry Andrew Morrow,” accessed 3 Mar. 2020,; Curtis, History of the Twenty-Fourth Michigan of the Iron Brigade, 477–478.)

  21. [21]text: Written vertically in the left margin. It is not clear whether the insertion was intended as part of the 20 January or 21 January entry, but the ink flow suggests it was inscribed around the time that the 21 January entry was recorded.

  22. [22]The New York Evening Post supported social reforms like abolition and women’s suffrage. Henry R. Elliott (born about 1850) is listed in the 1880 census as a journalist born in New York and boarding in Washington, DC. (“Just the Same as the Men,” Remonstrance against Woman Suffrage [Boston], Jan. 1918, 8; 1880 U.S. Census, District of Columbia, 345A.)

  23. [23]After the war with Mexico, General David Emanuel Twiggs was given “three magnificent swords for his splendid service,” including one from Congress “with jeweled hilt and the scabbard of solid gold. . . . They were on exhibition for years in the treasury at Washington.” (“Twiggs, David Emanuel,” in National Cyclopaedia of American Biography, 4:102.)

  24. [24]Built in the 1850s outside of Washington, DC, the Soldiers’ Home served as a retirement center for veterans. A few of the buildings became the summer residence for several U.S. presidents, including James Buchanan, Abraham Lincoln, Rutherford B. Hayes, and Chester Arthur. (“AFRH History.”)