The first recorded woman to legally vote in colonial America.
Born Lydia Chapin to a wealthy family in Mendon, Massachusetts. At 19, she married Josiah Taft, and they settled in nearby Uxbridge. There, Taft’s husband was one of the wealthiest landowners of the town and its largest taxpayer. He was among the town’s leaders and served as a selectman and town moderator.
In 1756, her eldest son died, and soon after, her husband. At 44, Taft became a wealthy widow with underage children. Her husband’s death occurred just before an important town vote on the financial support of the ongoing French and Indian War.
At the time, women were not allowed to vote, but the town needed many supporters to vote for the war funding. With no adult man to represent the Taft family, the people of Uxbridge granted Taft the right to vote as a proxy of her late husband. During an open town meeting on October 30th, 1756, Taft voted in favor of funding the British regiments engaged in the war. On that day, Taft made history as the first recorded woman to legally vote in colonial America, preceding the ratification of the 19th amendment in 164 years. In the following years, Taft had voted in two more town meetings – in 1758 and 1765. Taft died at the age of 66.
More Interesting Anecdotes:
- She had 9 siblings. Her mother had 14.
- She had 8 children, most of them did not survive to adulthood.
- She was a great-great-great grand-aunt of President William Howard Taft.
- The Massachusetts Route 146A, from Uxbridge to the Rhode Island border, is named in her honor.
NHD LYDIA TAFT
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