Utah House passes resolution to send Martha Hughes Cannon to Washington

Martha is free to soar like a bird.

But not for two more years.

A resolution that would replace the Philo T. Farnsworth statue in the U.S. Capitol with one of Martha Hughes Cannon passed the Utah House overwhelmingly Wednesday.

But not before it was amended to say the switch will take place in 2020 – the 100th anniversary of the passage of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution giving women the vote.

Even Rep. Mike Noel, R-Kanab, relented – voting for the document that will replace his hero – Farnsworth, a native of Beaver, Utah, which Noel represents.

The third version of SCR1 passed the House, 67-3.

We’ll let the “no” votes: Reps. Derrin Owens, R-Fountain Green; Scott Sandall, R-Tremonton; and John Westwood, R-Cedar City; explain to their wives and daughters why they voted against Martha.

Noel got a lot of flak when, as chairman of the House Rules Committee, he bottled up SCR1 for several days – not letting it out for the required House standing committee hearing earlier this session.

The House gallery was standing room only with a lot of women and girls present for what Rep. Becky Edwards, R-Bountiful, the House sponsor of SCR1, said was a monumental day in Utah for women and “celebrating” Cannon and women of accomplishment everywhere.

They clapped and cheered several times – with House Speaker Greg Hughes having to call them out of order: No applause is allowed from the gallery.

Rep. Brad Daw, R-Orem, tried to amend the resolution to say the 2030 Legislature would study whether to rotate the Farnsworth statue back into the U.S. Capitol’s Statuary Hall – where each state gets two statues.

The other Utah statue is of Brigham Young – Mormon Church leader who brought the faithful into the Salt Lake Valley in 1847 and was territorial governor when Utah gave women the right to vote in local elections in 1870.

But Daw’s amendment was voted down in a voice vote, with speakers against it saying SCR1 shouldn’t deal with the possibility of Philo coming back, tainting Cannon’s day in the sun.

Cannon was the first woman elected to a state Senate in the U.S.

In 1896 she ran as a Democrat, beating her polygamist husband, who ran as a Republican.

She was also a medical doctor and leader in women’s rights.

There is already a statue of Cannon outside on the Utah Capitol grounds, but Edwards said it would be up to a special Cannon statue committee to raise private funds and decide if a new statue is made (in either marble or copper) for the U.S. Capitol.

Meanwhile, Farnsworth will not be forgotten. There is a smaller version of the U.S. Capitol statue of him on a fourth floor Utah Capitol hallway.

And several cities and towns in Utah are offering to take his U.S. Capitol statue – if the state doesn’t want it for the Utah Capitol grounds.