This Trailblazing Feminist Was the First Woman in the New World to Demand Her Right to Vote
In Margaret Brent’s day, women were supposed to be seen and not heard. That didn’t stop her from taking on the system.
Illustrations by Cornelia Li
A harsh wind churns through the falling snow as an astute woman peers out the corner of a frosted foyer window. It must be nearly noon she thinks to herself, and shivers. She has waited a better part of the morning to speak before the assembly of Freemen. Alone, she takes an opportunity to adjust her cap and smooth the front of her petticoat. This is no time for an unkempt appearance. Finally, the doors of the meeting hall open and a stout man motions for her to come inside.
Embers blaze in the massive fireplace. Ahead, a group of men are seated at a long table. They remove their hats and stand as she approaches. She hands a tall gentleman a sheet of paper and, without a hint of fear in her voice, says, “I am a landowner and thy Lordship’s attorney. I hereby request a voice on this council.” And so, on January 21, 1648, Margaret Brent becomes the first woman in the New World to request the right to vote. Although her motion is denied, her spirit is never bro…