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A Day In Denver History: Antoinette Hawley

Peyton Garcia
Peyton Garcia
Posted on June 5   |   Updated on June 8
Portrait of Antoinette A. Hawley, 1914.

Portrait of Antoinette A. Hawley, 1914. (Denver Public Library: Genealogy, African American & Western History Resources)

Tomorrow is Election Day, and Denverites will pick their new mayor for the first time in 12 years! In honor of the occasion, I’m opening the history books on Antoinette Hawley, the first woman to ever run for Denver mayor.

It was 1901 when the Prohibition Party put Hawley on the ballot, a decision that the party’s chairman Daniel C. Burns defended publicly in a letter to the editor in the “Rocky Mountain News”:

  • “If all the tickets up for the next 100 years are composed solely of women, the fair sex would only have a start towards equality and evening up of the past centuries that man has ruled alone and with a tyrannical hand.”

Though Hawley didn’t win the seat, she earned 456 votes, coming in third place and edging out male opponent J.W. Martin, a candidate for the Socialist Party, by 215 votes. She was one of 18 women on the ballot running for a variety of offices in that election — an unprecedented occurrence that “disrupted politics as usual.”

Born in Rochester, New York, Hawley moved to Denver with her husband in 1893 where she remained active in the women’s rights movement the rest of her life. She was best known for her leadership in the Women’s Christian Temperance Union.

Fun fact: In 1911, “Denver News” accidentally published Hawley’s death in the paper. Hawley is reported to have said to the paper’s editor: “I don’t insist on a retraction … but I would like a birth notice.”

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