Wednesday, 12 October 2016

First female US senator was Welsh-born

A few minutes' walk from this house is a utilitarian but very well-kept meeting hall of the Community of Christ, once known as the Church of Jesus Christ and Latter-day Saints*, aka the Mormons. I knew that the Mormons had proselytised in south Wales in modern times, even organising baseball leagues in the Cardiff area in order to publicise themselves. I assumed that the Skewen hall dated from those times, until I heard an item on the last "Sunday Supplement".

The author of a new book (in Welsh, but we are promised an English version in due course) about Martha Hughes Cannon, the first woman elected to the US Senate, explained that there was a large emigration from Wales to found Mormon communities in the States. (Malad, Idaho, is an archetype.) Llandudno-born Martha Hughes was part of that migration, which has been played down in Wales since Victorian times because of the association with polygamy. The pioneer of women's rights is much more celebrated in the USA, notwithstanding her seemingly contradictory support for polygamy (she was the fourth of six wives).

*The church used to have a UK subsidiary organisation named "The Church of Jesus Christ and Latter-Day Saints Manufacturing Company Limited". When the then Ministry of Transport was designing the original IT system for what was to become DVLA, research turned this up as one of the longer registered vehicle keepers and I remember gleefully incorporating the name in my test data when I was one of the programmers of the vehicle registration system.

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