In 1874, the Pembina Bill was proposed to the territorial legislature. This bill would carve a new Territory out of Dakota Territory called Pembina.
Senator Sargent offered an amendment to that bill that would allow women the right to vote at the formation of the new territory. Newspapers reported that Sargent offered this because he believed granting women the right to vote would "purify society and open wider avenues to them."
He also felt it would follow through on the Republican party's 1872 platform promise to work for suffrage. Other pro-suffrage legislators noted that it could be useful to experiment with women's suffrage in this new territory; that women's presence at the polls would cause men to abstain from "rowdyism of any kind."