Nellie Tayloe Ross was the first female governor of a US State, elected in 1924, not even 5 years after women were given the vote. Seeing as I’d never heard of her until I went to create this post, I think I should share some knowledge about this amazing woman. So:
- She was the governor of Wyoming, which was also the first state to allow women the vote. Very progressive of you, Wyoming. Now you’re just known for being the least populated state in the U.S.
- She replaced her husband, William B. Ross, after he died. In the wake of his death, she ran for office, won, and continued his progressive policies when governing her state.
- She tried to portray an image of coming from an upper-class southern family when she got into politics. However, her family wasn’t all that rich. When they fell on hard times, Nellie had to teach piano lessons to put herself through school. She became a kindergarten teacher.
- When she was inaugurated, the papers were abuzz about… her fashion choices. Apparently the fact that she was politically active and still “feminine” was a shock.
- She won the race for governor by a considerably larger margin than her husband did: 8,000 votes more than her opponents, out of 79,000.
- Some of her policies and proposals include: spending cuts, enforcing prohibition with an iron fist, requiring cities, school districts, and counties to have budgets, safer working conditions for coal miners, and an amendment to the U.S. Constitution that would limit child labor (remember, she was working in the 1920s, an era with far fewer regulations concerning labor than the present). However, she was a Democrat in a primarily Republican state, so only five of her eleven initial proposals gained enough traction to be passed into law.