Tag Archives: Nellie Tayloe Ross

Women’s History Month 2012: Nellie Tayloe Ross

10 Mar

Today we celebrate a woman who broke the glass ceiling in two political offices, Nellie Tayloe Ross. Born in Missouri in 1876, Nellie Tayloe was raised in Tennessee and Kansas. She completed high school and teacher training school, then began teaching kindergarten and offering piano lessons. She met William Bradford Ross in 1900; they married in 1902.

The couple moved to Cheyenne, Wyoming where William established a law practice. He became very involved in Democratic politics and ran for office several times, always defeated by the Republican. Curiously, his first successful campaign was a run for governor. Pushing a progressive platform that appealed to both parties in this western state, he won and took office in 1922. Unfortunately, he died barely a year later from complications of an appendectomy.

Impressed by her support of her husband’s platform and campaigns, the Democratic party of Wyoming nominated Nellie in the special election to replace her husband. Fearing a Republican would win if she did not step up, she agreed and easily won the office. In doing so, she became the first female governor in U.S. history. She worked hard to support the platform she believed in and had supported with her husband, including government assistance for poor farmers, banking reform, and laws protecting children, women workers, and miners. Despite her success, she narrowly lost re-election, probably because of her unfortunate support for the growing prohibition movement.

She remained active in politics, however, working hard for the Democratic National Committee. These efforts included regional support for Al Smith’s 1928 run for President, a term as vice-chair of the DNC, and a term as the director of the organization’s Women’s Division. In 1933, FDR appointed her director of the U.S. Mint; she was the first woman to hold this office. She served five full terms, retiring in 1953 when Republicans won the White House. In retirement she traveled extensively and wrote articles — many about the worker’s rights causes she had championed as Governor — for the influential women’s magazines of the day. She died in 1977 at the age of 101.

Women’s History: May 3

3 May

Happy Birthday, Golda Meir

May 3 is a big day in Women’s History. Today we will be celebrating Maud O’Farrell Swartz, Golda Meir, and Nellie Tayloe Ross.

Happy Birthday, Golda Meir.  Meir was Israel’s fourth Prime Minister, as well as being the first woman to serve in that office.  Meir served as Prime Minister during the very difficult Yom Kippur War.  I personally feel Meir showed great wisdom and restraint and true leadership during this war. It was only a few months later that she resigned at Prime Minister.  I’m not sure how world leaders survive any type of war–regardless of the circumstances, I can only imagine that any war scars the soul.  Hard to believe this Russian born-woman, later a teacher in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, would eventually become one of the key players in establishing the state of Israel in 1948.

Happy Birthday, Maud O’Farrell Swartz.  An Irish immigrant, Swartz became a suffragist here in the States. Swartz became a strong voice in the Women’s Trade Union League (WTUL) and in the labor movement.  Swartz served as president of the WTUL from 1922-1926, during a period when the organizing efforts declined in a business climate less friendly to unions–sound familiar?  Wisconsin and Maine must not be too familiar with history.

Finally, I would like to recognize Nellie Tayloe Ross.  Ross was the first female Director of the U.S. Mint, appointed by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

Quote of the day:

 It’s no accident many accuse me of conducting public affairs with my heart instead of my head. Well, what if I do? … Those who don’t know how to weep with their whole heart don’t know how to laugh either.–Golda Meir

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