Little Bits of History


Posted in History by patriciahysell on January 5, 2014
Nellie Tayloe Ross

Nellie Tayloe Ross

January 5, 1925: The fourteenth Governor of Wyoming comes to power.  Nellie Tayloe Ross was born in 1876 in Missouri. She was the sixth child in her family and the first daughter. When Nellie was seven years old, the family moved to Kansas after their home burned down and the sheriff was ready to foreclose on the family farm. She graduated from high school in 1892 and the family then moved to Nebraska. She taught piano while attending teacher-training college after which she became a  kindergarten teacher. Her brothers sent her on a European vacation in 1896. She was visiting relatives in Tennessee in 1900 when she met her future husband, William Ross. They married in 1902. He was a lawyer and the newlyweds moved to Wyoming where he became a leader in the Democratic Party of the state.

In 1922, William was elected governor of Wyoming as he appeared to be a progressive candidate. After little more than 1.5 years in office, he died on October 2, 1924 from complications after having an appendectomy. The Democratic Party then nominated his widow to run for the office and a special election was held in November. Although Nellie didn’t campaign, she easily won the election and she was the first woman to be elected as governor of a US state. As she assumed the office, she continued with the policies set in place by her husband. These included tax cuts, assisting poor farmers, banking reform, and laws to protect women and children as well as miners. She was a proponent of prohibition, as was her late husband.

She ran for re-election in 1926 but was defeated. She blamed two things for her loss, her stance against campaigning and her support of prohibition. She remained involved in politics and campaigned for Al Smith’s 1928 presidential campaign. She served as vice chairman of the Democratic National Committee and as director of the DNC Women’s Division. President Franklin D. Roosevelt appointed her as the first female director of the US Mint and she took office on May 3, 1933 and served five full terms until she retired in 1953 when President Eisenhower and Vice President Nixon came into office.

After she retired, she continued to support women’s issues and contributed articles to various magazines, mostly those written for women. She was able to travel extensively in her retirement as well. She visited Wyoming in 1972 at the age of 96. It was her last visit there. She died in Washington, D.C. in 1977 at the age of 101 after falling. At the time of her death, she was the oldest ex-governor in the country. She is buried in the family plot in Cheyenne.

We were told our campaign wasn’t sufficiently slick. We regard that as a compliment. – Margaret Thatcher

I’m not an old, experienced hand at politics. But I am now seasoned enough to have learned that the hardest thing about any political campaign is how to win without proving that you are unworthy of winning. – Adlai E. Stevenson

Prosperity is necessarily the first theme of a political campaign. – Woodrow Wilson

There are many elements to a campaign. Leadership is number one. Everything else is number two. – Bertolt Brecht

Also on this day: Ford Motor Company Wages – In 1914, wages are more than doubled for Ford Motor Company workers.
Louis XV Lives – In 1757, a failed attempt was made on King Louis XV’s life.
Getting What You Give – In 1993, Westley Allen Dodd was executed for his murder of three children.
Prague Spring – In 1968, Alexander Dubček came to power in Czechoslovakia.


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