Jan 5, 1925 – Nellie Tayloe Ross Becomes First Woman Elected Governor
On this day in 1925, Nellie Tayloe Ross became the 14th Governor of Wyoming and the first woman elected Governor in the United States. Ross, a Democrat, was elected in a special election following the death of her husband William Ross. Ross won easily despite refusing to campaign. Wyoming was the first state to provide women’s suffrage.
As governor she continued her late husband’s policies, which called for tax cuts, government assistance for poor farmers, banking reform, and laws protecting children, women workers, and miners. She urged Wyoming to ratify a pending federal amendment prohibiting child labor. Like her husband, she advocated the strengthening of prohibition laws.
Ross ran for re-election in 1926, but was narrowly defeated. Ross blamed her loss in part on her refusal to campaign for herself and her support for prohibition. U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt appointed her as the first female director of the U.S. Mint on May 3, 1933, where she served five full terms until her retirement in 1953.
OTHER GUBERNATORIAL FIRSTS
- 1974: Fifty years after Ross’ victory, Connecticut’s Ella Grasso became the first woman elected as Governor who was not succeeding her husband.
- 1986: Nebraska’s Kay Orr became the First Woman elected over another woman for Governor.
- 1990: Kansas’ Joan Finney became the First Woman to defeat an incumbent Governor.
- 2002: Arizona’s Janet Napolitano becomes the First Woman to immediately succeed another woman as Governor.
Connecticut and Arizona are the only two states to have elected female governors from both major parties. Arizona also has had the most female governors with a total of four, and is the first state to have three women in a row serve as governor.
On two different occasions, a record nine out of 50 state governorships were held by women: first, between December 4, 2006, when Sarah Palin was inaugurated as the first female governor of Alaska, and January 14, 2008, when Kathleen Blanco left office as governor of Louisiana, and second, between January 10, 2009, when Beverly Perdue was inaugurated as governor of North Carolina, and January 20, 2009, when Ruth Ann Minner retired as governor of Delaware.
There currently are four female Governors in New Mexico, Oklahoma, Rhode Island and South Carolina.
A total of 23 states have never had a female governor. Those states are: Arkansas, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nevada, New York, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia and Wisconsin.
The map below show states with past or current female governors.
1931 – Lucille Thomas became the first woman to buy a professional baseball team, buying the minor league Topeka Senators in the Western League.