April 4th, 1887 – America’s First Female Mayor

Today-In-History

Despite not actually having the right to vote in elections until 1920, Susanna Salter was elected mayor of Argonia, Kansas on April 4th, 1887, becoming the first female mayor in the United States. 

Susanna_Madora_SalterAlthough her term was uneventful, her election generated worldwide interest from the press, sparking a debate regarding the feasibility of other towns following Argonia’s lead, which ranged from objections to a “petticoat rule” to a “wait-and-see” attitude. After only a year in office, she declined to seek reelection. As compensation for her service, she was paid one dollar. The house she lived in during her tenure as mayor was added to the National Register of Historic Places in September 1971.

Following her term as mayor, Salter and her family continued to live in Argonia, until 1893 when her husband acquired land on the Cherokee Strip in Alva, Oklahoma. Ten years later, they moved to Augusta, Oklahoma, where her husband practiced law and established the Headlight newspaper. They eventually joined the town’s settlers in moving to Carmen, Oklahoma. Following her husband’s death in 1916, she moved to Norman, Oklahoma, accompanying her youngest child at the University of Oklahoma. She lived in Norman for the remainder of her life and maintained an interest in religious and political matters, although she never again sought elected office. In 1961, she died two weeks after her 101st birthday, and was buried in Argonia.

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