Decades before the Nineteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution officially granted American women the right to vote in 1920, Susanna Madora Salter became the first woman in the United States to be elected mayor of a municipality. But she hadn't planned to run for office in 1887. Her name was secretly placed on the ballot in Argonia, Kansas, by a group of men hoping to put to rest the idea that women could hold elected office. When the 27-year-old mother found out that her name had been added to the Progressive Party's slate of candidates, she agreed to serve if elected. With support from the Women's Christian Temperance Union, Salter was elected mayor of Argonia -- with a two-thirds majority.
The long road to women's suffrage:
- Salter was the daughter of the town's first mayor, and her father-in-law, Melville J. Salter, was a former Kansas lieutenant governor.
- In 1848, the movement for women’s rights in the United States was launched on a national level with the Seneca Falls Convention in Upstate New York, organized by abolitionists and social reformers Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucretia Mott.
- After a 70-year battle, women’s suffrage groups emerged victorious with the passage of the 19th Amendment.