Added As A Joke By Men Who Intended To Embarrass Her, Susanna Salter Became The First Woman To Win A Mayor Election In 1887

Hanima Anand |Mar 29, 2021

A group of men nominated her name without notification as a joke with a view to humiliating women. It turned out she won two-thirds of the town votes and became the first female mayor in US history.

Back in 1887, long before the woman suffrage amendment in the US (1920), a woman named Susanna Salter marked a milestone in political history when winning a mayoral election in the town of Argonia.

Nominated without notification as a prank

In fact, the Kansas women just gained the right to vote in their cities weeks before Argonia’s mayor election. At that time, Susanna Salter was a temperance activist. She was 27 years old and a daughter-in-law of a former Kansas mayor. Her husband was also a former city clerk.

However, she didn’t intend to compete in the election. She even had no idea why her name was on the ballot before the polls opened.

Susaana Salter And Her Husband
Susanna Salter and her husband

It turned out a group of men planned a prank on Susanna to humiliate and discourage women from running the election. These men took it for granted that Susanna would suffer a loss on the day of the election.

As candidate names were not made public before the big day, no one other than that group of men knew her name was there.

The first woman to serve as a mayor in the US

On the election day, Susanna was surprised to see her name on the list. She also agreed to serve if elected. The Women’s Christian Temperance Union also abandoned its initially preferred candidate to vote for Susanna.

In the end, Susanna Salter won her election with two-thirds of the votes.

Being the first female mayor of the US, Susanna Salter, however, didn’t seek re-election after finishing her one-year tenure.

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Susanna Salter Old Photo
A rare photo of Susanna Salter when she was old

There wasn’t much report upon her administration, nor were there any controversies.

Susanna died in 1961 at the age of 101 in Oklahoma. She had 9 children with her husband Lewis Allison Salter.

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