Historical records matching Nellie Tayloe Ross, Governor
About Nellie Tayloe Ross, Governor
Nellie Tayloe Ross (November 29, 1876 – December 19, 1977) was an American politician, the 14th Governor of Wyoming from 1925 to 1927, and director of the United States Mint from 1933–1953. She was the first woman to be elected governor of a U.S. state, and remains the only woman to have served as governor of Wyoming. She was a staunch supporter of prohibition during the 1920s.
Nellie Davis Tayloe was born near Amazonia, in Andrew County, Missouri, now part of the St. Joseph Metropolitan Statistical Area. She was the sixth child and first daughter of James Wynn Tayloe, a native of Stewart County, Tennessee, and his wife, Elizabeth Blair Green, who owned a plantation on the Missouri River. In 1884, when Nellie Ross was seven years of age, her family moved to Miltonvale in Cloud County in northern Kansas. This relocation happened after their Andrew County home burned, and the sheriff was about to foreclose on the property.
After she graduated from Miltonville High School in 1892, her family moved to Omaha, Nebraska. During this time she taught private piano lessons, and also attended a teacher-training college for two years. She then taught kindergarten for four years. Nellie was sent on a trip to Europe in 1896 by two of her brothers.
While on a visit to her relatives in Dover, Tennessee in 1900, she met William Bradford Ross, whom she married on September 11, 1902. Ross practiced law and planned to live in the American West. He moved to Cheyenne and established a law practice, bringing his wife to join him there. Ross became a leader in the Democratic Party in Wyoming. He ran for office several times, but always lost to Republican candidates.
In 1922, William Ross was elected governor of Wyoming by appealing to progressive voters in both parties. However, after little more than a year and a half in office, he died on October 2, 1924, from complications from an appendectomy. The Democratic Party then nominated his widow, Nellie Ross, to run for governor in a special election the following month.
Nellie Tayloe Ross refused to campaign, but easily won the race on November 4, 1924. On January 5, 1925, she became the first female governor in the history of the United States. 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 the fact that she had again refused to campaign for herself and the fact that she supported prohibition. Nevertheless, she remained active in the Democratic Party and campaigned for Al Smith in the 1928 presidential election though the two disagreed on prohibition. At the 1928 Democratic National Convention, she received 31 votes from 10 states for vice president on the first ballot. She also gave a speech seconding Smith's nomination. After the convention, she served as vice chairman of the Democratic National Committee and as director of the DNC Women's Division.
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, when Republicans under Dwight D. Eisenhower and Richard M. Nixon regained the executive branch of government.
Retirement and death
After her retirement, Ross contributed articles to various women's magazines and traveled extensively. She made her last trip to Wyoming in 1972 at the age of ninety-six. Five years later, she died in Washington, D.C., at the age of 101; at the time of her death, she was the oldest ex-governor in the United States. She is interred in the family plot in Lakeview Cemetery in Cheyenne.