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Suffragette City
September 1, 2010 10:45 AM   Subscribe

Though her nomination was a joke, instigated by a group of men hoping to inhibit the local activities of the Women's Christian Temperance Union by embarrassing female voters, Susanna Madora "Dora" Kinsey Salter surprised the pranksters by winning two-thirds of the vote in the mayoral election of 1887 in tiny Argonia, Kansas, becoming not only America's first female mayor, but also earning the distinction of being the first woman elected to any political office in the United States. Her official notice of election read: Madam, You are hereby notified that at an election held in the city of Argonia on Monday April 4/87, for the purpose of electing city officers, you were duly elected to the office of Mayor of said city. You will take due notice thereof and govern yourself accordingly. Though she only served one term and had no further political ambitions, she became a hero of the early women's suffrage movement.

The city marshal at the time of Salter's election (and one of her nominators) later told a newspaper, "We had a jollification, and when she took her seat like a man all our fun was busted."

A contemporaneous booklet recounted the municipal elections of 1887 and 1888 in Kansas: Women's Suffrage in Kansas.

Note: The article in the first link originally appeared in the Autumn 1954 edition of the Kansas Historical Quarterly, published when Salter was still alive and kicking at 94 years of age. Here's the same article, with a different link, because I don't know how much traffic the first site normally handles.
posted by amyms (28 comments total) 33 users marked this as a favorite

 
That's pretty cool

*has a jollification*
posted by thesmophoron at 10:49 AM on September 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


Note: The article in the first link originally appeared in the Autumn 1954 edition of the Kansas Historical Quarterly

Heh, that explains the photo caption, "At right, Mrs. Salter in 1954, on her 94th birthday. She now lives in Norman, Okla."
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 10:51 AM on September 1, 2010


Excellent post, amyms. Thanks a bunch.

Also, jollification is pretty much the best word I've ever heard in my life.
posted by kbanas at 10:51 AM on September 1, 2010


This is like Carrie, but with a vastly different twist ending.
posted by hermitosis at 10:54 AM on September 1, 2010 [11 favorites]


What a neat story, thanks.
posted by Gator at 10:56 AM on September 1, 2010


*has a jollification*

Careful, you don't want to have your fun busted.
posted by dry white toast at 11:00 AM on September 1, 2010 [2 favorites]


You will take due notice thereof and govern yourself accordingly.

Was that the standard notification wording at the time, I hope?
posted by DU at 11:01 AM on September 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


Busting people's jollifications sounds fun, shame she didn't want to run again.
posted by shinybaum at 11:09 AM on September 1, 2010


Was that the standard notification wording at the time, I hope?

Don't know. But my understanding is that's a Masonic phrase which has passed into the public lexicon.
posted by zarq at 11:10 AM on September 1, 2010


Metafilter: A jollification.
posted by Aizkolari at 11:18 AM on September 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


People, please govern yourselves accordingly. Don't make me bring out the switch.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 11:33 AM on September 1, 2010


The title of this FPP gave me a jollification.
posted by dry white toast at 11:35 AM on September 1, 2010


That jollification link is fantastic, and just oozes off the page in a Western drawl. And it goes into all the fun she busted, of which there was a considerable amount.

Drinkin? Busted.
Poker playin? Busted.
Piano music? Busted.
All the good drugs the pharmacist used to have? Busted.

You can't fight a woman, and she the mayor
posted by graventy at 11:35 AM on September 1, 2010 [3 favorites]


I have a jollification ... in my pants.
posted by kcds at 11:39 AM on September 1, 2010 [3 favorites]


I love the irony that a bunch of drunken men sponsored her election and she turned out to be anti-alcohol. From the "jollification" link:

In this newspaper article, the former city marshal of Argonia, Sumner County, laments the election of Susanna Salter as mayor, saying that "female mayors are no good." In particular, he was frustrated that she asked him to close his poker room, and she also prevented the local druggist (pharmacist) from keeping alcoholic beverages in stock. He claims that "Mrs. Salter has just killed Argonia."

This whole post is a great slice of history. How did we forget her?
posted by bearwife at 11:40 AM on September 1, 2010


great post.
posted by ms.jones at 11:42 AM on September 1, 2010


Metafilter: You will take due notice thereof and govern yourself accordingly.
posted by blue_beetle at 12:18 PM on September 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


We got full of whiskey and enthusiasm...

This is my new favorite turn of phrase.
posted by joedan at 1:18 PM on September 1, 2010 [4 favorites]


joedan: "We got full of whiskey and enthusiasm...

This is my new favorite turn of phrase.
"

Mine too... not to mention a great campaign slogan.
posted by gryftir at 1:25 PM on September 1, 2010 [1 favorite]


Late 19th Century feminism was closely linked with the temperance movement. Much of the male opposition to women's having the vote in the U.S. was based on the well-based assumption that women's political power = prohibition.
posted by Faze at 1:35 PM on September 1, 2010 [8 favorites]


Late 19th Century feminism was closely linked with the temperance movement.

Well, life was harder back then and you can't have a productive society if the menfolk are out loose at all hours gettin' full of whiskey and enthusiasm. Someone had to do something to bust their fun!
posted by amyms at 2:35 PM on September 1, 2010


Metafilter: You will take due notice thereof and govern yourself accordingly

If Metafilter governed itself accordingly, we wouldn't need the Mods. The price of jolity is eternal vigilance, my friends.
posted by GenjiandProust at 3:42 PM on September 1, 2010 [2 favorites]


Following up on Faze's comment about temperance and suffrage, there's a lot of confirmation via googling, but I particularly enjoyed browsing through the related excerpts in Pioneer Women: Voices from the Kansas Frontier.
posted by amyms at 6:20 PM on September 1, 2010


The jollification link is best read in the voice of Jason Stackhouse.
posted by fleacircus at 9:19 PM on September 1, 2010


Interesting, I'd never realized the long term price of universal suffrage was dominance of crappy beer like Budweiser, Miller, etc.
posted by jeffburdges at 3:34 AM on September 2, 2010


Reminds me of Eddie Murphy's "Delirious" and the drunk white guys voting for Jessie Jackson. [Warning: Naughty Language]. "Sometimes white guys will do that as a goof..."
posted by chavenet at 4:27 AM on September 2, 2010


Great post, but it needs a "jollification" tag.
posted by homunculus at 10:06 AM on September 2, 2010


Good idea, homunculus. I added it.
posted by amyms at 10:29 AM on September 2, 2010


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