Today in labor history: First woman elected governor in U.S.

Nellie Taylor Ross was elected governor of Wyoming on Nov. 4, 1924. She was the first woman ever elected to a governorship.

Wyoming was also the first state to grant women the right to vote and the first state to allow women to serve on juries.

After breaking a glass ceiling in Wyoming, Taylor Ross went on to break another. In 1933 she became the first woman to be appointed director of the United States Mint, a job she would hold for 20 years.

Also on Nov. 4, in 1933, some 3,000 dairy farmers demonstrated in Neillsville, Wisconsin. The demonstration eventually lead to the freeing of the jailed leaders of a milk strike over the unfair low prices set by the owners of the large dairy plants.

Civil disobedience actions included the dumping of milk on public roads, lying down in front of trains carrying milk and blocking production at cheese plants. Several cheese plants were blown up with dynamite, but no one was hurt.

A third event on Nov. 4, 1996, involved a big victory by the Steelworkers.

After struggling more than two years, 6,000 members of the Steelworkers union at Bridgestone/Firestone won a settlement in which strikers replaced by scabs got their original jobs back. The strike was forced upon the workers when management demanded that the workers accept 12-hour shifts.

The famous populist humorist, Will Rogers, was also born on Nov. 4, 1879 in Oologah, Indian Territory (now Oklahoma). He was the author of many famous quotes, perhaps one of the most memorable: “I belong to no organized party. I am a Democrat.”

Photo: Nellie Taylor Ross. Wikimedia Commons, public domain.


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