Susanna Madora Salter
First woman mayor in the U.S. 1860-1961
Soon after Kansas women gained the right to vote in municipal elections, voters elected a woman as mayor of Argonia. Susanna Madora Salter was elected the first woman mayor in the United States.
Born March 2, 1860, in Belmont County, Ohio, Susanna Madora Kinsey moved to a Kansas farm with her parents in 1872. Eight years later, while attending the Kansas State Agricultural College, she met and married Lewis Salter. The couple soon moved to Argonia where she cared for their young children and became an officer in the local Woman's Christian Temperance Union.
Nominated on the Prohibition Party ticket by several Argonia men as a joke, Salter surprised the group and received two-thirds of the votes. She was elected in April 4, 1887, just weeks after Kansas women had gained the right to vote in city elections. The 27-year-old woman knew more about politics than her detractors realized. She was the daughter of the town's first mayor. Her father-in-law, Melville J. Salter, was a former Kansas lieutenant governor.
Although she apparently performed her job well, Salter never sought another elected office. Within a few years, the Salters moved to Oklahoma where the nation's first woman mayor died in 1961 at the age of 101.
Entry: Salter, Susanna Madora
Author: Kansas Historical Society
Author information: The Kansas Historical Society is a state agency charged with actively safeguarding and sharing the state's history.
Date Created: April 2010
Date Modified: March 2015
The author of this article is solely responsible for its content.