Who was the first woman to vote in the U.S.?
It was still dark at 5:45 on the morning of November 2, 1920, when Phoebe Jordan took a lantern in hand and walked purposefully down from Brodie Mountain to the New Ashford Town Hall. The town was the first in the nation to report its vote that chilly fall morning and Phoebe was walking into history, the first woman legally to enter a polling place and cast a ballot in a presidential election. The 19th Amendment to the Constitution had recently made this possible.
Aware that history was being made, residents had given the honor of voting first to Jordan. Morning milking had been delayed as a mere 34 voters made their way to the tiny town hall. Among the principal candidates, Republican Warren G. Harding polled 28 votes to just six for Democrat James M. Cox. Given her party preference, it is likely that Jordan voted for the winner. Reporters rushed to the nearest phones in Lanesborough to report the results.
In her late 60s in 1920, Phoebe Jordan had long been a liberated woman. In spite of her frail frame, she pursued “man’s work” as a charcoal burner and farmer. She was single, but she raised eyebrows with two men living in her home. Sixteen years later, Jordan changed parties and supported President Roosevelt and the New Deal. Other women had voted in various settings before Jordan, but her first presidential vote was a symbol of cataclysmic social change.