On this day:
1887 – Argonia, Kansas elects Susanna M. Salter as the first female mayor in the United States.
Susanna Madora “Dora” Salter (née Kinsey; March 2, 1860 – March 17, 1961) was a U.S. politician and activist. She served as mayor of Argonia, Kansas, becoming the first woman elected as mayor and one of the first women elected to any political office in the United States.
Susanna Madora Kinsey was born March 2, 1860, near the unincorporated community of Lamira in Smith Township, Belmont County, Ohio. She was the daughter of Oliver Kinsey and Terissa Ann White Kinsey, the descendants of Quaker colonists from England.
At age 12, she moved to Kansas with her parents, settling on an 80-acre farm near Silver Lake, Kansas. Eight years later, she entered Kansas State Agricultural College (present-day Kansas State University) in Manhattan. She was permitted to skip her freshman year, having taken college-level courses in high school, but was forced to drop out six weeks short of graduation due to illness.
While a student, she met Lewis Allison Salter, an aspiring attorney and the son of former Kansas Lieutenant Governor Melville J. Salter. They married soon thereafter and moved to Argonia, where she was active in the local Woman’s Christian Temperance Union and Prohibition Party organizations, and became acquainted with nationally known temperance activist Carrie Nation.
In 1883, she gave birth to the first baby born in Argonia, Francis Argonia Salter. Lewis and Susanna Salter had a total of nine children, one of whom was born during her tenure as mayor and died in infancy. Following the city’s incorporation in 1885, her father and husband were elected as the city’s first mayor and city clerk, respectively.
First female mayor
Salter was elected mayor of Argonia on April 4, 1887. Her election was a surprise because her name had been placed on a slate of candidates as a prank by a group of men who were actually against women in politics and hoped to secure a loss that would humiliate women and discourage them from running. Because candidates did not have to be made public before election day, Salter herself did not know she was on the ballot before the polls opened. When, on election day itself, she agreed to accept office if elected, the Women’s Christian Temperance Union abandoned its own preferred candidate and voted for Salter en masse, helping to secure her election by a two-thirds majority.
Although her term was uneventful, her election generated national interest from the press, sparking a debate regarding the feasibility of other towns following Argonia’s lead, which ranged from objections to a “petticoat rule” to a “wait-and-see” attitude.
One of the first city council meetings over which the newly elected Mrs. Salter presided was attended by a correspondent of the New York Sun. He wrote his story, describing the mayor’s dress and hat, and pointing out that she presided with great decorum. He noted that several times she checked irrelevant discussion, demonstrating that she was a good parliamentarian. Other publicity extended to newspapers as faraway as Sweden and South Africa. As compensation for her service, she was paid one dollar. After only a year in office, she declined to seek reelection.
Following her term as mayor, Salter and her family continued to live in Argonia, until 1893 when her husband acquired land on the Cherokee Strip in Alva, Oklahoma (then Oklahoma Territory). Ten years later, they moved to Augusta (Woods County, Oklahoma Territory), where her husband practiced law and established the Headlight newspaper.
They eventually joined the town’s settlers in moving to Carmen, Oklahoma. Following her husband’s death in 1916, she moved to Norman, Oklahoma, accompanying her youngest child at the University of Oklahoma. She lived in Norman for the remainder of her life and maintained an interest in religious and political matters, although she never again sought elected office.
She died in Norman, two weeks after her 101st birthday, and was buried in Argonia, alongside her husband.
In 1933, a commemorative bronze plaque was placed in Argonia’s public square honoring her as the first woman mayor in the United States.
The house she lived in during her tenure as mayor was added to the National Register of Historic Places in September 1971.
Born on this day:
1802 – Dorothea Dix, American nurse and activist (d. 1887)
Dorothea Lynde Dix (April 4, 1802 – July 18, 1887) was an American activist on behalf of the indigent insane who, through a vigorous program of lobbying state legislatures and the United States Congress, created the first generation of American mental asylums. During the Civil War, she served as a Superintendent of Army Nurses.
Born in the town of Hampden, Maine, she grew up first in Worcester, Massachusetts. She was the first child of three born to Joseph Dix and Mary Bigelow, who had deep ancestral roots in Massachusetts Bay Colony. Her father was an itinerant worker as a Methodist preacher.[a] At the age of twelve, she sought refuge with her wealthy grandmother, Dorothea Lynde (wife of Dr Elijah Dix) in Boston to get away from her alcoholic parents and abusive father. About 1821 Dix opened a school in Boston, which was patronized by well-to-do families. Soon afterward she also began teaching poor and neglected children out of the barn of her grandmother’s house, but she suffered poor health. From 1824 to 1830, she wrote mainly devotional books and stories for children. Her Conversations on Common Things (1824) reached its sixtieth edition by 1869. Her book The Garland of Flora (1829) was, along with Elizabeth Wirt’s Flora’s Dictionary, one of the first two dictionaries of flowers published in the United States. Other books of Dix’s include Private Hours, Alice and Ruth, and Prisons and Prison Discipline.
After Dix’s health forced her to relinquish her school, she began working out as a governess for the family of Dr. W. E. Channing. It was while working with this family that Dix traveled to St. Croix, where she first witnessed slavery as one of the evils of the world. In 1831, she established a model school for girls in Boston, operating it until 1836, when she had another health breakdown. Dix was encouraged to take a trip to Europe to help aid her health by her physician. When she was there she met the other reformers who inspired her to start working on equal rights for the mentally ill. These reformers were Elizabeth Fry, Samuel Tuke and William Rathbone whom which she lived with during the duration of her trip to Europe. In hopes of a cure, in 1836 she traveled to England, where she met the Rathbone family. They invited her as a guest to Greenbank, their ancestral mansion in Liverpool. The Rathbones were Quakers and prominent social reformers. At Greenbank, Dix met their circle of men and women who believed that government should play a direct, active role in social welfare. She was also introduced to the reform movement for care of the mentally ill in Great Britain, known as lunacy reform. Its members were making deep investigations of madhouses and asylums, publishing their studies in reports to the House of Commons.
Reform movements for treatment of the mentally ill were related in this period to other progressive causes: abolitionism, temperance, and voter reforms. After returning to America, in 1840-41 Dix conducted a statewide investigation of care for the insane poor in Massachusetts. In most cases, towns contracted with local individuals to care for mentally ill people who could not care for themselves and lacked family/friends to do so. Unregulated and underfunded, this system resulted in widespread abuse. Dix published the results in a fiery report, a Memorial, to the state legislature. “I proceed, Gentlemen, briefly to call your attention to the present state of Insane Persons confined within this Commonwealth, in cages, stalls, pens! Chained, naked, beaten with rods, and lashed into obedience.” Her lobbying resulted in a bill to expand the state’s mental hospital in Worcester.
During the year 1844 Dix visited all the counties, jails and almshouses in New Jersey in a similar investigation. She prepared a memorial for the New Jersey Legislature, giving a detailed account of her observations and facts. Dix urgently appealed to the legislature to act and appropriate funds to construct a facility for the care and treatment of the insane. She cited a number of cases to emphasize the importance of the state taking responsibility for this class of unfortunates.
She gave as an example a man respected as a legislator, and jurist, who came upon hard times in old age and became insane. Dix found him lying on a small bed in a basement room of the county almshouse, absent necessary comforts. She wrote: “This feeble and depressed old man, a pauper, helpless, lonely, and yet conscious of surrounding circumstances, and not now wholly oblivious of the past — this feeble old man, who was he?” Many members of the legislature knew her pauper jurist. Joseph S. Dodd introduced her report to the Senate on January 23, 1845.
Dodd’s resolution to authorize an asylum passed the following day. The first committee made their report February 25, appealing to the New Jersey legislature to act at once. Some politicians secretly opposed it due to taxes needed to support it. Dix continued to lobby for a facility, writing letters and editorials to build support. During the session she met with legislators and held group meetings in the evening at home. The act of authorization was taken up March 14, 1845, and read for the last time. On March 25, 1845, the bill was passed for the establishment of a state facility.
Dix traveled from New Hampshire to Louisiana, documenting the condition of the poor insane, making reports to state legislatures, and working with committees to draft the enabling legislation and appropriations bills needed. In 1846, Dix traveled to Illinois to study mental illness. While there, she fell ill and spent the winter in Springfield recovering. She submitted a report to the January 1847 legislative session, which adopted legislation to establish Illinois’ first state mental hospital.
In 1848, Dix visited North Carolina, where she again called for reform in the care of mentally ill patients. In 1849, when the (North Carolina) State Medical Society was formed, the legislature authorized construction of an institution in the capital, Raleigh, for the care of mentally ill patients. Named in honor of Dorothea Dix, the hospital opened in 1856. A second state hospital for the mentally ill was authorized in 1875, Broughton State Hospital in Morganton, North Carolina; and ultimately, the Goldsboro Hospital for the Negro Insane was also built in the Piedmont area of the segregated state. Dix had a biased view that mental illness was related to conditions of educated whites, not minorities (Dix, 1847).
She was instrumental in the founding of the first public mental hospital in Pennsylvania, the Harrisburg State Hospital. In 1853, she established its library and reading room.
The culmination of her work was the Bill for the Benefit of the Indigent Insane, legislation to set aside 12,225,000 acres (49,473 km2) of Federal land (10,000,000 acres (40,000 km2) to be used for the benefit of the insane and the remainder for the “blind, deaf, and dumb”). Proceeds from its sale would be distributed to the states to build and maintain asylums. Dix’s land bill passed both houses of the United States Congress; but in 1854, President Franklin Pierce vetoed it, arguing that social welfare was the responsibility of the states. Stung by the defeat of her land bill, in 1854 and 1855 Dix traveled to England and Europe. She reconnected with the Rathbones and conducted investigations of Scotland’s madhouses. This work resulted in formation of the Scottish Lunacy Commission to oversee reforms.
Dix visited the British colony of Nova Scotia in 1853 to study its care of the insane. During her visit she traveled the remote Sable Island to investigate reports of insane patients being abandoned there. Such reports were largely unfounded. While on Sable, Dix assisted in a shipwreck rescue. Upon her return to Boston, she led a successful campaign to send upgraded life-saving equipment to the island. The day after supplies arrived, a ship was wrecked on the island. Thankfully, because of Dix’s work, 180 people were saved.
From 1854 to 1854, Dix investigated the conditions of mental hospitals in Scotland, and found them to be in similar poor conditions. In 1857, after years of work and opposition, reform laws were finally passed. Dix took up a similar project in the Channel Islands, finally managing the building of an asylum after thirteen years of agitation. Extending her work throughout Europe, Dix continued on to the asylums of Rome. Once again finding disrepair and maltreatment, Dix sought an audience with Pope Pius IX. His Holiness was receptive to Dix’s revelations, and visited the asylums himself to be shocked at their conditions. He thanked Dix for her work, saying in a second audience with her that “a woman and a Protestant, had crossed the seas to call his attention to these cruelly ill-treated members of his flock.”
The Civil War
During the American Civil War, Dix was appointed Superintendent of Army Nurses by the Union Army, beating out Dr. Elizabeth Blackwell. She and others found that the qualities that made her a successful crusader—independence, single-minded zeal—were not effective in managing a large organization of female nurses under crisis conditions in a wide geographic area.
Dix set guidelines for nurse candidates. Volunteers were to be aged 35 to 50 and plain-looking. They were required to wear unhooped black or brown dresses, with no jewelry or cosmetics. Dix wanted to avoid sending vulnerable, attractive young women into the hospitals, where she feared they would be exploited by the men (doctors as well as patients). Dix often fired volunteer nurses she hadn’t personally trained or hired (earning the ire of supporting groups like the United States Sanitary Commission).
At odds with Army doctors, Dix feuded with them over control of medical facilities and the hiring and firing of nurses. Many doctors and surgeons did not want any female nurses in their hospitals. To solve the impasse, the War Department introduced Order No.351 in October 1863. It granted both the Surgeon General (Joseph K. Barnes) and the Superintendent of Army Nurses (Dix) the power to appoint female nurses. However, it gave doctors the power of assigning employees and volunteers to hospitals. This relieved Dix of direct operational responsibility. As superintendent, Dix implemented the Federal army nursing program, in which over 3,000 women would eventually serve. Meanwhile, her influence was being eclipsed by other prominent women such as Dr. Mary Edwards Walker and Clara Barton. She resigned in August 1865 and later considered this “episode” in her career a failure. Although thousands of Catholic nuns successfully served as Army nurses, Dix distrusted them; her anti-Catholicism undermined her ability to work with Irish and German nuns.
But her even-handed caring for Union and Confederate wounded alike, assured her memory in the South. Her nurses provided what was often the only care available in the field to Confederate wounded. Georgeanna Woolsey, a Dix nurse, said, “The surgeon in charge of our camp…looked after all their wounds, which were often in a most shocking state, particularly among the rebels. Every evening and morning they were dressed.” Another Dix nurse, Julia Susan Wheelock, said, “Many of these were Rebels. I could not pass them by neglected. Though enemies, they were nevertheless helpless, suffering human beings.”
When Confederate forces retreated from Gettysburg, they left behind 5,000 wounded soldiers. These were treated by many of Dix’s nurses. Union nurse Cornelia Hancock wrote about the experience: “There are no words in the English language to express the suffering I witnessed today….”
She was well respected for her work throughout the war because of her dedication. This stemmed from her putting aside her previous work to focus completely on the war at hand. With the conclusion of the war her service was recognized formally. She was awarded with two national flags, these flags being for “the Care, Succor, and Relief of the Sick and wounded Soldiers of the United States on the Battle-Field, in Camps and Hospitals during the recent war.” Dix ultimately founded thirty-two hospitals, and influenced the creation of two others in Japan.
At the end of the war, Dix helped raise funds for the national monument to deceased soldiers at Fortress Monroe. Following the war, she resumed her crusade to improve the care of prisoners, the disabled, and the mentally ill. Her first step was to review the asylums and prisons in the South to evaluate the war damage to their facilities.
In 1881, Dix moved into the New Jersey State Hospital, Morris Plains. The state legislature had designated a suite for her private use as long as she lived. Although an invalid, she carried on correspondence with people from England, Japan, and elsewhere. Dix died on July 17, 1887. She was buried in Mount Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Dix was elected “President for Life” of the Army Nurses Association (a social club for Civil War Volunteer Nurses), but she had little to do with the organization. She opposed its efforts to get military pensions for its members.
In December 1866 she was awarded two national flags for her service during the Civil War. This award was awarded for “the Care, Succor, and Relief of the Sick and wounded Soldiers of the United States on the Battle-Field, in Camps and Hospitals during the recent War.”
In 1983 the United States Postal Service honored her life of charity and service by issuing a 1¢ Dorothea Dix Great Americans series postage stamp.
A United States Navy transport ship serving in World War II was named for Dix, the USS Dorothea L. Dix.
The Bangor Mental Health Institute was renamed in August 2006 to the Dorothea Dix Psychiatric Center.
In Canada, an educational boat in Nova Scotia has been named Dorothea in her honor by the Nova Scotia Sea School, inspired by her support of the Sable Island lifesaving station.
A crater on Venus was named Dix in her honor.
She is remembered on the Boston Women’s Heritage Trail.
Numerous locations are commemorated to Dix, including the Dix Ward in McLean Asylum at Somerville, Dixmont Hospital in Pennsylvania, and the Dorothea L. Dix House.
1826 – Zénobe Gramme, Belgian engineer, invented the Gramme machine (d. 1901)
Zénobe Théophile Gramme (4 April 1826 – 20 January 1901) was a Belgian electrical engineer. He was born at Jehay-Bodegnée on 4 April 1826, the sixth child of Mathieu-Joseph Gramme, and died at Bois-Colombes on 20 January 1901. He invented the Gramme machine, a type of direct current dynamo capable of generating smoother (less AC) and much higher voltages than the dynamos known to that point.
Gramme machine as motor
In 1873 he and Hippolyte Fontaine accidentally discovered that the device was reversible and would spin when connected to any DC power supply. The Gramme machine was the first usefully powerful electrical motor that was successful industrially. Before Gramme’s inventions, electric motors attained only low power and were mainly used as toys or laboratory curiosities.
In 1875, Nikola Tesla observed a Gramme machine at the Graz University of Technology. He conceived the idea of using it for alternating current but was unable to develop the idea at this time.
In 1857 he married Hortense Nysten who was a widow and mother of a daughter, Héloïse. Hortense died in 1890.
Death and tributes
Gramme died at Bois-Colombes, France, on 20 January 1901 and was buried in Père Lachaise Cemetery.
In the city of Liège there is a graduate school of engineering, l’Institut Gramme, named after him.
In 2005 he ended at the 23rd place in the election of Le plus grand Belge (The Greatest Belgian), the television show broadcast by the French-speaking RTBF and based on the BBC show 100 Greatest Britons.
A958 Zenobe Gramme, (1961–), a sailing ship of the Belgian Navy used for training, is named after him.
A Gramme machine, Gramme ring, Gramme magneto, or Gramme dynamo is an electrical generator that produces direct current, named for its Belgian inventor, Zénobe Gramme, and was built as either a dynamo or a magneto. It was the first generator to produce power on a commercial scale for industry. Inspired by a machine invented by Antonio Pacinotti in 1860, Gramme was the developer of a new induced rotor in form of a wire-wrapped ring (Gramme ring) and demonstrated this apparatus to the Academy of Sciences in Paris in 1871. Although popular in 19th century electrical machines, the Gramme winding principle is no longer used since it makes inefficient use of the conductors. The portion of the winding on the interior of the ring cuts no flux and does not contribute to energy conversion in the machine. The winding requires twice the number of turns and twice the number of commutator bars as an equivalent drum-wound armature.
OpenDyslexic is a free typeface/font designed to mitigate some of the common reading errors caused by dyslexia. The typeface was created by Abelardo Gonzalez, who released it through an open-source license. The design is based on that of DejaVu Sans, also an open-source font.