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1928 United States presidential election in Wyoming

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

1928 United States presidential election in Wyoming

← 1924 November 6, 1928 1932 →
  Herbert Hoover - NARA - 532049.tif
Nominee Herbert Hoover Al Smith
Party Republican Democratic
Home state Iowa New York
Running mate Charles Curtis Joseph Robinson
Electoral vote 3 0
Popular vote 52,748 29,299
Percentage 63.68% 35.37%

President before election

Calvin Coolidge

Elected President

Herbert Hoover

The 1928 United States presidential election in Wyoming took place on November 6, 1928, as part of the 1928 United States presidential election. Wyoming voters chose three representatives, or electors, to the Electoral College, who voted for president and vice president.

Wyoming was won by United States Secretary of Commerce and mining engineer Herbert Hoover (RCalifornia), running with Senator Charles Curtis, with 63.68 percent of the popular vote, against the 42nd Governor of New York Al Smith (DNew York), running with Arkansas Senator and former Governor Joseph Robinson, with 35.37 percent.[1] Hoover won all but one of the state's twenty-three counties, but Smith's victory in Sweetwater County – which had defied the 1924 GOP landslide by voting for Robert La Follette– would with the aid of extensive unionization create a run of Democratic wins in that county extending to 1968.[2]

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- [Announcer] Your support helps us bring you programs you love. Go to, click on support and become a sustaining member or an annual member. It's easy and secure. Thank you. - [Voiceover] The life that lay before Nellie Tayloe Ross in 1920's Wyoming was not the sort that made history. A loyal politician's wife, lovingly raising her children, enjoying the social scene in Cheyenne, Wyoming. But tragedy rewrote the story. - [William Ross III] - My grandfather dies. She has to pick up those pieces and they asked her if she'd like to run for governor. Well of course, she had no job, two in college, a 12-year-old. [Old time piano music] ♪Happy birthday to you ♪Happy birthday to you - [Voiceover] In 1976, Nellie Tayloe Ross turned 100 years old, honored and revered, she was living in Washington, D.C., as she had for much of her long life. Once she had been a famous orator on the Chautauqua Circuit, urged to run for vice president on the democratic ticket, Director of the US Mint when Fort Knox was built, and the first woman to be sworn in as an elected governor in the United States. But there were few living on her 100th birthday who could recall that day in Cheyenne, Wyoming. The past was distant. She had outlived her fame. And no one, no one but she that is, could remember the early days when she was a child in Missouri and then a young bride with roots in the American South arriving in Wyoming. Like much of America, Nellie Tayloe Ross' family moved west during the country's difficult early years. From Virginia to Kentucky, Tennessee, Missouri, Kansas. From slave-holding plantation owners, they were reduced to near poverty after the Civil War. But they maintained their old ties. It was on a family visit back in Tennessee that Nellie Tayloe met William Bradford Ross. - William Ross moved west apparently for health reasons. He went to Denver first and then he travelled up to Cheyenne one time and liked Cheyenne, so he thought he would start his law practice there, which he did, in September of 1901. So Cheyenne had about 14,000 people, Wyoming had about 92,000 people at the time, and I believe he saw a chance for him to get involved in politics, which in fact he did go on to do. - They were married in Omaha, Nebraska in 1902, and in 1902, Nellie joined her husband here, he had preceded her. - They came there, they started anew. My grandparents had a family, they embraced everything that Wyoming had to embrace. They loved the people, they had a new beginning. - At that time, there was still a holdover from the cattle baron days, when, you know, there was incredible balls and dinners. - [Voiceover] And while Nellie Tayloe Ross had some doubts about William's interest in politics, the two seemed very much in love. - "I love you so much my precious wife, I am very lonesome without you. You seem to be the whole house. There is no home without you. I would never take away pleasure or happiness in life if it was not for you." Rugs, pictures, beautiful furniture would mean nothing without you." - "One of the chief compensations which are evenings at home afforded us was reading together. We decided that only classics approved worth should claim our time and we adhered strictly to that plan. So interested did we become that often we would read far into the night, taking turns until the voices of both of us would fail completely." - [Voiceover] Nellie Tayloe Ross had endured in her Missouri childhood the struggles of many immigrate families from the south, now she enjoyed stability and happiness in Cheyenne. - Remember that she had suffered such a difficult childhood for the financial pressures on her family, and I'm sure when she married an attorney and moved to Cheyenne and saw how well his young practice was doing, that she was thrilled. She thought that finally she was going to be financially secure. - My grandfather was a law and order person and had been Laramie County Prosecutor and had run for congress. It was a republican state, it was very hard to move forward. - [Voiceover] Despite Nellie Tayloe Ross' objections, William ran for governor twice. And the second time, in 1922, he won, by less than 1,000 votes. - Wyoming was fairly depressed. Agriculture was going through a drought and that affected Will and what he thought he could accomplish. One of his goals was to of course reduce the tax burden on the average taxpayer in Wyoming, which he was more or less able to do. He wanted to run an efficient state government, which he more or less was able to do. He supported child labor laws, which in fact passed by the Republican House and Senate. And he also was a person who believed in the strict enforcement of prohibition at that time. - [Voiceover] And whatever ambivalence Nellie Tayloe Ross had once felt towards her husband's political career, once he was in office, she thoroughly enjoyed the role of First Lady. Teas, receptions, and a stream of visiting dignitaries and Wyoming citizens, and the ear of the governor. - You know my grandmother had written speeches for my grandfather. She had been a co-governor. I think he was the big thinker and I think that Nellie had helped him formulate those big thoughts of things that had to happen. - [Voiceover] But Governor William Ross would not have much time to make things happen. In only their second year in the governor's mansion, he was stricken with appendicitis. "somber piano music" - [Voiceover] William Ross' sudden death was both a tragedy and a political dilemma for democrats. A special election would have to be held to finish out the two remaining years of his term. - [William Ross III] It was just the most, frankly the most inopportune time. - By the time William died, he had put his insurance policies up for a loan and she was left with quite a debt. - "And though you couldn't know it, I wouldn't have you know it, what this grief is. To know that William has gone out of my life. That I will never in this world see him again, or hear his dear voice. You couldn't dream what it means." - She has to pick up those pieces and they asked her if she would like to run for governor. - Her brother, George, came to join her. He was here for William's funeral and stayed to support her. And he wrote a letter to his wife, Nell, talking about how ambitious Nellie was, the State was considering creating some kind of an annuity for Nellie, or perhaps giving her a job, such as state librarian, because they knew that she had no money. But George could see that Nellie was personally ambitious, as he said to Nell, "No one ever wanted it more than Nellie." - [Voiceover] So Ross agreed to run in her husband's stead, to fulfill his goals. She ran wearing the black of mourning. And she won. - My grandmother, you know, a couple of years before said, "Pinch me, we're actually here, William," and then a couple of years later, "Pinch me again," and then governor, and it was, it was very difficult I think. - [Voiceover] A widow with a 12-year-old son, William, still to raise. - But I'm not sure if it would've happened had she run of her own right and been elected at that time. - John Kendrick said, and he had been governor of Wyoming, and at that point senator from Wyoming, that since Wyoming was the first state to grant women suffrage, that Wyoming should be the first state to have a woman governor. And so the fulcrum that came out of that came out of that was "beat Texas to it." And that came out because a woman was running for governor in Texas at the same time. And she, in fact, did win, but she took office about two weeks after Nellie took office. - Well certainly the election of Nellie Tayloe Ross in 1924 was pretty remarkable. Especially given that women had only received the right to vote in 1920, with the 19th Amendment, at least in the U.S. as a whole. Women in Wyoming had had the vote much longer, since about 1869. - It's really hard to underestimate the shock of the nation when not just one, but two women were elected governor the same day. And the country just really struggled with what this meant and what this said about the position of women in America. - [Voiceover] For almost anyone, it would have been the pinnacle of life's achievement, but for Ross, she was only midway on the journey of a remarkable century of life. [cheerful piano music] - [Voiceover] She won the state house in Cheyenne by running as a dignified widow, intent on carrying out the policies of her husband. But once in office, Nellie Tayloe Ross added her own agenda. - I believe because of her strong belief in her principles and her self-confidence, that she was able to think beyond what Will had done, and so she also believed in protecting Wyoming's water. She also wanted to protect Wyoming miners. There had been a mine disaster in Kemmerer in 1923 and so Nellie used that to bring forward mine safety legislation. So she did have a mind of her own. - But it really fit in with a lot of what women reformers were doing in the late 19th and early 20th Century. They were talking about a broader mandate for government, a broader responsibility for children, for women, for families, and building a social safety net. That was one of the main legacies of that era in the United States, and Governor Ross really fit into what women reformers at the time were doing. She was really talking about expanding the role of the government in new ways, through this kind of social housekeeping model that women were pushing. - [Voiceover] Nellie Tayloe Ross was a democratic governor in a very republican state and when she pushed her own agenda, resistance was strong. - The republican party had stacked every single commission against her. The legislature was against her, two thirds to one third. - [Voiceover] But while she struggled with her republican foes in Wyoming, Ross was gaining recognition nationally. - [Voiceover] When Governor Ross placed this wreath near Old Faithful, she was paying homage to the wonders of bountiful providence. Nature had endowed Yellowstone with a strange, savage beauty. - Nellie was truly a standout. She brought attention to Wyoming that the state had never had before. Nationwide attention. And uniformly, the reviews of her performance and her behavior outside the state were very positive. She really helped to further the view of Wyoming as an equality state. - [Voiceover] But there were personal costs. Though she spoke of the importance of motherhood and wifehood, Ross also talked about the responsibility of women to get involved in public life. And that was the choice she made. - "I'll get to Sheridan at 4 this afternoon, longer than it takes to get to Chicago. I'm glad it affords me the opportunity to write to you my dear son. You may wonder that I never seem to have more time. I'm making this discovery that no man governor has the demands made of him that are made of me. That is because I am the first woman governor. There is no end to the interviews and I must be nice to everyone. I miss you so much my sweet son. And it does seem too bad for you not to be near enough to even keep in touch with what your mother is doing. I cannot find the time to write to you all about everything." - [Voiceover] When Ross ran for reelection in 1926, the widow's garb was gone. She campaigned vigorously, driven all over the state in a big Hudson. Sometimes speaking at seven events in a day. The republicans, better organized and favored by most of the state's newspapers, attacked her without decorum. - I think that Governor Ross' uniqueness was that she was doing two things. One, she was breaking a ceiling in a really important way, and that made her controversial period. She was doing something new that women had never done before. And then when she stepped out of her husband's shadow, that became even more controversial. - Republican women then did not like the fact that they were told to vote just because she was a woman for Nellie. And so they then began to ask those questions, "What has Nellie done for women?" "Has she ever supported women suffrage?" - It was very valuable to have a woman serve as governor, because then men and women all over the country could see that a woman was capable, was articulate, was caring, was strong, and most formidable. And perhaps a little ahead of her time. - [Voiceover] But that would not be the last groundbreaking chapter in Ross' career. She now had the skills and the confidence to continue in public life, but she had no roadmap. - And when she talked about her sense of loss that it was as if William had died again. Suddenly she didn't have the governor's position to think about. She was at loose ends. She had no idea what she was going to do the rest of her life. How she was going to earn a living. And of course, she was desperately worried about that. But she said to Nell that the one thing she was clear on is that she could not leave Wyoming officially at that point, because it would look as if she had, as she said, "Flicked the dust of Wyoming" from her boots and "left in a peak." - [Voiceover] The Wyoming dust was one of the things that intrigued the public about Ross. When she told her story, it was about a frontier love affair with William, and her emergence in the rough and tumble world of cowboy state politics. And telling that story turned out to be one of her great talents. She became a speaker on the Chautauqua Circuit. The tent lecture tour that was as popular in the 1920's as a rock concert is today. - From 1927 until 1930, Nellie would travel the country, often on the Chautauqua Circuit, giving a speech about what life was like as the first woman governor. And you would find her described as gracious and charming, and people really seemed to enjoy her speech, which would encompass some humor, as well as her experiences, and then also some of her own philosophy of politics. - This young-cut reporter saying that Governor Ross had this beautiful hat on, and she had a beautiful blue dress, and she just looked absolutely beautiful. She came out and started to address the audience and all of a sudden, Governor Ross, he said, hopped up on the rostrum. She just jumped up on this rostrum. And of course everybody came running out and she said she saw a mouse in the corner running under the curtain. After that, they got the mouse, cornered the mouse and hit it with a broom, and my grandmother got down as though nothing had ever happened and continued the speech to a wonderful conclusion. - [Voiceover] Getting paid well to make speeches allayed her lifelong fear of insolvency and made her more famous across the country. The National Democratic Party fed her hunger for the world of politics. She supported New York Governor Al Smith for the presidency, and delivered a seconding speech at the 1928 convention. - I think she really believed that as famous as she was at that point, if she campaigned effectively for Al Smith, he might name her vice president. - It was probably more or less an honor, not perhaps taken seriously, she only received 31 votes. But never before had that happened. - [Voiceover] Smith did not choose her and lost the 1928 election, but he would repay Ross later. Overshadowing events in 1928 was a great personal loss for Nellie Tayloe Ross. Her beloved son, Ambrose, died in a car wreck in Wyoming. - Well, I got the impression from my grandmother that the most devastating loss to her was Ambrose, besides my grandfather. - [Voiceover] And within the democratic party, Ross was faced with a new impediment, the wife of a future democratic president. - Eleanor Roosevelt had been active in politics for a very long time and had come up the hard way, licking the envelopes and doing all the hard grunt work in county campaigns. Nellie came into politics at the very top and to Nellie, it was all about public speaking and speech making, and networking. Eleanor was uncomfortable with public speaking, Nellie was great at it. But, perhaps the greatest blow to any relationship they might have had came when Al Smith bipassed Eleanor and named Nellie the Vice Chairman of the Democratic National Committee. - [Voiceover] Nellie Tayloe Ross was the new director of the Democratic National Committee's Women's Division. A post Eleanor Roosevelt thought would be hers. Despite the differences with Eleanor, when Franklin Roosevelt was elected president, there was speculation that Ross might be in line for a prestigious appointment. - I think Nellie had hoped that she might be rewarded for her service to the party by being given a cabinet position under Roosevelt. And Roosevelt indeed was interested in appointing a woman to his cabinet. But Nellie lost out to Frances Perkins, who was named Secretary of Labor. They continued to look for a position for Nellie and it was thought that she would be named U.S. Treasurer, until the Secretary of Treasury complained about the appointment of Nellie to that position, and in an embarrassing move, the offer was withdrawn. - [Voiceover] She was named Director of the U.S. Mint. - During the history of the United States Mint, there have been six female directors. Nellie Ross was the first. - Of course, right after Roosevelt was nominated, the Mint began to expand and under Nellie, had the greatest expansion in both staffing and industrial capacity of its history. - Director Ross concentrated on efficiency and effectiveness of the United State Mint. She eliminated much of the redundant work and was able to reduce the cost of making coins significantly. It's been said that at one point, Director Ross astonished Congress by returning one million dollars of the Mint's 4.8 million dollar appropriation. Nellie T. Ross was the longest serving director of the United States Mint for over 20 years. She served from 1933 through 1953. - I'm wishing that while directing the coinage of money, that I had some magical power by which I could direct the flow of it through the channels of trade, both far and wide. - There was no way that she would've been able to hold on to the secretary position for 20 years. The Mint gave Nellie an entire career and gave her the freedom to live the life that she wanted to live. Gave her the balance that I so admire her for. She was lucky that she ended up as director of the Mint. - [Voiceover] The balanced life included a very active role in the Washington D.C. social scene. A series of farms along the Potomac River, where she raised tobacco and enjoyed her children and grandchildren. And travel. If some had initially dismissed her as a less educated, less socially skilled arrival from the hinterlands, she proved to be worldly, cosmopolitan, and comfortably adept at navigating the political society of the nation's capital. - [William Ross III] She was constantly being invited to parties. I spent at least 20 years of my life escorting Governor Ross to parties. And she just loved to entertain and she loved to be entertained. - [Voiceover] Though she worked at the Mint well into her 70's, she still had a long life ahead of her when she retired. A new generation of descendants would get a chance to know her, travel with her, and play Canasta with her. - Our grandma loved to travel. And she was one who believed in education, and she didn't just talk about it, she's the person who's reading the magazines from front to back. She's the one every night religiously watching the news, to stay up on what's going on. She had had several farms. One in Calvert County, a tobacco farm, that was early on, in the 30's. And then she bought Maiden Point in 1948 or 1949. We had no air conditioning growing up here. We had some cross ventilation, but the fact is, is that she loved the heat and she just loved to be upstairs reading, looking out over the river, and things of that nature, and so, we would take turns going up to visit our grandmother. And we couldn't stay but so long because it was so hot, perspiration was dripping off of us. And of course, she was happy as a clam at high tide. She loved that heat. - [Tim] Nellie lived to be 101 years old. She chose to be buried in Wyoming with her husband and her sons. - [William Ross III] And I remember going there to the rotunda, and seeing her coffin lying there, thinking to myself how wonderful it was that the, after so many years, the state wanted to pay such a tribute to my grandmother. - [Teva] Everyone who had known Nellie had died. She never came back and lived in Wyoming full time. But I think Wyoming remained her second home. - [Voiceover] Perhaps those who knew Nellie Tayloe Ross before 1924 would not have foreseen a life of such achievement. In tragedy, she found opportunity. With opportunity, she made history. - {Voiceover] This morning, our hostess for the toast is Mrs. Nellie Tayloe Ross, Director of the Bureau of the Mint. That's the correct title, isn't it, Mrs. Ross? - [Nellie] Yes, that's it. - [Voiceover] Nice to have you here this morning. I don't know how we were lucky enough to get you because I think that you're just about the busiest woman in the city of Washington. I wonder if you ladies and gentlemen knew that Mrs. Nellie Tayloe Ross, besides being Director of the United States Mint, which is a great honor, was the first woman governor. Just briefly Mrs. Ross, tell us about that? You were Governor of Wyoming. - [Nellie] Well, I married a young southerner. My husband was a young Tennessean when we married, and he had gone out west. I was living in Omaha at the time, what I was would sit around a wood barn in Missouri, I was living in Omaha. And my husband had gone out to Denver to convalesce after an illness, and he went up to Wyoming and liked Wyoming so much that he just located there. And that's where we spent our married life. He was a young lawyer. Well, he. - [Voiceover] Upon his death, you took over the Governorship. - [Nellie] He had been elected governor - [Voiceover] Yes. - [Nellie] And upon his death the people of the state elected me to succeed him. Of course I had no idea, and neither had he ever, as long as he lived, any idea of my ever filling a public office. I've often said it was just a chain of circumstances that projected me into public life. And there was so many women who I really feel deserved that opportunity before it was ever, it was forthcoming to me. But it just seemed to be destiny that I should be the one to come forward. - [Voiceover] I think the most wonderful thing Mrs. Ross is the way you have risen to these occasions. Heretofore didn't you tell me that you had never made a speech in your life? - [Nellie] I guess it was shear temerity. You know I often wonder myself at my own temerity in thinking that I could do these things. I think it was the confidence that my friends indicated in me that gave me courage to undertake them. - [Voiceover] You, you turned into a lecturer giver for awhile didn't you? - [Nellie] You know, the fact is that until I was in the Governor's Office, I had never said a word in public in my life except in the women's club meetings. But when I was governor, there was so much to talk about, to tell the people in the state, that I got to going around telling the people.


1928 United States presidential election in Wyoming[1]
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Herbert Hoover 52,748 63.68%
Democratic Alfred E. Smith 29,299 35.37%
Socialist Norman Thomas 788 0.95%
Total votes 82,835 100.00%

Results by county

County Herbert Clark Hoover
Alfred Emmanuel Smith
Norman Mattoon Thomas
Margin Total votes cast[3]
# % # % # % # %
Albany 2,941 64.13% 1,618 35.28% 27 0.59% 1,323 28.85% 4,586
Big Horn 2,646 73.58% 933 25.95% 17 0.47% 1,713 47.63% 3,596
Campbell 1,528 66.52% 744 32.39% 25 1.09% 784 34.13% 2,297
Carbon 3,019 64.85% 1,609 34.56% 27 0.58% 1,410 30.29% 4,655
Converse 2,040 70.52% 845 29.21% 8 0.28% 1,195 41.31% 2,893
Crook 1,466 71.41% 582 28.35% 5 0.24% 884 43.06% 2,053
Fremont 2,267 60.65% 1,449 38.76% 22 0.59% 818 21.89% 3,738
Goshen 2,483 75.29% 777 23.56% 38 1.15% 1,706 51.73% 3,298
Hot Springs 1,220 55.33% 940 42.63% 45 2.04% 280 12.70% 2,205
Johnson 1,369 69.25% 590 29.84% 18 0.91% 779 39.41% 1,977
Laramie 5,862 65.33% 3,029 33.76% 82 0.91% 2,833 31.57% 8,973
Lincoln 2,217 56.57% 1,687 43.05% 15 0.38% 530 13.52% 3,919
Natrona 7,141 64.78% 3,818 34.64% 64 0.58% 3,323 30.14% 11,023
Niobrara 1,424 74.21% 469 24.44% 26 1.35% 955 49.77% 1,919
Park 2,175 66.72% 1,062 32.58% 23 0.71% 1,113 34.14% 3,260
Platte 2,206 67.75% 932 28.62% 118 3.62% 1,274 39.13% 3,256
Sheridan 3,616 57.86% 2,563 41.01% 71 1.14% 1,053 16.85% 6,250
Sublette 573 59.69% 316 32.92% 71 7.40% 257 26.77% 960
Sweetwater 2,528 45.15% 2,974 53.12% 97 1.73% -446 -7.97% 5,599
Teton 495 64.29% 270 35.06% 5 0.65% 225 29.23% 770
Uinta 1,439 58.31% 1,012 41.00% 17 0.69% 427 17.31% 2,468
Washakie 966 70.72% 392 28.70% 8 0.59% 574 42.02% 1,366
Weston 1,127 61.28% 688 37.41% 24 1.31% 439 23.87% 1,839
Totals 52,748 63.68% 29,299 35.37% 788 0.95% 23,449 28.31% 82,835


  1. ^ a b "1928 Presidential Election Results – Wyoming".
  2. ^ Menendez, Albert J.; The Geography of Presidential Elections in the United States, 1868-2004, pp. 342-343 ISBN 0786422173
  3. ^ Scammon, Richard M. (compiler); America at the Polls: A Handbook of Presidential Election Statistics 1920-1964; p. 515 ISBN 0405077114
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