The Petticoat Revolution

1916 America was not a time when women were known to have garnered political influence or power, but one such clever revolution took place in Oregon, only a few years after women had achieved the right to vote. 

Laura Stockton Starcher

Laura Stockton Starcher

By the time the 1916 Umatilla mayoral elections rolled out, sitting Mayor E.E. Starcher was sitting pretty as no one had announced that they would even challenge for his seat (at that time you could vote for anyone on election day). 

The Women of Umatilla had consistently expressed dissatisfaction with the 'lax' way the town had been run, so much so that the town only paid their bills infrequently and let the standards of the city dwell. The women frequently caught up at their card games to discuss such matters, little did the men of the town know that this is whee their clever plot was being hatched. 

By the time election day had rolled around, some of the men turned out to vote, but none of the women ventured towards the polling booths in the morning, despite their constant talk of now having the right to vote, but that's when the plot was revealed. A large group of women arrived all at one in the early afternoon to cast their vote, but the men were still none the wiser and thought nothing of it.

In a striking result, the men of the town had soon learned that it was in fact the incumbent Mayor's wife that had just destroyed him in the election 26-8, and that other women had won most of the other seats on the council that were up for grabs.

Over the next four years of government, the women dramatically improved the finances, sanitation and infrastructure of the town.