Sarah Palin
12/4/2006 - ?

1/3/79 – 1/3/85

Bement Davis
1914 & 1915

Mary M. Lilly
1919 - 1928
©Foursome of Ticket Firsts:
Sarah Palin, Geraldine Ferraro . . . .
Katharine Bement Davis? Mary M. Lilly?
-- Introduction

Okay, so you can understand why Alaska Governor Sarah Palin and former Queens Congresswoman Geraldine Ferraro could be counted as "ticket firsts."

In 1984 Rep. Ferraro became the first woman to run as the Vice Presidential candidate on a major party ticket when Democratic Presidential nominee Walter Mondale picked her to be his running mate.

In August 2008 Gov. Palin became the first woman to run as the Vice Presidential candidate on the Republican party ticket when GOP Presidential nominee Senator John McCain picked her to be his running mate.

But Katharine Bement Davis?

Or Mary M. Lilly?

How does Davis, the 1914 and 1915 Commissioner of NYC's Department of Correction (DOC), figure into this?

Or Lilly, the 1919-1928 director (superintendent) of female inmates at DOC's Workhouse on the Blackwell's Island (now Roosevelt Island)?

Clearly, they're part of New York correction history, but what do they have to do with women making election history?

In what way can either of them be counted a major party "ticket first?"

Answer #1:
Davis made New York election history in 1914 by becoming the first woman to run on the statewide ticket of a major party.

While still Correction Commissioner, she ran for constitutional convention delegate-at-large on the Progressive Party slate. Her Progressive Party candidacy was offered on every ballot in every one of the 62 counties of the state. No major party in the state had ever done that before -- presented throughout all of New York the candidacy of a woman.

Near the Central Park Reservoir is a memorial to Mayor John Purroy Mitchel who, in 1914 before women had the right to vote, appointed Katharine Bement Davis as Correction Commissioner, the first woman commissioner of any NYC municipal government agency. For more about the memorial and Mitchel, click the above image of the Mitchel memorial from the excellent Central Park 2000 website.
She undertook the candidacy to promote the cause of woman suffrage by calling attention to this fact: That, though she could run for elective office and could serve if elected, she herself could not vote nor could anyone else of her gender in New York. Women here, like their sisters in most of the other states in the country lacked electoral franchise.

The Progressives were a major party back then, both in New York and nationally.

In New York City, they had helped elect John Purroy Mitchel as mayor. Around the country they had elected scores of Congressmen and state legislators.

This was the Bull Moose party of former NYC police commissioner, former NYS governor, former President Teddy Roosevelt.

TR had led it against incumbent Republican President Howard Taft,
William Howard Taft.
His departures as President from the progressive policies of Teddy Roosevelt led to formation of the Progressive Party. The above image is based on a White House painting. Click image to access more about him and for the original image on the White House website.
out-polling the GOP nominee and thus helping Democrat Woodrow Wilson win the White House.

Among the then three major parties, only the Progressives had endorsed woman suffrage.

Answer #2:
Davis also had a hand in women gaining the opportunity to make election history.

She played a note-worthy role in their winning the franchise in New York State in 1917 and nationally in 1920.

A vice president of the largest and most prominent suffrage organization, the National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA), Davis was also a top official of the Woman Suffrage Party in New York.

She led marches, hosted teas, organized meetings, participated in planning tactics and strategy, gave numerous speeches, distributed suffrage literature, contributed and raised funds for the cause.

Above is an image of the cover of a printed version of the 17-chapter biography New York City’s Suffragist Commissioner: Correction's Katharine Bement Davis -- A Mini-History About the First Woman To Head a Major NYC Municipal Agency. The biography was the very first presentation placed on this website when the New York Correction History Society launched itself in 1999. To access the bio in web format, click the image.
Once women's right to vote had been won, she helped found the League of Women Voters (LWV), the successor organization to the NAWSA. She was one of the half-dozen prime movers establishing the Women's Club of New York that continues a vibrant organization in the civic arena to this day as does the LWV.

Truly, Katharine Bement Davis was "New York City's Suffragist Commissioner," which is the title of our 17-chapter biography about her. The bio was the first web presentation placed on this site when the New York Correction History Society launched itself in 1999.

Answer #3:
In 1918, Mrs. Mary M. Lilly -- a public school teacher and administrator who had become an attorney and women's clubs activist -- won election to the Manhattan's 7th District Assembly seat, making her New York City's first woman state legislator.

Answer #4:
Susan Brownell Anthony of Rochester, NY, early leader in woman suffrage movement.
In 1919, Assemblywoman Lilly was one of the two female members of that house of the Legislature whose votes helped add New YorkState to the list of states ratifying the so-called Susan B. Anthony 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution to mandate equal suffrage in all the states.

The day of that ratification vote was also the date of Mary's DOC appointment as Workhouse women inmates' director. The other Assemblywoman was Ida Sammis of Huntington, L.I., also elected in 1918, the first year that women in New York State had the opportunity to vote on candidates for state and federal offices.

Above is the introduction or overview or executive summary of why Correction Commissioner Davis and Workhouse female inmates Superintendent Lilly rate being mentioned, respectively, as New York State and New York City "ticket firsts" in the continuing woman suffrage story that includes national "ticket firsts" Ferraro and Palin.

Below is a list of this presentation's five chapters that together provide a fuller account. They are filled with several twists and turns in NYC correction history and in NY woman suffrage history that may surprise the reader as they did the author during his research. A glance through the section titles in the chapter boxes below will clue the reader to the suffrage and correction history connections covered in this presentation. Below the chapter boxes is a link to "Source Notes." That page lists links to more that 100 books, essays, magazine articles and newspaper stories researched in preparing this presentation,

Thomas C. McCarthy,

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Commissioner Davis' Celebrity Preceded Ballot Placement . . . . Commissioner Davis' Grandma an Abolitionist & Feminist . . . . Rhoda Bement Upset Over Abolition Meeting Non-announcement . . . . Elders' Charges Against KBD's Grandma Bement . . . . Abolition, Prohibition, Feminism Connection . . . . KBD's Mom, Grandma at 1st Women's Rights Convention . . . .


KBD Agrees to Campaign for Suffrage If OK With Mayor . . . . City Hall Reporters Foresee Change Coming With KBD. . . . . . KBD Begins Suffrage Campaign: Pageant, Ball, Rally, Speeches . . . . KBD on TR Party State Ticket . . . . Mayor Mitchel Not Only OKs, But Endorses KBD Candidacy . . . . Support for KBD Candidacy Crosses Party Lines . . . . A Sister Reformatory Superintendent a District Delegate Candidate . . . .


Women Delegate Candidates Lost But Cause Gained Ground . . . . Woman Suffrage Telephone Day at DOC . . . . Planning Ahead to Use the Vote to Promote Good Government . . . . KBD Hosts Suffragist Tea in Municipal Building . . . . KBD & 'Her Civil Service Girls' in Suffrage Parade . . . . In Face of Defeat, Fighting Spirits Rose High. . . . .


Hughes Backs U.S. Suffrage Amendment, KBD Backs Hughes . . . . KBD a Leader on Hughes Women's Campaign Train . . . . 8 of 9 NY speakers on Hughes train not 'rich society matrons' . . . . Besides KBD: Mrs. Henry Moskowitz, Rebekah Bettelhelm Kohut, Mrs. Mary Antin, Mrs. Rheta Childe Dorr, Frances Alice Kellor, Mrs. Alice Snitjer Burke, Annie Smith Peck . . . . TR Welcomes Back KBD, Other 'Hughesettes' . . . .


'Women Owe No One Party for the Vote' . . . . NY State Voting Rights Win Sped 19th Amendment . . . . DOCer/Assemblywoman Helps Ratify U.S. Suffrage Amendment . . . . Mrs. Lilly: Wife, Mother, Widow, School Teacher & Administrator, Lawyer, Club Woman, Editor, Legislator, Penologist . . . . Mrs. Lilly's Interaction With Anna Moskowitz Kross . . . . Her 1 Year as Assemblywoman Seen by Supporters as Effective . . . . Appointed to DOC on Memorable Day in NY Suffrage History . . . . Lilly Re-election Bid Hit on Election Eve . . . . Mrs. Lilly's Interaction With Katharine Bement Davis . . . . What Would Davis & Lilly Have Thought of the Collective Fact of Ferraro, Clinton, & Palin Candidacies?
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Source Notes
Copyright © 2008 by Thomas C. McCarthy and the New York Correction History Society
on main texts and captions, excluding material quoted and cited from other sources.
All rights on original text and caption wording reserved.