Biographical Database of NAWSA Suffragists, 1890-1920

Biography of Sallie Davis Hayden, 1842-1907

By Mary S. Melcher, Ph.D., historian


Sallie Davis was born July 12, 1842, near Forrest City, Arkansas. She had limited formal education because her father did not believe in education for his daughters. He was also a strict disciplinarian, and Sallie ran away from home to her aunt's house to avoid a whipping, when she was just twelve. After educating herself by reading books and sporadic schooling, Sallie obtained teaching positions, first in rural Illinois and then in Visalia, California. In San Francisco she met her future husband, Charles Trumbull Hayden, 17 years older than her, and they married in 1876.

Sallie moved to Arizona with her new husband, who had two businesses, including a flour mill and a ferry across the Salt River near Phoenix. They lived in an adobe house across the road from the flour mill. At the time of their marriage, the little settlement was called Hayden's Ferry; later it was renamed Tempe. Sallie served as postmistress of Hayden's Ferry from 1876 to 1878 and also took an active interest in politics. She gave birth to four children, and later served on the local school board and established a library in her home.

Sallie Hayden became involved in the woman suffrage movement and hosted suffrage meetings at her home. She served as vice-president of the Arizona Territorial Suffrage Association in the mid-1890s, working with the organization's president Josephine Hughes, a newspaper publisher from Tucson. During the 1890s, they tried every year to convince the territorial legislature to pass a woman suffrage bill, but they were unsuccessful.

Sally Davis Hayden died on September 15, 1907 and did not live to see the Arizona suffrage victory in 1912. A few months after Arizona achieved statehood in February 1912, Arizona suffragists succeeded in getting a suffrage initiative on the ballot and then celebrated after male citizens voted in favor of it.

Even though Sallie Hayden passed in 1907, her influence lived on through her son, Carl, who became involved in politics at an early age. He first served on the Tempe Town Council and then won a seat in Congress as the state's first congressional representative in 1913. That year U.S. Representative Carl Hayden introduced a joint resolution, proposing a constitutional amendment to give women the vote. The resolution did not emerge from the Committee on the Judiciary.

In 1914 and again in 1916, Democratic Congressman Carl Hayden faced opposition from the National Woman's Party (NWP). Their "Defeat the Democrats" campaign targeted Democrats, the party in power. Hayden was in favor of woman suffrage, but nonetheless, the NWP stated that the Democrats were not doing enough to pass a woman suffrage constitutional amendment. Despite opposition from the NWP, Carl Hayden was popular in Arizona and continued to win his elections until he retired in 1969. Carl Hayden voted in favor of woman suffrage, when the 19th Amendment came before the U.S. House of Representatives.

Sources: History of Woman Suffrage, Vol. IV, 1883-1900, edited by Susan B. Anthony and Ida Husted Harper, pp. 470-471. [LINK]

Arizona Daily Star, 10 December 1895.

U.S. Congress, H.J. Res. 70, 63rd Cong., 1st Session, 21 April 1913.

Sallie Calvert Hayden (Davis) biography

Ross R. Rice, Carl Hayden: Builder of the American West (New York: University Press of America, 1994).

Heidi Osselaer, Winning Their Place: Arizona Women in Politics, 1883-1950 (Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 2009).

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