Julia C. Addington
"She broke ground for all women office-holders
who came after her..."
--Dr. Thomas Morain, 2007
Julia C. Addington, born in 1829, was the first woman elected
to public office in Iowa and may have been the first woman
in the United States to be elected to office when, in 1869,
she was elected Superintendent of Schools in Mitchell County.
She was 40 years old when she was elected on the “Bolters”
ticket, a renegade faction of the Republican Party. Because
of her gender, the legality of Addington assuming the position
came into question. The Iowa Attorney General ruled that there
was no reason she could not hold the position of county school
superintendent. Even after her election and the ruling by
the Iowa attorney general that her election was legal, not
all of her colleagues were accepting of her. Prior to her
election, she was the “preceptress” at the Cedar
Valley Seminary in Osage and taught in Cedar Falls, Waterloo,
and Des Moines. Her reputation in the education community
was solid. Regardless of whether she was the first woman to
hold office in the United States, it is certain that she accepted
the call of a political party to run for office in a time
when it took courage for women to do so. By accepting the
call, she was setting herself up for certain scrutiny and
probable scorn. While there is no evidence that Addington
was an advocate for women’s suffrage, she was one of
many pioneering women in the fight for equal rights for women.
Because of ill health, she retired in 1871. She lived and
owned property in Stacyville, Iowa. Addington died on September
21, 1875 and is buried in Stacyville. She was inducted into
the Iowa Women's Hall of Fame in 2010.