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Ruth McCormick Simms

March 11, 2018

Ruth Hanna McCormick Simms was born on March 27, 1880, in Cleveland Ohio, one of three children born to Marcus Hanna and Charlotte Augusta Rhodes Hanna.  She was born into privilege, and attended elite private schools, Hathaway Brown School in Ohio, and later The Masters School in Hobbs Ferry, New York and then Miss Porter’s School in Farmington, Connecticut, she received most of her education from her father, senator Senator Marcus Alonzo "Mark" Hanna.  He sent her to investigate living conditions among streetcar employees when she was sixteen. Later that year, her father became William McKinley’s presidential campaign manager and she accompanied him on a national tour.  In1898 he was elected U.S. Senator. After she graduated from high school, Ruth joined him in Washington, DC where she worked as his personal secretary. When her father was not able to attend debates in the Senate, Ruth would sit in the gallery taking notes for him. During these sessions, she learned legislative procedure and political technique.

 

  

In 1903, Ruth married Medill McCormick, a newspaper man, and they settled in Chicago.  They had three children.  They also shared a serious interest in politics and she helped Medill get elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1916 and to the Senate in 1918.  Ruth was selected as the first chairperson of the Women’s Executive Committee of the Republican National Committee and organized a network  of statewide women’s Republican clubs with several thousand members in 90 of Illinois’ 102 counties. During her time as leader of the Congressional Committee, she produced an eight-reel melodrama, Your Girl and Mine, which was intended to help gain support for the suffrage movement. She also owed and operated a dairy and breeding farm nearby Byron Illinois. 

 

When Medill died in 1925, Ruth ran for Republican Congressman-at-large from Illinois, declaring “ I am no longer a suffragette or a feminist, I am a politician.”  She canvassed the state, traveling more than 34,000 miles in a car and making hundreds of speeches. With her motto of "No Promises and No Bunk," she was the top vote–getter in a field of 10 candidates—winning 1.7 million votes—36 percent of the total.  She handily won the election but after only two months in office decided to run for the senate in 1930.  She won the primary but lost the election.  She never sought an elected position again.  

 

 

In 1926 she bought control of a newspaper in Rockford Illinois, the Rockford Consolidated Newspapers, where she was both publisher and president.  Four years later she added a second newspaper and a radio station to her holdings. 

 

After she married Albert Simms, a retired Congressman from New Mexico in 1932, Ruth withdrew from politics and founded a girl’s school in Albuquerque and maintained a 250,000 acre sheep and cattle ranch in Colorado.  She returned briefly to the political life, to help Wendell Wilkie in his presidential campaign in 1940 and Thomas E. Dewey’s in 1944.

 

 

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