About Aleta Wheeler (?–?)
In 1920, Aleta Wheeler ran unsuccessfully for the Republican nomination to the United States House of Representatives, representing the Fifth District of Michigan. She received a total of 521 votes, putting her well behind her two male opponents. Just one month prior to the vote, Wheeler had almost been forced to withdraw her candidacy because of a potential conflict of interest. At the time of her campaign, Wheeler worked for the United States government as a proofreader. Ultimately, Wheeler did not give up her candidacy, but her civil service status does seem to have hindered her ability to campaign for votes.
Wheeler set her sights on congress again in 1922, but was actually forced to drop out before the primary to seek treatment at the Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore. A throat condition had hindered her ability to campaign.
The political advancement of women seems to have been a central motivation for Wheeler’s own campaigning. She even attended the last convention of the National American Woman Suffrage Association convention in 1920, when delegates voted to operate as a new organization: the League of Women Voters. She was also a member of Alice Paul’s National Woman’s Party and attended its 1921 convention. The National Woman’s Party is perhaps best known for its championing of the still unratified Equal Rights Amendment.
In 1928, Aleta Wheeler appeared in local newspapers for a nonpolitical reason: to draw attention to her own personal cause. After working for several years as a government proofreader, Wheeler had become blind. She attributed her loss of eyesight to “a nervous breakdown caused by work and conditions.” Even worse, Wheeler attested, the government was now refusing to grant her a retirement pension. Wheeler reminded readers of her dedication to the Republican Party and of her status as “one of the first women in the National Woman’s Party to secure votes for women.” She ended by appealing to the Republican Party’s pride: “Would the Democratic party treat one of its women voters this way? Emphatically I say ‘no.'”
Wheeler’s appeal seems to have had the desired effect. Just one month after it was published, the United States Senate introduced a bill that would provide Wheeler with an annuity.
Political Office: U.S. House of Representatives (primary election)
Election Year: 1920
Party Affiliation: Republican
Full Name: Aleta M. Wheeler
Life Dates: Unknown
Marital Status: Single
Occupation: Government Proofreader
Party Affiliation: Republican
Social Reform Activism: Women’s Suffrage
April 23 to May 7, 1928. Vol. 69 of Congressional Record: Proceedings and Debates of the First Session of the Seventieth Congress of the United States of America. Washington: United State Government Printing Office Washington, 1928.
“Complete Vote of Primaries in Michigan.” Bay City Times Tribune, September 15, 1920.
“Grand Rapids Brevities.” Grand Rapids Press, August 8, 1922.
“Kent Woman Drops Congress Campaign.” Evening News, August 10, 1922.
“Michigan Women at Party Meet: Wolverine Delegates Attend Session in National Capital.” Flint Journal, February 16, 1921.
“Miss Wheeler to Run for Congress: Grand Rapids Woman Prepared to Devote Much Time to Campaign.” Jackson Citizen Patriot, March 23, 1922.
“Social Affairs.” Grand Rapids Press, June 3, 1921.
“The Public Pulse: An Open Forum for Grand Rapids Press Readers.” Grand Rapids Press, April 17, 1928.
“U.S. Puts Crimp in Campaign of Aleta Wheeler.” Grand Rapids Press, August 10, 1920.