The United States Senate (upper house) and the House of Representatives (lower house) combine to make up the United States Congress, which is the legislative branch of the federal government. One of the most important roles of the Senate is to carefully consider and debate the various issues and provide advice on these issues. The senate also confirms appointments of certain federal officials, consents to treaties and acts as the jury in an impeachment trial. The Senate consists of 2 senators from each state, which means that the Senate currently has 100 senators. Each senator serves 6 years before an election is held and these 6 year terms are staggered so that only one third of the senators are up for re-election each time. The vast majority of senators have been men and as of May 2012 only 39 women have served in the senate. Let’s find out who was the first female senator.
Who was the first female U.S senator?
Very few women ran for the senate before 1920, mainly because of the perception of the role of women and because women were not allowed to vote before this time. The first woman senator was Rebecca Latimer Felton from Georgia who served for one day in 1922. She was given the role by the Georgia Governor Thomas W. Hardwick after the Senator Thomas E. Watson died before the next election. Governor Hardwick planned to run for the Senate at the special election and chose Felton because it was unlikely she would ever be sworn in, she would not be competing with him in the election and he thought that it would be a good way to secure other women’s votes. The plan backfired and Walter F. George won the election and chose to allow Felton to be sworn in as the first female senator.
The first female senator to be elected to serve a full term was Hattie Caraway. She was initially appointed the senator for Arkansas after her husband died in 1931. She decided to contest the election in 1932 and won easily. She was also successful in 1938, but after 4,774 days as a senator lost the 1944 election.
Did you know?
Rebecca Latimer Felton holds the record for the shortest stint in the Senate and she was also the last former slaveholder to serve in the Senate!