First woman elected to US Senate

On January 12, 1932, the United States Senate saw its first female Senator elected. Hattie W. Caraway  represented the great state of Arkansas. Continue reading for all the information wikipedia has to offer.

Here is what the wikipedia has to say about Hattie W. Caraway and the Senate:

In May 1932 Caraway surprised Arkansas politicians by announcing that she would run for a full term in the upcoming election, joining a field already crowded with prominent candidates who had assumed she would step aside. She told reporters, “The time has passed when a woman should be placed in a position and kept there only while someone else is being groomed for the job.” When she was invited by Vice President Charles Curtis to preside over the Senate she took advantage of the situation to announce that she would run for reelection. Populist Louisiana politician Huey Long travelled to Arkansas on a 9-day campaign swing to campaign for her. She was the first female Senator to preside over this body as well as the first to chair a Committee (Senate Committee on Enrolled Bills).[1] Lacking any significant political backing, Caraway accepted the offer of help from Long, whose efforts to limit incomes and increase aid to the poor she had supported. Long was also motivated by sympathy for the widow as well as by his ambition to extend his influence into the home state of his rival, Senator Joseph Robinson. Bringing his colorful and flamboyant campaign style to Arkansas, Long stumped the state with Caraway for a week just before the Democratic primary, helping her amass nearly twice as many votes as her closest opponent. She went on to win the general election in November.

Caraway’s Senate committee assignments included Agriculture and Forestry, Commerce, and Enrolled Bills and Library, which she chaired. She sustained a special interest in relief for farmers, flood control, and veterans’ benefits, all of direct concern to her constituents, and cast her votes for nearly every New Deal measure. Her loyalty to President Franklin D. Roosevelt, however, did not extend to racial issues, and in 1938 she joined fellow southerners in a filibuster against the administration’s antilynching bill. Although she carefully prepared herself for Senate work, Caraway spoke infrequently and rarely made speeches on the floor of the Senate but built a reputation as an honest and sincere Senator. She was sometimes portrayed by patronizing reporters as “Silent Hattie” or “the quiet grandmother who never said anything or did anything.” She explained her reticence as unwillingness “to take a minute away from the men. The poor dears love it so.”

In 1938 Caraway entered a tough fight for reelection, challenged by Representative John L. McClellan, who argued that a man could more effectively promote the state’s interests. With backing from government employees, women’s groups, and unions, Caraway won a narrow victory in the primary and took the general election by a large margin. During her tenure in the Senate, three other women – Rose McConnell LongDixie Bibb Graves, and Gladys Pyle – held brief tenures of two years or less in the Senate, but none of them overlapped, and so there were never more than two women in the body. She supported Roosevelt’s foreign policy, arguing for his lend-lease bill from her perspective as a mother with two sons in the army. While encouraging women to contribute to the war effort, Caraway insisted that caring for the home and family was a woman’s primary task. Yet her consciousness of women’s disadvantages was evident as early as 1931, when, upon being assigned the same Senate desk that had been briefly occupied by the first widow ever appointed to take her husband’s place, she commented privately, “I guess they wanted as few of them contaminated as possible.” Moreover, in 1943, Caraway became the first woman legislator to cosponsor the Equal Rights Amendment.

In her bid for reelection in 1944, Caraway placed a poor fourth in the Democratic primary, losing her Senate seat to freshman congressmanJ. William Fulbright, the young, dynamic former president of the University of Arkansas who had already gained a national reputation. Roosevelt then appointed her to the Employees’ Compensation Commission, and in 1946 President Harry Truman gave her a post on the Employees’ Compensation Appeals Board, where she served until suffering a stroke in January 1950. She died in Falls Church, Virginia, and was buried in West Lawn Cemetery in Jonesboro, Arkansas

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