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A Woman in the Senate

Rebecca Felton
Library of Congress

Long active in Georgia politics, Rebecca Latimer Felton championed women’s rights and served as a charter member of the National Women’s Party. She came to Washington in 1875 as the wife of Representative William Felton, then shocked his more conventional constituents by upstaging her husband and delivering fiery stump speeches. For 30 years Felton wrote a regular column for the Atlanta Journal. By 1922 she was known as the “grand ol’ lady” of Georgia politics. On October 3 of that year the Georgia governor appointed Felton to a vacant Senate seat, and she became the first female senator. She took the oath of office on November 21, 1922, and served another 24 hours before relinquishing the seat to her duly elected successor. Before leaving office, Felton answered one roll-call vote and delivered a single speech. "When the women of the country come in and sit with you,” she told her colleagues, “...you will get ability, you will get integrity..., you will get exalted patriotism, and you will get unstinted usefulness."


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