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Senate Reception Room overview
In 1957 Senators John F. Kennedy, Richard Russell, Mike Mansfield, Styles Bridges, and John Bricker formed a committee to choose the five "most outstanding" former senators, whose portraits would adorn the U.S. Capitol's Senate Reception Room. The committee deliberated for two years before choosing the "Famous Five." In 2000 the Senate chose two more deserving senators. In 2006 a portrait of Oliver Ellsworth and Roger Sherman was added to the collection.

Female Senators of the 108th Congress, 2003–2005
Appointed to fill a vacancy on October 3, 1922, Rebecca Felton of Georgia took the oath of office on November 21, 1922, becoming the first woman to serve in the U.S. Senate. Felton served only 24 hours after taking the oath, but her historic appointment paved the way for other women senators. Hattie Caraway of Arkansas became the first woman to win election to the Senate in 1932, and the first to chair a Senate committee. In 1949 Margaret Chase Smith of Maine took the oath of office, becoming the first woman to serve in both the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate. To date, 58 women have served in the Senate, with 24 serving at this time.

Photograph of Senator Hiram Revels

Ethnic Diversity in the Senate

How many ethnic minorities have served in the Senate? This list includes all African Americans, Hispanic Americans, Asian Americans and North American Indians who have served in the United States Senate.  

Photo of Sam Ervin

Appointed Senators

The Seventeenth Amendment to the Constitution (1913) established direct election of senators, as well as a means of filling vacant Senate seats. If a vacancy occurs due to a senator's death, resignation, or expulsion, the Seventeenth Amendment allows state legislatures to empower the governor to appoint a replacement to complete the term or to hold office until a special election can take place. This list of appointed senators includes name, state, party, date of appointment, and whether or not the person was subsequently elected to the seat.

While most U.S. senators have been affiliated with one of the major political parties, many members of the Senate have represented a third or other minor party. This list provides the names, service dates, and political party affiliation of the Senate's many independent members.  

Congress sets the salaries of the President, Supreme Court justices, as well as Representatives and Senators, and the Constitution requires that those salaries be paid from the national treasury. During the First Congress, Senators and Representatives set their salary at six dollars per diem for every day that Congress met. In 1856, Congress set an annual salary for its members, replacing the old per diem pay system.  

To date, 16 senators have also served as president of the United States. Three senators, Warren G. Harding, John F. Kennedy, and Barack Obama moved directly from the U.S. Senate to the White House. 

Edward Brooke

Featured Biographies

Since it first convened in 1789, nearly 2000 individuals have served in the United States Senate. The following featured biographies provide a look at the varied experiences and accomplishments of some of these individuals, highlighting the Senate service of selected U.S. senators.