Hattie Caraway

Hattie Ophelia Wyatt Caraway (1 February 1878 - 21 December 1950) was the first woman elected to serve as a United States Senator.

Hattie Caraway was born near Bakerville, Tennessee in Humphreys County.

Hattie Caraway married Thaddeus H. Caraway and moved with him to Jonesboro, Arkansas where she cared for their children and home and her husband practiced law and started a political career.

Her husband was elected to the United States House of Representatives as a Democrat in 1912 and served in that office until 1921 when he was elected to the United States Senate where he served until he died in office in 1931.

Arkansas Governor Harvey Parnell appointed Caraway to serve out the rest of her husband's unfinished term. She was sworn in to office on 9 December 1931 and was confirmed by a special election of the people on 12 January 1932 becoming the first woman elected to the United States Senate. (see also: Rebecca Latimer Felton).

Caraway made no speeches on the floor of the Senate but built a reputation as an honest and sincere Senator.

When she was invited by the Vice President 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.

In 1938 she ran again for reelection against John L. McClellan and was victorious after receiving support from a successful coalition of veterans, women, and union members.

She ran for a final time in 1944 and was defeated by J. William Fulbright.

After leaving office she was appointed to the Federal Employees Compensation Commission and to the Employees Compensation Appeals Board.

Caraway was a prohibitionist and voted against anti-lynching legislation along with many other southern Senators. She was generally a supporter of Franklin D. Roosevelt's economic recovery legislation.

Hattie Caraway suffered a stroke in early 1950 and died in Falls Church, Virginia. She is buried in Westlawn Cemetery in Jonesboro, Arkansas.


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