We Can Do It

Women in Congress



Elizabeth Houlihan

Thousands of Americans are left in the dark when it comes to political history, and let’s face it. Many don’t believe that it is as important as it was years ago. We have different priorities, jobs, payments, and families to help take care of. 

However, one thing Americans shouldn’t be left in the dark is in the powerful history of women. Well, most women. 

We all learned about the Women’s Suffrage that took place during the industrial revolution, and  the voting for women’s rights. With all this being said, we tend to look at the big picture. We normally don’t pinpoint specific people in huge events like this. People who really pushed these types of events forward, and gave them purpose. 

One example is Hattie Caraway. Born in February of 1878. Born to be a leader and inspiration for all individuals to come. 

Caraway was the first ever female United States Senate. 

Caraway was born in Tennessee, she graduated from Dickson Normal in 1896. She eventually moved to Arkansas with her husband Thaddeus Caraway while he studied law and she worked on a farm while taking care of their children. 

Thaddeus Caraway was elected to congress in 1912, while women earned the right to vote in 1920. Hattie Caraway thought voting as a woman was her duty, but she only wanted to focus on her homemaking. 

Sadly, Thaddeus Caraway passed away during the fifth year of his second term in November of 1931. With this news, Hattie Caraway was given her husband’s seat in congress. She was sworn in on December 9, 1931. 

While she was in congress, Hattie Caraway was nicknamed “Silent Hattie”. With this, the senate was shocked when Caraway decided that she was going to run for congress. She used her once day invitation with the Vice President to announce the news in order to get as much attention as possible. Of course, she won. 

In 1938, Caraway ran again. She was opposed by Congressman John L. McClellan. McClellan stated “Arkansas needs another man in the Senate.”. However, she was supported by women organizations, veterans, and union members. Once again, she was a winner by eight thousand votes. 

With her winning streak, it was bound to come to an end. In 1944, at the age of 66, Caraway was defeated by Congressman William Fulbright. Ignoring her defeat, President Franklin D. Roosevelt appointed Caraway to the Federal Employees’ Compensation Commission where she served for their board. She resigned her position in January , 1950, after she suffered a stroke. 

This historical beauty may have passed away, withered away from our history classes, or may have never entered them at all, but she will always be one of the reasons we have 101 women serving in congress today. 

We can do it.