Senator Rebecca L. Felton of Georgia, photograph by National Photo Company, November 18, 1922
Active in politics for half a century, Senator Rebecca L. Felton of Georgia was a journalist, author, and reformer who promoted woman suffrage and other Progressive-Era causes. Appointed to fill a vacant Senate seat, Felton served October 3-November 22, 1922. In her only floor speech, Felton––the first female senator––predicted the service of future women senators.
Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress
The First Female Senator
Generations of American women fought to have a voice in government through the right to vote, finally achieving suffrage in the Progressive Era with ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment in 1920. Suffragist Rebecca Felton, not content with exercising her rights at the ballot box, entered politics in 1874 as campaign manager for her husband, Representative William H. Felton of Georgia. In 1922 Georgia’s governor cultivated the support of his state’s newly enfranchised women by appointing Rebecca Felton to a brief term in the U.S. Senate, making her the first female senator.
When the women of the country come in and sit with you, . . . I pledge you that you will get ability, . . . integrity of purpose, . . . exalted patriotism, and . . . unstinted usefulness.
Rebecca Felton, Speech to the U.S. Senate, November 22, 1922