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Rebecca Latimer Felton, A Georgia Biography

The first woman to serve as a United States Senator was from Georgia. Her name was Rebecca Latimer Felton. She was a writer, a lecturer, a campaigner for women's rights, and a politician. Felton’s rise to senator in 1922 occurred through peculiar circumstances. After Georgia Senator Thomas Watson died in office, Governor Thomas Hardwick appointed Felton as his replacement. Hardwick wanted the Senate seat for himself, and he hoped that having Felton in the seat temporarily would improve his chances of winning the special election. Hardwick had also publicly opposed the recently-passed 19th Amendment, which gave women the right to vote. He hoped his appointment of Felton would impress Georgia’s new women voters. It did not, however, and he lost the special election to Walter George. Since Congress had been not in session during the special election, Rebecca Felton had not been sworn in as a Senator. But on November 21, 1922, at the request of Walter George, she took the oath of office. The largely symbolic act was a testament to her well-known campaign for women’s rights. The next day, George was sworn into office. Although she was the nation’s official first woman senator, Felton had served for only a day.