(1) Hattie Caraway was born Hattie Ophelia Wyatt in Bakerville, Tennessee. The date of her birth, February 1, 1878, occurred forty-two years before women gained the right to vote. Despite this, Hattie grew up to be the first woman elected to the United States Senate.
(2) After graduating from Dickson College in 1896, Hattie began a career as a school teacher. She left teaching in 1902 when she married Thad Caraway. The couple moved to Arkansas, where Thad worked as a lawyer. Hattie stayed at home to run the household. They later had three sons. Hattie continued to take care of their home and children as her husband pursued a political career. He was elected into the House of Representatives and later into the US Senate. Hattie learned much about the role of elected officials through her husband. These lessons served her well when her life took a sad turn.
(3) In November of 1931, Hattie’s husband died. The governor of Arkansas appointed Hattie to temporarily replace her husband in the Senate. A few months later, the people of Arkansas elected Hattie to finish the term. This made Hattie Caraway the first woman elected to a full six-year term in the United States Senate.
(4) Hattie had little to say on the Senate floor during her first year in office. This earned her the nickname, "Silent Hattie." __, as Hattie became more comfortable with her new role, she became more outspoken. She gained the respect of her fellow senators through her thoughtful approach to problems. On May 9, 1932, Hattie experienced another groundbreaking event. She became the first woman to preside over the Senate. She was honored by this opportunity to manage the Senate’s meetings that day.
(5) Blazing new trails became a way of life for Hattie. In 1933, she became the first woman to chair a Senate committee, the Committee on Enrolled Bills. The committee was made up of members of the Senate and members of the House of Representatives. Their job was to review and correct bills passed by both houses before they became laws. Hattie led this committee for two years.
(6) As her first term in the Senate came to a close, Hattie decided to run for a second term. She faced stiff opposition from her opponent. His campaign slogan was "We need another man in the Senate." Hattie won the election and remained in the Senate.
(7) During her second term, Hattie became the first woman to cosponsor a bill in the Senate. Although women in the United States had gained the right to vote in 1920, many of the rights given to men were still denied to women. For example, women did not have the same rights to own property that men had. Hattie’s bill, the Equal Rights Amendment of 1943, sought to correct this situation. Although the bill passed both houses of Congress, it was never made into law.
(8) After serving two terms in the Senate, Hattie continued her career in public service by working on national programs. The committees she worked on to protect workers’ rights. She continued to do this work until a few months before her death in 1950.