Today In History – January 12

On January 12, 1932, Haiti Ophelia Wyatt Caraway became the first woman elected to the United States Senate.

In 1931, Caraway’s husband, Thaddeus Caraway, died in office. There had been an established precedent of appointing widows to take their husband’s places temporarily. Therefore, Arkansas Governor, Harvey Parnell, appointed Hattie to take up the seat.

While Caraway took care of the seat, a special election was held. Hattie Caraway ran for the seat in her own right. With the Democratic party’s backing, Hattie won the seat and became the first woman elected to the Senate. She won a full term in November of that same year.

Caraway ran for reelection in 1938 and won a narrow victory. She was challenged by Representative John Little McClellan, who ran using the slogan, ” Arkansas Needs Another Man in the Senate.” In 1944, she lost to Representative, J. William Fulbright.

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