CARAWAY (FAMOUS), HATTIE OPHELIA - Craighead County, Arkansas | HATTIE OPHELIA CARAWAY (FAMOUS) - Arkansas Gravestone Photos

Hattie Ophelia CARAWAY (FAMOUS)

Woodlawn (a.k.a. Oaklawn) (Jonesboro) Cemetery
Craighead County,

United States Senator

01 February 1878 – 21 December 1950

Hattie Ophelia Wyatt Caraway, known as “Silent Hattie,” was the first woman elected to serve as a United States Senator, the first woman to chair a Senate committee, and the first woman to take up the gavel on the Senate floor as presiding officer. She was born near Bakerville, Humphreys Co., Tennessee, to William Carroll and Lucy M. Burch Wyatt. She attended Ebenezer College in Hustburg, later transferring to Dickson Normal College where she received a B.A. degree in 1896. At Dickson Normal, Hattie met her future husband, Thaddeus Horatius Caraway, a law student, whom she married in Humphreys County on Feb. 5, 1902. Soon, thereafter, they moved to Jonesboro, Arkansas where she cared for their children and home, he established a law practice and began his political career. Her husband was elected to the US House of Representatives as a Democrat in 1912 and served in that office until 1921 when he was elected to the US Senate and served until his death in 1931. Governor Harvey Parnell appointed her to serve out the rest of Mr. Caraway’s term. She was sworn into office on December 9, 1931, and was confirmed by a special election on January 12, 1932, becoming the first woman elected to the US Senate. As the deadline approached in Arkansas to announce her candidacy for the regular senatorial election in 1932, seven men, including Governor Parnell, prepared to run for "Fighting Thad" Caraway's Senate seat. They were dumbstruck when, at the very last moment, Hattie's application to run arrived in Little Rock by special delivery. One opponent was quoted as saying that out of the estimated 300,000 votes, "she might receive 3,000" from feminists and personal friends. In May 1932 when she was invited by Vice President Charles Curtis to preside over the Senate she took advantage of the situation to announce that she would run for reelection. She found a powerful friend and champion in her neighbor in the Senate, the junior Senator from Louisiana, Huey P. Long. Hattie supported Senator Long's proposals for tax reform and redistribution of wealth to the farm poor. She launched her campaign with much fanfare, but had little success until Senator Long joined her on a 9-day swing through the state. They visited 31 counties, giving 39 speeches and personally addressed more than 200,000 people. She won the Democratic primary, receiving 44.7 percent of the vote. In November 1932 Hattie became the first woman elected to a full six-year term in the US Senate. She was the first woman to chair a Senate Committee, the Committee on Enrolled Bills from 1933 to 1944. She was strongly opposed to the repeal of prohibition and a fiercely partisan supporter of New Deal Legislation. She seconded the nomination of President Franklin D. Roosevelt for reelection at the 1936 Democratic National Convention. As a member of the Agriculture and Forestry Committee she was well positioned to help her people in Arkansas. "These are matters I know something about; you can tell by looking at me that I'm a farm woman." In 1938 she again won reelection to her Senate seat, defeating former Congressman, John L. McClellan in the primary election. During her 14 years in the Senate from 1931 to 1945, she made few speeches from the floor of the Senate, but built a reputation as an honest and sincere Senator. In 1944 she lost her bid for the nomination as the Democratic Party’s candidate, losing the primary to J. William Fulbright. After leaving office she was appointed to the Federal Employees Compensation Commission and to the Employees Compensation Appeals Board. Hattie suffered a stroke in early 1950 and died in Falls Church, Virginia. On Feb. 21, 2001, she again made history by being the first Arkansan to ever appear on a stamp. The $0.76 stamp was unveiled in Little Rock on Feb 21, 2001, and is the third such stamp issued in the “Distinguished Americans” series after Joseph W. Stilwell and Claude Pepper. And, on September 20, 2007, her gravesite was listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

References Consulted:

From 1900 United States Federal Census; Tennessee State Marriages, 1780-2002; Biographical Directory of the United States Congress, 1774-2005

See Also: Thaddeus Horatius Caraway, Famous Person Biography

Contributed on 6/2/08 by tiredtech3
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Record #: 25824

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Additional CARAWAY Surnames in WOODLAWN (A.K.A. OAKLAWN) (JONESBORO) Cemetery

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Submitted: 6/2/08 • Approved: 11/29/08 • Last Updated: 7/21/12 • R25824-G25824-S3

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