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Humphreys County native was first woman to be elected to U.S. Senate

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Dean Bush, The News-Democrat

Hattie Ophelia Wyatt Caraway was the first woman elected to the U.S. Senate in her own right.


A native of Humphreys County, born at Bakerville on February 1, 1878,  he earned a degree from Dickson Normal College in Dickson County. There she met Thaddeus H. Caraway, married him in 1902 and had three sons. The family moved to Arkansas where her husband was elected to the U.S. Congress in 1912 and to the U.S. Senate in 1920. The Senator died in 1931. Arkansas Governor Harvey Parnell appointed Hattie Caraway to her late husbandʼs seat. Her appointment was confirmed January 12, 1932.

After serving out the unexpired term of her late husband, she was invited by Vice President Charles Curtis to preside over the Senate, and she took advantage of the situation to announce that she would run for re-election. Louisiana politician Huey Long traveled to Arkansas on a nine-day campaign swing to help her get elected. She won over six other candidates. Mrs. Caraway received twice as many votes as her closest rival.

Caraway made no speeches on the floor of the Senate but built a reputation as an honest and sincere Senator. She served 14 years in the United States Senate, from 1931 until 1945, as a member of the Democratic Party.

In 1938 she ran again for re-election against John L. McCellan and was victorious after receiving support from a successful coalition of veterans, women and union members. She ran for a final time in 1944 and was defeated by J. William Fulbright.

After losing the election in 1944, Caraway was appointed to the Federal Employees Compensation Commission and the Employees Compensation Appeals Board. She was a prohibitionist and voted against anti-lynching legislation along with many other southern Senators. She was generally a supporter of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s economic recovery legislations.

Hattie Caraway suffered a stroke in early 1950 and died in Falls Church, Va. She is buried in Oak Lawn Cemetery in Jonesboro, Ark. Her grave site was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on September 20, 2007.

You can see and read about the career and life of Senator Caraway at The Humphreys County Museum. The Museum is open to the public Friday, Saturday and Sunday afternoons 1 pm – 4 pm. There is no admission charge to visit the Museum. Groups can make special arrangements to visit the Museum and grounds at other times by calling (931) 296-3739. The Museum and grounds are available for special events…call and make your reservations.


Written by humphreyscountymuseum

January 18, 2009 at 12:48 am

Posted in Tennessee Politics

The Humphreys County Museum and Civil War Fort

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A Look At Our Past, The News-Democrat

Written by humphreyscountymuseum

November 7, 2008 at 7:30 am