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Rebecca Latimer Felton

Rebecca Latimer FeltonAKA Rebecca Ann Latimer

Born: 10-Jun-1835
Birthplace: Decatur, GA
Died: 24-Jan-1930
Location of death: Atlanta, GA
Cause of death: unspecified
Remains: Buried, Oak Hill Cemetery, Cartersville, GA

Gender: Female
Religion: Methodist
Race or Ethnicity: White
Sexual orientation: Straight
Occupation: Politician, Columnist
Party Affiliation: Democratic

Nationality: United States
Executive summary: First female in the US Senate

At age 18 Rebecca Latimer married 30-year-old William Harrell Felton, a prominent local physician, farmer, and member of the Georgia House of Representatives. Very much a woman of the Old South, Felton and her husband owned slaves until the end of US Civil War. He represented Georgia's 7th District in the US Congress from 1875-81, and as a 19th century politician's wife she acted as his unofficial office and campaign manager. Well-known and well-liked in Georgia political circles, in 1899 she began writing a regular column in the Atlanta Journal. She wrote about farm life, proper manners for young people, and sometimes included her political perspectives in a time when women rarely spoke of such things -- gently supporting women's rights while more ardently arguing against unions, for repeal of child labor laws, and for the lynching of black men to protect white women from the wildly exaggerated danger of rape.

Following the death of US Senator and family friend Thomas E. Watson in 1922, she was appointed to fill his seat, making her America's first woman Senator. It was, however, just a publicity stunt: she held office for 24 hours on 21-22 November 1922 before, as had been previously agreed, turning over the Senate seat to Senator-elect Walter George. 87 years of age at the time, she was the oldest person to become a Senator, and the Senator with the shortest time in office. Coming just two years after American women earned the right to vote, Felton's appointment gained great media attention, but she herself dismissed her day in office as "a joke". The first female US Senator to seriously serve as a lawmaker was Hattie Wyatt Caraway of Arkansas.

Father: Charles Latimer (plantation owner)
Mother: Eleanor Ann Swift Latimer
Husband: William Harrell Felton (US Congressman, b. 19-Jun-1823, m. 11-Oct-1853, d. 24-Sep-1909, five children)

    University: Madison Female College (1852)

    The Atlanta Journal Columnist (1899-1926)
    US Senator, Georgia (21-Nov-1922 to 22-Nov-1922)

Author of books:
My Memoirs of Georgia Politics (1911, memoirs)
Country Life in Georgia in the Days of My Youth (1919, memoirs)
The Romantic Story of Georgia Women (1930)

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