Read Country Life in Georgia in the Days of My Youth by Rebecca Latimer Felton, free from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Education, teaching, and marriage
Born Rebecca Ann Latimer in DeKalb County, Georgia, Felton attended common schools and graduated from the Madison Female College in 1852. She moved to Bartow County, Georgia in 1854 where she taught school. She was a writer, lecturer, and reformer with a special interest in agriculture, women's suffrage, temperance and racial segregation.
Felton's husband, William Harrell Felton, was a Methodist minister with a similar interest in agriculture. She served as secretary to her husband when he was elected as an Independent Democrat to the U.S. House of Representatives, serving from March 4, 1875 to March 3, 1881. He also served in the Georgia House of Representatives from 1884 to 1890, and as trustee from the state at large for the University of Georgia from 1886 to 1892. He died on September 24, 1909 at the age of 86, when Rebecca Felton was 64.
In 1922, Governor Thomas W. Hardwick was a candidate for the next general election to the Senate, when Senator Thomas E. Watson died prematurely. Seeking an appointee who would not be a competitor in the coming special election to fill the vacant seat, and a way to secure the vote of the new women voters alienated by his opposition to the 19th Amendment, Hardwick chose Felton to serve as Senator on October 3, 1922.
Congress was not expected to reconvene until after the election, so the chances were slim that Felton would be formally sworn in as Senator. However, Walter George won the special election despite Hardwick's ploy. Rather than take his seat immediately when the Senate reconvened on November 21, 1922, George allowed Felton to be officially sworn in. Felton thus became the first woman seated in the Senate, and served until George took office on November 22, 1922, one day later.
Felton was engaged as a writer and lecturer and resided in Cartersville, Georgia, until her death in Atlanta, Georgia. She was interred in the Oak Hill Cemetery in Cartersville.
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