Today, the Susan B. Anthony Dollar Coin remembers when the first woman in the United States Senate took the oath of office 95 years ago.
The Spartanburg, SC Herald-Journal newspaper highlighted the historic event back in the day:
Mrs. Felton Takes Seat In Senate As First Of Her Sex
“Blazes Path for American Womanhood” as She Takes Oath of Office in U. S. Capitol.
Is Never Nervous; She Makes But One Blunder
Will Answer Roll Call Today and Perhaps Deliver Brief Address Before Retiring for George.
Washington, Nov. 21 —
Mrs. W. H. Felton, of Georgia, took the oath of office today as the first woman United States senator.
Her term probably will be only for a day but he ceremony crowned with success the efforts of the 87 year old woman to “blaze the path for American womanhood,” in the senate and it was indicated that she would be content to step aside tomorrow in favor of Walter F. George, who was elected November 7 as her successor to fill the unexpired term of the late Senator Watson to which vacancy Mrs. Felton was appointed last September.
The seating of Mrs. Felton attracted a crowd to the senate. She was showered with congratulations.
When she was directed to proceed to the rostrum to take the oath of office, her face broke into a smile. On the arm of Senator Harris, of Georgia, she walked down the center aisle and up to the vice president’s desk where Senator Cummins, of Iowa, president pro-tem was presiding in the absence from the city of Vice-President Coolidge.
As Senator Cummins motioned her to raise her right hand she exhibited her only sign of unfamiliarity with the proceedings, waving her hand to Mr. Cummins and smiling as if receiving a similar salute.
Senator Harris nudged her arm however, and then she raised it, gazing intently at Senator Cummins as the oath was delivered and giving her response in a low voice.
Seating Was Expected.
The seating of Mrs. Felton had been expected in view of the tacit agreement of the senate leaders to interpose no objection in the face of possible technical precedents as to her status after the election on November 7 of her successor.
The principal delay was due to an address of Senator Walsh, democrat Montana, in support of her claim. This address went into the precedents involved and at first gave the impression that the Montana senator was opposing Mrs. Felton’s claim. But later Mr. Walsh swung into strong support of her position, declaring that her title was clear and that granting it should not be considered a favor or a chivalrous act.
At no time did Mrs. Felton exhibit any nervousness, sitting with hands folded in her lap and with “eyes” on the Montana Senator.
She arrived a half hour before the senate convened and took the seat of the late Senator Watson after giving her wraps to a senate page and seeing that they were hung in the democratic cloak room.
The address of Senator Walsh was broken by the joint session in the house chamber for the President’s message and Mrs. Felton attended.
She then returned to the senate where Senator Walsh concluded his address and she was sworn in.
After receiving the oath she returned to her seat on the teh floor and watched the routing proceedings with a keen eye.
Before going to the capitol today Mrs. Felton went to the White House and paid her respects to President Harding.
It is understood that Senator-Elect George will present his claim to the seat tomorrow after Mrs. Felton has answered one roll call and perhaps deliver a brief address.
From the United States Senate and their classic speeches, Mrs. Felton’s brief words:
Mr. President, in my very remarkable campaign in Georgia, which, contrary to precedent, all came along after I was elected, one of the very amusing things that came to me by mail was a cartoon from San Antonio, Texas.
The cartoon represented the United States senate in session.
The senate seemed to be fully occupied, and there appeared in the picture the figure of a woman who had evidently entered without sending in her card.
The gentlemen in the senate to the situation variously. Some seemed to be a little bit hysterical, but most of them occupied their time looking at the ceiling. Over the cartoon was written these wonderful words:
“Will they ask the lady to take a chair?” [(Laughter.]
I want to return my thanks today for the beautiful, hospitable welcome that you have accorded the lady when you gave her a chair.
I also want to return thanks to the noble men of Georgia. Georgia was very slow in her promises with reference to woman’s suffrage. She has been rapid to perform, for Georgia is the first state in the fedral Union composed of 48 states where one chivalric governor went to the front and said, “Send that old lady there and let her look at the senate for even a day.”
The senator-elect from Georgia, Mr. George, said, “She shall have her day there,” and I want to thank him in his presence.
He is a worthy successor. I want to plead for your gracious attention to him. He has been most chivalric. The sitting senator from Georgia (Mr. Harris) has been most obliging.
Indeed, I feel like I am the happiest woman in the United States. I am at home in the Senate for a day. I appreciate this wonderful hospitality and the beautiful attention thus accorded to me.
I want to say further that I commend to your attention the ten million women voters who are watching this incident. It is a romantic incident, senators, but it is also a historical event.
If Lady Astor, from the state of Virginia, can go to London and be accepted as a member of the British House of Commons, you can take this remnant of the old South that has never flickered in her patriotism to country and be very well assured that she is not going to discredit her commission.
Let me say, Mr. President, that when the women of the country come in and sit with your, though there may be but very few in the next few years, I pledge you that you will get ability, you will get integrity of purpose, you will get exalted patriotism, and you will get unstinted usefulness.
Mr. President and senators, I thank you very much for this hearing. [Applause on the floor and in the galleries.]
The Susan B. Anthony Dollar Coin shows with an image of Mrs. Felton seated in her office at the Senate, circa 1922.