Seneca Falls Revisited (2020) Milestones

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Women's Advocacy in the White House

Abigail Adams was an outspoken women's

advocate and the country's second First Lady.

Adams played a double role as John Adams' wife

and political adviser; Adams supported her

husband in his career but never failed to

express her convictions that women should

have the same rights as men.

Many of her ideas were ahead of her time: she

opposed slavery, stressed the importance of

education regardless of gender, and believed it

the responsibility of the rich to support the poor.

Her appeals for gender equality are recognized

as some of the first demands for women’s equal


Abigail Adams

First Lady and Women’s Advocate

The First Women’s Convention


The Seneca Falls Convention was held in Seneca

Falls, New York in 1848. Elizabeth Cady Stanton and

Lucretia Mott organized the meeting, which was the

first women's convention to discuss the

oppression of women in sociopolitical, economic,

and religious life.

Elizabeth Cady Stanton

Organizer of the 1848 Seneca Falls Convention

Convinced that women had to help themselves

and take responsibility for improving their situation,

they prepared the Declaration of Sentiments,

which included twelve resolutions. The participants

passed eleven resolutions, failing to pass a

resolution for women’s suffrage. Decades later, the

Declaration of Sentiments was used as a

foundational document for the women’s suffrage



First Woman to Run for President

In 1872, Victoria Woodhull, a women’s rights and

suffrage activist, became the first woman to run

for president. She was the nominee of the Equal

Rights Party.

Woodhull, a resident of New York, was unable to

vote for herself on Election Day, as at that time

the state restricted voting to men. However, as

she had been jailed a few days prior to Election

Day for a story she had published in her

newspaper Woodhull & Chaflin’s Weekly, her

inability to vote was of little consequence.

Victoria Woodhull

Women’s Rights and Suffrage Activist


First Women State Legislators

The State of Colorado pioneered women’s

participation in politics. Though the first

attempts to establish women’s suffrage failed

in 1877, Colorado became the second state to

give women the right to vote in 1893. Clara

Cressingham, Frances Klock, and Carrie C.

Holly of Colorado were the first women elected

to a state legislature, the Colorado House of

Representatives. These women focused on

social welfare, championing reforms for child

labor laws, relief subsidies, and the 8-hour

work day.

Carrie C. Holly

Colorado State Legislator


First Congresswoman

In 1916, Jeannette Rankin was the first

woman to be elected to the House of

Representatives. She was a Republican

from Montana, who served from 1917-1919,

and again from 1941-1943. Rankin was a

supporter of women's suffrage who lobbied

Congress for the National American

Woman Suffrage Association. As a

progressive congresswoman, Rankin

advocated a constitutional women's

suffrage amendment and focused on

social welfare issues.

Jeannette Rankin

Montana Congresswoman


First Woman Governor

In 1924, women’s involvement in American

politics took a leap forward when Wyoming

and Texas elected female governors. Nellie

Tayloe Ross and Miriam A. “Ma” Ferguson,

both Democrats, succeeded their

husbands in office. Ross became the

governor of Wyoming in a special election,

after her husband died. Miriam Ferguson

succeeded her husband James Ferguson

after he was impeached.

Nellie Tayloe Ross

Wyoming Governor


First Elected Woman Senator

In 1931, Hattie Wyatt Caraway was the first

woman to serve as a U.S. Senator for more

than a day. She was appointed after the

death of her husband Thaddeus H.

Caraway, an Arkansas Senator. After

finishing her husband's term, Caraway

was re-elected and served in the Senate

until 1945. Her major policy focuses were

farm relief and flood control. She was also

wary of America's involvement in World War

II and the influence of lobbyists.

Hattie Wyatt Caraway

Arkansas Senator


First Woman Cabinet Member

Frances Perkins

Commissioner of Labor

Frances Perkins was a well-educated and

engaging woman, who graduated from

Columbia University and Wharton College.

Franklin D. Roosevelt appointed her as

Commissioner of Labor when he was

Governor of New York. Impressed by her work,

Roosevelt appointed Perkins as Secretary of

Labor in 1932. She was the first female

cabinet member, serving 12 years during the

Great Depression. Perkins labored to create

back-to-work programs for the struggling



First Woman Elected to Both the House and


Margaret Chase Smith’s political career started in

1940 when she succeeded her husband as a

member of the U.S. House of Representatives from

Maine. She served four terms in the House before

being elected to the Senate in 1948, where she

stayed for another 24 years.

Margaret Chase Smith

Maine Congresswoman

In 1964, Smith became the first woman to run for

president and win primary delegates. Smith was

on the ballot in several states across the country,

including Illinois, where she received 25% of the

vote. She eventually lost the nomination to Senator

Barry Goldwater.


First Congresswoman of Color

In 1964, Patsy Mink became the first woman of

color and the first Asian American woman

elected to the U.S. House of Representatives. She

went on to serve for a total of twelve terms. Mink

is most well known for being one of the principal

authors of Title IX, as well as the first

comprehensive Early Childhood Education Act

and the Women's Educational Equity Act. Mink

also served as Assistant Secretary of State for

Oceans and International Environmental and

Scientific Affairs after her first three terms in


Patsy Mink

Hawaii Congresswoman

First African American Congresswoman


Chisholm successfully ran for Congress in 1969,

becoming the first black congresswoman, and

served as a Democratic representative for New

York for seven terms. Chisholm was also a

founding member of the Congressional Black


Shirley Chisholm

New York Congresswoman

Chisholm went on to be the first woman of color

to run for the Democratic presidential

nomination (1972). She participated in 12

primaries and went all the way to the

Democratic National Convention where she

won 152 delegates, but lost to George

McGovern. The New York Times remembered her

as an “outspoken politician who shattered racial

and gender barriers as she became a national

symbol of liberal politics.”


First African American woman to run for


In 1968, Charlene Mitchell ran for president of

the United States as the candidate for the

Communist Party. Although only included on

the ballot in two states, Mitchell became the

first Black woman to run for President.

Charlene Mitchell

First African American Woman to run for President


First Woman Supreme Court Justice

In 1981, President Reagan nominated Sandra Day

O'Connor to replace Potter Stewart as Associate

Justice of the Supreme Court. Although her

nomination was originally opposed by pro-life and

religious groups, who worried she should not rule in

favor of overturning Roe vs. Wade (1973), she was

eventually confirmed by a 99-0 vote in the Senate.

While she was a conservative jurist, siding with the

conservative justices in the majority of cases before

her, many of her decisions were praised for being

both narrow and moderate. She retired in 2006.

Sandra Day O’Connor

Supreme Court Justice


First Woman Vice Presidential Nominee

In 1984, Rep. Geraldine Ferraro became the first

woman vice presidential nominee of a major

party. Her running mate was Walter F. Mondale,

who ran against incumbent Ronald Reagan.

Ferraro graduated with a degree in English from

Marymount College and received a law degree

from Fordham Law School in 1960. Before being

elected to Congress, Ferraro worked for the

Queens County Women’s Bar Association and was

a Queen’s criminal prosecutor. She served three

terms in Congress.

Geraldine Ferraro

Vice Presidential Nominee


First Latina Congresswoman

In 1988, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen became the first

Latina and first Cuban-American to be

elected to Congress. She is currently the most

senior Republican woman in the U.S. House of

Representatives. Before becoming involved in

politics, Ros-Lehtinen was a teacher, having

graduated with a B.A. in education and M.A. in

educational leadership from Florida

International University, followed by a Ph.D. in

Higher Education from Miami University. In

Congress, Ros-Lehtinen served a term as the

chair of the Committee on Foreign Affairs.

Ileana Ros-Lehtinen

Florida Congresswoman


First Woman of Color in the Senate

Carol Moseley-Braun was the first

African-American woman elected to the

Senate, the first female Senator from Illinois,

and the first African-American Democratic

senator. In 1991, Moseley-Braun challenged

incumbent Alan Dixon in the state's

Democratic primary, winning the nomination.

Though she lost her re-election bid in 1998,

Moseley-Braun continued a career in politics

as President Clinton's ambassador to New

Zealand, Samoa, the Cook Islands, and


Carol Moseley-Braun

Illinois Senator


First Woman Secretary of State

In 1996, President Bill Clinton nominated

Madeleine Albright to become the first female

Secretary of State. She was confirmed in January

1997 by a unanimous 99-0 vote. Before

becoming Secretary of State, Albright served as

the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations from

1993-1997. In 2012, Albright received the

Presidential Medal of Freedom by President

Obama. Currently, Albright serves as chair of

Albright Stonebridge Group, as a professor at

Georgetown University's School of Foreign

Service, and as a director on the board of the

Council on Foreign Relations.

Madeleine Albright

Secretary of State


First Woman Speaker of the House

In 2007, Nancy Pelosi was elected America's

first female speaker of the House of

Representatives. She first ran for office in 1987,

winning a special election in California's 8th

District. Pelosi is a strong supporter of health

research, health care, and housing

programs; she also advocates human rights

and environment protection.

In 2002, Pelosi was chosen as the Democratic

Leader of the House. She became the Speaker

of the House in 2008 when the Democrats took

control of Congress.

Nancy Pelosi

Speaker of the House


First Republican Woman Vice Presidential


Sarah Palin became the first Republican woman

vice presidential nominee in 2008. At the time of

her nomination, she was serving as Alaska’s

first female governor and had previously

served as Mayor of Wasilla. Since her vice

presidential bid, she has endorsed other

Republican women candidates for various

levels of office. Although she was considered a

potential candidate in the 2012 presidential

elections, she declined to run.

Sarah Palin

Alaskan Governor, Vice Presidential Nominee


First Woman of Color Supreme Court


The U.S. Senate confirmed Sonia Sotomayor as

a Supreme Court justice in 2009 to replace

retired justice David Souter. Previously,

Sotomayor served as a district court judge in

New York and on the U.S. Court of Appeals for

the Second Circuit. She was born in the Bronx

to Puerto Rican parents. She was the third

woman and first Latinx justice to serve on the

Supreme Court.

Sonia Sotomayor

Supreme Court Justice


First Latina Governor

Susana Martinez was elected Governor of

New Mexico in 2010. She is the first Latina

woman to serve as governor of a U.S. state

(Sila Calerdón had already served as

Governor of Puerto Rico from 2001 to 2005).

Susana Martinez

New Mexico Governor


First Asian American Woman Governor

Nikki Haley was elected as the first woman

Governor of South Carolina in 2010. She is the

first Asian American and Indian American

woman to serve as governor, and is also, at

the age of 41, the youngest current governor

in the nation. Prior to her governorship, Haley

was elected to the South Carolina House of

Representatives in 2004 after defeating Larry

Koon in the Republican primary, who was

then the longest-serving member of the

South Carolina House.

Nikki Haley

South Carolina Governor


First Openly Gay Senator

In 2012, Tammy Baldwin became the first

women to be elected to the U.S. Senate

from Wisconsin. She is also the first and

only openly gay U.S. Senator. Prior to her

election to the Senate, Baldwin had served

in the U.S. House since 1999. She has been a

staunch advocate for progressive policies

during her 14 year tenure in Congress.

Tammy Baldwin

Wisconsin Senator

First Asian-American Woman Senator


In 2012, Mazie Keiko Hirono became the first

woman elected to the U.S. Senate from Hawaii,

defeating Republican Linda Lingle. Hirono is the

first Asian-American woman elected to the

U.S. Senate, the first U.S. Senator born in Japan,

and the nation’s first Buddhist Senator. Until

2016, Hirono was the only person of Asian

descent in the U.S. Senate. Before becoming

Senator, Hirono was a U.S. Congresswoman,

Democratic nominee for Governor of Hawaii,

Lieutenant Governor of Hawaii, and a member of

the Hawaii House of Representatives.

Mazie Keiko Hirono

Hawaii Senator


First Openly Bisexual Congresswoman

In 2012, Kyrsten Sinema became the first

openly bisexual person elected to Congress.

A former social worker, grassroots organizer,

and state representative, Sinema has

represented Arizona's 9th Congressional

district in the House since 2012.

Kyrsten Sinema

Arizona Congresswoman


First African American Republican

member of Congress

In 2014, Mia Love became the first African

American Republican woman (and the first

Haitian-American) to be elected to the U.S.

House of Representatives when she defeated

Doug Owens by 4,000 votes. Love represents

Utah’s 4 congressional district and was elected

mayor of Saratoga Springs, UT and served on

the city council prior to her election to


Mia Love

Utah Congresswoman and Governor


First African American Woman to serve

as Attorney General

In 2015 after a 166 day confirmation period,

one of the longest in US history, Loretta

Lynch was confirmed and sworn in as US

Attorney General. Lynch was the second

woman and first Black woman to hold

this position.

Loretta Lynch

U.S. Attorney General


First Woman Candidate for a Majority Party

In 2016, Hillary Rodham Clinton became the first

woman to win the nomination of a major party

for President of the United States. Prior to her

nomination Clinton served as the 67th U.S.

Secretary of State from 2009 to 2013, a U.S.

Senator from New York from 2001 to 2009. Her

nomination came during her second run for

president. Clinton has the highest primary

delegate count of any woman who has run for


Hillary Clinton

Democratic Presidential Nominee


First Disabled Woman Senator

In 2016, Tammy Duckworth challenged

incumbent Mark Kirk for the Illinois U.S. Senate

seat. Duckworth was injured by a rocket rocket

propelled grenade while fighting in the Iraq

War, losing both of her legs and damaging her

right arm. She is the first paraplegic to serve in

the U.S. Senate, and was the first disabled

woman to serve in the U.S. House of

Representatives. Duckworth is also the first

Asian-American senator from Illinois and the

first Member of Congress born in Thailand.

Tammy Duckworth

Illinois Senator and Congresswoman


First Openly LGBTQ+ Governor

In 2015, Kate Brown succeeded John Kitzhaber

to become Governor of Oregon. Brown is the

first openly bisexual governor in US history, and

her election win in 2016 made her the first

openly LGBTQ+ person elected as a US

Governor. Before becoming governor, Brown

served as Oregon’s Secretary of State for six

years and in the Oregon Legislative Assembly

for 18 years.

Kate Brown

Oregon Governor


First Latina Senator

In 2016, Catherine Cortez Masto won the seat

of retiring Harry Reid to become a U.S.

Senator for the state of Nevada. Cortez

Mastro’s victory over Republican

Congressman Joe Heck made her the first

female Senator from Nevada and the first

ever Latina in the U.S. Senate. Before

becoming a Senator, Cortez Masto served as

Nevada’s Attorney General for eight years.

Catherine Cortez Masto

Nevada Senator


First Openly Transgender State


In 2017, Danica Roem defeated 26-year

incumbent Bob Marshall to represent the

13th District of the Virginia House of

Delegates. Roem’s victory made her the

first openly transgender person to be

elected and serve in a U.S. state

legislature. Prior to serving in office, Roem

worked as a reporter and news editor.

Danica Roem

Virginia State Legislator


Youngest Woman Elected to Congress

In 2018, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez became

the youngest woman elected to Congress

at 29 years old. Ocasio-Cortez defeated 10

term Democratic incumbent Joe Crowley in

a stunning primary upset to represent New

York's 14th District in the United States

House of Representatives.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

New York Congresswoman


First Somali-American Woman Elected to


In 2018, Ilhan Omar defeated Republican

Jennifer Zielinski to represent the 5th District of

Minnesota in the United States House of

Representatives. Omar's victory made her the

first Somali-American in Congress and along

with Rashida Tlaib she is also one of the first

Muslim woman in Congress. Prior to serving in

Congress, Omar had served in the Minnesota

House of Representatives since 2016.

Ilhan Omar

Minnesota Congresswoman

Sharice Davids

Kansas Congresswoman

Deb Haaland

New Mexico Congresswoman

First Indigenous Women Elected to



In 2018, Davids and Haaland became the first

Indigenous woman elected to Congress.

Openly gay, Davids is also the first LGBTQ

person to represent Kansas in Congress.

Haaland, a member of the Ho-Chunk

Nation, became the first Native American

woman to preside over the United States

House of Representatives on March 7th, 2019

during a debate on voting rights and

campaign finance.


First Black Congresswoman from


In 2018, Ayanna Pressley became the first

black Congresswoman to represent

Massachusetts after defeating the 10-term

Democratic congressman Michael

Capuano. Pressley represents

Massachusetts 7th District and previously

served as the first black woman on

Boston's City Council.

Ayanna Pressley

Massachusetts Congresswoman

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