U.S. Senator, teacher, publisher, author, columnist, political strategist and advisor, activist for women’s rights and education
Born: 1835 in DeKalb County, Georgia
Died: 1930 in Atlanta, Georgia
Buried: Oak Hill Cemetery, Cartersville, Georgia
Married: 1853 to Dr. William H. Felton (1823-1909)
- The first female U.S. Senator; appointed in 1922 following the death of Senator Tom Watson, serving one day before the elected Walter F. George took office.
- Graduated at the top of her class from Madison Female College in 1852, where she met and later married the commencement speaker Dr. William H. Felton; physician, Civil War surgeon, Methodist minister, three-term U.S. Congressman (1875-81) and three-term member of the Georgia legislature (1884-1890).
- More than just a campaign manager for Dr. Felton, as his congressional secretary she wrote his speeches, newspaper articles, and later helped draft bills introduced in the state legislature. Constituents often said the were getting two representatives for the price of one. Rebecca Felton was known as ” the most politically informed woman in the South.”
- Publisher/Editor of The Cartersville Free Press and The Cartersville Courant .
- Atlanta Journal columnist from 1899-1927, with Gone With the Wind author Margaret Mitchell and the author’s husband and Journal editor John Marsh.
- Authored Memoirs of Georgia Politics 1911, Country Life in Georgia in the Days of My Youth 1919, and The Romantic Story of Georgia Women 1930.
- 1922 bestowed an honorary doctorate from the University of Georgia.
“A Senator of the U.S., a woman, is still a sort of political joke with our masculine leaders in party politics…But the trail has been blazed! The road is apparently rough – maybe rocky – but the trail has been located. It is an established fact. While it is also a romantic adventure, it will ever remain an historical precedent – never to be erased.”
Rebecca Felton, November 1922
A tribute to Rebecca Felton is on display in Cartersville at Rose Lawn Museum, once the home of Felton’s student Sam Jones, who became one of the most influential evangelists of his time.