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Facts About Senators

Oldest, youngest, first female, and other famous firsts

by Ann-Marie Imbornoni

The first woman to serve as a senator was Rebecca Felton, D-Ga., who was appointed to the post in November 1922. The first woman to be elected to the Senate was Hattie Caraway, D-Ark., in January 1932.

The U.S. Senate is composed of 100 members (2 from every state) serving staggered six-year terms.

According to Article 1, Section 3 of the Constitution, a candidate for the Senate must be

  • 30 years of age (when seated, not when elected).
  • a citizen of the United States for at least nine years.
  • an inhabitant of the state from which he or she is elected.

(Note, members of the U.S. House of Representatives need be only 25 years old, and a citizen for seven years, to take office.)

The Senate leadership includes

  • president of the Senate (the vice president of the United States).
  • president pro tempore (usually the most senior member of the Senate majority party).
  • majority leader.
  • majority whip, or assistant majority leader.
  • minority leader.
  • minority whip, or assistant minority leader.

The first senators to be elected were Robert Morris and William Maclay, both from Pennsylvania, on September 30, 1788. (The Senate convened for the first time on March 4, 1789, in New York City.)

The first woman to serve as a senator was Rebecca Felton, D-Ga., who was appointed to the post in November 1922; the first woman to be elected to the Senate was Hattie Caraway, D-Ark., in January 1932.

Some other famous firsts in the Senate include Hiram R. Revels, R-Miss., who was the first African-American senator (1870-1871), Hiram L. Fong, R-Hawaii, who was the first Asian-American senator (1959-1977), and Octaviano Larrazolo, R-N.M., who was the first Hispanic senator (1928–1929).

The oldest senator was Strom Thurmond, R-S.C., who served in office at 100 years of age (49 years in office).

The youngest senator to serve was John H. Eaton, R-Tenn., who was appointed to fill a vacancy in 1818 at the age of 28 (contrary to the requirements of the Constitution). He was subsequently elected and reelected to the post, serving until 1829.

Senators receive a yearly salary of $165,200 (leaders receive a slightly higher salary.)

Information Please® Database, © 2007 Pearson Education, Inc. All rights reserved.

Did you know?
Since 1990, 29 new nations have been established, most of which emerged as a result of the collapse of the Soviet Union.

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