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A brief history of women in American politics

Hillary Clinton made political history Tuesday when she became the first woman in the United States to be the presumptive nominee of a major political party. It was a moment not lost on Clinton, who eight years ago was unable to break the "highest, hardest glass ceiling" during her 2008 primary campaign against Barack Obama.

"We have reached a milestone," she said in her victory speech Tuesday night.

Clinton was quick to acknowledge the many women who fought throughout U.S. history for women's rights and helped pave the way for her historic nomination. Clinton's own mother, Dorothy Rodham, was born on June 4, 1919, the day Congress passed the 19th Amendment which gave women the right to vote. (It was ratified by the states in 1920.)

"Tonight's victory is not about one person," she said. "It belongs to generations of women and men who struggled and sacrificed and made this moment possible."

Here is a snapshot of other trailblazing women who have served in American politics:

 

Women on a Presidential Ticket

Only two women have made it onto a major political party ticket, both as vice-presidential candidates: Democrat Geraldine Ferraro in 1984 and Republican Sarah Palin in 2008.

First woman to run for president: Victoria Woodhull in 1872 in the Equal Rights Party.
First woman who's name was put into nomination for president by a major political party: Margaret Chase Smith of Maine at the 1964 Republican Convention in San Francisco.
First woman to run for president as a Democrat: Rep. Shirley Chisholm of New York in 1972.  

Clinton has won nearly 16 million votes during the 2016 primary elections -- more than all previous women running in major party primary contests combined.  All together, those previous candidates -- from Margaret Chase Smith in 1964 to Carly Fiorina this year -- received less than one million votes.

 

Women in Congress

307 women have served in Congress, 46 of them as senators (including Clinton from 2001 to 2009).

First woman to run for Congress: Elizabeth Cady Stanton in 1866. She ran as an independent in New York and won just 24 of the 12,000 votes cast.
First woman elected on Congress: Jeannette Rankin of Montana in 1916.
First woman to serve in the Senate: Rebecca Felton of Georgia, who was appointed in 1922 to fill a vacancy. She served just two days.
First woman elected to the Senate: Hattie Caraway of Arkansas in 1932.
First African-American woman elected to Congress: Shirley Chisholm of New York in 1968.
First African-American woman elected to the Senate: Carol Moseley Braun of Illinois in 1992.

California has sent 39 women to Congress -- more than any other state. California is also the first state to be represented in the Senate by two women concurrently. Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer were both elected in 1992. Boxer is retiring this year and will be replaced by another woman -- either Kamala Harris or Loretta Sanchez.

Three states -- Delaware, Mississippi and Vermont -- have never had a woman represent them in Congress.

There are currently 104 women in Congress, or 19.4% of the 535 members. 84 women serve in the House; 20 in the Senate.

Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., is the first and only woman to serve as Speaker of the House from 2007 to 2011.  She is the highest-ranking woman in U.S. political history.

Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., is the longest-serving woman in Congress in history. She was elected to the House of Representatives in 1976 and joined the Senate in 1987. She is retiring this year.

 

Women on the Supreme Court

Four women have served on the Supreme Court:
Sandra Day O'Connor, appointed in 1981 by President Reagan. She retired in 2006.
Ruth Bader Ginsburg, appointed in 1993 by President Clinton.
Sonia Sotomayor, appointed in 2009 by President Obama.
Elena Kagan, appointed in 2010 by President Obama.

A fifth woman, Harriet Miers, was nominated by President George W. Bush in 2005 but withdrew her nomination.

 

Women in the President's Cabinet

Thirty women have served as Cabinet secretaries. Eight of them have served under President Obama, including Clinton as secretary of State from 2009 to 2013.

1st woman in the Cabinet: Frances Perkins, who was appointed Secretary of Labor in 1933 by President Franklin Roosevelt

Four women currently serve in Obama's Cabinet:
Attorney General Loretta Lynch
interior Secretary Sally Jewell
Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker
Heath and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell

 

Women as Governors

Thirty-seven women in 27 states have served as governors, 22 Democrats and 15 Republicans.

1st female governor: Nellie Tayloe Ross, D-Wyoming, who won a special election to replace her late husband in 1925.

Six women currently serve as governors:
Kate Brown, D-Oregon
Mary Fallin, R-Oklahoma
Nikki Haley, R-South Carolina
Maggie Hassan, D-New Hampshire
Susana Martinez, R-New Mexico
Gina Ralmondo, D-Rhode Island

 

Women as Mayors

Nineteen of the 100 largest cities in the United States have female mayors.

The largest city currently led by a women is San Antonio under Mayor Ivy Taylor.  Other cities led by women include: Fort Worth, Charlotte, Washington, DC, Nashville and Baltimore.

In 1887, Susanna Madora Salter was the first woman elected mayor in the United States.  She served Argonia, Kansas, a small town with about 800 residents at the time.

 

Women in State Legislatures
Currently, 1,815 seats in state legislatures, roughly 25 percent, are held by women.


SEE ALSO: 16 presidential candidates you didn't know are running in 2016


Data: 
Center for American Woman and Politics
University of Illinois

Photos:
flickr
National Archives
American Heritage Center
Kansas Historical Society