US Stamps

The first woman elected to U.S. Senate and her sought-after stamp

May 1, 2021, 2 PM

By Henry Gitner and Rick Miller 

Hattie Ophelia (Wyatt) Caraway was the first woman elected to a full term in the U.S. Senate.

Born in Tennessee in 1878, she attended normal school (teacher’s college) in Dixon, Tenn., and taught school for several years before marrying her lawyer beau, Thaddeus Caraway. The couple established their home in Jonesboro, Ark. Her husband was elected to the U.S. Senate from Arkansas in 1921 and remained there until dying in office in 1931.

Following the custom of the day, Caraway was appointed to serve in her late husband’s stead until an election could be called. Winning the special election in 1932 for the balance of the term, she became the first woman elected to the U.S. Senate.

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Caraway surprised most observers when she ran for a full Senate term in 1932. Winning the Democratic primary guaranteed her the seat in the Senate, to which she was elected in November 1932. She was reelected in 1938, but lost in the Democratic primary in 1944.

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As a Southern Democrat, Senator Caraway supported President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s economic programs and foreign policy, but opposed repeal of the 18th Amendment (Prohibition) and joined the filibuster on civil rights legislation. Senator Caraway died in 1950.

In 2001, the U.S Postal Service issued a 76¢ Sen. Hattie Caraway stamp in the Distinguished Americans definitive series. The stamp comes in two different gauges of die cuts: gauge 11 (Scott 3431) and gauge 11½ by 11 (Scott 3432).

The stamp with gauge 11½ by 11 die cuts is far less common. The 2017 Scott Specialized Catalogue of United States Stamps and Covers values it in mint never-hinged condition at $4 and in used condition at $2.

Some collectors missed this stamp when it was issued and are looking for it now. It is a good buy in mint never-hinged condition in the $3.50-to-$4 price range. Check any used examples you might come across to see if they are Scott 3432. You might get lucky.