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Alice Mary Robertson


Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Oklahoma's 2nd district
In office
1921–1923
Preceded by William W. Hastings
Succeeded by William W. Hastings

Born January 2, 1854
Creek Nation
Died July 1, 1931
Muskogee, Oklahoma
Political party Republican
Profession Educator, public servant

Alice Mary Robertson (January 2, 1854 – July 1, 1931) was an American educator, social worker, government official, and politician who became the second woman to serve in the United States Congress, and the first from the state of Oklahoma. Robertson was also the first woman to defeat an incumbent congressman. She was known for her strong personality, commitment to Native American issues, and an anti-feminist stance.

Until the election of Mary Fallin in 2006, she was the only female member of Congress to serve the state of Oklahoma.

Contents

Education, teaching, and early public service

Robertson was born in Creek Nation Indian Territory, to William Schenck Robertson and Ann Eliza Worcester. The 1860 United States Census[1] has her living in Creek Nation, Indian Lands, Arkansas. Her parents were missionaries who translated many works into the Creek language, including the Bible. Mary Alice Robertson was self-taught in early life under the supervision of her parents, and attended Elmira College, in Elmira, New York.

Robertson was a clerk in the Bureau of Indian Affairs in Washington, D.C. from 1873 to 1879. She returned to the Indian Territory and taught in the school at Tullahassee, and later in the Carlisle Indian Industrial School in Carlisle, Pennsylvania from 1880 to 1882. Afterwards, she again returned to the Indian Territory and established the Nuyaka Mission. She engaged in teaching at Okmulgee, Oklahoma, and had charge of a Presbyterian boarding school for Native American girls, which developed into Henry Kendall College (now the University of Tulsa).

Robertson was appointed the first government supervisor of Creek Indian schools from 1900 to 1905. She was the postmaster of Muskogee, Oklahoma from 1905 to 1913. Her canteen service to the troops during World War I later led to the formation of the Muskogee Chapter of the American Red Cross.

Representative

Robertson's former residence in the Dupont Circle neighborhood of Washington, D.C.

Robertson was elected by the 2nd District of Oklahoma as a Republican Representative to the 67th Congress, defeating the incumbent William Hastings, making her the first woman to defeat an incumbent representative in a general election. She served from March 4, 1921 to March 3, 1923, but was an unsuccessful candidate for reelection in 1922 to the 68th Congress against Hastings.

Robertson became the second woman to hold a seat in Congress, after Representative Jeannette Rankin from Montana who served from 1917 to 1919. Before the expiration of her term, Rebecca Felton was appointed for one day to the Senate, and Representatives Winnifred Huck from Illinois, and Mae Nolan from California both won special elections, respectively becoming the 3rd, 4th, and 5th women to serve in Congress. During her term Robertson also became the first woman to preside over the House of Representatives, on July 20, 1921.

Robertson was also the first woman elected to Congress after the 19th Amendment to the Constitution passed on August 26, 1920, guaranteeing women the right to vote. She opposed feminist groups like the League of Women Voters and the National Women's Party, and voted against bills funding maternity and childcare on the grounds that they were an unwarranted governmental intrusion on personal rights. This earned her the support of the Daughters of the American Revolution, of which she was a member.

Later life

Afterwards, Robertson was appointed by President Warren G. Harding as a welfare worker at Veterans Hospital Number 90 at Muskogee in May 1923. She retired to run a dairy farm.

Robertson died in Muskogee, and was interred in Greenhill Cemetery. She bequeathed her personal library and family papers to the University of Tulsa, where they became part of the collection of the McFarlin Library. The papers include Creek translations by her parents and her grandfather, Samuel Austin Worcester. Robertson Hall, a dormitory at the University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma in Chickasha, bears her name.[2]

In Muskogee, the Alice Robertson Middle School is home to the Muskogee 7th & 8th Grade Center.

References

  1. ^ 1860 United States Federal Census--- Name: Mary A Robertson, Age in 1860: 7, Birth Year: abt 1853, Birthplace: Creek Nation, Home in 1860: Creek Nation, Indian Lands, Arkansas, Gender: Female, Post Office: Creek Agency
  2. ^ http://www.usao.edu/~campus-map/robertson.html

External links

United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
William W. Hastings
United States Representative for the 2nd Congressional District of Oklahoma
1921–1923
Succeeded by
William W. Hastings

PD-icon.svg This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress.

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