Historical Highlights

Representative Isabella Selmes Greenway of Arizona

March 22, 1886
Representative Isabella Selmes Greenway of Arizona Image courtesy of Martin Luther King, Jr. Library, Washington, DC Elected as the first female Representative from Arizona, Isabella Greenway served two terms in Congress.
On this day, Isabella Selmes Greenway of Arizona—the state’s first Congresswoman—was born in Boone County, Kentucky. Twice a widow of Rough Riders from the Spanish-American War, an enterprising and successful businesswoman, and a close friend of First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, Greenway won a special election to the 73rd Congress (1933–1935) on October 3, 1933. As Arizona’s lone Representative in the House, Greenway was a persuasive advocate who tried to ease the economic pain and hardship borne by her constituents during the Great Depression. In a meeting to discuss public works projects to revive the state’s flagging economy, Interior Secretary Harold L. Ickes declared, “Mrs. Greenway, my time is very valuable. Can you compress all that Arizona wants onto one page?” She shot back, “Mr. Secretary, Arizona would never forgive me if I could get all it wanted onto one page.” Greenway subsequently secured three major projects, which created 9,000 jobs for Arizonans. Citing family considerations, Representative Greenway retired to her Arizona ranch at the conclusion of the 74th Congress in January 1937.

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