Image courtesy of Library of Congress
Two years after suffragist Jeannette Rankin of Montana left office, Alice Robertson of Oklahoma entered the House of Representatives. Despite being a woman, she was not a proponent of womens rights.
On this date, Alice Robertson
of Oklahoma became the first woman to preside over a session of the U.S. House of Representatives. Members had just concluded deliberations for appropriating $15,000 to send a United States delegation to observe the centennial celebration of Peru’s independence. Speaker Pro Tempore Joseph Walsh
of Massachusetts called Robertson to the chair to preside over the roll call vote on the measure. Former Speaker Joe Cannon
of Illinois, seated in the front row, joined House Members who delivered a thunderous ovation as Robertson mounted the rostrum. She rapped the gavel twice to bring the House to order as the roll call began. Known for her wit and outspoken positions against women’s rights organizations, Robertson was largely silent during the half hour when she wielded the gavel. After the roll was taken, she declared in an authoritative voice, “On this vote the yeas were 209 and the nays 42. Two-thirds having voted in the affirmative, the resolution is passed.” A smiling Representative Robertson then left the rostrum amid a final round of applause.