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Representative Katharine Byron of Maryland

May 27, 1941
Representative Katharine Byron of Maryland Image courtesy of the Honorable Beverly Byron The granddaughter of a former Member, Katharine Byron of Maryland was part of a family dynasty in the House that included her husband, son, and daughter-in-law.
On this date, Katharine Byron, who came from a rural and largely Democratic district in Maryland, narrowly won the special election to her late husband’s seat in the House of Representatives. Born into a political family, Byron became the first woman from Maryland to serve in Congress. She was immediately confronted with issues and events pushing America towards intervention into World War II. As a mother of a draft-age son, Byron struggled with the vote to repeal the Neutrality Act in November 1941. In casting her vote, she said, “I feel it is my duty to my sons, to my late husband, and to those I represent to vote for this measure so that our country will remain the democracy it is today and not be dominated by Hitler.” Byron served only one term in the House of Representatives, but remained a popular hostess among the Washington, D.C., elite until her death in 1976. She was one of the few women in Congress to be succeeded by a child. Her son, Goodloe Byron of Maryland, served in the House from 1971 to 1978.

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Since 1917, when Representative Jeannette Rankin of Montana became the first woman to serve in Congress, more than 300 women have followed. Women in Congress documents their service.

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