The Honorable Elizabeth J. Patterson
The daughter of U.S. Senator Olin DeWitt Talmadge Johnston of South Carolina, Elizabeth J. Patterson followed in her father’s political footsteps. After serving on the Spartanburg County council and in the South Carolina state senate, Patterson won a seat in the U.S. House becoming the fifth woman elected to Congress from South Carolina and the first to do so without succeeding a late husband.
U.S. Representative from South Carolina (January 3, 1987-January 3, 1993)
Elizabeth J. Patterson spent much of her childhood and formative years growing up in the shadow of the U.S. Capitol while her father, Olin DeWitt Talmadge Johnston of South Carolina, served in the U.S. Senate from 1945 to 1965. In her interview, Patterson describes Washington, D.C., during the mid-20th century—the legislative side as well as family life. She also discusses the valuable experience of working on her father’s congressional campaigns and the lessons she learned which helped further her own political career.
Before coming to Congress, Patterson built an impressive political résumé, serving on the Spartanburg County council and in the South Carolina state senate. In her oral history she compares her local and state service with her time in Congress and reveals how this experience served as preparation for her three terms in the U.S. House. Patterson also explains the role of gender and fundraising in her campaigns. As the first South Carolina woman elected to the House in her own right, Patterson speaks about the history of widows representing her state as well as the obstacles faced by women pursuing a political career. In her interview she also describes her service on the Banking, Finance and Urban Affairs Committee and Veterans’ Affairs Committee, as well as her leadership of the Congressional Textile Caucus.
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"So, I Just Decided to Run"
Intricate Campaign Advertisement
Town Meetings and the Campaign Trail
Analyzing the Polls
"They Were Sort of Fearful of a Woman"
Not the First Woman
The "Fellows" of the House
"Things will be Tough Sometimes, and Good Sometimes"
Building Relationships on Capitol Hill
The Women of Congress
Women and South Carolina Politics
Convincing Women to Run for Congress
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