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Rebecca Latimer Felton, 1835-1930
Country Life in Georgia in the Days of My Youth
Atlanta, Ga.: Index Printing Company, c1919.


Rebecca Latimer Felton was born in Cartersville, Georgia in 1835. After graduating first in her class at Madison Female College, she married Dr. William H. Felton, who served for several years in the Georgia legislature. Rebecca Felton was actively involved in her husband's the political career, serving as his campaign manager, speechwriter, and secretary while he was in public office. In addition, she often made public speeches and published articles in local periodicals that championed women's rights, prohibition, and education, while expressing negative views towards African Americans and Catholics. In 1920, she assisted in Thomas E. Watson's U.S. Senate campaign, and upon his death in 1922, she became Watson's successor. Although an elected successor was confirmed before the Senate reconvened, Felton symbolically served for one day, making her the first woman appointed to the U.S. Senate. Felton died in Georgia in 1930.

Felton published Country Life in Georgia in the Days of My Youth (1919) because she wanted to give a personal and cultural description of antebellum life in Georgia. She recounts stories of hostilities between her family an local Native Americans, her ancestors' relationship to President George Washington in Maryland and Virginia, and her memories of what she calls the "Hard-shell Baptist" tradition. Felton also describes the major issues facing the people of Georgia before, during, and after the Civil War, including slavery, succession, military action, women's roles, and the difficulty of Reconstruction. Finally, she includes several articles she had published in the Atlanta Journal, and explains her position and experiences as a suffragist and activist.

Works Consulted: Garraty, John A. and Mark C. Carnes, eds., American National Biography, New York: Oxford University Press, 1999; Ireland, Norma Olin, Women in World History: A Biographical Encyclopedia, Metchuen, NJ: Scarecrow Press, 1998; Roller, David C. and Robert W. Twyman, eds., The Encyclopedia of Southern History, Baton Rouge, LA: Louisiana State University Press, 1979.

Harris Henderson

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