Radical Woman of the Day: Lindy Boggs

On this day in 1916 was born Lindy Boggs, first woman elected to the United States Congress by the state of Louisiana. When a plane carrying her husband, House Majority Leader Hale Boggs, disappeared over Alaska in 1972, she ran for his seat in a special election and won.

Boggs won re-election for a full term in 1974 and was re-elected another seven times, serving from 1973 to 1991. In her most closely-contested race, against Rob Couhig in 1980, she won 63.8%–36.2%; in all other contested races she garnered over 80% of the vote. A white member of Sigma Gamma Rho, a traditionally African-American sorority, she ran unopposed in her last four races, which took place after her district lines had been redrawn to give it an African-American majority.

Boggs served as the permanent chairwoman of the 1976 Democratic National Convention, making her the first woman to chair a major party convention. In 1994, she was inducted into the Louisiana Political Museum and Hall of Fame, and in 1997 President Bill Clinton appointed her U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See.