Congressional Pathfinders: “First” Members of Congress and How They Shaped American History discusses those men and women whose service in the United States Congress, as improbable as it was, marked a turning point in history. To be the first black American or the first woman to serve in a largely white, male-dominated institution requires a level of moral courage seldom found in ordinary people. To be openly gay, to subscribe to the Muslim faith in a nation often fearful and ignorant of Islam, or to navigate the hallways of power with physical disabilities is to be cognizant of one’s separateness. To be an “other” is to feel the stigma of that difference, and yet to persevere is to forge a path for later generations of others to follow. The service of these courageous men and women forever changed Congress and, by extension, the nation: they truly were congressional pathfinders. Nancy Pelosi, Daniel Inouye, Margaret Chase Smith, Shirley Chisholm, Ilhan Omar, and Hillary Clinton are among the many figures profiled in Congressional Pathfinders.
J. Michael Martinez is professor of political science and public administration courses at Kennesaw State University.
Chapter 1: Joseph Marion Hernández: First Hispanic to Serve in Congress (1820s)
Chapter 2: Hiram Rhodes Revels: First Black Man to Serve in Congress (1870)
Chapter 3: Charles Curtis: First Native American to Serve in Congress (1890s-1930s)
Chapter 4: Jeannette Rankin: First Woman to Serve in Congress (1910s, 1940s)
Chapter 5: Oscar DePriest: First Black Man to Serve in Congress in the Twentieth Century (1920s-1930s)
Chapter 6: Hattie Caraway: First Woman Elected to Serve a Full Term in the United States Senate (1930s-1940s)
Chapter 7: Margaret Chase Smith: First Woman Elected to Both Chambers of Congress (1940s-1970s)
Chapter 8: Daniel Inouye: Highest-Ranking Asian American to Serve in Congress (1950s-2010s)
Chapter 9: Shirley Chisholm: The First Black Woman Elected to Congress (1960s-1980s)
Chapter 10: Barbara Jordan: First Black Woman Elected to Congress from the South (1970s)
Chapter 11: Gerry E. Studds: First Openly Gay Member of Congress (1970s-1990s)
Chapter 12: Carol Moseley Braun: First Black Woman to Serve in the United States Senate (1990s)
Chapter 13: Nancy Pelosi: First Woman to Serve as Speaker of the United States House of Representatives (2000s, 2010s, 2020s)
Chapter 14: Ileana Ros-Lehtinen: First Hispanic Woman to Serve in Congress (1980s-2010s)
Chapter 15: Hillary Clinton: First Woman in Congress to Become a Major Party Presidential Nominee (2010s)
Chapter 16: Tammy Duckworth: First Disabled Person to Serve in Congress (2010s-2020s)
Chapter 17: Catherine Cortez Masto: First Latina to Serve in the United States Senate (2010s-2020s)
Chapter 18: Pramila Jayapal: First Indian-American Woman to Serve in Congress (2010s-2020s)
Chapter 19: Stephanie Murphy: First Vietnamese Woman to Serve in Congress (2010s-2020s)
Chapter 20: Ilhan Omar: First Somali-American Elected to Congress (2010s-2020)
"Professor Mike Martinez's Congressional Pathfinders: “First” Members of Congress and How They Shaped American History is a unique and important contribution to our understanding of Congress. He writes intriguing profiles of 'famous first' members of Congress, such as the first woman in Congress, the first black member, the first openly gay member as well as many other important firsts. These members are often forgotten, but they have played key roles in the history of Congress. His study of congressional firsts is the most comprehensive of this topic to date. This is third excellent study of famous members of Congress throughout American history by Martinez. They fill a crucial gap in our understanding of the evolution of Congress."
Mike Martinez’s Congressional Pathfinders is an excellent book for anyone who wants to learn more about the remarkable “firsts” in the United States Congress. This volume is full of context and history about the ways unlikely people made their way—and their mark—in Congress. I would recommend this book to students and researchers, but also to anyone who has an interest in Congressional history. This is an excellent addition to Martinez’s trilogy on Congressional history.