American Heroines: The Spirited Women Who Shaped Our Country
Kay Bailey Hutchison
As long as there has been an America, the indomitable spirit of American women has shaped both the country's history and society. Regardless of the time and place these women were born each excelled in her respective field, making it easier for the next generation. This is what makes them heroines.
In American Heroines, Kay Bailey Hutchison presents female pioneers in fields as varied as government, business, education and healthcare, who overcame the resistance and prejudice of their times and accomplished things that no woman–and sometimes no man –– had done before. Hutchison, a pioneer in her own right, became the first woman elected to the United States Senate from the State of Texas.
Interspersed with the stories of America's historic female leaders are stories of today's women whose successes are clearly linked to those predecessors. Would Sally Ride have been given the chance to orbit the earth had Amelia Earhart not flown solo across the Atlantic Ocean fifty years before? Had Clara Barton not nursed wounded soldiers on Civil War battlefields, aid may not have reached the millions it did while the Red Cross was in the hands of women like Elizabeth Dole and Bernadine Healy. Had Oveta Culp Hobby not been appointed the first Secretary of the Department of Health and Education by President Eisenhower, the country may have been deprived of such leaders as Secretary of State Madeline Albright and National Security Advisor Condoleeza Rice.
As a young girl, Senator Hutchison dreamed of an America where the qualifier "the first woman" had become obsolete. The profiles contained in American Heroines, illustrate how her dream is coming true, one courageous step at a time.
year did you buy? MS: Nineteen sixty-seven. KBH: And when you did, was there real resistance to your getting the seat? MS: Oh, sure. When I was putting the bid card in, they said they wanted a letter from the bank that said that in the event that the New York Stock Exchange accepts a bid card from Muriel Siebert, the bank stands ready to make the loan. And the bank said, “Buy the seat. We’ll give you the loan.” They had never had to write such a letter before, even though they had made
patience and control, but she started to win. Her first major title was the 1956 French Open; she was the first black player to win the singles in any major tournament: Australian, Wimbledon, Forest Hills. At Wimbledon, she suffered a lapse—“I wanted to win so badly that I pressed”—and lost to Shirley Fry in the quarterfinals. Fry won Wimbledon that year, but she told reporters, “If [Althea] had crowded me at the net like I expected her to, she [would] have won.” Althea and Fry were to face off
in education and government and a law degree from Harvard University. After serving as deputy director of the White House Office of Consumer Affairs in the Nixon administration, Mrs. Dole was appointed as a member of the Federal Trade Commission, serving there from 1973–79. From 1981–83, she served in the Reagan administration as assistant to the president for public liaison. From 1983–87, she served as secretary of transportation, the first woman in history to hold that position. She joined
Queen of Tejano Music, a distinction that she retained even after her early death. In 1989, EMI-Latin executive José Behar signed the group to a recording contract after seeing Selena perform at the Tejano Awards in San Antonio. Their third album for EMI, Entre a Mi Mundo (1992), was the first by a Tejana artist to sell more than 300,000 copies. Music lovers and reviewers, noting that Selena’s range embraced ranchera rock, ballads, and numerous styles in between, began to expect her to cross over
the local shoe factory, taking in laundry, and even selling milk from the family cow—with young Margaret as her delivery girl. As the eldest child, Margaret also helped with her younger siblings and worked—for as little as 5¢ an hour—to add to the family income. “We were poor, I guess,” she said many years later, and poverty made her determined. At twelve, she went to work at the local five-and-dime and bought herself a life insurance policy, with her parents as beneficiaries, so that if she were