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Duckworth joins 2nd most diverse U.S. Senate class in two centuries

As Democrat Tammy Duckworth moves from the U.S. House to the Senate she begins her term along with two other women on color, an unusual scenerio in a chamber that has been nearly 100 percent white men in 228 years. The Tribune tallied the women and people of color have been elected to the Senate since the first senators served in 1789. Though the most recent years include, at times, a quarter of senators who are nonwhite, the vast majority of years have close to 100 percent of Senate seats filled by white men.

Below, scroll through the past 228 years of the Senate to see the boundary breakers and how they related to the diversity of the chamber.

Senate boundary breakers

First woman

First of Hispanic origin

First African American man

First of Asian ancestry

First African American woman

First known Native Americans

First openly gay senator

2017 additions

SENATORS BY YEAR
Each block represents one senator who served during at least part of one calendar year. There weren't 100 total U.S. senators until 1959.
Seat filled by white man
Seat filled by woman or person of color

1789

1790

1791

1792

1793

1794

1795

1796

1797

1798

1799

1800

1801

1802

1803

1804

1805

1806

1807

1808

1809

1810

1811

1812

1813

1814

1815

1816

1817

1818

1819

1820

1821

1822

1823

1824

1825

1826

1827

1828

1829

1830

1831

1832

1833

1834

1835

1836

1837

1838

1839

1840

1841

1842

1843

1844

1845

1846

1847

1848

1849

1850

1851

1852

1853

1854

1855

1856

1857

1858

1859

1860

1861

1862

1863

1864

1865

1866

1867

1868

1869

1870

HIRAM REVELS, MISSISSIPPI

First African-American man

Though he was sent to fill a vacancy, Hiram Revels of Mississippi became the first African-American senator in 1870. He criticized racial segregation and helped normalize the inclusion of nonwhite people in government.

1871

1872

1873

1874

1875

1876

1877

1878

1879

BLANCHE K. BRUCE, MISSISSIPPI

First African-American man to preside

Blanche K. Bruce was elected to the Senate in 1874 and became the first African-American to preside over the Senate in 1879. After fleeing to Kansas to escape slavery, he eventually returned to Mississippi to pursue a career in politics.

1880

1881

1882

1883

1884

1885

1886

1887

1888

1889

1890

1891

1892

1893

1894

1895

1896

1897

1898

1899

1900

1901

1902

1903

1904

1905

1906

1907

ROBERT LATHAM OWEN, OKLAHOMA
CHARLES CURTIS, KANSAS

First of Native American descent

Robert Latham Owen and Charles Curtis were two of only three known senators of Native American descent. Owen, who co-sponsored legislation creating the National Reserve system, was a member of the Cherokee Nation. Curtis, who was eventually elected as our 31st vice president, had Caw ancestry.

1908

1909

1910

1911

1912

1913

1914

1915

1916

1917

1918

1919

1920

1921

1922

REBECCA FELTON, GEORGIA

First woman appointed

Rebecca Felton, who served for one day, was technically the first woman in the U.S. Senate.

1923

1924

1925

1926

1927

1928

OCTAVIANO AMBROSIO LARRAZOLO, NEW MEXICO

First man of Hispanic origin

Born in Chihuahua, Mexico, Octaviano Ambrosio Larrazolo was the first Hispanic-American to serve in the U.S. Senate. He filled the term of New Mexico Sen. Andrieus A. Jones. Though brief, Larrazolo's time in the Senate helped other Hispanic-Americans get involved.

1929

1930

1931

HATTIE CARAWAY, ARKANSAS

First woman elected

Hattie Caraway, who was first appointed to the Senate to complete the term of her husband who had died, was the first woman elected to the U.S. Senate. She also became the first woman to preside over the Senate in 1943.

1932

1933

1934

1935

1936

1937

1938

1939

1940

1941

1942

1943

1944

1945

1946

1947

1948

1949

1950

1951

1952

1953

1954

1955

1956

1957

1958

1959

HIRAM FONG, HAWAII

First of Asian ancestry

Hiram Fong, of Hawaii, was the first senator with Asian ancestry; Fong's parents were Chinese. Fong spent almost 18 years in the Senate.

1960

1961

1962

1963

1964

1965

1966

1967

EDWARD BROOKE, MASSACHUSETTS

First African-American man elected by popular vote

Direct election of senators by voters began in 1914 after the passing of the 17th amendment, and Edward Brooke was the first African-American elected to the Senate by popular vote. He worked in favor of low-income housing, increasing the minimum wage and mass transit.

1968

1969

1970

1971

1972

1973

1974

1975

1976

1977

1978

1979

1980

1981

1982

1983

1984

1985

1986

1987

1988

1989

1990

1991

1992

1993

CAROL MOSELEY BRAUN, ILLINOIS

First African-American woman

Born in Chicago, Carol Moseley Braun was the first female U.S. senator from Illinois and the first African-American woman to serve in the U.S. Senate. She pursued law and participated in environmental activism, which eventually led to a career in politics.

1994

1995

1996

1997

1998

1999

2000

2001

2002

2003

2004

2005

2006

2007

2008

2009

2010

2011

2012

TAMMY BALDWIN, WISCONSIN

First openly gay

Tammy Baldwin was elected as the first openly gay senator, as well as the first female senator from Wisconsin. She serves on the Senate Budget Committee and the Senate Appropriations Committee, among others.

2013

2014

2015

2016

2017

TAMMY DUCKWORTH, ILLINOIS
KAMALA HARRIS, CALIFORNIA
CATHERINE CORTEZ MASTO, NEVADA

Recent additions

Tammy Duckworth, Kamala Harris and Catherine Cortez Masto were elected to the U.S. Senate in 2017. Before their election, the only woman of color in the Senate was Mazie Hirono who was elected in 2012.

Sources: Tribune reporting, senate.gov

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