Frances P. Bolton

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Frances Payne Bolton (Bingham)

Birthdate: (92)
Death: 1977 (92)
Immediate Family:

Daughter of Charles William Bingham and Mary Perry Bingham
Wife of Chester Castle Bolton
Mother of Charles Bingham Bolton and Oliver P. Bolton
Sister of Oliver Perry Bingham; William H. Bingham and Harry Payne Bingham

Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:

About Frances P. Bolton

Frances Payne Bolton (March 29, 1885 – March 9, 1977), born Frances P. Bingham, was a Republican politician from Ohio. She served in the United States House of Representatives. She was the first woman elected to Congress from Ohio. She was also the oldest woman to date to serve in the House of Representatives.

Born in Cleveland, Ohio, Bolton was the granddaughter of Henry B. Payne. Active in public health, nursing education and other social service, education, and philanthropic work, she succeeded her husband, Chester C. Bolton, in office a few months after his death in 1939. Upon election to the remainder of her late husband's term, Bolton refused the customary widow's allowance comprising the remainder of the salary her late husband would have collected had he served out his term. She represented the 22nd District, once the most populous House district in Ohio, mostly consisting of Cleveland's eastern suburbs. Bolton served an additional fourteen terms, serving alongside her son, Oliver P. Bolton for three of those terms. She and Oliver appeared on What's My Line? as the only mother and son serving together. It was reported that when he voted against her, she once stage-whispered, "That's my adopted son."

Serving on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Bolton called Secretary of State John Foster Dulles in May 1954 after the fall of the French base at Dien Bien Phu, urging him to invite nurse Genevieve de Galard to the United States. When Galard arrived in July, Bolton described her as a "symbol of heroic femininity in the free world". After receiving the Presidential Medal of Freedom, Galard was received at a dinner for three hundred in Congresswoman Bolton's home district of Cleveland while on a tour of the country.

In 1955, she became the first American woman member of Congress to head an international delegation, using her own resources to fund it. One of her most lasting achievements was sponsoring legislation to purchase property across the Potomac River from Mount Vernon, the home of George Washington. This prevented commercialization of the area and preserved its appearance as it was when Washington lived there. Bolton had a phenomenal relationship with her constituents of Italian-American heritage and was known for mailing government child-care pamphlets to homes where new children were born. The nursing school at Case Western Reserve University is named in her honor for her accomplishments and generosity in the field of public nursing.

After rising to become ranking minority member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Bolton was defeated in a bid for a sixteenth term in 1968 by Charles Vanik. Bolton retired to her family home, Franchester (named for herself and her late husband), in Lyndhurst, Ohio. She was a devotee of yoga. The Bolton Fellowship supports research in parapsychology.

Her papers are held at the Western Reserve Historical Society.

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Frances P. Bolton's Timeline

June 20, 1909
Age 24
Cleveland, Cuyahoga County, Ohio, United States
Age 32
Age 92