Category Archives: Carrie Shelton

Carrie Shelton

March 31, 2020

Did you know that Oregon had the nation’s first female governor? And it was 3 ½ years before Oregon women gained the right to vote? The woman was Carrie (aka Carolyn/Caralyn) B. Shelton. She was acting governor of Oregon for one weekend – 9 a.m. Saturday, February 27, through 10 a.m. Monday, March 1, 1909. It seems that the outgoing governor, George Earle Chamberlain, had been elected to the Senate and had to leave for Washington, D.C., before his term was over if he was to make it to D.C. in time to be sworn in with the rest of the freshman class of senators. Arriving late would make him the last man on the roster in terms of seniority. The incoming governor, Frank W. Benson, had gotten sick and couldn’t assume office early. So Chamberlain left his 32-year-old secretary in charge. For a weekend, Shelton, a woman who couldn’t legally cast a ballot, possessed the power to issue pardons, veto bills and sign executive orders. And in another wrinkle to the story, in 1926 Shelton married Chamberlain, her longtime boss and mentor, making them the first and only pair of former governors in U.S. history to wed.