to enlarge |Artist: Mike
Sponsor: 2005 Senate Women’s
Size: 24" x 30"
Type: Oil on Canvas
Location: 4th floor near
Oklahoma’s first female
Senator was born Mirabeau Lamar Cole on January 16, 1871
in Alabama. She was named after Mirabeau B. Lamar, the
second president of the sovereign Republic of Texas. As
a child, she could be found reading her father’s
law books. In 1891, she married “Doc” Tourney
Looney in Texas. Shortly thereafter, the young couple crossed
into the future Greer/Harmon County area in the southwestern
part of Oklahoma Territory.
Mrs. Looney soon became a widow
and was left with five children under the age of ten to
raise alone. To put food on the table, she taught music
for a year in her home. She recognized the opportunities
of becoming a landowner and filed a claim on a quarter
section of land one mile from Hollis. She traded her organ
for a team of mules and set about building a sod house.
Driving the mule team 13 miles to the Red River, she cut
the posts that would fence her land. With only the help
of her ten-year old son, she planted her first crop of
20 acres. After receiving the land patent for the farm
in 1906, Mrs. Looney moved her family to Hollis so the
children could attend better schools.
In 1912, Mrs. Looney was elected
registrar of deeds for Harmon County and was later elected
twice to serve as county treasurer. In 1916, she was elected
to the position of Harmon County Clerk.
A group of friends persuaded
Mrs. Looney to enter the Oklahoma Senate race in 1920. Maintaining
that she was a staunch Democrat, but not a politician, she
campaigned only in Greer County where she her expenditures
totaled $149.80. She carried her own county 3-to-1 and carried
her incumbent opponent’s county by a 2-to-1 vote.
On January 4, 1921, Mrs. Looney
took her seat in the Oklahoma State Senate wearing a “smart
brown suit and a brown hat, draped with a bit of lace veil.” The
new senator had a “chain-lightning mind” and
was idealistically practical. She served as chairman of the
State and County Affairs Committee, the Prohibition Enforcement
Committee, and the Agriculture Committee. She would maintain
the distinction of being the only woman to serve in the Oklahoma
Senate until 1975.
Mrs. Lamar Looney was elected
to public office before women had a right to vote in Oklahoma.
It was not until 1920 that an amendment to the U.S. Constitution
gave all women of the United States voting privileges. Comments
from men in her door-to-door campaign were
“Mrs. Looney, I know you are a capable lady, but I believe
a woman’s place is in the home.” Her response was, “Eating
At age 52, Mrs. Looney was admitted
to the bar on December 10, 1923. Her application was made
by motion directly to the Oklahoma Supreme Court.
In 1926, after serving three terms
in the State Senate, Mrs. Looney considered running for Lieutenant
Governor. She abandoned the race knowing that the courts
would sustain the Oklahoma constitutional requirement that
a man hold the office. Since federal office had no such requirement,
she announced her candidacy for the U.S. Senate. She lost
her bid for a spot on the U.S. Senate ticket, but won her
fourth and final term in the Oklahoma Senate in 1927.
Mrs. Looney pushed for legislation
that would allow women to serve in all state offices, although
this constitutional amendment was not adopted during her
lifetime. She was also actively involved in the campaign
giving women the right to vote.
Mirabeau Lamar Cole Looney passed
away September 3, 1935. The flag flew at half-staff over
the State Capitol Building in her honor, where her casket
was placed in state in the Capitol rotunda.
Images are copyright
of The Oklahoma State Senate Historical Preservation Fund,
Inc. and the artist. Please contact Sandra Shelton at 521-5663
or firstname.lastname@example.org for
further copyright information.