Carl T. Hayden (October 2, 1877 - January 25, 1972) was the first United States Senator to serve seven terms. A Democrat, he currently holds the record for longest service in the United States Congress - he represented Arizona continuously from February 19, 1912 to January 3, 1969.
He was born in Maricopa County in 1877, almost 35 years before Arizona became a state. The town where he was born was then named Hayden's Ferry after his family, but not long afterward received its current name of Tempe. After serving as Maricopa County treasurer and sheriff he was elected as Arizona's first member of the United States House of Representatives when statehood was granted in 1912.
He served in the House as Arizona's lone member of the House until joining the United States Senate in March 1927 after winning election in 1926 to the first of seven full terms. He retired on January 3, 1969. Hayden became chairman of the Appropriations Committee and President pro tempore of the United States Senate in 1957, ascending to both offices by seniority, as his party then held the majority in the Senate and continued to do so for the rest of his time in office. As well, during his time in the Senate Hayden became known as "The Silent Senator" -- focussing more on constituent service than media attention. The quote "I'm a workhorse, not a showhorse" has been attributed to him.
Late in his career it more or less an open secret that Hayden was descending into senility; his advanced age became an issue during his successful 1962 re-election campaign against Evan Mecham. One anecdote of this time is of Hayden walking into a telephone booth in the Senate cloakroom, thinking it was an elevator, and saying, "Up, please." However, much like former German President Paul von Hindenburg, in a similar condition during the twilight of his life, Hayden was typically attended by an aide who could keep an eye on him. Nevertheless, he generally retained the support of the Arizona establishment, who wanted to counter neighboring California's numerical advantage in the House - his seniority was a valuable asset in securing federally controlled irrigation projects desired by both states. When informed that he was faced with a very close re-election against Barry Goldwater (who had served alongside Hayden from 1953-1965), Hayden decided to retire in 1968 rather than risk defeat.
His record for length of service in the Senate has now been surpassed by Strom Thurmond, Robert Byrd, Ted Kennedy and Daniel Inouye, but his record for combined length of service in both houses of 56 years, 10 months and 15 days has yet to be equalled. However, Byrd, who was elected to the House in 1953 and moved to the Senate in 1959, will surpass Hayden if he wins reelection in 2006 and serves a full term. Byrd turns 89 in November 2006.
He died in Tempe in 1972 and his ashes were interred in the family plot.