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Jeannette Rankin

Jeannette Rankin

Jeannette Rankin (June 11, 1880 - May 18, 1973) was the first woman elected to the United States House of Representatives. She was a pacifist her entire life, and was the only member of Congress to vote against United States entry in both World War I and World War II. She also led resistance to the Vietnam War.

Born in Missoula, Montana, the daughter of a rancher and a schoolteacher, she graduated in 1902 from the University of Montana[?]. In 1908 she moved to New York City, where she became a social worker. She moved to Seattle, Washington, then enrolled at the University of Washington, where she joined the incipient suffrage movement. She was one of the people instrumental in granting women the right to vote in Montana.

She was elected as a Republican to the House of Representatives in 1916 and took her seat on March 4, 1917. Only a year after taking office, she was called upon to vote on the resolution to go to war. Once she voted against it (one of 56 Representatives to do so), she was immediately reviled in the press, and even suffrage movements canceled her speaking engagements. However, she threw herself into selling Liberty Bonds[?] to support the war effort, and she voted for the draft.

In 1918 she ran for the Republican nomination for the United States Senate and failed. She ran an independent candidacy, but was unsuccessful. For the next two decades, she worked as a lobbyist in Washington, DC for various causes.

In 1940, she once again was elected to Congress, on an anti-war platform. Following Pearl Harbor, she once again voted her conscience, and voted against going to war, the only member of Congress to do so. She did not run for reelection. During the remainder of her life, she traveled to India several times, meeting with fellow pacifists such as Mahatma Gandhi.

In 1968, she led more than 5,000 women who called themselves "The Jeannette Rankin Brigade" to the United States Capitol to demonstrate their opposition to U.S. involvement in Vietnam.

Rankin died in Carmel, New York. In 1985 a statue of her was placed in the Capitol building.

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