Flashback Friday: Jeannette Rankin 1917

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Jeanette Rankin Wikipedia Image
Jeannette Pickering Rankin
Author: Adam Cuerden
February 27, 1917
Photo Credit: Wikipedia

“I may be the first woman member of Congress but, I won’t be the last.”

Jeannette Rankin was an American politician and women’s rights advocate and, the first woman to hold federal office in the United States. She was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives as a Republican from Montana in 1916 and, again, in 1940. As of 2022, Rankin is still the only woman ever elected to Congress from Montana.

Each of Rankin’s Congressional terms coincided with initiation of U.S. military intervention in the two World Wars. A lifelong pacifist, she was one of 50 House members who opposed the declaration of war on Germany in 1917. In 1941, she was the only member of Congress to vote against the declaration of war on Japan following the attack on Pearl Harbor.

A suffragist during the Progressive Era, Rankin organized and lobbied for legislation enfranchising women in several states including Montana, New York and North Dakota. While in Congress, she introduced legislation that eventually became the 19th Constitutional Amendment, granting unrestricted voting rights to women nationwide. She championed a multitude of diverse women’s rights and civil rights causes throughout a career that spanned more than six decades.

Wikipedia Summary

“I want to be remembered as the only woman who ever voted to give women the right to vote.”

Rankin was born on June 11, 1880, to John and Olive Rankin at Grant Creek Ranch near Missoula, in what was then the Montana Territory. She was the first of seven children […] in a prosperous family. Her father […] was a rancher and builder who had come to Montana from Canada. Her mother […] had moved from New Hampshire to teach before marrying John Rankin and becoming a housewife. Jeannette attended Montana State University in Missoula (now the University of Montana) and graduated in 1902 with a degree in biology. [Her] career in politics began as a student volunteer with a local women’s suffrage campaign in Washington State, preparing for a referendum on voting rights. [In] February 1911, she became the first woman to address the Montana legislature when she testified in support of women’s suffrage.

Jeannette Rankin
History, Art & Archives
United States House of Representatives

Rankin held office in her first term from March 4, 1917, one-hundred and five years, ago, today, to March 3, 1919. Her second term was from January 3, 1941 to January 3, 1943. Powerful enemies made sure she could not get re-elected. Twenty-four years later, she reclaimed her seat. She never married and passed away May 18, 1973 at the age of 92. ~Vic

Additional Reading:
Jeannette Rankin
(Biography/February 27, 2018)
Montana’s Women Candidates Are Out To Set Another Record (Billings Gazette/Web Archive/October 25, 2016)
Seven Things About Jeannette Rankin (History Channel/Jesse Greenspan/September 1, 2018)

15 thoughts on “Flashback Friday: Jeannette Rankin 1917

    badfinger20 (Max) said:
    March 5, 2022 at 9:35 AM

    So SHE is the one to blame! just kidding just kidding.
    I can’t imagine what kind of trouble she went through. She sounds like someone not to be messed with.

      The Hinoeuma responded:
      March 5, 2022 at 3:12 PM

      She & Susan B. Anthony…tough chicks. At least Jeannette wasn’t arrested.

        badfinger20 (Max) said:
        March 5, 2022 at 9:30 PM

        Yes they were tough…they shouldn’t have had to be tough but those were the days.

          The Hinoeuma responded:
          March 5, 2022 at 4:32 PM

          Read my comment, below, to Chuck…

            badfinger20 (Max) said:
            March 5, 2022 at 5:17 PM

            Wow….I’m glad she was at least to come back although no one listened.

              The Hinoeuma responded:
              March 6, 2022 at 12:51 AM

              She was dedicated to her principles. She never married and was not gay. She had female friends but, she was on a lifelong mission….92 years worth. She had good parents, too.

                badfinger20 (Max) said:
                March 6, 2022 at 12:53 AM

                Yea anyone that could instill that into her had to be good parents. She was a pioneer no doubt…I learn something ever day!

                  The Hinoeuma responded:
                  March 6, 2022 at 12:59 AM

                  Plus…she was the oldest of seven kids. In some of my readings, she didn’t want to be a “baby factory” and turned down many marriage proposals.

                    badfinger20 (Max) said:
                    March 6, 2022 at 1:16 AM

                    She wasn’t a bad looking lady….she was forward thinking for sure.

    Charles Huss said:
    March 5, 2022 at 1:29 PM

    That is impressive that she was voted into office before women could vote. That means that men in Montana were ahead of their time back then.

      The Hinoeuma responded:
      March 5, 2022 at 4:29 PM

      Yeah. To a point. Once she voted against entry into WWI, they weren’t so supportive anymore. They “re-districted” her out of running, again. She tried to go back as a Senator but, lost in the primary. She managed to get the seat back after making friends with a powerful mayor. Things got worse for her when she was the lone voice against entering WWII.

      First woman in the US Congress. First woman Rep. from Montana. She took more heat over being a pacifist than she ever did with the suffragist movement.

      In today’s terms, she didn’t do enough to push for the black vote. The first video I posted…those folks slammed her for not being “woke” enough.

      The view on history is a narrow lens, depending upon where you are standing.

        Charles Huss said:
        March 6, 2022 at 7:04 AM

        It’s weird how people apply today’s standards to people 100 or even 200 years ago. I’ve even seen Abraham Lincoln being accused of racism.

          The Hinoeuma responded:
          March 6, 2022 at 12:04 PM

          And, that right there is a product of our education system. Real history isn’t taught, anymore. It’s all propaganda, now. Schools are indoctrination centers, not places of real learning. A kid is lucky if it has clever, well-balanced parents that can homeschool with real information.

          There are times I struggle with history posts, as much of what I run across is “woke” nonsense.

            Charles Huss said:
            March 6, 2022 at 3:06 PM

            I just finished reading “The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich.” The book talks about the Hitler Youth and how they were taught to be good little Nazis. Of course, the teachings were different but the principal is the same.

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