Jeannette Rankin (1880 – 1973) was a trailblazer through-and-through, and the importance of her involvement in the suffrage movement cannot be overstated. Rankin grew up in Montana and helped women there gain the right to vote in 1914. Just two years later, in 1916, she became the first woman elected to Congress. A lifelong pacifist, Rankin ultimately served two separate terms in Congress and was the only Congressperson to vote against U.S. involvement in both World War I and World War II. In 1917, she advocated for the creation of a Committee on Woman Suffrage and, once established, helped draft a constitutional amendment on women's suffrage. That legislation would eventually become the 19th Amendment.

At the time of her death in 1973, while in her nineties, it is said that she was considering yet another run for Congress so she could more vocally oppose the Vietnam War. Rankin’s influence lives on in both the history of the suffrage movement and the history of United States government. Since her groundbreaking election to Congress, hundreds of female lawmakers have now followed in her footsteps.

Executive Director at the Jeannette Rankin Peace Center

Betsy Mulligan-Dague is the Executive Director at the Jeannette Rankin Peace Center, which strives to carry on the work of Jeannette Rankin by teaching about nonviolence, social justice and caring for the planet.

Regarding Jeannette Rankin, Mulligan-Dague says, “One of the most inspiring pieces for me is just the idea that at the age of 30, a woman walked into the halls of Congress—where no woman had ever been. Such bravery, to be able to do that and stand up for all women.”

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