1917 March 4

Jeannette Rankin Becomes the First Woman in the U.S. Congress; Opposes U.S. Entry in Both World Wars


When Jeannette Rankin took her seat in the House of Representatives on this day, she became the first woman to serve in Congress. A lifelong pacifist and an early suffragist, Jeanette Rankin represented Montana in the House of Representatives twice, beginning in 1917 and then again in 1941. She introduced the first bill to grant women citizenship independent of their husbands and is also famous for being the only member of Congress to vote against U.S. entry into both World Wars I and II. On January 15, 1968, at age 87, Rankin led the Jeannette Rankin Brigade in a march for women’s rights in Washington, DC.

April 6, 1917: “I want to stand by my country, but I cannot vote for war.”

December 8, 1942: “As a woman I can’t go to war, and I refuse to send anyone else.”

Learn more: James J. Lopach and Jean A. Luckowski, Jeannette Rankin: A Political Woman (2005)

See the report on the number of women in Congress, for each session 1917-2014: http://www.senate.gov/CRSReports/crs-publish.cfm?pid=%270E%2C*PLS%3D%22%40%20%20%0A

Learn more about Rankin at the National Women’s History Museum: https://www.nwhm.org/education-resources/biography/biographies/jeanette-rankin/

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