Happy Birthday, Jeannette Rankin!

Jeannette-RankinHappy Birthday, Jeannette Rankin!

Jeannette Rankin was born on June 11, 1880 in Missoula, Montana.  She became the first woman elected to Congress and helped pass the 19th Amendment, giving women the right to vote.

While living in Washington State, she became active in the drive to amend that state’s constitution to give women the right to vote. The measure passed in 1911, and Rankin later returned home to Montana to win the right to vote for the women of her home state. The voters of Montana granted women the right to vote in 1914.

In 1916, she ran for the U.S. House of Representatives and although the race was close, she won the election, making her the first woman to serve in Congress.  Keep in mind this was a time when many women still did not have the right to vote!

Rankin was the only legislator to vote against both world wars, reflecting her deep commitment to pacifism. During World War I, she fought for the rights of women working in the war effort and even after her two-year term ended in 1919, she continued her work for women’s rights and peace–serving as a delegate to the Women’s International Conference for Peace in Switzerland and later becoming an active member of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom.

Happy Birthday to this early leader of women’s rights!