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4 March 1917 -- First Woman in US Congress

Mar 04, 2018 12:31PM ● Published by Gene Kirschbaum

Gallery: Women's Suffrage Stamp [1 Image] Click any image to expand.

On 4 March 1917 Jeannette Rankin became our very first female member of Congress.  Here are a few data points:

1.  She was born in 1880, near Missoula, Montana.  

2.  Montana gave women the right to vote in 1914, six years before the 19th Amendment was ratified.  As it turns out, our Western states were years ahead of Eastern states regarding women's suffrage.  (See the 1915 Women's Suffrage Stamp, above.) 

3.  She was elected to US Congress before women had the universal right to vote -- the 19th Amendment wasn't ratified until 1920.  

4.  She was the only woman in Congress who was able to vote for women's right to vote.

5.  She was elected to office more than 50 years after Hiram Revels became our first Black Congressman.

6.  Like Hiram Revels, she was also a Republican.

7.  She was a pacifist, and voted against entry into WWI and WWII.

8.  She died in 1973, in Carmel, California.

9.  Incidentally, March is Women's History Month!

Quotable Quotes from Congresswoman Rankin:

- I may be the first woman member of Congress, but I won't be the last.

- How can people in other countries who are trying to grasp our plan of democracy avoid stumbling over our logic when we deny the first steps in democracy to our women?

- Go! Go! Go! It makes no difference where, just so you go! Go! Go! Remember, at the first opportunity, go.

- As a woman, I can't go to war and I refuse to send anyone else.

- You can no more win a war than you can win an earthquake.

- War is the slaughter of human beings, temporarily regarded as enemies, on as large a scale as possible.

- What one decides to do in crisis depends on one's philosophy of life, and that philosophy cannot be changed by an incident. 

- If I had my life to live over, I would do it all again, but this time I would be nastier.

- I have nothing left but my integrity.

Jeanette Rankin

Rankin - A Capitol Moment


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