Jeannette Rankin was the first woman elected to the U.S. Congress, serving two separate terms representing Montana. She injected the first woman’s voice into national political debates. A committed pacifist, Rankin was the only member of Congress to oppose entry of the United States into both World Wars.
Rankin was active in the woman suffrage movement in the West, and campaigned for election to Congress after her state gave women the right to vote. In Congress she sponsored legislation to provide federal voting rights and health services to women. Her anti-war vote in 1917 cost her her office, and she devoted much of the remainder of her life to pacifist causes.
She held leadership roles in the Women’s Inter-national League for Peace and Freedom and other groups. In 1940 she ran again for Congress on an isolationist platform and in 1941 was the sole Member to oppose the declaration of war on Japan.
She later traveled extensively, studying with Ghandi, among others. She was, at age 86, a proud marcher in the Jeannette Rankin Brigade in the March on Washington to oppose the Vietnam War.