JEANNETTE RANKIN 1880-1973
Jeannette Pickering Rankin was born June 11, 1880 in Missoula County, Montana. During her childhood she witnessed the slaughter of American Indians in Montana and at Wounded Knee. She became a lifelong pacifist, suffragist and human rights advocate. In 1908 she became a social worker in New York City and agreed with Jane Addams that slum conditions were worsened by women's inability to vote. She argued that women were being taxed without representation, echoing the famous credo of the American Revolution and joined in the women's suffrage movement. She was hired as an organizer by the New York Women's Suffrage Party and the National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA). In 1914 she was instrumental in enabling women to vote in Montana. In 1917 she became the first female member of Congress elected to the House of Representatives. That year she voted against entering WWI, earning her immediate vilification by the press.
In 1919 she introduced legislation to provide state and federal funds for health clinics, midwife education, and visiting nurse programs in an effort to reduce the nation's infant mortality. She campaigned for legislation to promote maternal and child health care. She was founding Vice-President of the American Civil Liberties Union and a founding member of the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom.
In 1940, Rankin was re-elected to Congress, this time on an anti-war platform. She voted against entering WWII, being the only member of Congress to do so. By 1942, Rankin's antiwar stance had become so unpopular that she did not seek re-election. From 1947 to 1971 she traveled to India seven times to study the non-violent civil disobedience methods of Mahatma Gandhi. She opposed the Korean War and was against U.S. military action in the Vietnam War. In 1968 she led a protest demonstration of thousands of women in Washington D.C. In 1969 she participated in antiwar marches in Georgia and South Carolina. She died at age 92 on May 18, 1973. A play based on the life of Rankin entitled A Single Woman was produced in 2004, and a film by that name was made in 2008. Today the Jeannette Rankin Foundation honors her name and legacy.
"There can be no compromise with war; it cannot be reformed or controlled; cannot be disciplined into decency or codified into common sense; for war is the slaughter of human beings, temporarily regarded as enemies, on as large a scale as possible."-- Jeannette Rankin 1929
"It is unconscionable that 10,000 boys have died in Vietnam.... If 10,000 American women had mind enough they could end the war, if they were committed to the task, even if it meant going to jail."--Jeannette Rankin 1967
"You can no more win a war than you can win an earthquake."--Jeannette Rankin
Women of the West Museum: http://theautry.org/explore/
About.com : http://womenshistory.about.
Jeannette Rankin Foundation
Jeannette Rankin Women's Scholarship Fund web page: http://www.rankinfoundation.