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Jeanette Rankin

On November 6, 1916, lifelong feminist and pacifist Jeanette Rankin of Montana became the first woman to be elected to the U.S. Congress. As legislative secretary of the National American Woman Suffrage Association, Rankin helped the women of Montana win the vote in 1914, six years before all American women won the vote. Rankin was elected as a delegate-at-large to the U.S. House of Representatives. During her first term in Washington (1917-1919), Rankin strongly supported isolationism–she was one of 49 members of Congress to vote against war with Germany in 1917. Rankin served another term in the House of Representatives from 1941 to 1943, where she created a furor as the only legislator to vote against declaring war on Japan after the Pearl Harbor raid. This unpopular stand ended her political career, but Rankin remained politically active, even leading a 1968 march to protest American involvement in Vietnam. Jeanette Rankin died in 1973.