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Flowers left for Jeannette Rankin
Jeannette Pickering Rankin: Madam, you will be known as the first woman in the United States Congress, elected in Montana in 1916 and again in 1940. After being elected in 1916 she said, "I may be the first woman member of Congress but I won't be the last." A lifelong pacifist, you were one of fifty members of Congress who voted against entry into World War I in 1917, and the only member of Congress who voted against declaring war on Japan after the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941. You believed, with many suffragists of the period, that the corruption and dysfunction of the United States government was a result of a lack of feminine participation. As you said at a disarmament conference in the inter war period, "The peace problem is a woman's problem." On November 7th you were elected to Montana's at-large seat in the U.S. House of Representatives, becoming the first female member of Congress .During your term in the 65th Congress women did not have a universal suffrage, but many were voting in some form in about forty states, including Montana. "If I am remembered for no other act," Rankin said, "I want to be remembered as the only woman who ever voted to give women the right to vote." Just after your term began the House held a vote on whether to enter World War I. You cast one of fifty votes against the resolution, later saying, "I felt the first time the first woman had a chance to say no to war" you should say it." Some considered your vote to be a discredit to the suffragist movement and to your authority in Congress. But others, including Alice Paul of the National Woman's Party and Representative Fiorello La Guardia of New York, applauded. You were the only member of Congress to vote against entering WWII following the attack on Pearl Harbor. Hisses could be heard from the gallery when you cast the vote and several colleagues asked you to change it to make the war declaration unanimous, but you refused. "As a woman I can't go to war," you said, "and I refuse to send anyone else." After the vote an angry mob followed you, and you were forced to hide in a telephone booth and call congressional police to rescue you. Over the next twenty years, you traveled the world, frequently visiting India, where you studied the pacifist teachings of Mahatma Gandhi. In the 1960's and 1970's new waves of pacifists, feminists, and civil rights advocate idolized you and embraced her efforts in ways that her generation didn't. U.S. involvement in Vietnam mobilized you once again. In January 1968, you established the Jeannette Rankin Brigade and led five thousand marchers in Washington, D.C. to protest the war, culminating in the presentation of a peace petition to House Speaker John McCormack of Massachusetts. Since this year is the 40th anniversary of your passing, you are a remarkable woman in US Congress' history and since your passing, there was a statue of you was placed in the United States Capitol's Statuary Hall in 1985. At the dedication, historian Joan Hoff-Wilson called you "one of the most controversial and unique women in Montana and American political history. A replica stands in Montana's capitol, and the words "I Cannot Vote For War" are carved into the bases of both. happy birthday!
- MFPS
 Added: Jun. 11, 2013

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