This Day in History

April 2, 1917: Jeannette Rankin First Woman Elected to Congress

Themes: Democracy & Citizenship, Women's History
Jeanette Rankin

Jeanette Rankin. Robert Shetterly of Americans Who Tell the Truth.

On April 2, 1917, Jeannette Rankin, a Republican from Montana, took her seat in the U.S. House of Representatives.

The first woman ever elected to Congress, she became the only member to vote against U.S. entry into both world wars and later protested the Vietnam War.

Though women in the U.S. weren’t granted the right to vote for three more years with passage of the 19th amendment, women in Montana, Wyoming, Utah, and Washington had full voting rights before statehood.

Rankin was instrumental in passing laws that made married women citizens in their own right.

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Rankin is featured in the “Unsung Heroes: Encouraging Students to Appreciate Those Who Fought for Social Justice” lesson  for middle and high school.