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Representative Jeannette Rankin of Montana, photograph, ca. 1916

Representative Jeannette Rankin of Montana served two terms in Congress: 1917–1919 and 1941–1943. A pacifist, she was one of 50 representatives to vote against U.S. entry into World War I and the only member of Congress to oppose entry into World War II. In 1968 she led five thousand women in a march on Congress protesting the Vietnam War.

Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress

Representative Jeannette Rankin of Montana, photograph, ca. 1916

The Nineteenth Amendment: Woman Suffrage

In 1916 Representative Jeannette Rankin of Montana, a suffragist and pacifist, became the first woman elected to Congress. As a member of the House, Rankin pushed for woman suffrage, opening the first congressional debate ever held on the subject. Congress approved a constitutional amendment for woman suffrage in 1919. Ratified by three-fourths of the states, it became the Nineteenth Amendment in 1920. Rankin is also noted as the only member of Congress to have opposed U.S. participation in both World War I and World War II.

Is it not possible that the women of the country have something of value to give the Nation at this time? It would be strange indeed if the women of this country through all these years had not developed an intelligence, a feeling, a spiritual force peculiar to themselves, which they hold in readiness to give to the world.

Representative Jeannette Rankin of Montana, Speech to the U.S. House of Representatives, January 10, 1918