Double Victory: Minorities and Women During World War II
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Rankin, Jeannette Pickering (1880–1973)

U.S. politician and peace activist. Born near Missoula, Montana, on 11 June 1880, Jeannette Rankin attended Montana's public schools and graduated from the University of Montana in 1902. She became a social worker and was active in the women's suffrage movement. In 1914, Montana enfranchised women, and two years later, Rankin ran for Congress as a Republican, becoming the first woman representative. Her platform called for a constitutional amendment for women's suffrage, Prohibition, and welfare legislation. She also opposed U.S. intervention in World War I. On 6 April 1917, she joined 56 other members of congress in voting against the U.S. declaration of war against Germany. She failed to win reelection in 1919 and spent the years between the wars participating in organizations for consumers, women, children, and peace.

In 1940, Rankin returned to the House of Representatives, where she opposed the military draft and spending on armaments. On 8 December 1941, immediately following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, President Franklin D. Roosevelt asked Congress for a declaration of war against Japan. Rankin was the only dissenter, preventing a unanimous vote. This stance was extremely unpopular and ended her political career.

A lifelong pacifist, Rankin led several thousand women, known as the Jeannette Rankin Brigade, to protest the Vietnam War in 1968. She died in Carmel, California, on 18 May 1973.

Minoa Uffelman


Further Reading
Giles, Kevin S. Flight of the Dove: The Story of Jeannette Rankin. Beaverton, OR: Touchstone, 1980.; Josephson, Hannah. Jeannette Rankin: First Lady in Congress. Indianapolis, IN: Bobbs-Merrill, 1974.; Smith, Norma. Jeannette Rankin: America's Conscience. Helena: Montana Historical Society, 2002.
 

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