Jeannette Rankin

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Jeannette Rankin was the first woman to be elected to Congress in the United States. Female participation in politics was unheard of when Rankin was elected to the United States Congress. Rankin’s ascension into politics was gradual. She began her career as a social worker, advocating for women’s suffrage. The Nineteenth Amendment, which guaranteed women the right to vote across the United States, was approved as a result of her hard work. Rankin’s pacifist foreign policy defined much of her congressional periods, despite the fact that the feat was a significant achievement in her political career. Rankin was the only member of Congress to vote against the United States’ admission into both World Wars I and II. While her objection to World War I was backed by 49 other members of Congress, her pacifism during World War II sparked uproar because she was the only one who voted against the war. The strong pacifist stance of Rankin was notable. Though she was mocked for much of her life for her anti-war beliefs, it was only near the end that she became an inspiration to a number of other female activists and pacifists.

Childhood and Adolescence

Jeannette Rankin was born near Missoula, Montana, on June 11, 1880, to Olive Pickering Rankin and John Rankin. She was the oldest of six siblings. Her father worked as an immigrant carpenter and rancher while her mother was a schoolteacher.
Jeannette was the family’s eldest child, thus she helped her parents with everyday chores and outdoor work. Her younger siblings were also looked after by her. She was a hard worker who assisted in the upkeep of the ranch apparatus.
Rankin went to high school and then to the University of Montana for his education. She earned a bachelor’s degree in biology in 1902.

Career Jeannette Rankin

Jeannette Rankin tried her hand at different vocations after finishing her studies, including dressmaking, furniture design, and social work.

She enrolled in the New York School of Philanthropy in New York City in 1908 after realizing that social work was her actual calling. She graduated in 1909.

Rankin moved to Spokane, Washington, in 1909. She went to the University of Washington there. She became interested in the women’s suffrage movement while attending university. Soon after, she founded the New York Women’s Suffrage Party and worked for the National American Woman Suffrage Association as a lobbyist. Washington voters enacted a constitutional amendment permanently enfranchising women in 1910, making it the fifth state in the Union to do so.

Rankin made history when she became the first woman to address the Montana legislature in 1911. She made her argument for women’s suffrage there. She worked tirelessly to modify the state constitution so that women would be able to vote. In 1914, her efforts were rewarded when Montana granted women unrestricted voting rights.
Rankin sought a position in the United States House of Representatives in 1916. She eventually won, becoming the first woman to serve in Congress, after a long campaign and much travel.

The beginning of Rankin’s tenure in the House of Representatives was spectacular. Congress convened an extraordinary session in April to take votes on participation in Germany’s war. Rankin, a devout pacifist, did not hesitate to openly vote against war, becoming one of the fifty persons opposed to war. During the war, Rankin worked for the rights of women who participated in the war effort. She was also a driving force in ensuring that the fight for voting rights became a movement for universal enfranchisement. By 1918, she had helped women acquire the right to vote in forty states.

In 1919, Rankin’s efforts paid off when the United States Congress ratified the Nineteenth Amendment, granting women the right to vote.
After her congressional tenure ended in 1919, Rankin turned her attention to nonviolence and social service. She attended the Women’s International Conference for Permanent Peace in Switzerland in 1919 as a delegate. She then became an active member of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom.

Rankin worked as a field secretary for the National Consumers League in the early 1920s. She persuaded Congress to pass various social welfare bills, including the prohibition of child labor and the passage of the Sheppard-Towner Act, according to this profile.

Rankin formed the Georgia Peace Society in 1928. Her pacifist movement was headquartered at the Society. She was a key lobbyist and speaker for the National Council for the Prevention of War from 1929 to 1939. She continued to advocate for social welfare programs as well.

In 1940, a war situation prompted Rankin to return to politics. She defeated incumbent Jacob Thorkelson in a race for a seat in the US House of Representatives. She was named to the Committee on Public Lands and the Committee on Insular Affairs after her victory.

The possibility of war loomed over the United States once more, this time World War II, as it had during her first congressional tenure. Even after the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, which hushed much of the anti-war sentiment, Rankin was resolute in his pacifist stance and was strongly opposed to US entry into World War II.
On December 8, 1941, at a Congressional meeting, Rankin became the only member of both Houses of Congress to vote against the declaration of war on Japan. The war resolution was passed by a vote of 388 to 1. Her pacifist stance was ridiculed by the press and the general people, who were horrified by her resistance. Her political career came to an end at the same time.

To avoid a certain defeat in re-elections, Rankin retired from active politics in 1942. Rankin spent most of her later life traveling after leaving politics. She researched Mahatma Gandhi’s nonviolent protest tactics and pacifist ideas.
During the 1960s and 1970s, Rankin’s peaceful tactics inspired pacifists, feminists, and civil rights activists. In 1968, Rankin rose to attention once more when she led the Jeannette Rankin Brigade, a collaboration of women’s peace organizations, in an anti-war march in Washington, DC against the Vietnam War.

Major Projects of Jeannette Rankin

Though Jeannette Rankin is best known for her pacifism and resistance to the United States’ involvement in World Wars I and II, her contribution to the women’s suffrage campaign cannot be overlooked. She was a key figure in the passing of the Nineteenth Amendment, which gave women the right to vote.

Personal History and Legacy

On May 18, 1973, Jeannette Rankin passed away in Carmel, California. Rankin was a pacifist who battled against US participation in wars till the end of her life.
Rankin has been honored for her unwavering commitment to women’s suffrage and pacifism. ‘I Cannot Vote for War,’ says a statue of her in the United States Capitol’s Statuary Hall.

Estimated Net Worth

Jeannette is one of the wealthiest politicians and one of the most well-known. Jeannette Rankin’s net worth is estimated to be $1.5 million, according to Wikipedia, Forbes, and Business Insider.


She was the first woman elected to the United States Congress and the only one to vote against the country’s involvement in World War II.