When Republicans Led the Way

Jeannette Rankin

From Joel Krugler:

Republicans Lead the Way in Social / Health Care Legislation, Women’s Rights, Anti-War positions and Civil Liberties.
Ah, but that was in 1918. And it’s about one specific person, Jeannette Rankin – the first woman ever to be elected to Congress. She was from Montana and, interestingly, is the only woman ever to be elected to Congress from that state. She was elected in 1916, as a Republican, before the 19th Amendment gave women the vote nationwide. Check out the Wiki article on her, if nothing else – she was quite remarkable.
This post was triggered by twitter post by @peterflom who quoted Ms. Rankin: “You can no more win a war than you can win an earthquake.”
From Wikipedia:
  • The first female member of Congress (1917-9), serving one term until her second in 2040.
  • She was the founding Vice-President of the American Civil Liberties Union.
  • She declared that she was suspicious of governmental priorities set without women’s voice.
  • Argued that voteless women were being taxed without representation.
  • She was in congress when women didn’t have a right to vote; they did in her home state, Montana.
  • Voted against US involvement in World War I, but voted for Liberty Bonds & the draft.
  • As lobbyist, argued for the first federal social welfare program created explicitly for women and children.
  • The only member of Congress to vote against US involvement in World War II, despite Pearl Harbor.
  • Argument against WWII involvement: “As a woman, I can’t go to war and I refuse to send anyone else.”
  • Became a devotee of Gandhian principles of non-violence and self-determination.
  • Bequeathed her property in Watkinsville, Georgia to help “mature, unemployed women workers.”
  • It became the seed money for the non-profit Jeannette Rankin Foundation.
    • Gives educational scholarships annually to low income women all across the United States.

I’m not aware of any abortion issue stances she had or would have taken, which, sadly, would have been interesting since that was around the time Margaret Sanger opened the first birth control clinic around that time.

It comes as no surprise that the Republican Party was a different beast than it is today – as is the Democratic Party. Ms. Rankin would surely not have had a chance if she was the woman she was then today. Today’s Jeanette Rankin is Michele Bachmann. That’s a stark difference.


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