On April 2 1917 Jeannette Rankin (R MT) took her seat in Congress. Which might sound like trivia except she’s the first woman ever elected; it took a month for the men to agree to let her in.
But she’s memorable for more than just women’s rights.
A pacifist as well as a feminist, she joined dozens of colleagues in voting against war with Germany in 1917, lost her seat, spent two decades in activism before returning to Congress in 1940, cast the only vote against war with Japan after Pearl Harbor, retired facing certain defeat, resumed her activism, and became a prominent opponent of the Vietnam War in her final years.
She reminds us that even when people say debate has ended, there’s a consensus etc. there’s somebody with the courage to stand athwart history crying “Stop” who may be badly wrong but is not an ignorant lunatic. And that there actually are people in politics who stick by their beliefs regardless of public opinion.
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