Jeannette Rankin

Jeannette Rankin, R-Montana, became the first woman to serve in Congress in 1917, when this picture was made. She narrowly lost a bid for U.S. Senate two years later.

This State Journal editorial ran on Nov. 14, 1917:

Jeannette Rankin was elected to Congress by the state of Montana. But because she is the first and only woman in the national legislature she is, in the larger sense, the representative of all American women.

In states where women have the full franchise, more than 8 million women are of voting age. Millions more are working and wishing for the vote. And many millions are femininely curious. All of them are watching to see what this single woman will do with a real vote.

Miss Rankin has just ended her first session, and a full report of her activities is open to these waiting and watching women. Conscious of her particular responsibilities, almost every bill introduced by Miss Rankin was designed for women’s aid. On her first day, Miss Rankin introduced a bill proposing a constitutional woman’s suffrage amendment, never reported out of committee. Miss Rankin then concentrated on getting a woman’s suffrage committee in the house and was largely instrumental in the success of this measure.

Only one of Miss Rankin’s proffered resolutions was adopted — the amendment to the Food Survey Bill, which provided that, wherever possible, women be employed in work authorized by the bill. Miss Rankin also introduced a bill, still before the committee on military affairs, providing for the support of soldiers’ dependents.

The congresswoman cast her vote against the declaration of the state of war and against the draft until final passage, when she voted for it. Since conscription and the war have been nationally accepted, she has consistently cast her vote in support of every war measure.

In her own state, Miss Rankin has had such support that it is reported she will be a candidate for United States senator as opponent to Sen. Walsh, when he comes up for re-election next year.

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