Who is Jeanette Rankin? / by kevin murray

I have always had and will always have a great deal of respect and admiration for those that are willing to stand up for principles of real merit, especially when their viewpoint is out of the ordinary, out of the norm, against the mob, against unenlightened public opinion, while often being the voice of reason, of justice, and of love, which I find even more poignant when that voice is the voice of just one.  In any country, in any person, justice loses out and begins to erode, when people that know better, that have been blessed with uncommon wisdom and insight, let their voices be silenced for whatever reason or whatever purpose in order to just get along.  Jeanette Rankin, was a two-term congresswoman from Montana,  the first woman to be elected to congress, who served terms from 1917-1919, and from 1941-1943, in which in both of her terms she would be called to vote on the resolution of war by her nation.  The United States declaration of war on Germany in 1917, was somewhat controversial, especially considering that President Wilson had run for his second term under the banner of "He kept us out of the war", nevertheless when the votes were tallied, the Senate voted 80-6 for war, and the congress voted 373-50, of which Congresswoman Rankin was one of the dissenters.   However, after the "day in infamy" in regards to the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, when Franklin D. Roosevelt asked congress for a declaration of war on Japan, the vote in the Senate was 82-0, and in the House the vote was 388 in favor to which Congresswoman Rankin was placed under enormous pressure to simply state "present" when it came for her turn to vote, as that non-vote would not be counted for or against the war resolution, effectively making the call for war unanimous in both houses.  Congressman Rankin would not be dissuaded from her vote, making her vote the only dissenter in World War II and making her the only congressman to have voted against the resolution of war in both World Wars.


Jeanette Rankin was a pacifist, who voted against war as a matter of conscience, and who believed strongly that without the influence of women in the polling vote as well as in public office, that war with its attendant destruction and devastation of human life, property, and the senseless sacrifice of men would continue to be the lot of humanity.  Congresswoman Rankin came to power in the time of woman's suffrage and was famous for saying, "the first time I voted, I voted for myself."  She believed strongly that in giving women the vote, that then, there would be a real opportunity for more peaceful resolutions to be taken seriously and acted upon.  She well understood that a mature and responsible country should lead by example and consequently should act in a manner becoming their Constitution and the intended legacy that they wished to leave for humankind and generations yet unborn.  She recognized that countries have a responsibility to live up to their ideals, to practice what they preach, and to not do so, is an inconsistency that in of itself tells the true tale of that country.  Congresswoman Rankin believed that the United States should be that beacon of hope, of liberty, of freedom, for all, and in order to accomplish such noble goals, should demonstrate mature forbearance in times of trouble rather than becoming quick to anger, quick to judgment, and quick to war.