Jeannette Rankin Biography, Life, Interesting Facts


Jeannette Rankin

Birthday :

June 11, 1880

Died On :

May 18, 1973

Also Known For :

Politician, Women's Right, Federalism

Birth Place :

Missoula, Montana, United States of America

Zodiac Sign :


Jeannette Rankin was a Republican who made history after becoming the first woman in the United States to win a political seat. She contested in the State of Montana and was elected to the House of Representatives in 1916. During this period, women participation in politics was uncommon; Rankin started by campaigning for Women Suffrage Movement. She worked tirelessly until Nineteenth Amendment was passed allowing women to vote across America.

Rankin was opposed to the entry of the United States to the World War 1 and World War 2. The Pacifism approach that she had on foreign matters attracted applause and criticism in equal measure. She was the only member of Congress who voted against the participation of United States in the World War 2. Her policy of appeasing the world at every opportunity available was ridiculed by many people in the United States. She, however, also earned admiration from women and activists for this policy.

Childhood And Early Life

Jeannette Rankin was born on June 11, 1880, in Montana. Her parents were Olive Pickering, a school teacher, and John Ranking who was a Scottish-Canadian immigrant and worked as a carpenter and a rancher. Rankin was the first born in a family of six children, five girls, and one boy. One of her sisters passed on in childhood while her brother, Wellington became the Attorney General of the State.

Rankin was brought up in Montana, and as a teenager, she helped in taking care of her younger siblings and daily farm chores. She was a hardworking young girl who at one point built a wooden sidewalk for her father's building. She also helped in maintaining ranch machinery.


Jeannette Rankin attended high school and graduated in 1898. She then joined the University of Montana in 1899 where she did a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology. She graduated in 1902 and started dressmaking in Missoula. Rankin later worked as a furniture designer in Boston.

She enrolled at the New York School of Philanthropy and later Columbia University School of Social Work for the period between 1908 and 1909. The enrollment came after she realized herself as a social worker.

When she was 28 years, Rankin attended the University of Washington where she was involved in the women's suffrage movement.


Jeannette Rankin started off in different professions including social work, dressmaking, and furniture designing. She, however, realized herself as a social worker in 1908 and did several courses to help her work towards her passion.

She was involved in women's suffrage at the University of Washington and aided in the organizing of the New York Women's Suffrage party. She actively lobbied for the National American Women Suffrage Association. Her efforts bore fruits in 1910 as Washington voters approved a change to the constitution giving a permanent right for women to vote.

In 1911, Jeannette Rankin directed her efforts to the Montana Legislature. She became the first woman to speak before the Montana Legislature. She actively petitioned the members to pass an amendment to give women a right to vote. As a result of her efforts, Montana made changes that allowed women unrestricted right to vote.

In 1916, Rankin started her political career where she ran for a seat in the United States House of Representative. She won the general elections making history as the first woman to serve in the Congress. In the House of Congress, Rankin brought forward her belief of pacifism and defended it one-heartedly. In April, the House was recalled to discuss whether the United States was to participate in the World War waged by Germany. She debated and openly voted against joining the war. 49 other members supported her.

Jeannette Rankin continued with her fight to disenfranchise all women in the United States. By 1918, she had succeeded in granting women in forty States their right to vote. In 1919, Rankin's biggest breakthrough, in her lobby to ensure all women vote, when the United States Congress passed an amendment granting women their right to vote.

Her term at the Congress ended in 1919, and she now focused her energy on social work and pacifism. She joined International League for Peace and Freedom after attending a peace conference in Switzerland.

In 1920's, Ranking lobbied the Congress to ban child labor and pass Sheppard-Towner Act. By then, she was serving as a field secretary in the National Consumers League.

In 1928, she formed the Georgia Peace Society to advocate for the prevention of war. She also became a speaker in the National Council for the Prevention of War.

In 1940, Rankin went back to politics as a result of a war crisis. She made her way back to the House of Representative and was appointed to the Committee on Public Lands as well as the Committee on Insular.

Once again, Jeannette Rankin became the only member of the House of Representative to vote against the participation of the United States in World War 2. The media and majority of the people in the United States criticized her, but she remained adamant. She retired from active politics in 1942.

Major Works

Jeannette Ranking worked tirelessly to ensure that women were granted full rights to vote. She was instrumental in the amendment of 19th Amendment that ultimately disenfranchised women in the United States.

She had a high principle of appeasing the world. She courageously voted twice against the participation of the United States in World War.

Personal Life And Legacy

Jeannette Rankin never married. She viewed her mother as a "baby factory" and did not want the same to happen to her. She let down several marriage proposals as she was not interested in dating.

Rankin is remembered for her undying efforts in women suffrage and pacifism. The United States Capitol's Statuary Hall is home to her statue with a message "I Cannot Vote for War."

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