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Record Number of Women Headed to Congress: Jeanette Rankin Made It All Possible

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As we recognize the immense advancement of women in political leadership this week, let us not forget the many women like Jeanette Rankin that paved the way.


Tuesday’s midterm elections made history in a number of ways, but none more so than in the groundbreaking amount of women voted into Congress. Never before has this level of advancement for women in national leadership taken the much-needed and overdue forward foothold in American politics. I understand that many of us might disagree with components of each Congresswoman elects’ political leanings, but that does not negate the fact that this is a big deal. It shows mightily how far women have come in our great nation. And to think, it all began with the mother of Congress, powerhouse politician and women’s rights advocate, Jeannette Rankin.

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History stated, “Before [Tuesday] women had never held more than 84 of the 435 seats in Congress. As of this [Wednesday] morning, with votes still being counted, a record 95 have already been declared winners, and they have Jeanette Rankin to thank for paving the way.”

 

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Before yesterday, women had never held any more than 84 of the 435 seats in the U.S. House. As of this morning, with votes still being counted, a record 95 have already been declared winners, and they have Jeanette Rankin to thank for paving the way. On #ThisDayinHistory 1916, she made history as the first woman elected to Congress. Born and raised on a ranch near Missoula, Montana, Rankin was the daughter of progressive parents who encouraged her to think beyond the narrow sphere of opportunities generally permitted to women of the early 20th century. She ran for one of Montana’s two seats in Congress as a Progressive Republican in 1916. With strong support from women and men alike, Rankin became the first woman in history elected to that body. When she traveled to Washington, D.C., the next year, the eyes of the nation watched to see if a woman could handle the responsibilities of high office. Rankin soon proved she could, but she also demonstrated that she would not betray her own strongly held convictions for political expediency. A dedicated pacifist, Rankin’s first vote as a U.S. congresswoman was against U.S. entry into World War I. #History #USHistory #JeanetteRankin #WomensHistory

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Jeannette Rankin was born in 1880 in Montana to a schoolteacher mother and a Scottish-Canadian immigrant father. The eldest of 6 children, Rankin quickly became a leading voice in the women’s rights movement as well as the first woman to hold federal office in the United States.

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Wikipedia summarizes Rankin’s influential political career, “A Progressive Era member of the Republican Party, Rankin was also instrumental in initiating the legislation that eventually became the 19th Constitutional Amendment, granting unrestricted voting rights to women. In her victory speech, she recognized the power she held being the only woman able to vote in Congress, saying ‘I am deeply conscious of the responsibility resting upon me.’ She championed the causes of gender equality and civil rights throughout a career that spanned more than six decades.”

Record Number of Women Headed to Congress: Jeanette Rankin Made It All Possible

Photo used by permission: Portrait by Sharon Sprung—History.house.gov/Collection/Detail/29557, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=37463466.

As we recognize the immense advancement of women in political leadership, let us not forget the many women like Jeanette Rankin that paved the way—smashing glass ceiling after glass ceiling to make our great nation true to its promise: One nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all. 

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