Jeannette Pickering Rankin, the first woman ever elected to Congress, was born on a ranch near Missoula, Montana Territory on June 11, 1980. Working with various suffrage groups, she campaigned for the women’s vote on a national level and in 1914 was instrumental in the passage of suffrage legislation in Montana. Two years later, she successfully ran for Congress in Montana on a progressive Republican platform calling for total women’s suffrage, legislation protecting children, and U.S. neutrality in the European war. Following her election as a representative, Rankin’s entrance into Congress was delayed for a month as congressmen discussed whether a woman should be admitted into the House of Representatives. Finally, on April 2, 1917, she was introduced in Congress as its first female member. The same day, President Woodrow Wilson addressed a joint session of Congress and urged a declaration of war against Germany. On April 4, the Senate voted for war by a wide majority, and on April 6 the vote went to the House. Citing public opinion in Montana and her own pacifist beliefs, Jeannette Rankin was one of only 50 representatives who voted against the American declaration of war. On December 7, 1941, the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, and the next day, at Roosevelt’s urging, Congress passed a formal declaration of war against Japan. Representative Rankin cast the sole dissenting vote. Explore women’s rights at the library and on ho0pla.