Women and politics: the amazing tale of Jeannette Rankin

Minneapolis Post. Posted by Eric Black on August 13, 2013

According to an outfit called Representation 2020, five out of 50 states currently have women governors. According to the U.S. Census, women make up 51 percent of the population, but 10 percent of the governors.

Of the nation’s 100 largest cities, 12 have a female mayor. Women make up 18 percent of Congress and a quarter of state legislators.

The 19th Amendment, granting women the right to vote everywhere in the country (many states had already granted that right), took effect in 1920. Representation 2020 is named for the upcoming centennial and says it is "spreading new and innovative ideas on how to get more women elected to office by the centennial of women’s suffrage in 2020."

Minnesota has never had a woman governor nor a woman nominated for governor by a major party. The current lieutenant governor, Yvonne Prettner Solon, is the sixth consecutive women to hold the office, dating back 30 years. Three of our 10 current members of Congress are women, which is an all-time high.

I'm often surprised that the amazing tale of Jeannette Rankin, the first woman in Congress, isn't more famous.

Rankin, a lifelong pacifist, was elected to the U.S. House from Montana in 1916 at the age of 36. She got to Washington just in time to be one of just 50 members of the House to vote against a resolution favoring U.S. entry into World War I. She was defeated for a second term. Then, amazingly, she won a second term in 1940 and got to Washington in time to cast the only "no" vote on U.S. entry into World War II after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. She was not reelected, went to India and studied the pacifist teaching of Gandhi.

In 1968, she led a march in Washington to protest the Vietnam War and was contemplating another run for Congress as a peace candidate. She died in 1973.

How is Rankin not more famous?

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