Washington, D.C. (JFK+50) Ninety seven years ago today, April 2, 1917, Jeanette Rankin of Montana became the first woman elected to Congress to officially be seated in the House of Representatives.
Miss Rankin, a social worker who joined the women's suffrage movement, ran on a progressive Republican platform calling for the right to vote for women nationwide.
Congresswoman Rankin's seating had been delayed a month as Congressmen debated whether or not a woman should be admitted to the Congress of the United States.
Miss Rankin, a known pacifist, ironically was seated on the same day President Woodrow Wilson presented his war message.
At one point in his message, President Wilson said...
"It is a distressing...duty, Gentlemen of the Congress, which I have performed in this address to you."
It would be interesting to know if the President purposely omitted mention of the Congresswoman.
On April 6, the House voted on the war declaration.
Miss Rankin was one of fifty representatives who voted against it. Despite her vote, she helped sell Liberty Bonds to raise money for the war effort.
For the next 20 years, Jeanette Rankin worked as a lobbyist, but in 1941 she was back in Congress to cast the only vote in opposition to a declaration of war on Japan after the attack on Pearl Harbor.
Rankin was founding Vice President of the Civil Liberties Union and also spoke out against the Korean and Vietnam Wars.
Jeanette Rankin died in 1973 at the age of 92.
Washington, D.C. (JFK+50) President Woodrow Wilson, speaking to a joint session of Congress 97 years ago today, April 2, 1917, asked for a war declaration against Germany.
In his address, Wilson called attacks by German submarines to be "a warfare against mankind".
The President concluded his message with these words:
"There are many months of fiery trial and sacrifice ahead....civilization seeming to be in the balance. But the right is more precious than peace..."
"We shall fight for democracy....and make the world itself at last free. God helping (America) can do no other."