First Woman in Congress Was Elected 100 Years Ago


It goes without saying that 2016 has been the year for feminism. And now on Tuesday, Nov. 8, America had the chance to vote for our first ever female President nearly 100 years after the first woman was elected into Congress. If that doesn't say fate, then I don't know what does.

A little backstory: The first female elected into Congress was named Jeannette Rankin. A fierce feminist who knew how to make major moves, she was a professional lobbyist for the National American Woman Suffrage Association before she even ran for Congress. In 1914, her efforts and speeches helped women in Montana earn the right to vote. And, by the time 1917 came around, Rankin made history by serving a term in the House of Representatives. She even served a second term from 1941 to 1942.

As a suffragist and pacifist, it's safe to say that Rankin was the OG #NastyWoman of her time. She made an effort to push boundaries in the name of progressive movement. During her first term, she fought for the creation of a Committee on Woman Suffrage. She even launched the first ever House Floor debate regarding woman suffrage. Clearly, Rankin was not one to shy away from the matters that she cared about the most.

In between her terms, Rankin didn't just sit back and watch the world go by. She continued to make moves in the realms of pacifism and social welfare. Rankin attended a peace conference in Switzerland and became a member of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom. After buying a farm in Georgia, she launched the Georgia Peace Society. And in the midst of all of this, Rankin continued to actively support social welfare programs.

In 1940, the impending war crisis inspired Rankin to give Congress another go. During her campaign, she took some time to speak to high school students about war and peace. Rankin won re-election with 54 percent of the votes, defeating a total of three candidates. You go girl.

Regardless of what happens tonight, it's so amazing to think how feminism has flourished over the past 100 years. The fact that women had a chance to vote for a female President is absolutely monumental. Let us savor this day, Nasty Women. Here's to hoping the 100-year anniversary of Rankin's win is a sign for good things ahead.

Image: Wikimedia Commons