Credentials of Jeannette Rankin, the First Congresswoman

  • Credentials of Jeannette Rankin, the First Congresswoman
Credentials of Jeannette Rankin, the First Congresswoman

06267_2000_001_ac

In 1916 – four years before before the 19th Amendment granted women across the country the right to vote – Jeannette Rankin was elected to Congress as a Representative from Montana.

Rankin was sworn into office on April 2, 1917, having presented this credential as evidence that she had been duly elected by the people of a state. As typical of these credentials, it was signed by the governor of the state, Sam Stewart, and the secretary of state.

On her first day in office, President Woodrow Wilson asked Congress for a declaration of war against Germany, given their recent increase in hostilities. A pacifist, Rankin voted against the declaration of war, along with 49 other members of Congress. Unfortunately, this decision turned away many of her supporters.

In the next election, Rankin decided not to run for the House again, but ran for the Senate instead. After losing the Republican primary, positioned herself as a third-party candidate, but was not elected again to Congress. However, her fight for causes she believed in, including peace, was not over. In 1940, she again ran for a seat in the House of Representatives – and was elected!

On December 8, 1941, Rankin and her fellow Congressmen and women were called upon again by the President to declare war on a foreign power, just days after the attack on Pearl Harbor. Again, Rankin voted against war, but this time she was alone in doing so. After her term ended, she chose not to run again for re-election, but continued to be a vocal advocate for pacifism, including speaking out against the Vietnam War.

Jeannette Rankin’s credentials, as well as the tally sheet of the vote in the House of Representatives for a declaration of war against Japan, December 8, 1941, are on display in the “Featured Documents” exhibit in the East Rotunda Gallery of the National Archives in Washington, DC, from January 26 through April 3, 2017.

The National Archives Museum’s “Featured Document” exhibit is made possible in part by the National Archives Foundation through the generous support of Ford Motor Company Fund.

Past Featured Records
  • Featured Document Display: Never Forget: Remembering the Holocaust
    Featured Document Display: Never Forget: Remembering the Holocaust

    Seventy-five years ago on January 27, 1945, Soviet forces liberated the Auschwitz concentration camp complex in German-occupied Poland. Russian soldiers discovered thousands of sick, dying, and dead prisoners when they entered the complex of concentration camps, forced labor camps, and a killing center abandoned by the... Read more

  • 50 Years Ago: Government Stops Investigating UFOs
    50 Years Ago: Government Stops Investigating UFOs

    To mark the 50th anniversary of the end of Project Blue Book, the National Archives will display records from the Air Force’s unidentified flying objects (UFOs)  investigations.

    Report of a “flying saucer” over U.S. airspace in 1947 caused a wave of “UFO hysteria” and sparked... Read more

  • 50th Anniversary of Apollo 11
    50th Anniversary of Apollo 11

    Visit the National Archives to see exclusive, featured documents from the Apollo 11 mission to the moon. From transcripts to flight plans, the museum will highlight some of the most important pieces of the monumental occasion. Documents will be on display through August 7, 2019 in the Rotunda... Read more

  • 75th Anniversary of D-Day
    75th Anniversary of D-Day

    On June 6, 1944, Allied forces launched the greatest amphibious invasion the world has ever seen. The historic D-day invasion of Normandy, France, was a turning point in World War II, but it was just the initial assault in a massive operation that liberated Western Europe... Read more

  • Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm: “Unbought and Unbossed”
    Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm: “Unbought and Unbossed”

    Shirley Chisholm became the first African American woman to serve in Congress when she took office in January of 1969. During her seven Congressional terms, “Fighting Shirley” was an outspoken champion for racial and gender equality, and economic justice. To mark the 50th anniversary of Chisholm’s... Read more