Tag Archives: Gandhi

Remembering Jeannette Rankin, First US Congresswoman

If women had held the preponderance of political leadership roles for the last few millennia, would peace have become more of a central organizing theme of history than war?

Jeannette Rankin, a Montana Republican and lifelong pacifist, was elected to Congress in 1916; that’s four years before the Constitution gave all women the right to vote. Not only did Rankin lead the way as a first for women, she defied all semblance of political tradition by opposing both World War I and World War II.

Rankin’s leadership style has many lessons for us today, especially since she did not shy away from controversy. The subject of Rankin’s very first Congressional vote (against President Wilson’s WWI war resolution) set the stage for her destiny. Rankin lost the support of most of the women’s suffragists who had campaigned for her, because they feared her anti-war vote made women look weak and hurt the suffrage movement. Embracing controversy can be tough when we ruffle the feathers of our opponents, but it’s even tougher when we lose the support of our closest friends and allies.

Posted in Embrace Controversy, Know Your History, Leadership, Politics | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment
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Copyright 2010 Gloria Feldt