An activist who never let up

  • Jeanette Rankin: "America's Conscience," by Norma Smith, Montana Historial Society Press, Helena 2002. Softcover: $17.95, 223 pages, essay on sources, index.

 


Norma Smith's biography, Jeannette Rankin: America's Conscience, records the inspiring courage, integrity and optimism of the first woman elected to Congress, dramatically recounting Rankin's struggles and successes as an activist.


Smith, a personal friend of Rankin, writes that as a congresswoman, Rankin's interests shifted from suffrage to pacifism. She often said, "The first vote of the first woman member of Congress was a vote against war," and, indeed, she was the only congressperson to vote against U.S. entry into both world wars. She argued that "shooting a young man is no way to settle a political dispute" - a view that guaranteed her loss in the next election. Held by her moral convictions, Rankin rebounded, saying, "I'm not interested in (re-election). All I'm interested in (is) what they'll say 50 years from now."


A native Montanan, Rankin championed the women's suffrage movement from the West Coast to the East. Interestingly, she did not argue that suffrage was an inalienable right for women; rather, Smith writes, Rankin fought for women's suffrage on behalf of the nation's children. She realized that "if we were to have decent laws for children, sanitary jails, safe food supplies, women would have to vote."


While Smith captures Rankin's charismatic, resolute personality, she also notes that Rankin's temper and tendency to be stubborn left her feeling isolated and friendless.


Working on issues that ranged from poverty, low-income housing, factory conditions and health care, to suffrage and pacifism, Jeannette Rankin never gave up. In 1968, she led 5,000 women in a protest against the Vietnam War. And at the age of 88, when she was fighting for electoral reform and offered a chair because of her age, she replied, "No thanks, I fight better standing up."
High Country News Classifieds
  • ACTING INDIGENOUS AFFAIRS DESK EDITOR
    High Country News is seeking an Acting Indigenous Affairs Editor to oversee the work of our award-winning Indigenous Affairs Desk while our editor is on...
  • GRANTS PROGRAM DIRECTOR
    The Cinnabar Foundation seeks an enthusiastic, team-oriented and knowledgeable Grants Program Director to work from their home in Montana. Established in 1983, the Cinnabar Foundation...
  • ARTEMIS PROGRAM MANAGER
    The Artemis Program Manager will work with National Wildlife Federation sporting and public lands staff to change this dynamic, continue to build upon our successful...
  • ALASKA SEA KAYAK BUSINESS FOR SALE
    Well-known and successful sea kayak, raft, hike, camp guiding & water taxi service. Sale includes everything needed to run the business, including office & gear...
  • MEMBERSHIP AND EVENTS PROGRAM COORDINATOR
    Great Old Broads for Wilderness seeks a detail-oriented and enthusiastic Membership and Events Coordinator to join our small, but mighty-fun team to oversee our membership...
  • PROGRAM DEVELOPMENT FACILITATOR
    ABOUT THE HIGH DESERT MUSEUM Since opening in 1982, HIGH DESERT MUSEUM has brought together wildlife, culture, art and natural resources to promote an understanding...
  • LAND STEWARD, ARAVAIPA
    Steward will live on-site in housing provided by TNC and maintains preserve areas frequented by the visiting public and performs land management activities. The Land...
  • DEVELOPMENT WRITER
    Who We Are: The Nature Conservancy's mission is to protect the lands and waters upon which all life depends. As a science-based organization, we create...
  • CONNECTIVITY SCIENCE COORDINATOR
    Position type: Full time, exempt Location: Bozeman preferred; remote negotiable Compensation: $48,000 - $52,000 Benefits: Major medical insurance, up to 5% match on a 401k,...
  • EXECUTIVE ASSISTANT
    ArenaLife is looking for an Executive Assistant who wants to work in a fast-paced, exciting, and growing organization. We are looking for someone to support...
  • EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
    The Mountain Lion Foundation is seeking an Executive Director. Please see our website for further information - mountainlion.org/job-openings
  • WASHINGTON DC REPRESENTATIVE
    Position Status: Full-time, exempt Location: Washington, DC Position Reports to: Program Director The Western Organization of Resource Councils (WORC) is seeking a Washington, DC Representative...
  • REGIONAL CAMPAIGN ORGANIZER
    Position Title: Regional Campaign Organizers (2 positions) Position Status: Full-time, exempt Location: Preferred Billings, MT; remote location within WORC's region (in or near Grand Junction...
  • STAFF ATTORNEY
    Western Watersheds Project seeks a Tenth Circuit Staff Attorney to bring litigation in the interests of protecting and restoring western watersheds and wildlife, particularly focused...
  • DIRECTOR OF DEVELOPMENT
    Position Title: Director of Development Status: Full-Time/Exempt Reports to: Executive Director Location: Remote (California preferred) About the Native American Land Conservancy As one of the...
  • DEVELOPMENT DIRECTOR
    Driggs, ID based non-profit. Full time. Full job description available at tvtap.org. Submit cover letter and resume to [email protected]
  • ENVIRONMENTAL AND CONSTRUCTION GEOPHYSICS
    - We find groundwater, buried debris and assist with new construction projects for a fraction of drilling costs.
  • SPRING MOUNTAINS SOLAR OFF GRID MOUNTAIN HOME
    Located 50 miles northwest of Las Vegas, Nevada in the pine forest of Lee Canyon at 8000 feet elevation. One of a kind property surrounded...
  • MAJOR GIFTS MANAGER - MOUNTAIN WEST, THE CONSERVATION FUND
    Cultivate, solicit and steward a portfolio of 75-125 donors.
  • NATURE'S BEST IN ARAVAIPA CANYON
    10 acre private oasis in one of Arizona's beautiful canyons. Fully furnished, 2123 sq ft architectural custom-built contemporary home with spectacular views and many extras....