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Tag: feminism

Women can’t vote, but they can run for Congress

Representative Jeannette Rankin (1880-1973), By Matzene, 1917; Courtesy of the Senate Historical Office

Representative Jeannette Rankin (1880-1973), By Matzene, 1917; Courtesy of the Senate Historical Office

While the Constitution does not say who is eligible to vote, it does say who is eligible to run for Congress.

No Person shall be a Representative who shall not have attained to the age of twenty-five Years, and been seven Years a Citizen of the United States, and who shall not, when elected, be an Inhabitant of that State in which he shall be chosen.

That means ladies could run, too. And one did, four years before the Constitution recognized her right to vote.

Jeanette Rankin was sworn into Congress in April 1917, as a representative from Montana. She had helped secure women the right to vote in Montana in 1914, and now had her eye on the rest of the nation.

But the calling of the 65th Congress in April 1917 was not a normal Congressional session. Congress had been convened because Germany had declared unrestricted submarine warfare on all Atlantic shipping. Woodrow Wilson had requested Congress declare war against Germany.

There was still heavy division on whether the United States should enter the conflict. Wary of foreign entanglements, but aware that Germany and its allies had all but declared war on the United States and its interests, the United States had prolonged its entrance into the fray. But with … [ Read all ]

Elena Kagan owes Belva Lockwood

Belva Lockwood. (Photo from Library of Congress)

Belva Lockwood (Photo from Library of Congress)

If Kagan’s nomination is accepted, she will be the fourth woman to serve as a Supreme Court Justice. Her nomination was made possible by the trail blazed—with tremendous determination—by Lockwood.

Lockwood was the daughter of farmers, a widowed mother, and a wife who financially supported her ailing husband. She attended college after the death of her first husband, and eventually ended up in Washington, DC, where she received her law degree, taking it from the hands of President Ulysses S. Grant.

Lockwood had a long career in law in the capitol, running her own practice and trying criminal cases and handling divorces, but she also ran twice as the presidential candidate for the Equal Rights Party (Hillary Clinton owes Belva Lockwood too). Although Lockwood could not vote, she reasoned there was nothing to stop men from voting for her.

The full story of Lockwood’s life and career accomplishments is featured in this article in Prologue magazine.… [ Read all ]