Just days after the unveiling of a portrait of the first directly elected black Member to be seated in Congress, the House Fine Arts Board is set honor the first woman to be elected to the House in a ceremony today at the Library of Congress.
Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-Ohio), who requested that the portrait be commissioned, will join House Administration Chairman Bob Ney (R-Ohio), ranking member Juanita Millender-McDonald (D-Calif.) and Rep. Nancy Johnson (R-Conn.) today at 2 p.m. to honor the late Rep. Jeannette Rankin (R-Mont.).
Rankin, a social worker who played a key role in the suffrage movement, won her House seat in 1916 — two years after she helped convince Montana to grant women the right to vote, but four years before women were granted suffrage on the national level.
She served for one term before leaving to run an unsuccessful campaign for the Senate. Her political career stalled for more than two decades due to a controversial vote she cast against U.S. entry into World War I.
But she ran for Congress on a pacifist platform in 1940 and won, enabling her to vote against U.S. entry into World War II. She is the only Member of Congress to have voted against both world wars.
A statue of Rankin was unveiled in Statuary Hall by the state of Montana in 1985. After today’s ceremony, Rankin’s portrait will hang as part of the House arts collection on the third floor of the Capitol outside the House visitors’ gallery.
“I have been working with Leadership for nearly a decade to make sure art in the Capitol is more representative of women’s achievements and contributions to our nation,” Kaptur said in a release. “We want people who visit the Capitol … to see a full range of contributions made by all Americans — men, women, people of color, people of ethnic heritage and native Americans — so they can be inspired by what has been accomplished and challenged by what is yet to be done.”