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Exhibition Shall Not Be Denied: Women Fight for the Vote

Rep. Jeannette Rankin of Montana, Left, Reading The Suffragist, Washington, ca. 1917–1918. Photograph. NWP Records, Manuscript Division, Library of Congress (114.00.00)
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Jeannette Rankin (1880–1973) to Woodrow Wilson (1856–1924), [sic December] January 8, 1918. Woodrow Wilson Papers, Manuscript Division, Library of Congress (113.00.00)
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First Congresswoman Jeannette Rankin Lobbies President Wilson

Jeannette Rankin, a former NAWSA field secretary who worked on multiple state suffrage campaigns, was the first woman elected to Congress in 1916, two years after her home state of Montana passed women’s suffrage. In this letter of January 8, 1918 (misdated December), she asked President Woodrow Wilson to exert influence on “doubting Members,” pointedly reminding him of his avowed support for democracy. The next day, Wilson publicly endorsed the federal suffrage amendment for the first time and met with ten wavering representatives. On January 10, the bill narrowly passed the House but was shelved in the Senate.

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