World War and Veterans
Quest for Peace
After suffrage, Jeannette Rankin’s greatest commitment was to pacifism. Between her two terms, Rankin advocated for peace as a private citizen. This 1938 photo shows Rankin and Union Thoelogical Seminary student Frank Littell after a House Committee on Naval Affairs hearing that they attended behalf of the National Council for Prevention of War. Earlier that week, she had testified against the Roosevelt administration’s proposed $800 million naval expansion program, stating that such a “wholly abnormal naval building program will intensify international tension and distrust.” The looming war crisis that precipitated that hearing eventually propelled Rankin back to Congress in 1941, where she continued to fight for her beliefs. Although she knew it was both unpopular and purely symbolic, she stuck to her principles and cast the lone vote against declaring war on Japan after its forces attacked Pearl Harbor.
During his 38-year career in the House of Representatives Joe Bartlett witnessed a number of historic events. In this interview he describes reactions on the House floor after Jeannette Rankin voted against declaring war on Japan.