With the stroke of a pen, the Missoula post office on Kent Avenue will be forever named after the nation’s first female member of Congress, that being the Garden City’s own Jeannette Rankin.
President Donald Trump signed into a law bill introduced by Montana’s congressional delegation last week. Given the ongoings in Washington, D.C., news of the measure wasn’t released until Thursday.
“Jeannette Rankin was a trailblazer for women’s rights in America,” said Rep. Greg Gianforte in a statement. “Naming a Missoula post office after Jeannette Rankin will serve as a reminder of her legacy and leadership.”
Gianforte introduced the legislation last March in recognition of Women’s History Month. Similar legislation was introduced in the Senate by Sens. Jon Tester and Steve Daines.
“Jeannette Rankin is a true source of inspiration to young women in Montana and across the country,” Daines said. “I thank President Trump for signing our bipartisan bill into law so her legacy can be remembered for generations to come.”
Rankin grew up on a family ranch outside Missoula and earned a biology degree from the University of Montana in 1902. She helped women secure the right to vote in Montana in 1914, and became the first woman elected to Congress in 1917.
She served two terms in Congress, the later coming in 1941.
A lifelong pacifist, Rankin was one of 50 House members to vote against a declaration of war against Germany in 1917, and the only member of Congress to vote against the declaration of war against Japan in 1941.
“Jeanette Rankin left a larger-than-life legacy, one that all Montanans should be proud of,” Tester said. “Today we’re enshrining into law a permanent reminder of her steadfast commitment to peace, her trailblazing path, and her dedication to what she believed in.”
Rankin died in 1973 at the age of 92.
Earlier this year, Betsy Mulligan-Dague, executive director of the Jeannette Rankin Peace Center in downtown Missoula, billed the legislation as great news.
“We’re all for spreading the legacy of Jeannette Rankin and her work to promote peace and social justice,” she said. “We consider her ‘the First Daughter of Missoula,’ and Missoula should be proud of the history and her legacy.”