Dedicated in 1992, this historical marker is located on property that was purchased by Jeannette Rankin in 1933. Rankin became the first woman to be elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1916 and represented the state of Montanna. Rankin served only one term after taking a position against U.S. involvement in World War I. In addition to her opposition to the war, her advocacy for women’s suffrage and other progressive issues made her a controversial figure in her own time period. By 1985, however, the state of Montana selected Rankin to be one of the two statues from their state in the National Statuary Hall Collection.
In 1933, the former Congresswoman purchased 44 acres at this site which included an older farmhouse where she lived on a seasonal basis. She referred to the home as Shady Grove and lived here for several years while presiding over the Georgia Peace Society. In 1940, the people of Montana again supported her candidacy and she returned to Congress where she opposed US involvement in World War II. While she was one of fifty people in Congress to oppose entry in World War I, hers was the only vote in opposition to a declaration of war after Pearl Harbor. Rankin also opposed US involvement in Vietnam as a private citizen. Rankin died in Carmel, California on May 18, 1973.
Deeply controversial in her own time for her opposition to World War II, today Rankin has been enshrined into the National Statuary Hall. The history of the Hall begins in 1857 when the House of Representatives moved into a new chamber leaving an empty space in the capitol. Congressman Justin Morrill from Vermont proposed that the former chamber should become the National Statuary Hall, which would house statues of notable Americans. He proposed states would donate two bronze or marble statues of deceased men or women from their state who deserve a memorial at the capitol. On July 2, 1864, President Abraham Lincoln passed Morrill’s proposal into law.
The National Statuary Hall Collection within the United States Capitol Building consists of 100 statues, two statues donated by each of the 50 states. The 100-statue collection is spread throughout the capital. Thirty-five statues are displayed in the National Statuary Hall, six are displayed in the Rotunda, 13 are displayed in the Crypt, 13 are displayed in the Hall of Columns and 24 are displayed in the Capitol Visitor Center. The other nine statues are in various areas in the House and Senate wings of the Capitol building.
Jeannette Rankin’s statue is in the Capitol Visitor Center along with most of the other statues of women. The decision to replace statues of men with women such as Rankin demonstrates the way historical interpretation change, although visitors to the Capitol are sure to notice that most of the statues of women are in the Capitol Visitors Center rather than the Rotunda or Statuary Hall. Emancipation Hall, where Rankin’s statue is located, was named in recognition of the slaves who built the United States Capitol. The Rankin statue honors her commitment to peace and women's right to vote. While her positions were controversial in her own time, Rankin was selected by leaders of Montana owing to her status as the first woman elected to the U.S. House of Representatives.