And it was almost unanimous. The final tally was 388 for war, and 1 against...
As you can probably imagine, Rankin's stance was roundly unpopular: not just with her constituents back home but all across America. She didn't even bother to run for re-election. She passed away in 1973 at the age of 92.
But as for why Miss Rankin did not vote for the war declaration, I can't but find her rationale to be intriguing...
"As a woman, I can't go to war and I refuse to send anyone else."I must admit: as much as a military response was mandated by the horrific nature of the Pearl Harbor attack, I have to appreciate Jeannette Rankin's rationale. Had women been allowed to serve on the front lines or more to the point, had Rankin been a male... I can't imagine that she would have cast a vote against war. But neither of those happened to have been the case.
I believe that Congress did the right thing by voting for the declaration of war. But I also have to believe that Miss Rankin was acting according to the best of her principles by not voting for that same declaration. That may have conflicted with the demands of those she was elected and sworn to represent... but there I am reminded that ours is a democratically-elected republic and not a pure democracy. It's not perfect, but it's the best that man in his limited wisdom has been able to come up with so far as governing himself goes.
Jeannette Rankin's vote against declaring war with Japan is a most curious example of that.
And all of this was seventy years ago today, December the 8th 1941.