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1940s / Jeannette Rankin - Lone Vote Against War with Japan
Many people find it hard to believe, but after the deadly surprise Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, the vote by the U.S. Congress the next day to declare war on Japan was not unanimous. Jeannette Rankin, a Republican from Montana, cast the lone dissenting vote. Declaring the war to be unnecessary and adhering to her beliefs as a lifelong pacifist, Rankin cast the solitary negative vote. Rankin had been a congresswoman during the First World War and had voted against America's entry into that conflict--along with 49 others--in 1917. Returning to politics more than two decades later, Rankin had, in fact, campaigned in 1940 on an anti-war platform and had won. Not surprisingly, very few people in her home state supported her decision after the sneak attack on Pearl Harbor. So unpopular was her stance that Rankin decided not to run for re-election when her term expired in 1943. Interestingly, Rankin did not vote against declaring war on Germany and Italy following their declarations of war on the U.S. a few days later. Instead, she voted merely 'present.' During the remainder of her life, (Rankin lived to be nearly 93) she travelled to India seven times and was a devotee of Gandhian principles of non-violence.