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Montana achieved statehood in 1889 and quickly debated the issue of women’s suffrage during its state constitutional convention. The initial effort was defeated, but the suffrage movement in Montana continued to gain support. Suffragist leaders such as Emma Ingalls and Jeanette Rankin continued to advocate for the right to vote until Montana voted on November 3, 1914 to give women the full vote in the state. Not only did Montana achieve women’s suffrage prior to the 19th Amendment, the state also elected Emma Ingalls and Maggie Smith Hathaway to the state legislature in 1916. That same year Montana elected Jeannette Rankin to the U.S. House of Representatives, the first woman elected to Congress. While in Congress, Rankin used her seat to advocate for the “Susan B. Anthony Woman Suffrage Amendment” and pushed for the creation of a Woman Suffrage Committee in the House. After Congress passed the 19th Amendment, Montana voted to ratify the amendment on June 30, 1919. A few days later, on August 2, 1919, the governor certified the state’s ratification. 


Jeanette Rankin on the balcony of the National American Woman Suffrage Association headquarters greeting supporters celebrating her swearing-in to Congress (Library of Congress)

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Jeanette Rankin holding banner during suffrage activities in 1913

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Montana suffragists, November 2, 1914

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Jennette Rankin is seated center in the front row of the group portrait of the 56th U.S. Congress in 1917

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"Montana and the 19th Amendment." National Park Service. August 9, 2019. Accessed June 29, 2021. https://www.nps.gov/articles/montana-and-the-19th-amendment.htm.

Tabish, Dillon. "100 Year Later, Montana Stands Out as Champion for Women's Suffrage." Flathead Beacon. November 5, 2014. Accessed June 29, 2021. https://flatheadbeacon.com/2014/11/05/100-years-later-montana-stands-champion-womens-suffrage/.

Image Sources(Click to expand)

"Montana and the 19th Amendment." National Park Service. August 9, 2019. Accessed June 29, 2021. https://www.nps.gov/articles/montana-and-the-19th-amendment.htm.

"Women's suffrage in Montana." Wikipedia. Accessed June 29, 2021. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Women%27s_suffrage_in_Montana.

"Women's suffrage in Montana." Wikipedia. Accessed June 29, 2021. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Women%27s_suffrage_in_Montana.

"Jeannette Rankin: Suffragist, Congresswoman, Pacifist." Women's History Matters. April 1, 2014. Accessed June 29, 2021. http://montanawomenshistory.org/jeannette-rankin-suffragist-congresswoman-pacifist/.