Women of Valor

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Passionate Politics

Bella Abzug, 1920 - 1998

Tossing aside the conventional advice that newcomers ought to keep quiet, Congresswoman Abzug was an outspoken advocate and activist from the start. On just her first day in office, she introduced a resolution demanding a set date for withdrawal from Vietnam. With her passionate politics and famous hats, the charismatic Abzug immediately captured the nation's attention. But with that fame often came a furious backlash, and many in the press claimed she was too "irritating" and "brash," too unwomanly to be effective.

Abzug's reputation inside Congress was an entirely different story. "Without a doubt, the hardest working Member," she was always prepared on the issues. She built strong coalitions and developed "brilliant, effective—and winning" strategies, particularly through her mastery of the arcane Rules of the House. Abzug won even her staunchest enemies respect with her dedication and determination. By her third term, she had become one of the most powerful members of the House, and was voted third more influential Congressperson by her colleagues- behind only Speaker Carl Albert and Majority Whip Tip O'Neill.

Notes: 
  1. "Without a doubt..." quote from Tip O’Neill, "Special Order Tributes to Bella Abzug," Congressional Record, 94th Congress, Second Session, Vol. 122, 30 Sept. 1976, no. 150, part III, 34267–72.
  2. "brilliant, effective—and winning" quote from Herman Badillo, "Special Order Tribute."
  3. US News and World Report vote for Abzug as third most influential Congresswoman cited in "Congresswoman Bella S. Abzug," Personal Bio from Administrative Files, Sept. 1976, Bella Abzug Papers, Columbia University.

How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Women of Valor - Bella Abzug - Passionate Politics." (Viewed on April 20, 2014) <http://jwa.org/womenofvalor/abzug/passionate-politics>.