On this day in 1919, socialite Lady Nancy Langhorne Astor (1879-1964), a woman of vigor, vitality, and cheek, became the first woman in British history to sit in Parliament.
"People who talk about peace are very often the most quarrelsome," she observed with typical wit.
A staunch conservative who championed women's rights, temperance, and progressive education, she held her seat until 1945. "Real education should educate us out of self into something far finer, into a selflessness which links us with all humanity," she said.
Born to a wealthy family in Greenwood, Virginia, she moved to England following her divorce and married the wealthy Waldorf Astor. "The only thing I like about rich people is their money," explained Viscountess Astor, the woman who assumed her husband's seat in the House of Commons when he left to succeed his father as viscount.
Earning respect for her passionate advocacy for women and child welfare, Astor was often re-elected and served in Parliament until 1945.
"I knew what kept me going - I was an ardent feminist," she expalined. "I always knew we had more moral strength. I once said in the House: We've got moral strength and you've got immoral strength."
Outspoken and strong-willed, the charismatic and charming Astor was a good friend to writer George Bernard Shaw and a social magnet for the royalty, politicians, and artists of her time. She often exchanged quips with British leader Winston Churchill, who she supported as Prime Minister.
She once said, "The main dangers in this life are the people who want to change everything or nothing."
What's wrong with a little vigor, vitality, and cheek?