The centennial of the Expedition of Discovery, the first to reach the Oregon Territory by land, demanded a celebration. With the heavy financial backing of a consortium of twenty-five Portland businessmen, a fair was held in the Guild’s Lake district of Portland, where three Federal and twenty Oregon state buildings, and buildings and exhibits representing sixteen other states and sixteen foreign countries, were on display. The cornerstone had been laid by President Theodore Roosevelt in 1903. Opening on June 1, 1905, the Exposition attracted over 2.5 million visitors during its eighteen week run.1

The fair honored a number of pioneers. October 6 was Abigail Scott Duniway Day. She was the only woman to be so recognized, and her selection prompted the Woman’s Tribune to observe: “In choosing Mrs. Duniway as the representative of her sex, it is not presumption to claim that it was the intention of the Exposition management to declare itself in favor of equal rights for the women of Oregon, for this is what Mrs. Duniway’s life and work stand for”2

Ceremonies were conducted in the Oregon Building on the fairgrounds in Portland, “thronged to [its] utmost capacity.” While De Caprio’s band “beguiled” those present, Abigail met guests in a receiving line that included Dr. Viola M. Coe3, president of the Oregon State Equal Suffrage Association, Sally N. Chamberlain4, first lady of the state, and many members of her family, from siblings to grandchildren and including brother Harvey.5

In introduction, President Jefferson Myers6 of the State Commission called Scott Duniway “one of the greatest living pioneers of this state,” whose name “is known to every man, woman and child in the Northwest Territory.” Myers then endorsed her cause, saying: “The principles advocated by this pioneer are just; they are right. She is asking that brains, independence, honor and industry should share equally under a just and considerate government.”

Thus, it may well be that Scott Duniway never spoke, before or after, to a friendlier, more receptive audience. Her address is vintage Abigail, and wholly epideictic in character; she praises the pioneer spirit of the men of Oregon and asks for their “chivalrous” support of the equal suffrage referendum of June, 1906.

Yet, at the same time that her life was celebrated at the Exposition, her suffrage work was sorely challenged. The N.A.W.S.A. convention, with Anna Howard Shaw as President, had come four months earlier, at her urging.7 But it had not entirely gone: Workers from the National remained in Oregon following the convention to direct the coming campaign and, eventually, Scott Duniway would resign the presidency of O.S.E.S.A. in angry protest.8

Both the Oregonian and the Woman’s Tribune reported on the event and published versions of both Myers’ and Scott Duniway’s speeches.9 I follow the somewhat more complete Oregonian version, of October 7, which itself claimed to be reporting her remarks only “in part.” Material absent from the Woman’s Tribune version, of October 28, appears in “//”; material absent from the Oregonian version appears in “[]”.

To say in cold words that I feel deeply moved /in making this response to the first invitation to accept the honors of a special day ever yet accorded by the official management of any international exposition to any living woman, not a potentate,/ but feebly expresses my emotion /and gratitude/. /And,/ in accepting this testimonial to the /humble and/ earnest efforts I have made during the past three and a half decades on behalf of the women of old Oregon, whose organization[s] along the lines of progress are now numbered by scores, I realize anew the fitness of our decision that this testimonial, ostensibly in my behalf, belongs of right to all women–yes, and all men (for we will never forget our fathers, husbands, brothers and sons)–without whose assistance and co-operation nothing of which I have had the honor to be a forerunner could possibly have been accomplished.

Forty years ago there was not, to my knowledge (outside of a few women’s auxiliaries to various benevolent and secret societies, for most of which the women would prepare annual banquets and then retire to an anteroom while the products of their culinary skill were being eaten and the remains of the feast presided over post-prandially while the said auxiliaries washed the dishes10 ), any organization[s] consisting primarily of women in any part of /this/ Oregon /domain/. While I do not wish to be understood as /entirely/ favoring any organization composed of men alone, or of women alone, whether it be a prayer meeting or a National Government, a rummage sale or an international exposition, I do wish to emphasize the fact that women’s organizations today are equal in numbers, if not per capita (they certainly are not in financial power), to the organizations of men. And, although most of these associations of women–all, indeed, except the Equal Suffrage Association, the original Alma Mater of them all, have combined to further different lines of effort in which the enfranchisement of their sex was expected to have no part, /you can all judge that/ it is exceedingly gratifying to me to emphasize the fact that today they are all combined, as with the voice of one, in a womanly and honorable demand that the men by a large majority shall be moved to hearken to their plea that the locked doors of state constitutions shall be opened wide, permitting them to enter or not, as they themselves shall from time to time elect, to share equally with the aforesaid fathers, husbands, brothers and sons, the duties, responsibilities and emoluments of a free, untrammeled citizenship. I need not remind you that Idaho, youngest daughter of old Oregon, is represented here today by her radiant daughters, who are already crowned with the insignia of Liberty, which we are looking expectantly to you, men and brethren of the mother state, to bestow upon us at the state election in the coming June.11

Not only are the women of Oregon appealing to you to grant us this boon, but the women of the entire Nation, by many tens of thousands strong, are joining us in the appeal, all of whom are looking expectantly to the broad-brained, big-hearted men of this mighty state, in the midst of whose splendid achievements we are so proudly standing in these enchanted grounds today by your gracious invitation, to arise in the majesty of your patriotism and chivalry and swing wide the doors to our joint inheritance, leaving us to choose, of our own free will, whether or not we will accept the opportunities which have already been extended by men to our sisters, not only in Idaho, but in Wyoming, Utah and Colorado.12

Never again can any man truthfully say to us that he withholds the right of citizenship from us because we do not ask for it. The women of the state in their different organizations and auxiliaries have already appealed13 to you by many thousands, representing a greater majority than any set of men who have yet voted us down, to swing open the doors, to span the chasm that now separates us in the bridge of liberty; and, as I again repeat, leave the choice to us at every coming election as to whether or not we are willing to embrace our opportunities. The women, not only of the four states of our Union just mentioned, but of many foreign countries are already in possession of the elective franchise. Australia is watching you, the men of Oregon, from her ocean-gird[l]ed shores, where women enjoy, equally with their brothers, the full endowment of citizenship. It is a far cry from Australia and New Zealand to America, and /a/ still farther cry to India. But even in India the women of the zenanas are watching the outcome of the pending battle of ballots in this historic state of Oregon. The /more enlightened women of the Hawaiian/ Isles and the Philippines and Japan are also watching and waiting for the glad tidings of citizenship that await the women of Oregon, when the present electors shall have arisen in their might and declared through the still small voice of the ballot that their wives and mothers are, and of right ought to be, free and equal with themselves before the law.

I believe, as I address the honorable gentlemen, the official managers of this great international Exposition, by whose courtesy we are here assembled, that through your heroic, manly and chivalrous action at the ballot-box next June, you will, in extending to Oregon’s pioneer women the right of suffrage, lay the foundation for an exposition on these grounds one hundred years from now in which your deeds of moral chivalry and patriotic valor shall eclipse in spiritual power and enlightened importance the mighty exploits of Thomas Jefferson14, Lewis15 and Clark16, Sacajawea17, Dr. John McLoughlin18 and the founders of the Provisional Government19, all of whom have had their days in this great international Exposition, all of which have foreshadowed this historic day in honor of the pioneer women of old Oregon, of whom your humble, but pleased and happy respondent, is but one.


  1. Corning 147; see also Abbott. []
  2. 28 Oct. 1905 []
  3. Viola May Boley Coe: M.D.; born Bourbon, Indiana; married Henry Waldo Coe (1857-1927), also prominent physician of mental and nervous diseases, in North Dakota, 1882; four children; graduate, Woman’s Medical College of Chicago, 1890; removed to Oregon, 1890; began practice in Portland, 1891; founded Mindsease Hospital, Portland, 1897, Mt. Tabor Sanitarium, 1900, Coe Hospital and maternity home, Portland, 1910; helped organize Home for Unemployed Women Without Means; president (or acting president, O.S.W.S.A., 1905-12; delegate, International Woman’s Convention, Budapest, 1913; divorced, 1914 (Moynihan, Rebel 214; Who’s Who in Oregon 58; cf. Hines 608). []
  4. Sally Newman Welch Chamberlain: born near Natchez, Louisiana, descended from New England stock; graduate, Natchez Institute; member, Calvary Presbyterian Church and Order of the Eastern Star (woman’s auxiliary of Freemasons); married George Earle Chamberlain, prominent Oregon politician and lawyer, May 21, 1879; seven children (Gaston, Portland 3: 207; Portrait and Biographical Record of Portland 38; Portrait and Biographical Record of the Willamette 38-41). []
  5. Indeed, Moynihan argues that Scott Duniway owed the very fact of her honorary day to Harvey, who was president of the Exposition, and says that the two had “made up” during her life-threatening illness in 1903 (Rebel 210). []
  6. (1863-1943): Democratic political leader; born Scio, Oregon; Willamette University; state representative, 1889; state senator, 1891-93; Salem attorney, 1894-1901; chair, state commission of Lewis and Clark Exposition, 1902-05; husband of Annice F. Jeffrey Myers, Scott Duniway’s personal physician; following her death, 1910, married Helene P. Rowe, 1913; state treasurer, 1924-25; U.S. shipping board, 1926-38 (Corning 173; Who’s Who in Oregon 158). []
  7. June 28-July 5, 1905, in the First Congregational Church. Never before had the convention ventured further west than Des Moines, Iowa (History of Woman Suffrage 5: 117, 119). Mss 1534, folder “Politics and Miscellaneous–Political Groups and Issues-Women,” OR Hist. Soc., contains the official convention program, which reprints Scott Duniway’s “Centennial Ode,” celebratory verse penned for the occasion of the Exposition, and advertises her novel, From the West to the West. Leslie Roberts says that N.A.W.S.A. was invited because, after 1900’s close defeat, Scott Duniway expected victory in 1906, was getting old, and wanted to retire in glory (169-71). []
  8. The convention itself seemed to deliver on her hopes. At the time, Abigail called it a “love feast” at which she and Anthony were “recognized as its stars.” She wrote to her son: “Our meetings are fine. I am sharing all the honors with Aunt Susan. . . . Anna Shaw’s . . . annual [address] was never excelled by any paper of President or Senator, and never excelled by them in Soul” (Scott Duniway to Clyde Augustus Duniway, 13 July 1905 and 2 July 1905, respectively, qtd. in L. Roberts 174). But longstanding antagonisms, held in check during the convention, erupted again when some officers simply remained in Oregon afterward and still others returned the following spring, motivated by Anthony’s deathbed plea for victory. In Abigail’s version, these officers “held a supposedly secret enclave with a few of my ambitious eleventh-hour opponents and decided to ‘take the Duniway bull by the horns.’ But their secret ‘leaked,’ and the ‘bull,’ hoping that by some unforeseen hocus-pocus we might ‘loop the loop’ and win anyhow, retreated to the rear of their procession and carried their banner on the tips of her little horns” (Path Breaking 227).

    Moynihan claims that things were so bad at the convention that Scott Duniway was deliberately snubbed in the proceedings, omitted from the program, and, when denied permission to read her “Centennial Ode,” contrived to storm the podium and present it anyway (Rebel 211). This “tempest,” however, had occurred at the opening of the Exposition, about three weeks earlier (cf. L. Roberts 171-73). At the convention’s opening session, on June 29, Abigail’s “Ode” was read “in a masterly manner” by Mrs. Sylvia W. McGuire. It is true that Abigail did not deliver a major address at the convention, although she gave a welcome on behalf of “the Pioneers of the Pacific Northwest” that Thursday evening: “Mrs. Abigail Scott Duniway’s talk will be remembered as one of the best of the session. She said she had been electrified by the Governor’s [George E. Chamberlain] speech and her own fairly scintillated with the result of the shock. Her anecdotes were good and her reminiscences of the cabbage and rotten-egg days convulsed the house” (Morning Oregonian 30 June 1905). She also gave an “interesting account” of the New Northwest later in the convention and spoke at the unveiling of the Sacagawea statue at the Exposition on July 6, which conventioneers attended (“The Pioneer Mother” n. 4; A. Duniway, Path Breaking 221; History of Woman Suffrage 5: 120, 123, 132-33). []

  9. Both articles appear in Scrapbook #1 of the Abigail Scott Duniway Papers. The Woman’s Tribune’s complimentary coverage masked deep-seated enmity between Scott Duniway and its publisher, Clara Dorothy Bewick Colby. Bewick Colby was a “free lancer” who held no national office but whose newspaper, which she began publishing in Nebraska in 1883 and which had become the official organ of N.W.S.A., helped cast her as a movement leader (Jerry, “Woman’s Tribune”). She also was a die-hard prohibitionist whom Scott Duniway had singled out (in “Ballots and Bullets”) as one of the “self-imported Eastern Suffragists” responsible for the Washington defeat of 1888. When Bewick Colby moved the Woman’s Tribune to Portland in 1904, Abigail confided to son Clyde, “I consider her coming into Oregon with her paper at this crisis a heinous crime” (A. Duniway to Clyde Augustus Duniway, 2 Oct. 1904). Three months after the disastrous 1906 defeat, she wrote to Shaw, complaining: “Haven’t you some place on earth to put the old tramp where there is no campaign pending?” (A. Duniway to Anna Howard Shaw, 18 Sept. 1906, qtd. in L. Roberts 185). Following the defeat, Bewick Colby would attempt to oust Scott Duniway from O.S.E.S.A. leadership (Moynihan, Rebel 210-11). Time did not heal these wounds. Years later, in Path Breaking, Scott Duniway would lash out again, writing that the National officers “were ably assisted” in “side-tracking” the campaign by Bewick Colby, “whose eccentric orbit carries her, unheralded, into every locality on two continents, where other people have brought victory into tentative prominence, though she never remains long enough at a time, in any one place, to accomplish any purpose to which she aspires” (225).

    Besides their disagreements over prohibition and strategy, Bewick Colby no doubt rubbed Abigail the wrong way in other respects. Bewick Colby was British-born. She, too, was a journalist, and a more prominent one at that, at least in Eastern circles. She had the cheek to imagine her newspaper as successor to the short-lived Western Woman’s Journal, and herself as spokesperson for western, rural women (Steiner, “Evolving” 193). And she was equally strong-willed. As Jerry puts it: “Throughout her professional life, Bewick Colby simply and repeatedly refused to adapt; her activity was to be all on her own terms or not at all” (“Woman’s Tribune” 128). []

  10. Cf. Scott Duniway’s comments on the Odd Fellows and Rebekahs in “A Pioneer Incident.” []
  11. Women were enfranchised in Idaho in 1896. []
  12. Women were enfranchised in Wyoming and Utah in 1870, and in Colorado in 1893. []
  13. WT, in error: “appeared” []
  14. (1743-1826): statesman, diplomat, author, scientist, architect; born Albemarle County, Virginia; member, House of Burgesses, 1769-75; strongly anti-British; Continental Congress, 1775; member, committee of four that drafted Declaration of Independence; Virginia House of Delegates, 1776-79; governor, 1779-81; U.S. minister to France, 1785-89; first Secretary of State 1789-93; second Vice-President, 1797-1801; third President, 1801-09; approved Louisiana Purchase, 1803, and underwrote Lewis and Clark Expedition. []
  15. Meriwether Lewis (1774-1809): soldier; President Jefferson’s private secretary, 1801; appointed by Jefferson to lead first overland journey of exploration to Pacific, 1803, the journey taking more than two years, 1804-06; governor, Louisiana, 1806-09 (Corning 146). []
  16. William Clark (1770-1838): soldier and friend of Meriwether Lewis’ in army; co-leader of overland “Expedition of Discovery” to Pacific, 1804-06; governor, Missouri Territory, 1813-21; Superintendent of Indian Affairs, 1822-38 (Corning 55). []
  17. Sacagawea (c. 1786-1812): Shoshone woman and westward companion of Lewis and Clark; probably born in present-day Idaho’s Lemhi Valley; taken captive by Hidatsa raiders when 12 or 13 and sold to French-Canadian fur trader, Toussaint Charbonneau; first reference in historical record is Sgt. John Ordway’s journal, November, 1804, when Corps of Discovery was wintering in Knife River Indian villages near present-day Stanton, North Dakota; some months later she, newborn son Jean Baptiste Charbonneau, and husband left Knife River villages with Corps of Discovery on journey westward; interpreter; pointed out landmarks in Shoshone territory, especially Bozeman Pass route over Continental Divide; left expedition again at Knife River villages, August, 1806; probably died 1812 at Fort Manuel in present-day South Dakota (Wells; Corning 214; “Sacagawea“; Mulford 8-15). []
  18. (1784-1857): “Father of Oregon”; chief factor of Hudson’s Bay Co. in Columbia River District, 1824-46, charged with monopolizing fur trade, pacifying tribes, and preventing agricultural settlement; when pioneer settlement overwhelmed his empire in 1840s, retired to Oregon City to run a store; both admired and hated; became U.S. citizen, 1849 (Corning 162; Portrait and Biographical Record of the Willamette 1075-76). []
  19. Creation of the Provisional Government followed a series of so-called “wolf meetings” (ostensibly to discuss measures to eradicate predators) by settlers in the Willamette Valley, beginning on February 17, 1841, and culminating in the famous Champoeg Meeting of May 2, 1843, where, by 52-50 vote, a decision to form a civil community was endorsed; subsequently, officers were elected, a legislative committee was appointed to draft Organic Laws, five other committees (ways and means, judiciary, military, districting, and land claims) were formed, and four districts (Champooick, Twality, Clackamas and Yamhill) were created (Corning 206). []

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