Midway through the “tax-paying women” suffrage campaign, the O.S.E.S.A. held its thirty-ninth anniversary meeting in the home of the late Senator Joseph Norton Dolph. Scott Duniway’s optimistic Presidential address attributes increasing success to “the aid of far-seeing and justice-loving men,” and the 1908 failure at the polls to “timid or selfish men” and “the debased and criminal classes.” She reiterates that suffrage advocates should steer clear of prohibition and, of course, warns women not to antagonize men.

While these themes are staples in her repertoire, they are updated here to fit newer circumstances.1 By this time, the Women’s Social and Political Union had England in an uproar. For four years women had been demonstrating, sometimes smashing windows and committing arson, disrupting public meetings and Edwardian sensibilities. Often they were beaten and jailed. Emmeline Goulden Pankhurst formed the W.S.P.U. in 1903. Attempting to gain adherents among factory workers in Manchester and other textile centers, activists began holding outdoor meetings and interrupting government speakers at public gatherings to ask their position on suffrage. In 1905, Annie Kenney, a factory worker, and Emmeline’s daughter, Christabel, were “forcibly ejected” from a meeting for heckling Sir Edward Grey; bystanders and police then physically assaulted and arrested them. From then on, the W.S.P.U. “set about deliberately provoking violent police reprisals in order to embarrass party leaders to the point where they would feel compelled to do something about woman suffrage.” Eventually women began using violence themselves, throwing stones, breaking windows, pouring acid into mailboxes, and attacking members of the government with whips or their bare hands. Just months before Abigail’s speech, in July, an imprisoned suffragette named Marion Dunlop had refused to eat, insisting that she was a political prisoner. Fearing that she would starve and become a martyr, the authorities released her. But when other prisoners adopted the same strategy, the authorities–unwilling to release them all–brutally force-fed them, further fanning the flames of militancy.2

Although she, of course, sympathized with the suffragettes’ objective and was repulsed by the Liberal government’s strong-armed response, Scott Duniway nonetheless opposed such drastic tactics (both in Britain and as they would be imported into the U.S. by Alice Paul). If anything would antagonize men, surely these militant tactics would!3 In condemning them here, Abigail also manages pointedly to scold her nemesis, Clara Dorothy Bewick Colby4, who had spoken earlier in the evening “emotionally and sentimentally on behalf of the English suffragettes.”

Also noteworthy is her discussion of the increasing support for equal suffrage among wealthy women. Scott Duniway’s pioneer temperament had little patience for the idle rich; her lavish praise of the Pacific Northwest as a region where freedom and liberty were uniquely valued, and of the region’s women who, she always contended, had demonstrated that they had earned equal rights, was a not-too-subtle swipe at those in other regions who had earned nothing themselves, yet would deny liberty to those who had. Similarly, her constant cry that “taxation without representation is tyranny” invoked the American War of Independence but, also, obliquely raised the topic of the relationship between the working and moneyed classes. Scott Duniway believed that a more conservative suffrage proposal would be more popular than previous attempts and thus stood a better chance of passage; but framing the campaign in terms of the rights of “tax-paying” women also reveals her philosophical privileging of merit. Finally, in combination with her tantalizingly brief suggestion here that women’s work in the home should be wage-earning and organized like a business, this speech adds insight into Scott Duniway’s economic beliefs and the role of class therein.5

The text appears in the Sunday Oregonian of December 5, 1909.

It is a fitting and noteworthy coincidence that the officers and members of the Oregon State Equal Suffrage Association should assemble with so many of our living co-workers and friends under this spacious roof, to enjoy the hospitalities of this historic home, erected and long occupied by our late lamented adviser and attorney, United States Senator Dolph6, who, with the assistance of the late Honorable Solomon Hirsch7 (who at one time also resided within these capacious walls) championed my first humble efforts in the State Legislature to secure the blessings of equal rights for the mothers of men, so long and so strongly denied us at the ballot box by the adverse votes of the sons of women.

It has often been said by such women as Mrs. O. H. P. Belmont8, Mrs. Clarence Mackay9 and many others who have recently joined our ranks, bringing with them the accessories of great wealth and high social position, that the question of why women want the ballot no longer needs agitation or argument. With women everywhere being driven from their homes to secure the gainful occupations without which a rapidly increasing number could have no homes at all to keep, it is indeed encouraging to see women of great wealth coming to the front and declaring, in the interest of the women working without salaries and on the farms, wives and mothers of the children of the land, that “taxation without representation is tyranny” for women just as it was for men in Revolutionary times, before women were compelled to engage in gainful occupations outside of home. Although few women in this new Far Western part of this great and growing Union are as yet the possessors or custodians of great wealth, and are therefore not in a position to come forward with open assistance in forwarding our enfranchisement, and whose gifts to the cause are for that reason accepted in secrecy, there are hundreds and hundreds of business and wage-earning women, in the professions and trades, who realize to their cost when payday comes that their salaries are from 5 to 25 per cent lower every month than the salaries received by voters for the same service. It is the rank and file of salary-earning women, as suffragists, who are aiding us with contributions to carry on the work, without which no modern organization could survive a twelvemonth.

Nor is this assistance and co-operation confined to women. Enrolled among our allies are our United States Senators, Congressmen, state officers, many ministers, judges, lawyers, teachers, editors, merchants, physicians and a constantly increasing army of farmers, laborers, mechanics and philanthropic thinkers, who see not only the justice of our demand for “no taxation without representation” and “no government without consent,” but the absolute necessity of our enfranchisement if we would conserve the perpetuity of the home and the government which rests upon it. The progress toward equality before the law, which women, by the aid of far-seeing and justice-loving men, have already achieved, except at general elections (where we are handicapped by many votes of timid or selfish men, and by the votes of the debased and criminal classes) is most significant.

When Dr. Woods Hutchinson10 was in Oregon he was a violent opponent of equal rights for women, chiefly, as he is said to have stated, because, as he supposed, all women would vote for prohibition. If the learned doctor had been as well acquainted with the women suffragists as he ought to have been, he would have known that, while all good women are naturally in favor of sane and sober husbands and sons, we are quite as distinctly divided in our opinions as to the proper methods of dealing with the liquor traffic as men are. The prohibition propaganda rages more violently and with effects more significant in states where equal suffrage is prohibited than in the four states where it exists. It is a question wholly without the pale of the suffrage movement; yet such are the inconsistencies of human nature that men who ought to know better, and who differ radically as to the merits and demerits of the liquor traffic, unite as a practical unit to prohibit the enfranchisement of women, being inspired by a common desire to indulge in the prohibition of liberty and justice for all the people, which finds its root in barbarism. That Dr. Hutchinson’s heart is all right toward women, and only needs touching in the proper place, is proven by his late utterances in prominent magazines, and favorably commented upon in leading newspapers, wherein, without seeming to realize the cause of women’s uprising and discontent, he graphically portrays the hapless lot of the disenfranchised sex in hundreds of thousands of homes–a lot which, if men as a class could only comprehend it, would gradually adjust itself to improved conditions of home-making. Then child-bearing would be looked upon as a remunerative occupation, quite as important and far more necessary than raising pigs or poultry, horses or cattle. So long as men are pensioned for having been enlisted in the Army, whether they have smelled gunpowder in battle or not, and women imperil their lives to give birth to soldiers, to be killed in battles against the mothers’ protest, why wonder at women’s constantly growing discontent with the unequal conditions that so vitally concern them, in which they are allowed no voice?

A significant factor in the growth of the equal-rights movement has come to the front in the leading newspapers and magazines, which, although paying far more homage than is due to the opposition of a few notoriety-seeking women, who, like the worm in the fable, are vainly hoping to “eat us after we’re dead,” they do, as a rule, wind up their articles with irrefutable arguments in favor of votes for women. Among the more notable of the many men who thus espouse our cause is Justice Brewer11, of the United States Supreme Court, who, in a widely circulated article in a popular ladies’ magazine, says:

Female suffrage will come. Not fully, at once, but by varying steps. Women’s education, her increasing familiarity with business and public affairs, will lead to it. And why not? The chief reply is the home. . . . In it woman must ever be the established queen. . . . But female suffrage (why doesn’t he call it woman suffrage?) will not debase the home or lessen its influence. On the other hand, it will introduce a refining and uplifting power and influence in our political life. It will not stop marriage. . . . The great natural laws of our being will always assert themselves. But woman, conscious of her ability to support herself, will demand true manhood in her husband. Children will come, but the glory of the home will not be in the number, but the quality, of the offspring. . . . To load a home with so many children that the mother cannot give to each the full blessing of a mother’s care is far worse than race suicide.12

There exists no longer any doubt in the mind of any reflecting man that woman suffrage will come. That it will and ought to come by safe, conservative steps is self-evident.

Oregon women do not look with favor upon the militant or suffragette movement which originated in England under conditions not at all applicable here at the present time. We have faith in the justice and patriotism of Oregon men. Although there was a largely increased vote against in 1908 over the vote of 1906, caused by an influx of immigration from older states, the affirmative vote for full suffrage more than held its own. And we believe the men of Oregon will prove themselves wise enough, at the next general election, to consider discretion the better part of valor. Then by a strong vote and a vote all together for liberty and righteousness, they can allay all acts of violence such as have arisen in England, and by so doing prove themselves worthy of the pioneer mothers of the land, who helped them to hew out this mighty state from the unbroken wilderness. By so voting they will place themselves in the lead in their departure from conditions that will no longer class men and women as one, and the men as that one.

Now for a concluding word to women, the unballoted and helpless watchers behind the ramparts of old conditions. You have an important, though inconspicuous, part to play in this great, bloodless drama. In the words of Carrie Chapman Catt13, the gifted president of the Woman Suffragists of the World, “Don’t antagonize men. Meet their hoary arguments against justice for their mothers with womanly sweetness and smile, smile, smile.”

Don’t imagine that you can ever make laws to govern men. All you can hope to do through the law of liberty, is to so elevate the standard of morality, through expanding opportunities for yourselves, that men will strive instinctively to meet, from within their own consciousnesses, the highest laws that are innate within even the lowliest and most depraved man or woman, and only await the soul of development under the laws of liberty and responsibility.

Our platform is strictly nonpartisan and nonsectarian. It welcomes to its standard every Jew and Catholic, Protestant and Mormon, Christian Scientist, Spiritualist, Theosophist and Pagan who will support our plea against taxation without representation. It appeals for support at the polls to every Democrat, Republican, Prohibitionist, Socialist, Anti-Prohibitionist, Anarchist and Union Labor partisan. Every one of you has a right to express your own opinion at every convenient time and place. But not one of you has any right whatever to dictate metes and bounds, whether civil, religious or political, to the women who pay taxes to support the Government and are, equally with every man, amenable to its laws.

Men and women are the two natural halves of the great equation of humanity. To subjugate one half of humanity to the will of the other half, whether through bodily enslavement or the confiscation of the means of subsistence, is usurpation of individual rights for which men alone are responsible. The remedy lies in their ballots, and to them alone can we look for its application through votes for our enfranchisement.


    1. Indeed, this address generally sounds more “modern” than earlier ones; consider, for example, her comments about equal pay for equal work. []
    2. Force-feeding also was dangerous. Goulden Pankhurst’s sister, Mary Goulden Clarke, would die of a broken blood vessel soon after having been force-fed at Holloway Prison in December, 1910. Thus, in 1912, Parliament would pass the infamous Prisoner’s Temporary Discharge of Ill Health Act, a.k.a. the Cat and Mouse Act, under which dangerously ill hunger strikers were released until they had regained their strength, and then rearrested. Under its terms, Goulden Pankhurst, 54 at the time, would be imprisoned twelve times that year (Flexner, Century 250-51; Marina Warner, “The Agitator Emmeline Pankhurst”; “Hunger Strikes“). For what Eleanor Flexner calls “a balanced account of the suffrage movement in Great Britain” (Century 365 [n. 6]), see Ray Strachey, The Cause (London, 1928). []
    3. Four years later, she again would condemn the English suffragettes as “too drastic”, warning: “Women can lead men, all right, but they must keep the strings out of sight. You can’t go after them hammer and tongs. If you do, they will rebel. One trouble with the woman suffrage movement is that it is being engineered by professional old maids” (Morning Oregonian 10 Nov. 1913). []
    4. (1846-1916): born Gloucester, England; raised in Wisconsin; graduated valedictorian, University of Wisconsin, Madison, having followed regular men’s curriculum in philosophy and Latin; moved to Beatrice, Nebraska, 1872; helped organize Nebraska Woman Suffrage Association, 1881; president, 1885-98; editor, Woman’s Tribune, 1883-1909, which came to be regarded as official organ of National Woman Suffrage Association; moved to Washington, D.C. after 1888; worked to achieve “Minor plan” for suffrage, devised by husband of Virginia Louisa Minor (losing plaintiff of Minor v. Happersett, 88 U.S. 162, 1875; Pinkney), who argued that women, as “people,” possessed Constitutional right to vote for members of House of Representatives, which Congress could effectuate by simple majority vote; declining subscriptions to Woman’s Tribune and divorce encouraged her to make fresh start in Portland, 1904, eventuating in power struggle for O.S.W.S.A. leadership; entry in Notable American Women ignores this conflict, saying only that Bewick Colby “participated in several state suffrage campaigns led by” Scott Duniway (Green; Jerry, “Clara Bewick Colby”). []
    5. See also “The Destiny of Our Republic.” []
    6. Joseph Norton Dolph (1835-1897): born Schuyler County, New York; admitted to bar, 1861; enlisted in Oregon Escort, company of militia authorized by Congress to escort emigrants to territory, 1862; married Augusta Mulkey; practiced law, Portland, 1862-83; U.S. district attorney, 1865-66; state senator, 1866-68 and 1872-76; U.S. Senator, 1883-95; Republican; John Hipple Mitchell’s law partner (Corning 74; Portrait and Biographical Record of the Willamette 180-83; Scott, History of the Oregon Country 3: 135). []
    7. (1839-1902): born Wurtemburg, Germany; emigrated to Oregon, 1858; merchant in Dallas, 1858-61, Silverton, 1861-64, then Portland (founder and partner of Fleishner, Mayer & Co., wholesale dry goods firm); state legislature, 1872; state senate, 1874-85; missed by one vote (his own) being elected by legislature to U.S. Senate; U.S. Minister to Turkey, 1889-92; declined later diplomatic posts to both Constantinople and Brussels (Corning 115; Gaston, Portland 2: 144-49; Portrait and Biographical Record of the Willamette 164-69). []
    8. Alva Erskine Smith Vanderbilt Belmont (1853-1933): socialite and suffragist; born Mobile, Alabama; educated in France; moved to New York City in 1870s; married grandson of Cornelius Vanderbilt, 1875; divorced him on grounds of adultery following cruise to Calcutta, 1895; married Oliver Hazzard Perry Belmont, who had accompanied them on cruise, 1896; criticism of divorce and influence of Anna Howard Shaw contributed to her embrace of militant suffragism following Belmont’s death, 1908; brought English suffragist Christabel Pankhurst to U.S., 1914; executive board, Congressional Union and, after 1917, National Woman’s Party, to which she was elected President, 1921; represented N.W.P. at International Woman Suffrage Alliance convention, Paris, 1926 (Lasch). []
    9. Katherine Alexander Duer Mackay Blake (1879-1930): Gilded Age socialite, author; born New York City; descendent of Catherine Alexander (“Lady Kitty”) and Col. William Alexander Duer, member of Continental Congress and Treasury official (appointed by Alexander Hamilton) whose insider speculation in bank stocks triggered crash of 1792; daughter of William Alexander Duer, lawyer, and Ellin Travers Duer; educated at home; married Clarence Hungerford Mackay, 1898, heir to John William Mackay’s silver fortune (co-discovered Bonanza mines, founded Bank of Nevada), and capitalist who developed cable and telegraph interests, eventually director, International Telephone and Telegraph; resided “Harbor Hill” (stone French chateau designed by Stanford White) on six hundred acres, Roslyn, Long Island; daughter Ellin was second wife of composer Irving Berlin; “beautiful, vivacious, determined and opinionated”; Roslyn Public School Board, 1905-10; founded Equal Franchise Society, 1909, contributed large sums, recruited many of New York’s most influential women; refused to let Society march in Fifth Ave. suffrage parades, 1910-11, favoring less combative theatrical pageants; reports circulated that Mrs. Joseph Augustus Blake, M.D., would file for divorce and sue her for damages, September, 1913; divorced Mackay, May, 1914; married Blake, November, 1914, one day after his divorce was final; lived in Paris during war, where he was chief American surgeon; divorced Blake, 1929 (he remarried–for third time–almost immediately); authored “Stone of Destiny,” 1903, “Some Letters,” 1917-18; contributed to North American Review, Harper’s, others; Episcopalian; member, Colony Club; died of pneumonia (New York Times 20 Apr. 1930; Who was Who 104, 763; Graham 39; Lumsden 99, 107; Rhoda Amon, “The Architect of Desire”; “Trinity Church History“; Kathy Larkin and Joyce Gabriel, “LI’s Rebels With a Cause”; “The New Netherlands Ancestors of Catherine Alexander Duer, the Wife of Clarence Hungerford Mackay”; “John William Mackay”; Brian Trumbone, “William Duer and the Crash of 1792”). []
    10. (1862-1930): born of Quaker stock in England; emigrated to Iowa, 1874; Penn College, Oskaloosa, Iowa, A.B., 1880, A.M., 1883; medical degree, University of Michigan, 1884; married Cornelia M. Williams, 1893; practiced in Des Moines until 1896; professorships in pathology at Iowa State University, 1891-96, University of Buffalo, 1896-1900, and London Medical Graduates’ College, 1899-1900; state health officer of Oregon, 1903-05; moved to New York, becoming author of books and syndicated articles in popular press, conveying medical information, particularly about preventive medicine; president, American Academy of Medicine, 1915-16 (Preble; Who was Who 614). []
    11. David Josiah Brewer (1837-1910): born Smyrna (now Izmir), Turkey; American missionary parents brought him to U.S. at age 1; educated at Yale and Albany Law School; began practice, Leavenworth, Kansas, 1859; Kansas Supreme Court, 1870-84; U.S. circuit judge, 1884-89; appointed by Benjamin Harrison to Supreme Court, 1890-1910 (Who was Who 136). []
    12. This article probably was “Woman Suffrage: Its Present Position and Its Future,” Ladies’ World 30 (1909). []
    13. Carrie Clinton Lane Chapman Catt (1859-1947): one of most capable administrators and organizers in suffrage cause; born Ripon, Wisconsin; graduated Iowa Agricultural College, 1880; principal and superintendent of schools, Mason City, Iowa; married Leo Chapman, 1885, joining him as co-editor, Mason City Republican; after brief period as journalist in San Francisco, entered lecture field, 1888, soon becoming State lecturer for Iowa Woman Suffrage Association; married New York civil engineer, George W. Catt, 1890; president, N.A.W.S.A., 1900-1904, returning in 1915; authored “Winning Plan” that combined efforts to obtain suffrage at both state and national levels; president, International Woman Suffrage Alliance, 1902-23; co-founder, League of Women Voters, 1919; campaigned for peace and disarmament (Flexner, “Catt”; Birdsell; Willard and Livermore 1: 162-63). []

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