According to advance billing, the O.S.W.S.A. would convene for the seventh time with President Abigail Scott Duniway in the chair at the YMCA building. Vice-President Hattie Loughary1 would speak on “Rights under the Constitution,” and the Honorable F. O. McCown, Esq.2, of Oregon City, would speak on “Women and the Law.” “Vocal and instrumental music will be a leading feature of the meetings. A general good time is anticipated. Everybody invited. Admission free.”3

Apparently the opening session had to be moved to the parlors of Dr. Agnes Burr, and McCown telegraphed his regrets. But the President’s address went as planned. Scott Duniway’s themes and strategies are dictated by the nature of her audience, which is familiar and sympathetic. She does not need to prove the merits of woman suffrage or convince her audience of its justice; instead she needs to mobilize the organization’s members for the work ahead. In short, the situation calls more for exhortation than argumentation. Thus, Scott Duniway eschews deliberative address almost completely in favor of epideictic: she adopts as her theme the developments of the preceding six years, and as her strategy an optimistic story of steady improvement. These rhetorical choices do not merely or only serve the pragmatic ends of rallying the troops but also reflect Scott Duniway’s deeply-held belief in the Enlightenment credo that animated the widespread reformist spirit of her day, i.e., faith in the inevitability of human progress.

The text is taken from the New Northwest, February 13, 1879. Minor differences beyond punctuation and capitalization with the Oregonian’s February 12, 1879, version are footnoted.

To the Officers and Members of the Oregon State Woman Suffrage Association, Greeting:

Six years ago this morning–I have good reason to remember the occasion well–an earnest and devoted band of human rights advocates braved the then popular storms of ridicule and all the shafts of ignorance and prejudice, and met in this city, pursuant to a call from your present executive and many others, and formed the nucleus of this State Association, which has grown from that undaunted beginning into a well-organized and successful society that engages the respectful attention of all the prominent citizens of this4 commonwealth.

On this, the sixth anniversary and seventh annual gathering of ourselves together, I am proud to welcome these veterans in our ranks who have been with us from the beginning. The idea of woman’s political enfranchisement, which six years ago was so new and strange and consequently obnoxious to the unthinking masses, is no longer opposed by any save the extremely timid or naturally tyrannical. Among the learned and philanthropic we count our friends in the State by thousands; and of the few who yet oppose us, a majority will doubtless be convinced of the correctness of our claims before the labors of this Association shall close.

Of course, there is always a class, numerically large5, of the ignorant and vicious who yet array themselves against the idea of woman’s freedom. These will only yield to the irrepressible current of human destiny. Our object in holding these meetings is to awaken agitation and thereby continue the work of educating public sentiment through consequent investigation. Our labors are no longer ignored, burlesqued or ridiculed. The best men in the State are among our outspoken allies, and but for the opposing vote in6 the unthinking and ignorant, to whose fiat we are compelled to remain in subjection yet a little longer, through power of the one-sided ballot, there would be no need of this convention.

Since the7 Association began its organized existence, we have held, besides the six annual meetings previous to this one, four special or “called” meetings, three in Salem during the different biennial legislative sessions, and one, last summer, in Astoria. These meetings have always been held with a view to influencing legislation on behalf of the best interests of women, and through her, the best interests of our common humanity. As a society, we have never been advocates of only woman’s rights. Our mission has been broader than this; and our platform has known no sex and acknowledges no principle save the inherent and priceless one of individual liberty.

As an association, we have had some sort of a8 hearing before each session of the legislature which has convened since our organized work began. Never, until last September, were we honored with other than a brief, spasmodic and strongly-contested hearing, which was in its results unsatisfactory. True, we had prevailed upon our legislators, prior to that time, to give us the “woman’s sole trader bill9,” and the “married women’s property bill10,” both of which, however, must remain comparatively null until we can be empowered with the political freedom necessary to make such bills available to any class. Never, until the last session, has woman’s right to a place in the government received a tacit endorsement from a vast majority of its legislators as a body. During that session, every bill for the promotion of woman’s interests, which was brought up for consideration, was passed almost without objection. Women were made voters on all school questions and road interests; and their individual property rights were just as nearly secured to them by law as legislative action can secure them to any class which is denied personal representation.

But, though I remained at the capital as your executive, during two-thirds of the entire session, I failed to get a bill before either House for amending the Constitution by striking out the word “male” from its code of rights, the failure resulting from the desire of our friends to pass the other bills above mentioned before reaching this one. Col. P. [sic] H. Gates11, of Wasco, who had charge of this bill, purposely held it back until the others should be passed; and then, through some unlooked-for parliamentary technicality about the time for introducing new bills, this one affecting the political rights of women was tabled for the term, in company with many others. I was disappointed, but I could not help myself or this Association. We are therefore compelled to possess our souls in what patience we can command until another biennial session, in the meantime, never halting in our arduous work of educating the people to a higher sense of justice and equity.

The cause has made rapid progress throughout the nation during the past twelve-month. The recent national convention in Washington was both successful and popular.12

Newspapers, always an exponent of public sentiment, are devoted to the work, and are multiplying and being well sustained. The Woman’s Journal13, of Boston, Massachusetts, the National Citizen14 of Syracuse, New York, the Mirror, of Denver, Colorado, and our own New Northwest are circulated weekly among hundreds of thousands of intelligent readers. Conventions are held yearly15 in every State in the union, and subordinate societies abound in different counties in every State. The leaders are women with characters and reputations above16 reproach. They have outlived calumny and trampled down17 suspicions. Their names are legion. Lucretia Mott18 and Mary Green19, Lucy Stone20 and Mary A. Livermore21, Dr. Clemence Lozier22 and Lillie Devereux [sic] Blake23, Elizabeth Cady Stanton24 and Susan B. Anthony25, Belva Lockwood26 and Phoebe Couzins27, Clara S. Foltz28, Laura DeForce Gordon29, Mary A. Collins30 and Sarah L. Knox31, are only a very few of the more prominent ladies engaged in the work outside of Oregon, whose devotion to duty has already rendered their names immortal.

A mighty army of workers, conspicuous among them being many grand and noble men, crowd our rank and file, whose steady progress, like the march of a great army, is slowly and surely bearing our banners32 on to victory.

Every woman who wields a pen or elevates her voice in public, whether her mission be that of teacher, preacher, actress, doctor, clerk, artist, architect, editor, or orator, is, maybe unconsciously to herself, but none the less surely, occupying her place in the great phalanx of figures that demonstrate mighty problems33 of what women can do. Some of these may be apathetic, and others even may sneer at the pioneers who are hewing the way to their success, but34 ignorance or injustice will make no difference in the final result. Every thinker knows but for this woman movement, not one of these would maintain her place; and but for it not one of them would have even35 secured aught. This work will go on till the victory is completed. And, to the end that liberty and justice may everywhere triumph over every species of tyranny and wrong, let us work together with a hearty good will to remove from the hands of women36 every shackle of oppression, and when this is done, the beginning of a new era shall dawn upon a government that is then to become, as it of right ought to be, of the people and by the people.


    1. Harriet A. Buxton Loughary (1827-1907): prominent Oregon suffragist; born Virginia; married William J. Loughary, teacher, in Burlington, Iowa, 1848; came overland, 1864, settling first in Polk County, then Salem, finally on farm south of Amity, Yamhill County; peripatetic lecturer and campaigner wrote columns for New Northwest, 1874-85; president, O.S.W.S.A. for many years; mother of nine, eight born in Iowa (two died in infancy; six made the overland journey) and one in Oregon; nurse-midwife; regarded a brilliant speaker, Scott Duniway called her “the Patrick Henry of the new dispensation”; died of stroke (K. Holmes 115-17; Moynihan, Rebel 175). []
    2. Ferdinand O. McCown (1839-?): born Kanawha County, Virginia; came to Oregon with his father, 1852; participated in Yakima war; studied at Willamette University and Portland Academy; school teacher, store clerk; read law in San Francisco; admitted to Nevada bar, 1862, then returned to Oregon, opening office at Waconda; enlisted First Oregon Infantry; commissioned second lieutenant; became captain, 1865, commanding Fort Colville and mustering out, December; married Sarah Meldrum, 1865; practiced law in and thrice mayor of Oregon City; seven children (Lang 774-75). []
    3. Morning Oregonian 11 Feb. 1879. []
    4. Oregonian: “the” []
    5. Oregonian: “a class, always numerically large” []
    6. Oregonian: “of” []
    7. Oregonian: “this” []
    8. Oregonian omits “a” []
    9. This law, shielding the assets of businesswomen against the threat of seizure by their husbands’ creditors, had been adopted in 1872 (Richey, “Unsinkable” 87; Morning Oregonian 9 Feb. 1881). []
    10. The original bill was passed in 1874. Subsequent laws, “granting to married women the right to personal use and control of all property received by them through gift, devise or inheritance” and “the right to make contracts and to sue and be sued,” were adopted four years later. The latter is the property rights legislation that Scott Duniway describes, three sentences hence, as the product of the most recent legislative session. A law enabling married women to hold their own wages would be passed the following year, in 1880 (Morning Oregonian 9 Feb. 1881; cf. Richey, “Unsinkable” 87). []
    11. Nathaniel H. Gates (1814-?): born in Ohio; admitted to Ohio bar, 1834; moved to Iowa, then California, then came to Oregon in 1852, settling eventually in The Dalles; elected to Territorial Legislature, 1855; presiding officer when Oregon was admitted as a state, 1859; Judge of Wasco County, 1872-76; elected to state House, 1878; joint state senator from Lake and Wasco Counties, 1880; Democrat (Hodgkin and Galvin 14; History of the Bench 266). []
    12. The eleventh convention of the National Woman Suffrage Association was held in Washington, D.C., as usual, on January 9-10, 1879 (History of Woman Suffrage 3: 128-31). []
    13. Published 1870-1931. Edited, 1870-73, by Mary Ashton Rice Livermore, who merged her Chicago Agitator, begun a year earlier, into it. After Rice Livermore’s retirement, it was conducted for more than twenty years by Lucy Stone and husband Henry Browne Blackwell, and then by Alice Stone Blackwell after her mother’s death in 1893. It became the Woman Citizen in 1917, the year in which it was moved to New York and Virginia Roderick became editor, but later resumed the old name (Mott 3: 94, 4: 355-56; Spencer; Huxman, “Woman’s Journal). []
    14. National Citizen and Ballot Box. The Ballot Box had been founded in 1876 in Toledo, Ohio, by Sarah Langdon Williams (who edited a woman’s department for the Toledo Blade, and who was president of the local suffrage society), with Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton associate editors; two years later, Langdon Williams turned it over to Matilda Josyln Gage (1826-1898), of Fayetteville, New York, a founding member of the National Woman Suffrage Association and its president from May, 1875, to May, 1876. Joslyn Gage moved it to Syracuse and renamed it; it was printed until 1881 (Mott 3: 94; Endres, “National Citizen”; Sher and Kazickas 187; History of Woman Suffrage 3: 51, 503). Excerpts of this speech appear in the March, 1879, issue. []
    15. Oregonian: “annually” []
    16. Oregonian: “reputation beyond” []
    17. Oregonian: “over” []
    18. Lucretia Coffin Mott (1793-1880): Quaker minister, peace advocate, abolitionist, religious reformer; born Nantucket; became known as one of most eloquent ministers in Philadelphia, aligned with most liberal, or Hicksite, element of Society of Friends; helped form Philadelphia female anti-slavery society, c. 1833, presiding over it for most of its existence; rebuffed delegate to World Anti-Slavery Convention, London, 1840; following passage of fugitive-slave law, home was an asylum (Tolles; Olson and Bayer). []
    19. Although it cannot be proved in the absence of her original manuscript, I suspect that this is a typesetting error, and that Scott Duniway is referring to Mary Grew (1813-1896): born Hartford, Connecticut; daughter of Rev. Henry Grew (1781-1862); attended Hartford Female Seminary at the time it was directed by Catharine Esther Beecher; family resided briefly in Boston, settling in Philadelphia, 1834, where she joined Female Anti-Slavery Society and was corresponding secretary until 1870, when it disbanded; close friend of William Lloyd Garrison family; co-editor, Pennsylvania Freeman; delegate, World’s Anti-Slavery Convention, London, 1840 (father, also a delegate, opposed admission of women); circulated petitions supporting married women’s property law, passed by Pennsylvania legislature, 1848; business committee, national women’s rights conventions, 1854, 1860; first president, Pennsylvania Woman Suffrage Association, 1869, retaining position for twenty-three years; founder, New Century Club, Philadelphia, 1877; sided with American Woman Suffrage Association in national split, 1869, and was its president, 1887; “one of the small band of pioneers who broke the taboos against women addressing mixed assemblies”; “quiet and unpretentious” (Brown).

      The most likely Mary Green is Mary E. Green (1844-?): physician; born Machias, New York; moved to Michigan at an early age; began teaching at 14; entered Olivet and Oberlin Colleges; entered New York Medical College, 1865, then Woman’s Medical College in Philadelphia, 1866, from which she graduated, 1868; began practice in New York, particularly among disadvantaged women and children; admitted to New York Medical Society, 1869, the first woman in America to achieve such a position; married cousin Alonzo Green, 1866; refused admission to Columbia College course in chemistry because of her gender, taking evening classes in pharmacy as a substitute; moved to Charlotte, Michigan, 1873; thrice delegate from Michigan State Medical Society to American Medical Association (Willard and Livermore 1: 336-37).

      There are two reasons to suspect that “Mary Green” is actually Mary Grew. First, Mary Grew was of the same generation as the other women that Abigail mentions in the same breath, while Mary E. Green was considerably younger. Second, Mary Grew was closely associated with both Lucretia Mott (in the Female Anti-Slavery Society) and Lucy Stone (in A.W.S.A.), the two women between whom the name “Mary Green” is sandwiched. []

    20. (1818-1893): first Massachusetts woman to earn college degree (at Oberlin, 1847); lecturer for American Anti-Slavery Society; instrumental in calling national woman’s rights convention in Worcester, MA, 1850; presided over 7<sup>th</sup> national woman’s rights convention in New York, 1856; instrumental in organizing American Equal Rights Association to agitate for both woman and Negro suffrage, 1866; co-founder, American Woman Suffrage Association, 1869; founder, chief financier and, after 1872, editor of Woman’s Journal (Filler, “Stone”; Lord passim). []
    21. Mary Ashton Rice Livermore (1820-1905): born into strict Calvinist Baptist family; became abolitionist while tutoring children on plantation, regarding slavery as “demoralizing and debasing,” 1839-42; married Universalist minister Daniel Livermore to dismay of her family, 1845; three daughters; prize-winning author of Thirty Years Too Late, concerning temperance, 1845, and A Mental Transformation, about religion, 1848; nurse and key organizer, Northwestern Branch, U.S. Sanitary Commission during Civil War; organized first woman suffrage convention in Chicago, 1868; edited Agitator, Chicago suffrage organ, and Woman’s Journal when two merged, 1870-72; president, American Woman Suffrage Association, 1875-78; lyceum speaker, known as “Queen of the American Platform” (Riegel; Charles A. Howe, “Mary and Daniel Livermore”; Lord passim). []
    22. Clemence Sophia Harned Lozier (1812-1888): physician, reformer; born Plainfield, New Jersey; orphaned, 1824; married Abraham Witton Lozier, 1830; conducted charity work for poor in Albany after husband’s death, 1837; graduated from Syracuse Eclectic College with medical degree, 1853; successfully lobbied for first woman’s medical school in New York State, Homeopathic Medical College and Hospital for Women, funded by proceeds of her practice, 1863; president, New York City Woman Suffrage Society, 1873-86; president, National Woman Suffrage Association, 1877-78; died of angina pectoris (Cantor; “Dr. Clemence Sophia Harned Lozier“; “Clemence Sophia Lozier”). []
    23. Elizabeth Johnson Devereaux Blake (c. 1833-1913): author, reformer; born Raleigh, North Carolina; tutored at home in Yale College course, New Haven, Connecticut; married attorney Frank G. Q. Umsted, 1855; widowed, 1859; turned to writing stories and novels; married New York merchant Grinfill Blake, 1866; agitated for opening of Columbia College to women, 1873, leading to founding of Barnard College; President, New York State Woman Suffrage Association, 1879-90; contender with Carrie Lane Chapman Catt for head of N.A.W.S.A., 1900; organized National Legislative League to correct legal abuses (Willard and Livermore 1: 96-97). []
    24. (1815-1902): abolitionist, suffragist; authored “Declaration of Sentiments” of 1848 Seneca Falls woman’s rights convention; publisher, Revolution, 1868-9; first president, National Woman Suffrage Association, 1869; first president, merged National American Woman Suffrage Association, 1890; co-authored first three volumes of History of Woman Suffrage, 1881-6, and Woman’s Bible (2 vols. 1895, 1898) (Lutz, “Stanton”; Campbell, “Elizabeth Cady Stanton”). []
    25. Susan Brownell Anthony (1820-1906): born South Adams, Massachusetts; abolitionist; leader in woman’s rights reform; teacher, c. 1835-1850; joined Daughters of Temperance, 1847; organized New York State Temperance Association, 1852; publisher, Revolution, 1868-70; co-founded National Woman Suffrage Association, 1869; vice president at large, 1869-92; president, National American Woman Suffrage Association, 1892-1900; arrested and tried for voting in 1872 Presidential election, refusing to pay $100 fine; initiated History of Woman Suffrage; helped found International Woman Suffrage Alliance, 1904 (Lutz; Barry; Willard and Livermore 1: 30-31). []
    26. Oregonian: “Miss Lockwood.” Belva Ann Bennett McNall Lockwood (1830-1917): attorney, teacher, reformer; born Royalton, New York; married Uriah H. McNall, 1848; graduated Genesee College, 1857; moved to Washington, D.C., 1866; married Ezekiel Lockwood, 1868; graduated National University Law School and admitted to D.C. bar, 1873; first woman admitted to practice before U.S. Supreme Court, 1879; instrumental in securing equal wages for female federal employees and equal property rights for women in District of Columbia, 1896; Presidential candidate of Equal Rights Party, 1884, 1888; delegate, International Congress of Charities, Correction and Philanthropy, Geneva, 1896; played prominent role in campaign that ensured equal property rights and child guardianship rights for married women of Washington D.C., 1896; prepared amendments for woman’s suffrage in Oklahoma, Arizona and New Mexico, 1903 (Filler, “Lockwood”; Lashley; “Belva Ann Lockwood“). []
    27. Phoebe Wilson Couzins (1839-1913): born Cazenovia, New York; member, Equal Rights Association, 1866; special contributor to Revolution, 1869; left E.R.A., 1869, after opposing 15<sup>th</sup> amendment on grounds that black and immigrant men were being granted the right to vote without the “enfranchisement of women,” helping to form National Woman Suffrage Association; elegant and popular lecturer affiliated with Woman Suffrage Association of Missouri and N.W.S.A.; first woman law graduate in Missouri and third in U.S., 1871; interim U.S. Marshal after her father, John Edward Decker, vacated position, 1887; renounced temperance and lobbied for Brewers Association, 1890s; renounced suffrage, 1897 (Thomas, “Couzins”; Matthew J. Sanders, “An Introduction to Phoebe Wilson Couzins”). []
    28. Clara Shortridge Foltz (1849-1934): California’s first woman lawyer, 1878; president, California Woman Suffrage Association, early 1880s; publisher, New American Woman, 1916-18; advocate for penal reform and public defenders for poor; first woman deputy district attorney in Los Angeles, 1911-13; declined appointment as Assistant U.S. Attorney General, 1921; candidate in 1930 Republican gubernatorial primary, running on equal rights platform. Mistreated by her spouse and needing money for her children, young Mrs. Foltz sewed for Scott Duniway’s millinery store and wrote for New Northwest before moving to California in 1875 (Gilb, “Foltz”; Moynihan, “Let Women Vote” 96). []
    29. (1838-1907): attorney, editor, reformer; lecturer on spiritualism; edited and published variety of newspapers including, in 1874, Stockton Daily Leader, supposedly only daily in world edited by woman at time, and later Oakland Daily Democrat; instrumental in founding California Woman Suffrage Association, 1870; president, 1877, 1884-94; shared Scott Duniway’s views on prohibition and suspicion of Eastern interference (Gilb, “Gordon”; Karolevitz 176). []
    30. Given that her name is sandwiched between other Californians, possibly Mary Ballance Collins; see entry for daughter Rejoyce Ballance Collins Booth (Leonard 114). []
    31. Sarah Louisa Browning Knox Goodrich (1825-c. 1903): born Rappahannock County, Virginia; 4-5 years country schooling; removed to St. Charles County, Missouri, c. 1836, then to farm near Troy, in Lincoln County; married Dr. William J. Knox, 1846; removed overland to Nevada City, California, 1850; one daughter; widowed 1867; helped organize San Jose Woman Suffrage Association, 1869; successfully lobbied for law enabling women to hold educational offices in California, 1874; married architect Levi Goodrich, 1879; member, N.W.S.A., A.W.S.A., California State W.S.A. (honorary president at time of death), and Woman’s Congress; member, Santa Clara County Pioneer Association; life member and trustee, San Jose Library; trustee, for 13 years, Unity Society (Munro-Fraser 765-69; History of Woman Suffrage 6: 30). []
    32. Oregonian: “leaders” []
    33. Oregonian: “problem” []
    34. Oregonian inserts “their” []
    35. Oregonian: “even have” []
    36. Oregonian: “woman” []

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