When the O.S.W.S.A.. convened in Turn Halle this Tuesday morning for its twelfth annual meeting, the excitement must have been palpable. For, as President Hattie Loughary1 put it, the circumstances were “peculiarly interesting and encouraging.” Just three months before, the Washington legislature had conferred suffrage upon the women of that territory.2 And just four months hence, in June, the voters of Oregon would have an opportunity to do the same. Thus, while Scott Duniway’s reports of progress in the cause were invariably optimistic, perhaps at no other time was this optimism felt so genuinely and keenly; victory must have seemed very close, indeed.

Some suffrage supporters had tried–and failed–to keep her away from the 1883 legislative session in Olympia, fearing that her combativeness would do more harm than good. The newspapers were divided about her: One praised her for having “done more to originate and sustain” the suffrage cause “than any thousand men and women on the Coast,” but a second complained about women, “utterly devoid of judgment or tact, with a sole desire for their own notoriety and aggrandizement,” who have made themselves a “nuisance,” and a third alleged that supporters of the bill believed that if “Mrs. Duniway would not claim it as her victory the bill would pass”3

Nonetheless, after laboring so long and hard there, it is entirely understandable that Scott Duniway would claim credit for the Washington triumph, as this report of her activities as O.S.W.S.A. Vice President at Large does. Not everyone agreed, of course. Even this report provoked “many sharp speeches” before it finally was accepted. One  perpetual antagonist, Dr. Mary Anna Cooke Thompson4, spoke for temperance, “making prophecies as to what women would do with whisky and the social evil,” prompting Abigail to advise “stroking men the right way” and waiting “till they got the ballot before they made any pledges.” But at least partial vindication of her contribution would come to Scott Duniway the following afternoon, when a Mrs. Woodruff of Fort Canby, representing the women of Seattle, would present her with a penciled sketch of “Liberty” and a banner bearing on one side the word Victory in gold silk on white satin, surrounded by a laurel wreath, and on the other the star spangled banner. Mrs. Woodruff would say, in part: “While we were lotus-eating, while we were willing slaves to chance, [Scott Duniway] was busy, pioneering a better inheritance for us. While we slept she was fighting ‘wild beasts at Ephesus,’ to obtain for us the right in secular laws which the laws of God ordained. . . . Proud ought Oregon to be in the possession of a woman capable of leading, of blazing the way, to such exalted attainments in the future.”5 Undoubtedly, Abigail basked in the recognition that she believed was fully her due.

The text is taken from the New Northwest’s report of the convention proceedings, February 14, 1884. A nearly identical version appeared in the Oregonian on February 13, differing primarily in capitalization and punctuation.

To the Officers and Members of the Oregon Woman Suffrage Association, greeting: Since last we met in this deliberative body, the most important progress ever yet attained in the prosecution of the Association work has been made.

Washington Territory, which has from the beginning of the agitation of the great question that convenes us shared equally with Oregon in all that has been done to enfranchise one-half of the people, no longer figures among existing powers as a suppliant. The ban of disenfranchisement has fallen from the shoulders of her women, representatives of whom are among us to-day, clothed with the equal political power which came to their sons unasked as soon as they had reared them to the age of 21 years.

In struggling to secure the final recognition of political rights to the women of Washington, I found it necessary to canvass the Territory over and over for upward6 of twelve long years, holding meetings everywhere, traveling by stage, rail, steamer, and often afoot among the people, holding meetings in cities, precincts and villages, speaking sometimes in churches, sometimes in school-houses, sometimes in court-houses and public halls, and when, as occasionally happened, all these were closed against me because of existing prejudices against the cause, addressing the public in bar-rooms and offices of hotels, meeting discouragements often, but encountering a goodly degree of kindly assistance in all parts of the country, and in every case circulating the New Northwest and7 “writing up” the different localities in editorial letters, that the paper and its contents would be sought for and read and commented upon long after I had gone to other fields. To one who has not traversed these vast8 regions thus hurriedly alluded to, no brief outline can convey an idea of their magnitude, nor can such a person imagine the hardships connected with the work. But the cause grew and prospered, and each succeeding session of the Legislature showed marked progress among the people’s representatives, until at last the work was finished by the assembly of 1883; and the immortal act that enfranchised the women of the State that is to bear the name of Washington, and thus make her the “mother of her country,” reached its climax when Governor Newell9 signed the suffrage bill amid the mingling hallelujas of booming guns and ringing bells. In Oregon the work has kept more than even pace with Washington, though, by virtue of her State government, she has a longer road to travel, and we can only reach the goal of our ambition by a more circuitous route.10 The same long, laborious, patient canvass has been made here as there, and the same obstacles have been met and overcome in carrying on the work. Distributing my own labors abroad equally on both sides of the Columbia River, I have traveled each year many thousands of miles, and spoken in each geographical division an average of seventy times per year, during a period of twelve and a half years’ duration, making, at a low estimate, 1750 public speeches, or nearly11 five years’ steady work, counting 365 days to the year and making no discount for Sabbaths.

I need not tell you of the able work of our worthy President, who has so graphically spoken for herself, except in corroboration of her utterances. We have had from the first no fund to back us, but have gone forth from post to post in pursuance of our duty, relying for support on the merits of our growing cause.

Some months ago I conceived a plan for raising a fund for the coming campaign, which, though not yet ready for general publication, is satisfactorily explained to all who will aid it. And, although the plan is thus far flatteringly successful, it is comparatively in its infancy, and cannot reach fruition till after my return from Washington City, where I am to go at once to attend the sixteenth annual convention of the National Woman Suffrage Association, which meets March 4th, 5th and 6th at the federal capital.12 Immediately after my return (about April 1st), the campaign will begin in earnest. We must hold meetings in every precinct, and literally snow the country over with campaign documents.13

We are more than gratified at the success attendant upon our work thus far. Leading politicians of all parties are in perfect accord with our movement, and are working with and for us with the intent to win. The movement stands alone upon its own merit. The question with us is not one of expediency, but of right. We do not ask any man to give up his political or partisan bias, his religious or non-religious views, or his temperance or anti-temperance ideas. All we ask is that when he casts his vote next June he will vote “Yes” upon the Woman Suffrage Amendment, which says, simply, grandly and explicitly, “The right of suffrage shall not hereafter be prohibited in this State on account of sex.” Our neighbor women across the Columbia are watching us from their vantage ground with mingled feelings of hope for us and exultation among themselves. We believe that our fathers, husbands, brothers and sons are quite as chivalrous and progressive as their own; and we believe they will prove that our faith in them is well founded when the ballots are counted after election, and that we shall find ourselves invited to stand with them upon the broad platform of freedom, equality and justice, now jointly occupied by themselves, and the men and women of Washington Territory.


  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. By votes of 14-7 in the house and 7-5 in the council. According to historian T. A. Larson’s demographic analysis of the legislators, victory was not explained by marital status, place of birth, political party affiliation, age, years of residence in the territory, or religion, but by occupation: Farmers supported the bill eleven to two while twenty nonfarmers were evenly divided (“Washington” 52-53). []
  3. Larson, “Washington” 53. []
  4. (1825-1919): physician whose practice focused on women’s medicine, particularly childbirth; born New York City; married Reuben Thompson (?-1885), LaSalle, Illinois, 1847; studied medicine with Drs. Bry and Larkin in LaSalle in time before most medical schools accepted women; said to have been first woman practitioner in Illinois and Iowa; Portland’s first woman physician, 1867, where she practiced for twenty years; provided for six children and (like Scott Duniway) incapacitated husband; charter member, O.S.W.S.A., and prohibitionist who believed in women’s natural moral superiority, sparring constantly with Scott Duniway over movement goals; “one of the most influential women” in Portland history (Corning 243; Larsell 414; Moynihan, Rebel 147, 149, 187; Woman’s Tribune 29 Feb. 1908). []
  5. New Northwest 14 Feb. 1884; Oregonian 13 Feb. 1884, 14 Feb. 1884. []
  6. Oregonian: “upwards” []
  7. Oregonian: “and in” []
  8. Oregonian: “void” []
  9. William Augustus Newell (1817-1901): born Franklin, Ohio; graduated Rutger’s College, New Jersey; studied medicine at University of Pennsylvania, becoming accomplished surgeon; elected to Congress, 1846, 1848; elected Governor, New Jersey, 1856; returned to Congress, 1864; failed candidate for Governor, 1877; governor, Washington Territory (appointed by Rutherford B. Hayes), 1880-84; woman suffrage first adopted in territory during his term, 1883 (Honeyman; Bancroft, History of Washington 282). []
  10. In Washington, suffrage could be, and was, adopted by a simple vote of both houses of the territorial legislature. Oregon law was more onerous, requiring that amendments to the state Constitution first be approved by two successive legislatures and then by a majority of voters (“Oregon State Senate“). The legislature having ratified a suffrage amendment in 1880 and 1882, the popular vote was pending in June. []
  11. Oregonian: “more than” []
  12. Her address before the N.W.S.A. convention follows immediately in this archive, and incorporates nearly all of this O.S.W.S.A. speech. []
  13. On the heels of defeat, the New Northwest (5 June 1884; discussed in “U.S. Senate Select Committee on Woman Suffrage“) would publish a retrospective of her fund-raising and the campaign. []

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