At its ninth convention in February, 1881, O.S.W.S.A. had approved a new constitution that created an office of Vice President at Large, who “shall be authorized to lecture under the auspices of this association, in any town, city or district, he or she may visit, within the boundaries of the state, and shall be vigilant in prosecuting the work of the association. He or she shall, as far as possible, organize county woman suffrage societies and local woman suffrage clubs, and shall be entitled to such funds from the treasury as the executive committee shall deem appropriate compensation for the service rendered.”1 Abigail had chaired the committee responsible for revising the constitution, so it is not surprising that this new position not only captured her activities perfectly but, more importantly, promised that at least some of her expenses henceforth would be defrayed by the association, not borne out of pocket. One of Abigail’s constant sore spots was about to be salved: She would be compensated (albeit inadequately) for her work.

And so, at the opening session of the tenth convention, held at Y.M.C.A. Hall in Portland, Scott Duniway gave the following report of her prodigious activities in the first of her many years as Vice President at Large. Sadly, attendance was “limited, owing no doubt to the rain, which poured down in torrents and continued nearly all the forenoon.”

Except for periods when illness “indisposed” her2, the hard work of organizing on the frontier had Abigail traveling frequently. This report reveals her grueling pace and the difficult conditions she faced almost daily.

The text comes from the minutes of the convention, published in the New Northwest, October 20, 1881.3 These minutes also report on other aspects of Scott Duniway’s participation in the five-day-long convention.4 The Daily Oregonian also published the convention minutes on October 19-22, including this address on the 19th; minor differences beyond capitalization and punctuation appear in footnotes.

Mr. President, Gentlemen, and Ladies: As Vice-President-At-Large of this association, I have, since my election to the office, endeavored as best I could to perform the duties assigned me, of which I will now offer a brief synopsis.

In January5, Mrs. J. DeVore Johnson6 and myself accepted an invitation from the well-organized and influential Woman Suffrage Association of Yamhill county to attend a convention at McMinnville, in connection with our able and indefatigable co-worker, Mrs. H. A. Loughary7. This convention was largely attended and productive of the happiest results.

I then went to Lafayette and gave two lectures, and from thence, after a short season spent at home, to Corvallis, where I held several meetings and organized the Benton County Woman Suffrage Association.

I next held a series of meetings in Polk county, and organized the County Woman Suffrage Association in Dallas, and an auxiliary club in Independence. On my way to Portland, I stopped over and gave lectures at Amity in Yamhill, and also at Hillsboro in Washington county.

Thence I went to Wasco county, and gave a course of lectures in The Dalles and at8 Upper Cascades, and, returning, organized the Wasco County Woman Suffrage Association.

My next public work was in Northern Idaho, where I went in June and held meetings in Lewiston, Mt. Idaho, Grangeville and Moscow. Then I went to Washington Territory and organized a Whitman County Association  at Colfax and a Spokane County Association at Cheney. Besides lecturing at these county towns, I also held a series of public meetings in Palouse, Spokane Falls and Ainsworth.

I returned to Portland in July, and after a brief respite from platform labor, repaired to Astoria, where I held meetings at upper and lower towns, and also at Ilwaco and Oysterville in Washington Territory, and stopped over at Knappa and gave two lectures on my return to Portland.

In September, after a brief respite at home, I went to Southern Oregon and held public meetings in Jacksonville, Ashland and Phoenix; but the approaching Convention of the State Association and my own indisposition prevented any attempt at organization in Jackson county, though I found the people quite ready for it and the cause popular.9

Since last February I have traveled seven hundred miles by rail, eight hundred by steamer, and five hundred by stage and buckboard; made fifty-two Woman Suffrage addresses and10 a Fourth of July oration at Cheney, Washington Territory; addressed the Pioneer Society of Jackson county, Oregon; and organized five County Woman Suffrage Associations and one auxiliary county club.

I have enjoyed the courtesy of press passes on most of the principal routes of travel and free entertainment in many private families, and also in the Parker House, Astoria. Besides, I have expended for hotel bills, hall rents, hack hire and incidentals inseparably connected with almost constant traveling the sum of $142.65 from my private funds above all contributions to the fifty-two lectures above named. This sum I have raised as I needed it from the sale of books and from subscriptions to the journal in which I am interested. The lectures have in every instance been largely attended by the leading citizens of each community. The most respectable and intelligent classes have joined the associations in all cases, the officers frequently being among the foremost judges, lawyers, clergymen, farmers, editors and school teachers in the county, who are ready to assist their mothers, wives, sisters and daughters in their endeavor to secure equal rights for men and women. Occasionally I have met with very contemptible opposition from self-styled “protectors of women,” but their numbers are so few of late, and their attempts to retard the work so futile, that they only provoke a passing comment, after which they relapse into oblivion. Very rarely I find women who are opposed to their own enfranchisement; but they11 are always among those who take all the rights in the matrimonial catalogue, and their iron rule only extends over one voter in a household, so we have not much to fear from their meager numbers and contracted influence. The most gratifying progress I note is among the young people, and in the schools and colleges, where the cause has become immensely popular.


    1. Morning Oregonian 9 Feb. 1881. []
    2. Moynihan chronicles her battles with a variety of conditions from childhood through her later years (Rebel passim). In the New Northwest (22 June 1877), Scott Duniway apologized to readers for “periodic attacks” of illness “every week or two,” which she traced to “periodic overwork” as a child in Illinois, and then slyly claimed were aggravated by the “constant effort on our part in later years to sustain the finances of our mission.” The column closed with an appeal for subscriber dues. []
    3. Another copy of these minutes, at the Oregon Historical Society, is wrongly hand-dated “1882” (Mss. 432B 16: 26). []
    4. The minutes for the third through fifth days may be found in the following week’s New Northwest (27 Oct. 1881). []
    5. The fact that Abigail was not elected Vice President at Large until February 11 (Morning Oregonian 12 Feb. 1881) strongly suggests that she viewed this office and its “emoluments”–i.e., reimbursement from the treasury–only as a formality that was her due; in her own eyes, her work before and after election was seamless. []
    6. Josephine DeVore Johnson (1845-?): born in Illinois; daughter of Rev. John F. DeVore, prominent Methodist minister in Oregon and Puget Sound conferences, member of the publishing committee of the Pacific Christian Advocate (a newspaper with which the New Northwest repeatedly clashed editorially), and trustee of Willamette University; emigrated to Oregon, 1853; graduate of Willamette University; “one of the most intelligent women in the State”; on Christmas Day, 1868, married William Carey Johnson, a printer (with the Oregon Spectator and Argus), attorney (Oregon City district attorney, 1858; city recorder, 1859; prosecutor for 4th Judicial District, 1862), and Republican politician (ran for legislature, 1857; state senator, 1866); mother of five; like Scott Duniway, active in Woman’s Auxiliary of Oregon Pioneer Association (Pioneer File Index, OR Hist. Soc.; Hines 550-51; Hodgkin and Galvin 75; Lang 638-39; Transactions of the Thirty-Fifth 11 [see also the Transactions for 1885, 1889, and 1908]; Republican League 229; History of the Pacific Northwest 2: 301-03). []
    7. 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). []
    8. Oregonian omits “at” []
    9. Perhaps this comment simply reflects Scott Duniway’s typical optimism. Or, perhaps, it reflects her equally typical sly wit. Just two years earlier, in the summer of 1879, she had visited Jacksonville, a Democratic stronghold in southern Oregon. In retaliation for rather rude treatment by some of its leading men, she caused to be printed in the New Northwest (July 10, 1879) some highly unflattering details about a local (Democratic) judge. This produced “a mighty tempest in the social and political teapot,” she reported the following week, with “[s]quads of men . . . holding indignation meetings on the street.” So indignant were they that Abigail was egged and hung in effigy. Never one to be bested, she taunted: “Only one egg hit us, and that was fresh and sweet, and it took us square on the scalp and saved a shampooing bill.” For ever after (for example, she recalled the incident before the Oregon State Equal Suffrage Association in 1897), she scornfully called the egg-throwing “Jacksonville arguments” and cited the incident as proof of the “hoodlum element” that opposed woman’s rights (New Northwest 17 July 1879; Moynihan, Rebel 177-78). []
    10. Oregonian: “addresses, gave” []
    11. Oregonian: “this few” []

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