Women's Vote State of Oregon

Abigail Scott Duniway (1836-1915)
Vote given to Women in Oregon - November 30th 1912
Picture Left Abigail Duniway voting

A writer, newspaper publisher, and promoter for women's rights, Abigail Scott Duniway was Oregon's strongest voice for the cause of Women's suffrage. Born Abigail Jane Scott in 1839, she left Illinois for Oregon with her family in 1852, where she met her husband Ben Duniway. The couple settled in Yamhill County, but because of financial difficulties and Ben's permanent injury in a wagon accident they had to sell their land. The couple moved to nearby Lafayette, where Abigail taught school and in 1859 authored Captain Gray's Company, or Crossing the Plains and Living in Oregon, the first commercially published novel in Oregon. In 1865 the family moved to Albany and Abigail opened a millinery shop where her exposure to the inequalities facing women motivated her to campaign for equal rights.

In 1871 the family moved to Portland and with the help of her numerous children she began publishing the New Northwest. This weekly newspaper, according to her 1985 biographer Dorothy Morrison, "supported women's rights without making them a bore." The paper was financially self-sustaining within a few years and was published until 1887. Her other writings include two novels, an autobiography titled Path Breaking, and a collection of poems, all of which highlight the plight of women in the West.

From 1870 to the late 1890s Duniway traveled throughout the Northwest promoting women's rights and campaigned with national suffragist Susan B. Anthony.  As a result of her hard work and that of countless other suffragists, women "got the vote" in Idaho in 1896 and in Washington in 1910; however, Oregonians waited until 1912. The state's male electorate denied women's suffrage in 1883, 1900, 1908, and 1910. Abigail maintained that the close election in 1900 failed because her brother Harvey Scott, longtime editor of the Oregonian, opposed her efforts. This resulted in a bitter public feud between the two siblings. In 1912 the suffrage amendment passed and Governor Oswald West asked Duniway, who was then 78, to write the Equal Suffrage Proclamation. Abigail Scott Duniway was the first woman to register to vote in Multnomah County.  Duniway died three years later on October 11, 1915 in Portland.

Proclamation Written by Duniway
State of Oregon--Executive Department
Salem, Oregon, November 30, 1912
Duniway at signing of the Proclamation - 11-30-1912

Whereas: The women of Oregon, after long and patient effort, have persuaded the men of the State to place them upon a
footing of political equality by granting to them the right of suffrage through an amendment to Section 2 of Article 11 of the
Constitution of the State; and, Whereas: Pursuant to the provisions of law, the Secretary of State of the State of Oregon in the
presence of the Governor of the State of Oregon, did on the 29th day of November 1912 canvass the official election returns
for the general election held in the State of Oregon on Tuesday, the fifth day of November, 1912; and, Whereas: It appears
from the said official canvass that the following measure has been approved by a majority of the electors of the State of
Oregon who voted therein: "Section 2 of Article 11" of the Constitution of the State of Oregon shall be and hereby is amended
to read as follows:

"Section 2. In all elections not otherwise provided for by this Constitution, every citizen of the United States, of the age of
twenty-one years and upwards, who shall have resided in the State during the six months immediately preceding such
election, and every person of foreign birth of the age of twenty-one years and upwards, who shall have resided in the State
during the six months immediately preceding such election, and shall have declared his or her intention to become a citizen of
the United States one year preceding such election, conformably to the laws of the United States on the subject of
naturalization, shall be entitled to vote at all elections authorized by law."

And Whereas: The above quoted amendment, at the mentioned election received 61,265 affirmative and 57,104 negative
votes. Now, therefore, I, Oswald West, Governor of the State of Oregon, by virtue of the authority, in me vested, and in
obedience to the provisions of Section 9 of Chapter 226 of the General Laws of Oregon for the year 1907, do hereby make
and issue this proclamation to the people of the State of Oregon, and vowing that the said amendment to "Section 2" of Article
11 of the Constitution of Oregon, is now, and hereafter shall be, in full force and effect as a part and portion of the Organic Law
of the State of Oregon.

In witness whereof, I have hereunto set my hand, and caused the Seal of the State of Oregon to be hereunto affixed this 30th
day of November 1912.