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Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Networking and Mass Campaigning for Suffrage January 1912

Esther Pohl and her colleagues Elizabeth Eggert, Grace Watt Ross, and Sarah Evans served as the leaders of a suffrage campaign committee for the Portland Woman's Club, as postings here across the month have shown, to "consider ways and means of best promoting the cause of suffrage through the club organization" for the 1912 ballot measure.

They decided that a "first step" would be to send copies of the club's resolutions to every woman's club in the state. Esther Pohl sent a copy to NAWSA president Anna Howard Shaw. And the committee had Sarah Evans publish the resolutions in her widely read "Woman's Clubs" column in the Sunday Oregon Journal on January 28.

Oregon Journal, January 28, 1912, 5:5.

Mass campaigning and networking would be key to the success of the 1912 campaign and Esther Pohl and her colleagues were using these tactics from the beginning of their organization.

The resolutions reflect many of the arguments that suffragists around the state would use that year. Oregon was surrounded by suffrage states in the West -- "Oregon is the only remaining state on the Pacific coast where women have not yet been enfranchised," they wrote. (Washington state women achieved suffrage in 1910 and California women in 1911). They termed votes for women an "advanced step in the progress of civilization" and "the highest and best citizenship."

In addition, Pohl and the campaign committee argued that the tide of public opinion was turning in favor of votes for women -- those who had been indifferent were now "enthusiastically laboring" for the success of woman suffrage and the national press was becoming supportive, taking "the stand that any good reasons against it which ever existed, have largely disappeared and need no longer be given serious consideration."

They urged clubwomen around the state to support the campaign by passing resolutions, appointing local committees to work with the Portland Woman's Club Campaign Committee, "and by instituting such active measures as shall in your judgment seem best adapted to secure the desired results." The PWCCC hoped to facilitated a large, federated system of campaign committees in which local women would make decisions about what kinds of active campaign strategies and events would be most effective in their communities.

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