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Sunday, August 12, 2012

August 17, 1912: Esther Pohl Lovejoy's Speech to the Milwaukie, Oregon Grange

On August 17, 1912 Esther Pohl Lovejoy gave a suffrage speech to the members of the Milwaukie, Oregon Grange and other suffrage supporters. The Grange represented farmers and included women as voting members within the organization. Lovejoy's speech tells us much about the nature of the suffrage movement in Oregon by August, 1912 and also something of Lovejoy's suffrage philosophy.

"Suffragists Meet at Milwaukie Saturday," Portland Evening Telegram, August 13, 1912, 10.

The gathering provides evidence of the networking and coalition building that were key factors in the suffrage victory for 1912. The Portland Evening Telegram reported four days in advance of the meeting that the "regular meeting of the Grange will be given over to a suffrage programme." Local suffragists Frances and Florence Dayton were "working with the [Portland] Women's Club Campaign Committee and other local organizations," and all were "endeavoring to make this one of hte most enthusiastic gatherings of the campaign for 'Votes for Women.'" Workers made this a very public occasion and event, and a "committee of young girl suffragists will be waiting to welcome all comers and conduct them to the Grange Hall."

A typescript of the speech is part of the Amy Khedouri materials and I'll share excerpts here and in the next few posts. 

Lovejoy was a seasoned speaker and so she began with compliments to her audience that also underscored the importance of women's equality:

“Mr. Chairman, Men and Women of the Oregon Grange – Women are members of this organization, are they not? They pay their dues, they have a vote regarding the dispensation of those dues, and regarding the constitution and by-laws and in all matters pertaining to this grange. Then why is it necessary for me or any body else to talk to this organization upon the subject of Woman Suffrage? Women enjoy all rights and responsibilities in this grange – perhaps that it why it is such a well balanced and flourishing organization.”

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