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Sunday, November 11, 2012

Equal Suffrage Victory and Suffrage Leaders Grateful

We are used to having election results the evening of Election Day. In 1912 it took three days for officials to be comfortable enough to call the election. 

On Election Day reporters from the Oregon Journal interviewed Esther Lovejoy about the prospects for victory. On November 8, with the suffrage victory assured, they interviewed her again, along with other women and men on both sides of the question.

"The Significance of Equal Suffrage," Oregon Journal, November 8, 1912, 15.

Lovejoy linked the Oregon victory to those in Kansas and Arizona (early returns suggested suffrage had passed in Michigan, but it did not pass that year), noting that 1912 was "a wonderful election for the emancipation of women."

She also compared the 1912 victory to the recent campaign of 1910, campaigns in which she and other suffragists had not been active because Abigail Scott Duniway had pushed for a tax-payer suffrage measure that privileged property owning women. Also there were thousands of workers compared to hundreds in the 1908 and 1910 campaigns. She reiterated that Oregon men had acted to support full suffrage for women as a Pacific Coast measure to complete the region's equal suffrage scope.

Lovejoy also responded to the anti-suffrage argument that women would not use the vote. "I have no doubt but what the women will vote," she noted, "of course there will be an occasional one who will not just as there are men who do not." She believed that non voters should be disenfranchised because she was "a firm believer in doing one's duty at the polls."

Lovejoy and Everybody's Equal Suffrage League had come together with other organizations, including the Colored Women's Equal Suffrage League, the Men's League and the Stenographers' Equal Suffrage Club in the Oregon State Central Campaign Committee. This did not represent all of the 23 groups in Portland, but it did represent significant coalition building and African American women's participation indicates an important, if still limited, crossing of racial boundaries in the campaign. The organizations joined in signing a letter to the editor of the Oregon Journal extending "cordial appreciation to the many editors throughout the state who have so materially assisted in the recent campaign by their generous support of the equal suffrage amendment.

"Suffrage Leaders Grateful," Oregon Journal, November 9, 1912, 4.

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