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Monday, October 11, 2010

Esther Lovejoy Wins Democratic Primary for U.S. Congress May 21, 1920

Back to our thread on the 1920 primary election for U.S. Congress, Third District.
The primary presented voters and historians with something unique in Oregon history -- two female candidates vying for the same office. On the one hand, this was not what women activists had hoped for -- two qualified women running against one another for the same office could bring division to the entire activist community. On the other hand, it was a tangible result of expanded female citizenship to be celebrated -- accomplished women wanted to put their hats in the ring.
As we've seen, Esther Lovejoy brought considerable credentials to the campaign: Portland City Health Officer 1907-1909, suffrage activist at the local and national levels, wartime service in France, president of the Medical Women's International Association and acting president of the Medical Women's National Association, and director of the American Women's Hospitals, a transnational medical relief organization. And author. She was a local, national, and transnational figure.

Sylvia McGuire Thompson, seen here from Sunset: Pacific Monthly (October 1917) served locally in the 1917 and 1919 regular legislative sessions and in the special 1920 session, where her House Bill #1 became Oregon's ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment for federal woman suffrage.
For a variety of reasons I explore more in the biography, and particularly because this was a seat for U.S. Congress, Lovejoy's national and international experience won out. She garnered 57 percent of the primary vote.
More on the general election in the next postings.