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Wednesday, July 18, 2012

July 25, 1912: Dr. Esther Pohl gives a suffrage presciption to the members of the Portland Transportation Club

Esther Pohl was a very effective public speaker. By all accounts she used humor, strong preparation of material and evidence, and a confident delivery to put her points across. The Portland Evening Telegram for July 25, 1912, provides evidence of her skill in a report on her speech to members of the Portland Transportation Club at a luncheon at the Hotel Imperial.

"Asks Transportation Club to Aid Suffrage," Portland Evening Telegram, July 25, 1912, 8. 

Pohl worked her audience even before she began to speak. "Unique invitations in the form of a prescription signed by Dr. Pohl warned them that they would be expected to take a 'dose' of 'Woman's Scope and Responsibility' on this occasion, and the members came in a willing mood, having been assured that the dose would be of homeopathic dimensions" -- a small one, in other words.

She touched on the staples of her suffrage philosophy in her speech. Votes for women was equitable and just, she noted, quoting Abraham Lincoln to emphasize that women bore the burdens of the state and should share in its privileges. Wage earning women needed the vote, because corporate, male interests had driven the "industries of the home" into the factory. She recounted the accomplishments of notable women, including Eve, "who gave us our right to knowledge and our right to travel. If it had not been for her we should still be sitting in the Garden of Eden at a perennial picnic," and Sacajawea, "path-finder of the Northwest."

And she focused on an enlarged vision of the home and women's responsibilities therein: "nowadays the home touched every phase of life from the garbage collection up and that the changed conditions demand" that woman should vote to "meet her responsibilities to her home and children."

The Telegram reporter noted that Pohl held the attention of the audience, brought laughter, and was eloquent in her points. She closed with a plea "that the members as sovereign men of Oregon prove their trust in Oregon womanhood by granting them equal rights with the men next November."