THE ORIGINS OF WOMEN’S RIGHTS MOVEMENT .................. In July 1848, a group of women called a meeting in Seneca Falls, New York, and create the Declaration of Sentiments, modeled after the Declaration of Independence, declaring that "all men and women are created equal" and calling for women's right to vote -- the opening clarion of the 19th century suffrage movement. Just six years after the Seneca Falls Convention, in 1854, Seattle pioneer and legislator Arthur A. Denny proposed a bill in the first Washington Territorial Legislature meeting in Olympia "to allow all white females over the age of 18 years to vote." Although it failed, Denny's bill was the first of many attempts to enable women to vote in Washington. ELIZABETH CADY STANTON Elizabeth Cady Stanton was a primary organizer of the first Women's Rights Convention and an author of the Declaration of Sentiments in 1848. Image credit: Library of Congress ARTHUR A. DENNY Arthur Denny of Seattle was the first Territorial lawmaker to introduce legislation that would have enabled some Washington women to vote. Image credit: Washington State Historical Society TERRITORIAL LEGISLATIVE JOURNAL Territorial Legislative Journal, April 14, 1854. Denny's amendment for partial women's suffrage lost by one vote in the House of Representatives. Image credit: Washington State Archives PARKER & COLTER BUILDING Parker & Colter Building, later the Gold Bar Restaurant located on what is now State Avenue and Capitol Way was the site of the first legislative session. Image credit: Washington State Historical Society THURSTON COUNTY WOMAN VOTE 1870 ...................... In June, 1870 two suffragist sisters Charlotte Emily Olney French from Gran Mound, in southern Thurston County and Mary Olney Brown, from Olympia decided to vote based upon citizenship right conferred by the legislature and the U. W. Constitution. With other women in the area, the sisters went to the polls and 15 women – including French and Delilah Sarjent and Mercy Peck – successfully cast their votes in Grand Mound and Littlerock. While the southern Thurston County women were successful, a small Olympia delegation was not. Four women in Olympia went to the courthouse but one of the women, Susan Dofflemyer, was taken home by her husband. When Mary Olney Brown, Jane Wylie and Jane Pattison presented ballots at the courthouse, they were rejected. Although the 1870 vote was not permanent change in women’s suffrage in Washington, it provided a significant stepping-stone in the overall history of the movement. MARY OLNEY BROWN Mary Olney Brown gave birth to eleven children and was a midwife and poet who wrote eloquently about women’s suffrage. Image credit: Washington State Historical Society CHARLOTTE EMILY OLNEY FRENCH Charlotte Emily Olney French joined her sister in the fight for women’s suffrage and was one of the few successful female voters in Thurston County in 1870. Image credit: Saeger Family JANE WILLEY PATTISON Jane Willey Pattison came to live in Olympia with her family in the 1860s. An eastside Olympia resident, she lived to see women gain the vote nationally before her death in 1923. Image credit: Lacey Museum THURSTON COUNTY COURTHOUSE The Thurston County Courthouse was located near the corner of Union and Washington and was later used as an Olympia school. Image credit: Washington State Archives SUSAN B. ANTHONY COMES TO OLYMPIA ....................... In October and November, 1871 noted eastern suffragist Susan B. Anthony came to Puget Sound on a speaking tour accompanied by Oregon campaigner Abigail Scott Duniway. In Olympia, Anthony spoke at Olympic Hall on October 16 and before the legislature on October 19. She later lectured in Tumwater and toured Puget Sound towns. By November 8, Anthony was back in Olympia as part of the Washington Territorial Woman Suffrage Association (WTWSA) Convention where she worked with several local activists to form a permanent organization for advocating women’s rights. Olympia leaders in the WTWSA convention included Mehitable Elder, Amelia Giddings (who chaired the convention), Olive Manning, Mary Ann Barnes, Matilda Allen, Ellen Hewitt, John Miller Murphy, Ann Elizabeth Bigelow with her mother Margaret White Ruddell, Mary Olney Brown, Charlotte Emily Olney French, Phoebe Moore and Emma Munson. SUSAN B. ANTHONY Noted suffragist Susan B. Anthony was a catalyst for the cause in the 1870s and beyond. Image credit: Nebraska State Historical Society OLYMPIC HALL The Olympic Hall (at left foreground near bridge) was on 4th Avenue and was the venue for prominent speakers who came to Olympia. Bigelow House is at left. Image credit: Oregon Historical Society MEHITABLE HASKELL LORD ELDER Mehitable Haskell Lord Elder was a “Mercer Girl” who came to Olympia along with her family in 1866. She lived to see permanent suffrage in 1910 and registered to vote the following year. Image credit: Washington State Historical Society EMMA MUNSON Emma Munson participated in the WTWSA convention. Image credit: Washington State Historical Society MARY ANN KANDLE BARNES Mary Ann Kandle Barnes came to Olympia in 1851 and was a noted hostess. Image credit: Washington State Historical Society THE BIGELOW FAMILY ......................... Daniel Richardson Bigelow and his wife Ann Elizabeth White Bigelow hosted Susan B. Anthony at their home on Wednesday, October 18, 1871. Anthony called Bigelow’s wife “splendid.” As a legislator Bigelow introduced a joint resolution inviting Anthony to speak before the legislature and on October 19, 1871 escorted Anthony and Duniway to the dais of the hall, packed with women of the town. Bigelow and Anthony differed in their approach to enacting women’s suffrage. Bigelow believed women should cast a ballot to determine if they had the right to vote; Anthony thought it should be enacted outright. The day after Anthony’s visit to the legislature, a “declaratory” suffrage bill failed and Bigelow’s bill was postponed indefinitely. Daniel Bigelow lived to speak at the jubilee in 1883 when women briefly achieved the right to vote and Ann Elizabeth Bigelow survived to see the final victory in 1910 when their daughter, Margaret Bigelow participated in the Olympia celebration. THE BIGELOWS Daniel Bigelow and his wife Ann Elizabeth White Bigelow at their marriage in 1854. Image credit: Bigelow House Preservation Association Susan B. Anthony Comes to Olympia MARGARET BIGELOW A teacher, Margaret Bigelow participated in the 1910 celebration at the Methodist Church in Olympia. Image credit: Bigelow House Museum BIGELOW SPEECH “Speech of the Hon. D. R. Bigelow on Female Suferage [sic] Delivered in the House of Representatives of the Washington Territory Legislature, October 14, 1871”. SUSAN B. ANTHONY’S DIARY Susan B. Anthony’s Diary from October 18, 1871. BIGELOW HOUSE Bigelow House still stands at 918 Glass Avenue NE and is now a public museum. Image credit: Bigelow House Preservation Association VICTORY IN 1883 “THE SUFFRAGE MOVEMENT IS IN THE AIR” ..................... In the 1870s, legislators continued to propose suffrage laws without success. However, their efforts came very close in 1881 and in 1883 the lawmakers enacted women’s right to vote in the Washington Territory effective November 23, 1883. Abigail Scott Duniway doggedly monitored the progress of the 1883 suffrage bill, often taking Olympia women with her to the legislature., although some stayed away, fearing their presence might derail the effort. Many Olympia women were advocates including Julia Rawson, Janet Moore, Emma Munson, Mary Saunders, Olive Manning, Margaret McFadden, Elizabeth Sabin, Eunice Dobbins, and Mary Ballard. With ringing of church bells and a gun salute, Olympians met at Columbia Hall to celebrate the suffrage victory with remarks by D. R. Bigelow, Pamela Hale, Eliza Murphy, Ella Stork, and Annie Conner Hartsuck, among others. COLUMBIA HALL Columbia Hall, which was the Olympia City Hall, was located on East 4th Avenue. Image credit: University of Washington Libraries Special Collections, WAS0162 ABIGAIL SCOTT DUNIWAY Although Abigail Scott Duniway was an Oregon suffragist, she played an important role in the Washington movement. CLARA POTTLE SYLVESTER Clara Pottle Sylvester accompanied Duniway to the Capitol to advocate for women’s right to vote. Her daughter, May Sylvester, was also active in the movement. Image credit: Washington State Historical Society ANNIE CONNER HARTSUCK A teacher and equal rights advocate, Annie Conner Hartsuck was one of the Mercer girls who came to Olympia in 1866. Image credit: Washington State Historical Society PAMELA CASE HALE Pamela Case Hale was an educator who came to Olympia in the early 1870s to conduct a private school. She was later a public school principal, served on the Territorial Board of Education and in 1882 was elected Thurston County School Superintendent. A founding member of the Woman’s Club of Olympia, she was also a Image credit: Washington State Historical Society Unitarian Minister. AGNES WINSOR PRATHER A suffrage supporter, Agnes Winsor Prather was a teacher before her marriage to Thomas Prather. Image credit: Washington State Historical Society CAMPAIGNS OF 1889 AND 1898 ................. At the Constitutional Convention held in Olympia in the summer of 1889, women campaigned to have their right to vote in the constitution for the new state of Washington. Nation leaders including Pennsylvania suffragist Matilda Hindman came to the city to pressure the convention. Hindman spoke at Tacoma Hall in August 1889 where Olympian Mary Porter presided. Instead women’s suffrage was a separate ballot issue which failed to pass, and Washington entered the union as a non-women’s suffrage state. In 1897 a coalition of reform-minded legislators authorized a vote to amend the state constitution for women’s right to vote but male voters failed to approve to amendment the next year. SUFFRAGE PETITION TO THE CONSTITUTIONAL CONVENTION Petition to include women’s suffrage in the constitution. CONSTITUTIONAL CONVENTION The Constitutional Convention was held from July 4 to August 22, 1889 in Olympia. EMMA PAGE Olympia WCTU activist Emma Page, campaigned on behalf of women’s right to vote in 1897-98.
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