The History of Woman Suffrage Volume IV Part 121
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Dr. C. F. McElwrath of Enid championed the bill in the House and secured its pa.s.sage over the head of every opponent. The efforts of the women were supplemented also by those of Senator I. A. Gandey and Representative William H. Merten, both of Guthrie, and T. F. Hensley of El Reno, editor of the _Democrat_.
LAWS: Dower and curtesy do not obtain. If either husband or wife die without a will, leaving only one child or the lawful issue of one child, the survivor receives one-half of both real and personal property. If there is more than one child or one child and descendants of one or more deceased children, the widow or widower receives one-third of the estate. If there is no issue living the survivor receives one-half; and if there is neither issue, father, mother, brother nor sister, the survivor takes the whole estate. A homestead may be occupied by the widow or widower until otherwise disposed of according to law.
Husband or wife may mortgage or convey separate property without the consent of the other.
A married woman may sue and be sued and make contracts in her own name. She may carry on business as a sole trader and her earnings and wages are her sole and separate property.
The usual causes for divorce exist but only a 90 days' residence is required. A wife may sue for alimony without divorce. In cases where both parties are equally at fault the court may refuse divorce but provide for the custody and maintenance of children and equitable division of property.
The father is the legal guardian of the children. At his death the mother becomes the guardian, if a suitable person, but if she remarries the guardians.h.i.+p pa.s.ses to the second husband.
The husband is expected to furnish a suitable support for the family, but no punishment is prescribed for a failure to do this.
No law existed for the protection of girls until 1890 when the age was made 14 years. In 1895 it was raised to 16 years. The penalty is first degree (under 14), imprisonment not less than ten years; second degree (under 16), not less than five years. In both cases the girl must have been "of previous chaste character."
SUFFRAGE: The first Territorial Legislature (1890) granted School Suffrage to the extent of a vote for trustees.
OFFICE HOLDING: Women may hold all school offices. Eleven of the twenty-three counties have women superintendents. They are not eligible to State offices but are not prohibited by law from any county offices. One woman is registrar of deeds and one is deputy U.
S. marshal. There are at the present time about one hundred women notaries public.
OCCUPATIONS: No profession or occupation is legally forbidden to women. Ten hours is made a legal working day.
EDUCATION: All educational inst.i.tutions are open alike to both s.e.xes.
In the public schools there are 914 men and 1,268 women teachers. The average monthly salary of the men is $31.93; of the women, $26.20.
Thirty Federated Clubs in Oklahoma, with over 700 members, are taking up successfully a great variety of public work. Guthrie contains eight of these, with a members.h.i.+p of more than one hundred, and the library committee has succeeded in starting a library, which has now seven hundred volumes.
 The History is indebted for material for this chapter to Mrs.
Margaret Olive Rhodes of Guthrie, president of the Territorial Woman Suffrage a.s.sociation.
 Mrs. Rachel Rees Griffith and her two daughters are known as the Mothers of Equal Suffrage in Oklahoma. Miss Margaret was the first Territorial president, while no one has done more in the local club of Guthrie than Miss Rachel. Mrs. Griffith is nearly eighty years of age, but fully expects to live to see the women of Oklahoma enjoying the full franchise.
After the defeat of the woman suffrage amendment in 1884 no organized effort was made for ten years, although quiet educational work was done. On the Fourth of July, 1894, a meeting was called at the residence of Mrs. Abigail Scott Duniway in Portland and a committee formed which met every week for several months thereafter. Woman's Day was celebrated at the convention of the State Horticultural a.s.sociation, in September, by invitation of its president, William Salloway. Addresses were made by N. W. Kinney and Mrs. Duniway, and Governor Lord and his wife were on the platform. On October 27 a ma.s.s meeting was held at Marquam Grand Theater, at which a State organization was effected and a const.i.tution adopted which had been prepared by the committee.
In January, 1895, the a.s.sociation secured from the Legislature a bill for the submission of a woman suffrage amendment, which it would be necessary for a second Legislature to pa.s.s upon. The annual meeting of the State a.s.sociation was held at Portland in November as quietly as possible, it being the aim to avoid arousing the two extremes of society, consisting of the slum cla.s.ses on the one hand and the ultra-conservative on the other, who instinctively pull together against all progress. Officers were elected as usual and the work went on in persistent quietude.
The convention of 1896 met in Portland, November 16. Mrs.
Duniway, the honorary president, was made acting president, that officer having left the State; Mrs. H. A. Laughary, honorary president; Dr. Annice F. Jeffreys, vice-president-at-large; Ada Cornish Hertsche, vice-president; Frances E. Gotshall, corresponding secretary; Mary Schaffer Ward, recording secretary; Mrs. A. E.
Hackett, a.s.sistant secretary; Jennie C. Pritchard, treasurer. These State officers were re-elected without change until November, 1898, when Mrs. W. H. Games was chosen recording secretary and Mrs. H. W.
Coe, treasurer. In 1899, and again in 1900, Mrs. Eunice Pond Athey, formerly of Idaho, became a.s.sistant secretary.
The year 1896 was a period of continuous effort on the part of the State officers to disseminate suffrage sentiment in more or less indirect ways, so that other organizations of whatever name or nature might look upon the proposed amendment with favor. Early in this year the executive committee decided to organize a Woman's Congress and secure the affiliation of all branches of women's patriotic, philanthropic and literary work, to be managed by the suffrage a.s.sociation. It was resolved also to obtain if possible the attendance of Miss Susan B. Anthony, president of the National a.s.sociation, who was at that time in the midst of the amendment campaign in California.
Never has there been a more successful public function in Oregon than this Congress of Women, which was held the first week in June, 1896, with Miss Anthony as its bright particular star. The love of the people for the great leader was universally expressed, socially as well as publicly. The speakers represented all lines of woman's work--education, art, science, medicine, sanitation, literature, the duties of motherhood, philanthropy, reform--but sectarian and political questions were excluded. It was most interesting to note the clever manner in which almost all the speakers sandwiched their speeches and papers with suffrage sentiments, and also the hearty applause which followed every allusion to the proposed amendment from the audiences that packed the s.p.a.cious Taylor Street Church to overflowing. Mrs. Sarah B. Cooper, the noted San Francisco philanthropist, was a special attraction and made many converts to woman suffrage by her beautiful presence and eloquent words.
For ten consecutive days in July commodious headquarters were maintained at the Willamette Valley Chautauqua, under the supervision of the State recording secretary, Mrs. Ward. The Rev. Anna Howard Shaw Day was the most successful one of the a.s.sembly. Miss Shaw spoke as if inspired, and afterward a large reception was held in her honor.
Thirty-six regular meetings and four ma.s.s meetings were held by the suffrage a.s.sociation during the year.
The Woman's Club movement had by this time a.s.sumed important proportions among society women, under the tactful management of that staunch advocate of equal rights, Mrs. A. H. H. Stuart; and the suffragists joined heartily in the new organization, which, in spite of its non-political character, strengthened the current of public opinion in behalf of the proposed amendment.
The Oregon Emergency Corps and Red Cross Society became another tacitly acknowledged auxiliary. The Oregon Pioneer a.s.sociation approved the amendment by unanimous resolution, and the State Grange, the Grand Army of the Republic, the Woman's Christian Temperance Union, the Good Templars, the Knights of Labor, the Printers' Union, the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and other organizations were recognized allies.
In 1898 the second Woman's Congress took place at Portland in April under the auspices of the executive committee of the State E. S. A., forty affiliated societies of women partic.i.p.ating.
The suffrage business for this year was all transacted in executive sessions, and no convention held.
Woman's Day at the Willamette Valley Chautauqua in July, when forty different organizations of men and women were represented, was a great success. Suffrage addresses were given by Mrs. Alice Moore McComas of California, Dr. Frances Woods of Iowa, and Mrs. Games. Col. R. A.
Miller, the president, himself an ardent suffragist, extended an invitation for the following year.
In 1899 Mrs. Duniway was invited by the Legislature to take part in the joint proceedings of the two Houses in honor of forty years of Statehood.
This year, in preparation for the election at which the woman suffrage amendment submitted by the Legislature of 1899 was to be voted on, 106 parlor meetings were held, 30,000 pieces of literature distributed, and the names and addresses of 30,000 voters in fourteen counties collected. Mrs. Duniway spoke by special invitation to a number of the various orders and fraternities of men throughout the State, most of whom indorsed the amendment. The usual headquarters were maintained during the Fair, under the management of Dr. Jeffreys.
LEGISLATIVE ACTION: The Legislature, having changed its time of meeting from September in the even years to January in the odd ones, convened in 1895. Through the efforts of its leading members, a bill pa.s.sed both Houses in February to submit again a woman suffrage amendment to the voters. The resolution proposing it was carried without debate in the House by 41 ayes--including that of Speaker Moore--11 noes. In the Senate the vote was 17 ayes, 11 noes. As Mrs. Abigail Scott Duniway was lecturing in Idaho, the State suffrage a.s.sociation was represented at this Legislature by its vice-president-at-large, Dr. Annice F. Jeffreys.
The meeting of the Legislature of 1897 found the women ready and waiting for the necessary ratification of the amendment; but the Solons of the non-emotional s.e.x fell to quarreling among themselves over the United States senatorial plum and, being unable to agree on a choice of candidates, refused to organize for any kind of business, so another biennial period of public inactivity was enforced upon the suffragists.
The Legislature convened in January, 1899, and with it came the long-delayed opportunity. Mrs. Duniway and Dr. Jeffreys had charge of the Suffrage Amendment Bill. They were recognized by prominent members, and admitted by vote to the privileges of the floor in each House. Senator C. W. Fulton, who had distinguished himself as the champion of the amendment in 1880 and 1882, was requested by them to carry their banner to victory once more. He a.s.sured them that personally he was willing, but said so many bills on all sorts of side issues had been insisted upon by women that the members were not in a mood to listen to any more propositions from persons who had no votes.
The ladies did not press the matter, but for days they furnished short, pithy letters to the papers of the capital city, answering fully all of the usual objections to woman suffrage. They also sent an open letter to each member of the Legislature, explaining that this plea for equal rights was based wholly upon the fundamental principle of self-government, and not made in the interest of any one reform. In this were enclosed to every Republican member Clarkson on Suffrage in Colorado and Clara Barton's Appeal to Voters; to every Democrat her Appeal and some other doc.u.ment, taking care to keep off of partisan toes. At length Senators Fulton and Brownell, leaders in the Upper House, considered the time ripe for calling up the amendment, which was at once sent in regular order of business to the Lower House, where it was referred to the Judiciary Committee and--buried.
Finally Senator Fulton secured a request from the Senate that the bill be returned for further consideration, and a hearing was made a special order of business. The room was filled with ladies and Mrs.
Duniway was asked to present the claims of the women of the State, over half of whom, through their various societies, had asked for the submission of the amendment. On the roll-call which followed the vote stood 25 ayes, one no.
The measure was made a special order of business in the House the same evening. The hall was crowded with spectators, Mrs. Duniway spoke ten minutes from the Speaker's desk, and the roll-call resulted in 48 ayes, 6 noes.
A feature of the proceedings was the presentation by one of the members, in a long speech, of a large collection of doc.u.ments sent by the Anti-Suffrage a.s.sociation of Women in New York and Ma.s.sachusetts.
The preceding autumn they had sent a salaried agent, Miss Emily P.
Bissell of Delaware, to canva.s.s the State against the bill.
The succeeding campaign was very largely in the nature of a "still hunt." Mrs. Ida Crouch Hazlett, of Colorado, held meetings for two months in counties away from the railroads and did effective work among the voters of the border. Miss Lena Morrow, of Illinois, also did good service for some time preceding election, in visiting the various fraternal a.s.sociations of men in the city of Portland, by whom she was generally accorded a gracious hearing. These ladies represented the National a.s.sociation.
All went well until about two weeks before election day, June 6, 1900, and the measure in all probability would have carried had it not been for the slum vote of Portland and Astoria, which was stirred up and called out by the _Oregonian_, edited by H. W. Scott, the most influential newspaper in the State. It was the only paper, out of 229, which opposed the amendment. But notwithstanding its terrible onslaught, over 48 per cent. of all the votes which were cast upon the amendment were in its favor. Twenty-one out of the thirty-three counties gave handsome majorities; one county was lost by one vote, one by 23 and one by 31.
The vote on the amendment in 1884 was 11,223 ayes; 28,176 noes. In 1900 it stood 26,265 ayes; 28,402 noes. Although the population had more than doubled in the cities, where the slum vote is naturally the heaviest and is always against woman suffrage, the total increase of the "noes" of the State was only 226, while in the same time the "ayes" had been augmented by 15,042.
The History of Woman Suffrage Volume IV Part 121
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