Oregon Woman Suffrage History Month to Month

March 1912: Editors in Southern and Eastern Oregon See Suffrage Coming

Support for votes for women was growing across the state of Oregon in March 1912. Thanks to the Oregon Digital Newspaper Program we have information from the Klamath Falls Evening Herald about a Lake County invitation to future women voters. From the Malheur Enterprise, published in Vale, Oregon, came editorial musings about suffrage, borders, and progress.

Oregon 1910 Map
Map of Oregon, 1910. http://www.gcoregonlive.com/maps.php/Oregon%201910

On March 11, 1912 the Klamath Falls Evening Herald, published in Klamath County in Southern Oregon, quoted a story from the Lake County Examiner with an invitation to future women voters in Lake County.

Lake County for Taft
“Lake County for Taft,” [Klamath Falls, Oregon] Evening Herald, March 11, 1912, 1.

The presidential election of 1912 was beginning to heat up, and Republicans in Lake County had formed a Lake County for Taft Club in support of the reelection of U.S. President William Howard Taft.  “A special invitation is extended to ladies,” the paper noted, “for it is almost a foregone conclusion that the right of suffrage will be extended them at the next election in Oregon.”

In Vale, less than fifteen miles from the Idaho border in Eastern Oregon, the editors of the Malheur Enterprise noted the steady progress of woman suffrage sentiment.   

Malheur Enterprise
“Suffragists in Minnesota . . .” Malheur Enterprise, March 30, 1912, 4.

Writing about Minnesota and Wisconsin, but with an eye on Oregon and near neighbor Idaho just fifteen miles away where women had been voting since 1896, the editors noted: “The absurdity of having the women of one side of a state line voting, while their cousins and sisters and aunts across the line are not considered qualified for the ballot is a situation too absurd to endure.” Support for votes for women, they argued, had “not jumped erratically about” but rather “spread from state to state.” Washington State suffragists, in their successful 1910 campaign, had pointed to Idaho, where voting women had “not forsaken their homes nor brought ruin upon the state.” Oregon was now surrounded by suffrage states in 1912. There was the possibility of women in the new Republic of China gaining the vote (something that did not come to fruition but was an important transnational hope for Chinese American women and other suffrage supporters).

It was time for Oregon women to gain this right, the editors suggested. Could male voters really claim that there was something the matter with Oregon women?

—Kimberly Jensen

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Posted by history class on 03/01 at 09:19 AM

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