Oregon Woman Suffrage History Month to Month

September 1911: Abigail Scott Duniway Portrait Unveiled With A Suffrage Speech

On September 16, 1911 supporters of the votes for women movement gathered at the Portland Hotel for the unveiling of a portrait of Abigail Scott Duniway by the artist Edwin D. Betts.

Several members of the Oregon State Equal Suffrage Association spoke, and Duniway then addressed the crowd, recalling early days in Oregon. “Mrs. Duniway barely hinted at the suffragist movement in her brief speech,” the Oregonian reported, “but by request of those present she was induced to rise again and speak on that subject.” It would appear that Duniway wanted a quiet campaign (her “still hunt”). But others wanted more.

In her second speech Duniway praised those Oregon men who supported equal suffrage and said she expected California women, where a ballot measure to enfranchise women was on the November 1911 ballot, would be successful in gaining the vote. She also “expected Oregon to join the galaxy of free states next year” with its ballot measure slated for November 1912.

Duniway compared the achievement of votes for women to a horse who was afraid of an open umbrella but loved apples. The horse’s owner worked each day to overcome its fear by “fixing an apple on the stub at the top of the umbrella and offering it to the horse.” Each time the owner opened the umbrella a bit more until the horse had no fear of an open umbrella.

“In like manner, she said, men would soon learn not to be afraid of woman’s suffrage. She said that women did not want to rule over men, as they might imagine, but were asking only for their individual rights and liberties.”

And, she concluded, “‘a man who could be ruled by a woman would not be worth corralling after she had driven him home.’”

The Abigail Scott Duniway Papers at the University of Oregon include several letters from Betts to Duniway. The Oregonian article suggests that the portrait went to the National Portrait Gallery in Washington but a search of the gallery’s website does not yield results. The image of the portrait accompanying the Oregonian article is of poor quality as preserved for us on microfilm, but indicates a seated portrait of the leader at 77. If you have additional information about this portrait please do share it with Century of Action.

Duniway Portrait

“Honor Paid Leader: Mrs. Abigail Scott Duniway’s Picture Unveiled,” Oregonian, September 17, 1911, 10.

—Kimberly Jensen

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Posted by history class on 08/31 at 09:02 AM

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