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tv   Suffragist Abigail Scott Duniway  CSPAN  June 4, 2017 2:01pm-2:20pm EDT

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to some of the early pioneers. >> they came across the south side of output. doctors family, mother was pregnant and she gave birth on the south shore of manhood on the back of that wagon. >> later here about a united states senator. >> he was ultimately very respected. he was really well-liked i people. --could be quite richly brisk. high principle. if you did not have the same level or principles of integrity as he did he would be very vocal about that. hour we will have the special collections as we hear about a suffragist. linda: "leaving home, home friends and associates, we are this evening quartered in the
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open prairie, 15 miles from peoria. we have had but little difficulty in our journey so far. across the illinois river, or perhaps the last time, with but little difficulty except what has been occasions by bidding farewell forever to those with whom most of us have associated all our lives." many people came over the oregon trail between 1843, the beginning of the big migration that came west, most people walking the trail. just imagine walking for 8-15 miles. it was six months of really tough, tough work. but diaries like this that are full of rich in detail and
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reflective of what is happening are just gems. and abigail scott duniway is an example of one of the great diaries. she describes what is happening between the people. she describes troubles that have been. she describes the landscape and the scenery and it is clear, you get a pretty good idea that she is a good writer. and that skill served her well later on in her career as a leader in the suffrage movement. abigail scott duniway was i think the third of 12 children born to her parents. they lived in illinois. the father was a farmer and her mother a farm wife. it was a very arduous life to lead, especially in the 19th century. so they had all these children.
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they, um, it appears as if the family was not really well-off. the girls particularly, they had little formal schooling, but they read the newspaper, they read fiction. abigail was very well read and is served her well and the mother was quite hesitant to come across the trail. she did not want to go west. she was, by that time, by the early 1850's she was really worn out by being a farm wife and raising all those children. and so, although the father was gung ho about it, the mother was not. but they convinced her to come. so they started out in 1852. and then they arrived in oregon
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toward the end of september. about six months trek to bring them to oregon. this is abigail's original diary, it is fragile. we rarely get it out. we have scanned it, so it is available in oregon digital online. when they got to june, she makes in entry which is actually very beautiful, about where they are and what they have seen. "it is june 3, traveling 19 miles. we found the roads sandy. at one place, the bluff came near the river and i went on horseback to the top of the highest one that we could see and there we saw a romantic
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spectacle. flowing in peaceful music, intersected with islands and covered with timber where no other timber could be seen. the immigrants and the wagons on the roads in either direction as far as the eye could reach. the plain below contrasted strangely with a view on the other side of where i was. nothing could be seen but higher ranges of bluffs, or the sandhills." traveling was a momentous life experience for those that came across the oregon. and since abigail was a really good writer, she turned that talent into writing a fictional account of the family's journey across the trail. it was published in 1859. it was one of the very first fiction books published in oregon. it is called "captain grace's company," by mrs. abigail j. duniway.
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she had by this time married her husband. this volume is actually quite rare, so we are lucky to have a copy of it. it has been reproduced, but it is nice to have one of the original publications. her husband by all accounts, benjamin duniway, was a very good husband and father to the children. he did not have the, maybe the level of business skill that somebody should have in managing a farm. and because of his kindness he cosigned a loan for a friend and the friend defaulted on the loan and as a result the family lost of their farm. that was in the mid-60's.
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after that, benjamin was involved in a farming accident, so he became disabled. therefore it felt to abigail to be the breadwinner for the family. she did teaching again, but eventually she decided to move down to albany, oregon, a small town further to the south in the valley. and she set up a hat shop. and apparently she was quite successful in that business. she even traveled to san francisco to get supplies for the business. but, in important thing happened when she interacted with the women that came into her hat shop. she became aware of the difficulties that women lead in their lives and she realized
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they had no life, they had no standing in the community. they could not own property. they were dependent upon their husbands, and their husbands' goodwill. and she saw a lot of women suffering because of that. at one point she realized, if women could vote then they could enact change themselves and change the laws to benefit women, all women. and all people. and so she turned her attention to the suffrage movement. she moved her family back to portland. this was in the early 1870's. and her first effort was to start her own newspaper. that was called the "new northwest." this was the vehicle she used to communicate about the suffrage efforts. i believe her family was, many members of her family were involved in producing this newspaper.
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one of her sons was a printer. so it was kind of like a family enterprise. so she communicated through that newspaper, it was an important part of her developing skills and becoming a suffrage leader in the northwest. but she also communicated with national suffrage leaders and in 1871, she coordinated a visit by susan b anthony out to the west. she traveled with her on a speaking tour in california. in very short order, i think it is remarkable, she all of a sudden had a significant standing and presence in the suffrage movement. harvey scott was her brother. he traveled with the family on the oregon trail.
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apparently he had been abusive to his siblings and there are accounts of him beating up the sisters when they were growing up. he kind of continued that tradition when he, when the family came to oregon. eventually he became an editor at the portland oregonian, the largest newspaper in oregon, and one of the largest in the pacific northwest. and he was an anti-separatist. he wrote editorials against suffrage. in a way he was beating up on abigail. he continued even as they were adults. and in the 1900 campaign, i believe suffrage for women would have passed had it not been for bobby scott'-- harvey scott's editorials, because if you tabulate the number of votes
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cast primarily in the county, it was really what sunk the passage of suffrage that year. here is a letter, abigail is writing to her son clyde, and so this is the 1900 campaign and they were waiting for the returns come in and she says, " after five days of anxious waiting for returns, during which the oregonian and your mad uncle have subjected the decent women of oregon to every form of insult, word came to me with the news that the returns showed 45% of the vote to be in the affirmative. with the four counties we depend upon to be heard from." she says, "i was sick until i saw the returns. now i shall set the coward up." and she is referring to her brother. one of the things about passing suffrage and abigail's
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involvement was the change that came about in the way that measures could be presented to the citizens, to the sentencing -- citizenry for voting. initially when abigail started on her campaign work, she used what she called the still hunt, to quietly get in good with them men who had been elected to the oregon legislature. and to gain their favor. she did it quietly because she did not want to disturb the opposition. and it resulted in the measure to be written on the ballot. but each time it was defeated. in oregon, suffrage was
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presented six times, more than any other state. but eventually, during the progressive movement, and in particular a person named william wanted to change that process. he advocated for the initiative and referendum system, which all the states now use, it is called the oregon system. that way people could gain support for measures by getting enough signatures. and then it would be presented to the voters. so, by the time suffrage was passed in oregon, abigail's technique of the still hunt was not effective because it was not necessary. and eventually there were many other women who had come forward
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to carry on the campaigns. one woman, a physician in portland, esther lovejoy spearheaded the effort. it was through their effort and the use of modern campaign techniques, like mass mailings, storefront campaigns, um, marching in parades, the more radical techniques like that that really pushed it over and managed to pass suffrage in 1912 in oregon. when suffrage was passed, abigail scott duniway, she was often bedridden during the campaign when it was finally passed, so she was not really much effective. the people, she had been working for suffrage for 42 years by that time. she had devoted her life to the cause. and people celebrated her, which was really great.
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and a lot of people sent congratulatory telegrams to her. here are examples. "to mrs. abigail scott dunaway, congratulations on the tryon's of justice -- triumphs of justice." here is one from medford, "we want to offer you the congratulations and assure you it is making every effort to win the franchise at the coming election, that your many days of effort for the cause of women may be crowned with success." this was sent before the vote. this was october, the vote was in november. "we congratulate women of oregon upon their new citizenship."
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from the cleveland women suffrage party. "blessed the day and send love and congratulations to our trail breaker who has made its dawning possible." it is just so wonderful that she lived long enough to see it passed. she voted. she was able to vote, which was pretty special. we have in the collection a scrapbook that abigail scott duniway kept during her days as a suffrage leader. it has photos, but mainly it includes lectures. do also includes things like some correspondence and newspaper clippings that she kept.
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this is also really great as a resource for any researcher that wants to study this topic about the history of suffrage in oregon, or about her life. so it is also very fragile. fragile, just as fragile as the original oregon trail diary from 1852. and i think both documents really demonstrate a lot about her personality. you know, her determination to be a pioneer and come over the oregon trail. her strong opinions about various topics, all of that would be represented in both documents. when she was 17, and later when she was an older woman and into her 70's.
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and she was, when she was in her 79th year, when suffrage was passed. and she died when she was 80, in 1915. all weekend long american history tv is challenging -- join our comcast cable partners to showcase eugene, oregon. to learn more about the cities go to now with our look at the history of eugene, oregon. >> we are overlooking the -- this is in honor of wayne morse. he was a law professor, a politician, and activist who was


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