|Suffragettes collecting petition signatures.|
Library of Congress.
Nationally, however, advocates made little progress. The 1892 Republican party platform paid the notion lip service, but nothing came of that provision. Moreover, the History of Woman Suffrage said, “No Democratic national platform ever has recognized so much as the existence of women … ”
In 1894, canvassers in New York State collected some 600 thousand petition signatures in support of a women’s suffrage amendment: Constitutional delegates rejected the idea by almost a 2-to-1 margin.
That same year, Idaho politicians supported women’s suffrage in their party platforms and on the campaign trail. Thus, the legislature that convened in early 1895 passed a resolution calling for such an amendment … with just 2 dissenting votes out of 70 cast.
Still, conventional wisdom held that “popular indifference” would doom the measure – opponents would be sure to vote while the rest of the electorate wouldn’t bother. Determined to change that, advocates convened that first convention in Boise, meeting at the home of the President of the Boise Equal Suffrage Club.
|Suffrage leaders, including Susan B. Anthony -- seated right of center, in spectacles --|
meeting with Utah organizers. Utah State Historical Society photo.
To bolster their campaign, supporters held a second, much more heavily attended convention in July 1896. Outsiders also came to lend their support, including Abigail Scott Duniway. Abigial Jane Scott had crossed Idaho in 1852, when she was eighteen years old, as an Oregon Trail emigrant [blog, July 29]. She had since become a nationally-known advocate for women’s rights.
The Idaho Statesman observed (July 5, 1896), “The equal suffrage convention held here last week was a pronounced success, and the result will be beneficial in the campaign that will soon be upon us.”
Hiram T. French related an episode that illustrates the women’s determination. Organizers sent the announcement for a planned local event to their usual contact in a small North Idaho mining town. However, that person had moved, so when two speakers arrived to make the presentation, nothing had been arranged. Undeterred by the slip-up, the women hurriedly found a hall and then hired boys to assemble two huge woodpiles near the primary mine facilities. Lit just in time for the shift end, the roaring bonfires attracted “a large audience” to the talks.
As described elsewhere [blog, Nov 3], the measure passed handily.
|References: [Brit], [French], [Hawley]|
|Susan B. Anthony, Ida H. Harper (eds.), The History of Woman Suffrage, Vol IV: 1883-1900, The Hollenbeck Press, Indianapolis (© Susan B. Anthony, 1902).|