SALEM, OR -- After a three-year pandemic delay, a historical marker celebrating women’s suffrage was unveiled Thursday at the Oregon State Capitol. The marker outlines the long battle by Oregon women for the right to vote, starting in 1872.
Eliza Canty-Jones, with the Oregon Historical Society, tells KBND News, "The 15th Amendment, which was one of the Reconstruction amendments, when that went into place following the Civil War, women thought, ‘Great! It says if you’re a citizen you have the right to vote.’ So, there were women, such as Susan B. Anthony, who went out - and women here in Oregon: Mary Beatty, Abigail Scott Duniway and two others, attempted to vote in the 1872 election to push the issue. And the Supreme Court basically said, ‘You’re a citizen, but you’re not that kind of citizen.’" It would be another 40 years before Oregon women could cast a ballot, "Women in Oregon have the distinction of putting to the vote Women’s Suffrage more time than in any other state. It was on the sixth try that women gained the right to vote in 1912." The 19th Amendment granting women across the country the same privilege, was ratified eight years later, in 1920.
Canty-Jones says the Oregon Capitol marker was supposed to go up in 2020, celebrating that national centennial, but was delayed by the pandemic. It was finally unveiled this week during a celebration with the OHS, State Capitol Foundation and Women’s History Consortium. "The Oregon Women’s History Consortium is a nonprofit that worked since before the 2012 suffrage centennial, here in Oregon, to promote education about the history of women’s suffrage in Oregon." The plaque is installed on the east end of the Capitol grounds, "It’s easy to stop on the pathway, walk and read it, and also is beautifully framed by the Capitol itself, behind the marker," says Canty-Jones, "So, I think it’ll be a really lovely spot for people to gather and celebrate voting rights."
Markers were created and donated to each state, funded by the federal Women’s Suffrage Centennial Commission.
Pictured: Gwen Carr, from Oregon Black Pioneers, speaks during Thursday's unveiling ceremony. Courtesy the Oregon Historical Society.