Thursday, February 20, 2020

Susan B. Anthony visits Salem in 1871

Salem Reporter just published a nice piece on Willamette University Prof Cindy Richards and her research on women suffrage in the Pacific Northwest. "As U.S. celebrates 100 years of women voting, Willamette professor chronicles how Oregon suffragists won the ballot" is worth a read!

In Portland, September 8th, 1871
Transportation news here is slow. SKATS even cancelled next week's Policy Committee meeting for our MPO, and there's just not a lot to comment on right now.

But in that article is a nice tidbit about Salem.

"Miss Anthony's success at Salem
was as complete as at Portland"
September 22nd, 1871
On her 200th birthday the other day Susan B. Anthony had a google doodle, and I had wondered if she'd ever been to Salem. I did not chase after it very hard though, and I did not come up with anything. Published remarks in 1906 from an April memorial service in Salem did not mention an earlier visit, nor did the local obituary published on March 17th, 1906.

A Salem memorial service
was silent on any earlier visit
April 9th, 1906
 But according to the Salem Reporter piece, she had indeed visited:
The 1872 voting effort in Portland came after several years of organizing, which began with suffrage organizations in Salem and Albany. Abigail Scott Duniway, who lived in Albany and later moved to Portland, was a leader during this period and got Anthony to come speak at the Reed Opera House on Aug. 31, 1871.
August 18th, 1871
Duniway's own newspaper, The New Northwest, seems to put the visit a little later. The August 18th issue mentions her getting on a steamer from San Francisco, and then she's mentioned again in the September 8th issue as lecturing in Portland.  That issue also reproduces a letter dated September 4th in which she says, "The last week of August Mrs. Stanton and myself left California..."

September 8th, 1871

September 15th, 1871
A notice from September 15th about her itinerary suggests Thursday, September 7th is a better fit for a visit to Salem. August 31st is also a Thursday, but that date is harder to fit into this time line and with the steamer travel time from San Francisco. September 14th probably would have been "yesterday" not "Thursday evening [last]." At least on my reading, then, September 7th seems like the best fit.

The exact date is not that big of a deal, but it would be interesting to learn more about how her visit was received. That notice from September 22nd says she talked to Oregon Supreme Court Justices while at the Chemeketa Hotel about her understanding of the 14th and 15th amendments. A later notice claims 2000 people attended the Salem lecture, but the 1870 census gives Salem a population of 2139. I'm not buying 2000, and The New Northwest is running publicity and hype in addition to news, so it would not be surprising to see an exaggerated claim on something like this. Besides, if 2000 people had heard her, you'd think a few old-timers would have been around in 1906 to talk about it at the Memorial Service.

If she visited the State Fair, as the itinerary suggests, she might have come to Salem again, and if more turns up there might be more to say!

February 19th, 1920
Elsewhere, as Rotary is celebration its 100th anniversary here, so is the League of Women Voters, and I had not known they grew out of Anthony's own organization, the National Woman Suffrage Association.

Addendum, February 22nd

Here's few other items of minor interest....

The September 29th Albany State Rights Democrat suggests the Salem Mercury is the paper to read! I don't even know if that's in the Salem Public Library's holdings, as it does not appear to be in the CCRLS catalogue - or, indeed, if at the new temporary Library location they've even got microfilm readers set up. In Eugene UO appears to have it for sure, though. (That might be something longer-term, but low-priority to investigate. It would be interesting to read a positive, local reception.)

State Rights Democrat, September 29th, 1871
A very brief notice from the September 15th State Rights Democrat that is also consistent with a later date for the lecture, though it might fit a Thursday, September 14th lecture better than a September 7th one. I suppose it's even possible she made more than one trip to Salem, as she was in the PNW for a while.

State Rights Democrat, September 15th, 1871
Remarks critical of her aren't individually that surprising necessarily, but they add up and if you don't read 19th century misogyny routinely maybe the totality is a little amazing. They aimed so much nastiness at her. While several of the anti-feminist reviews say Anthony was "ugly" in one way or another, and should have got married, etc., etc., here in the Oregon City Weekly Enterprise is what looks like a kind of anticipation of "resting bitch face":
The lineaments of her face are not softened by a single pleasing expression. A hard, stony earnestness, an ever present look of unyielding earnestness, an ever-present look of unyielding combativeness, a grim stare...
They just pile up the ways to say she doesn't smile enough.

O.C., Weekly Enterprise, September 1st, 1871
The misogynist tropes are all so enduring, alas.


Salem Breakfast on Bikes said...

Ah-ha! Should have checked the "Shine on Salem" historical digest. In the entry for 1871:

'According to a Sept. 17, 1871, The Oregon Statesman report on Anthony’s speech at the Reed Opera House: “People may have expected that a champion of the new movement would be something of a scold, but the tones in which she did her scolding – – for she scold all of mankind at a terrible rate – – were decorous and womanly, so much so that the effect of her lectures was greatly enhanced by the admirable manner and apparent good taste of their delivery.” “…We believe that when the first effect of her appearance wears away, the women of Oregon will realize that while she told many truths and told them well, she treated their own husbands and fathers unfairly.”'

That newspaper date is also more consistent with a date later than August 31st.

Also, consider the persistence of the "scolding" trope. We saw it in 2016 and again are seeing it in 2020.

Salem Breakfast on Bikes said...

(Added a few more clips)

Salem Breakfast on Bikes said...

The National Votes for Women Trail gives September as the month, also that it was a two-day visit:

"Cyrus Adams Reed, was a founder of Oregon’s Republican Party and first president of Oregon’s Women’s Suffrage Association engaged Susan B. Anthony to campaign for woman suffrage during her first campaign trip to Oregon in 1871. Susan B. Anthony gave two speeches on woman suffrage at the Reed Opera House during her two-day visit to Salem in September 1871. At the evening lecture, Clara Duniway sang the campaign song "Wait for the Turn of the Tide," and Abigail Scott Duniway introduced Anthony."

Since this post, here's another one on Cyrus Reed, "Cyrus Reed of Reed Opera House was also a Spiritualist."