Congratulations, Oregon ladies! 100 years ago, you got 61,265 men to give you the right to vote.

Congratulations, Oregon ladies! 100 years ago, you got 61,265 men to give you the right to vote.

No one in Oregon receives more credit for that accomplishment than Abigail Jane Scott Duniway, who spent nearly all of her life in the cause of women's equality with men and the fight for the right to vote.

"I was taught from childhood that a woman's lot was a lifetime of unpaid servitude and sacrifice," she wrote. "It was then that I began my lonely struggle for equal rights for the mothers of the race."

That struggle included newspaper publishing, book writing and lectures, and took her to Jacksonville more than once. In 1886, while walking on a wooden California Street sidewalk, eggs flew through the air, smashed against buildings and fell at her feet. Only one found its mark, and Abigail laughed it off.

"Only one egg hit us, and that was fresh and sweet," she said.

To see these big, strong men attack a tiny woman with such "fragile artillery" was just too comical to believe, and by the time the boys burned her in effigy, she was already out of town.

By Nov. 5, 1912, the question of a woman's right to vote had been on Oregon's ballot five times and failed. Abigail had played a major part in every contest, but now that she had just turned 79 and was seriously ill, this sixth try, designated as measure "X 300," would likely be her last.

In an age before polling, the question was still up in the air. It seemed that urban areas were in favor, but "in the rural districts it did not appear to have an over good chance."

Mail Tribune editor George Putnam urged a yes vote and congratulated Abigail on her birthday.

"Her indomitable pluck, her untiring energy, her wonderful enthusiasm," he said, "has brought the new idea to the verge of victory in Oregon."

In Ashland, Carol Van Nice, 27, a recently accredited teacher, was declared the first woman to run for office in all of Oregon when she asked men to write-in her name for county school superintendent on the ballot. She reasoned that if X 300 passed, she would be eligible for the office.

Although the final count would take days, the women and their supporters were confident of victory and began to celebrate.

Statewide, the margin of victory for the Equal Suffrage Amendment was 4,161 votes, or 51.7 percent of the vote. Jackson County did better with a 919-vote margin equaling 60 percent of the vote.

On Nov. 30, 1912, Gov. Oswald West signed the official proclamation that made equal suffrage effective in the state. To honor Abigail, West had asked her to hand-write the proclamation and be with him so they could sign it together. It had taken the frail woman nearly a week to complete the document, writing just a few words a day. Abigail dipped her pen in the ink well and signed her name below the governor's.

"There," she said, putting the pen on the desk. "It is a fact at last."

Writer Bill Miller lives in Shady Cove. Reach him at