Prominent Seattle women participate in a reception for noted suffragists at Seattle's Hotel Lincoln on June 30, 1909.

  • By Paula Becker
  • Posted 5/02/2008
  • Essay 8540

On the evening of June 30, 1909, prominent Seattle women lend their support to the suffrage cause at a reception hosted by the Washington Equal Suffrage Association in honor of the visiting delegates, officers, and friends of the National Suffrage Association.  Both suffrage groups are in Seattle to hold conventions and raise public awareness of the suffrage cause.  The Alaska-Yukon-Pacific (A-Y-P) Exposition underway at the University of Washington campus continues to attract large crowds and suffragists hope to capitalize on the male voters among these fairgoers and secure votes needed to ratify Amendment 6 to the state constitution.  If ratified, Amendment 6, submitted to the electorate by the state Legislative Assembly in January 1909 for a vote on November 10, 1910, will grant Washington women the right to vote.

Suffrage Luminaries Welcomed

The reception was held from 8:00 to 11:00 pm in the parlors of the Hotel Lincoln in Seattle. The national association was convening in Seattle to help Washington suffragists build support for the upcoming vote and as part of their ultimate goal: a women's suffrage amendment to the United States Constitution. Wyoming (in 1869), Colorado (1893), Utah (1896), and Idaho (1896) had granted their women citizens the right to vote. National suffrage leaders saw Washington as a key contest in the push toward national women's suffrage.

The reception was Seattle's opportunity to formally welcome suffrage luminaries to the city. The Seattle Sunday Times had prepared the ground for the suffrage seed, running a full page line-drawing of the Northern Pacific Suffrage Special train jubilantly bedecked with graciously gowned suffrage supporters on June 27, 1909. The banner above the illustration read, "Oh the women! They are coming to Seattle by the train load this week!"

The Seattle Times explained why this first reception was important:

"The event promises to be a most notable one in view of the fact that not only are suffragists proper invited to be present, but all who are interested in the cause, and that it provides an opportunity for meeting women of international reputation. The reception will include an entertainment program, and many of the women prominently identified with the association work will deliver addresses. Among the speakers are Rev. Anna Howard Shaw, who is president of the national organization; Mrs. Rachel Foster Avery, first vice-president; Mrs. Harriet Taylor Upton, Miss Alice Stone Blackwell, Miss Kate Gordon, and Miss Lucy Anthony, niece of the famous Susan B. Anthony, now dead ... . The guests will be received by local woman of prominence, who will extend hearty welcome to the visiting delegates" ("Suffragists To Convene ...").

Parlors Were Thronged

The prominent local women who received (i.e. welcomed guests in a receiving line) for the visiting suffragists not only freed the suffrage leaders to mingle with guests discussing the suffrage cause, but also demonstrated their own approval for the gathering and the suffrage cause in general. Since the general public was welcome at this gathering it was convenient that these prominent local women would be likely to know the guests and provide a personal welcome.

The Hotel Lincoln's parlor where the reception was held, The Seattle Times noted the following day:

"... was decorated in yellow. California poppies were used in profusion. An orchestra played many selections throughout the evening. In the receiving line were Mrs. Emma Smith DeVoe, state president of the Suffrage League; Mrs. Roger S. Greene, Mrs. Orange Jacobs, and Mrs. John P. Hoyt, wives of judges, who were friends of the suffragists in territorial days, and Miss Inez Denny, who was also a member of the league; Mrs. John Leary, Mrs. Homer M. Hill, Dr. Sarah Kendall, Mrs. Nellie Mitchell Fick, president King County Political Equality Club; Miss Adelia M. Parker, president Washington College Suffrage League; Mrs. Isaac H. Jennings, who represented the state federation; Mrs. Reekie, the city federation, and Mrs. Fish, president of the Century Club.

"Also in the line were officers in the National Association, in whose honor the reception was given: President, the Rev. Anna H. Shaw; vice-president, Mrs. Rachel Foster; recording secretary, Miss Alice Stone Blackwell; corresponding secretary, Miss Kate Gordon, of New Orleans; treasurer, Mrs. Harriet Taylor Upton; auditor, Miss Laura Clay of Kentucky; Mrs. Ella S. Stewart, Miss Caroline Lexow, and Dr. Margaret Long, representing the College Suffrage League.

"The ladies who presided at the punch table were Mrs. Fred Gilman, Mrs. Duncan McGregor, Miss Day, Miss O'Meara, Miss Wallin, and Miss Whitehead" ("Women Who Received ...").

Suffrage leader Harriet Taylor Upton described the gathering succinctly: "A reception was tendered the delegates at the Lincoln, and the parlors were thronged" ("The Seattle Convention").

Sources: "Suffragists Convene In Seattle," The Seattle Times, June 30, 1909, p. 1; "Women Who Received For The Suffragists Last Night," Ibid., July 1, 1909, p. 13; "Oh The Women!," Ibid., June 27, 1901; Marion Harland and Virginia Terhune Van de Water, Everyday Etiquette: A Practical Manual of Social Usages (Indianapolis: The Boobs-Merrill Company, 1905), p. 42; "The Seattle Convention," Progress, August 1909, p. 1.

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