Document 11: Albina L. Washburn letter to the Editors of the Woman’s Journal, printed as “Colorado Suffrage Items,” Woman’s Journal, 23 (27 August 1892), p. 276.
By the early 1890s, pro-woman suffrage sentiment was growing in Colorado. The Colorado People’s, or Populist, Party--the political arm of the Farmers’ Alliance, the 1880s successor to the Grange--constituted a stronghold of support, due to the agitation of its women members.
The following report on the founding convention of the Colorado People’s Party in July 1892 from Albina L. Washburn indicated how support for women’s political equality co-existed with a lack of explicitness regarding the Party’s stance on woman suffrage.
COLORADO SUFFRAGE ITEMS. ______
Editors Woman’s Journal:
The “duty of voting,” a sense of which is growing upon women like a “progressive paralysis,” though with a contrary effect, has absorbed so much of my time of late that a contemplated “good news” letter to the JOURNAL has been delayed until its subject matter may be “old news.” However, let it take its chances, as we all have to do.
At the People’s Party Convention for naming candidates for a State ticket, which met in Denver July 27, 28 and 29, a dozen women delegates were present, and acted in full capacity with their different county delegations, having been elected in their respective counties at the suggestion, I was told, of Mrs. Emma G. Curtis[A], of Colorado, who is ever alive to women’s rights and needs.
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During the proceedings, so pleased were the men to see the “lady delegates,” that one brother gallantly proposed that they be seated on the platform. The motion carried, and some of them good-naturedly complied and took their seats on the stage, but, as they afterwards declared, they “didn’t like it,” and thereafter were found seated with their respective delegations.
Upon a hasty conference, on the second day, the women meeting near the side-door of the vast audience hall, at the call of Mrs. A. L. Washburn, the sentiment seemed to be almost unanimous that it would be improper and unnecessary to ask for a suffrage plank in the platform, since women were received as delegates without question, and the Omaha Platform[B] , in its preamble, virtually conceded the belief of the People’s Party in equal political rights for all. Besides, we were in and of the body of the convention and it would be out of place to petition for a suffrage plank, where women were actually and practically voting on equal terms with men. … Just before the session closed, when three cheers for the ticket waited on the lips of the earnest, enthusiastic people, Mrs. Washburn asked leave, which was readily granted, to read a resolution-“not for adoption,” she said, “but to carry home in their hearts.” The resolution was well received, and some one moved its adoption, but as many of the delegates had been obliged to take trains for home, it was deemed not best.
“Remember,” said the lady delegate, “you men folks are not to ‘get there’ first and then say-‘Come on sisters, we will give you this or that.’ We are going right along with you. When you ‘get there,’ we women folks will be there, too, at your side.”
The resolution (received, with cheers) was as follows:
Resolved, That we, the People’s Party of Colorado, composed of men and women who desire the restoration of the people’s rights, hereby declare our allegiance to the principle of political equality for all American citizens without regard to sex.
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ALBINA L. WASHBURN.
A. Emma Ghent Curtis (1860-1918), of Canon City, was active in the People’s Party and published a woman’s newspaper entitled The Royal Gorge to promote woman suffrage among farm and labor families.
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B. When the People’s, or Populist, Party met in Omaha, Nebraska in 1892 to nominate their candidates for the U.S. presidency, they adopted a party platform that called for, among other measures, unlimited coinage for silver; the Omaha Platform did not, however, explicitly call for woman suffrage.
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