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Erik Visits an American Grave, Part 60


This is the grave of Abigail Scott Duniway.


Born in 1834, in Illinois, Abigail Scott migrated with her family to Oregon in 1852, where she soon married Benjamin Duniway, a farmer who had recently migrated himself from Illinois. They had six children but Benjamin Duniway became permanently disabled by a runaway team of horses in the late 1850s and Abigail had to support the family. In 1866, they moved to the town of Albany, where she first taught and then ran a millinery shop. It was at the shop, talking to women about the unfair treatment they received throughout their lives, that Duniway first became political and committed to women’s suffrage. In 1871, the Duniways moved to Portland and she started The New Northwest, a newspaper dedicated to women’s rights. Interestingly, she was deeply opposed throughout her political life by Portland’s largest paper, The Oregonian, which was run by her own brother. She became close with Susan B. Anthony and became a vice-president of the National Women Suffrage Association.

Long considered a difficult person to work with, including by other suffragists, Duniway kept fighting for women’s rights against long odds. By the early twentieth century, with Oregon becoming a center of Progressivism, her long struggle began to pay off. Oregon passed a Married Women’s Property Act, which gave married women in that state property rights for the first time. In 1912, Duniway’s lifelong mission was achieved when Oregon became the 7th state to legalized women’s suffrage after five previous referendum on the matter failed. She became the first woman to register to vote in Multnomah County. She published an autobiography in 1914 and then died the next year in Portland at the age of 81.

Abigail Scott Duniway is buried in River View Cemetery, Portland, Oregon

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