Document 2: Excerpts from Albina L. Washburne, “Annual Meeting, American Woman Suffrage Association: Colorado Report,” Woman’s Journal, 7 (7 October 1876), pp. 327, 328.

Document 2: Excerpts from Albina L. Washburne, “Annual Meeting, American Woman Suffrage Association: Colorado Report,” Woman’s Journal, 7 (7 October 1876), pp. 327, 328.


       The Colorado Woman Suffrage Association, founded in 1876, gave organizational shape to suffrage sentiment in the state. The state association affiliated with the American Woman Suffrage Association (AWSA), one of two national organizations dedicated to achieving votes for women. The AWSA, which began in November 1869, sought to pass state laws granting women the right to vote, making it the logical affiliation for the Colorado Woman Suffrage Association.

       In this report to the AWSA, Albina L. Washburn[A] sketched the early history of the Colorado suffrage movement, particularly during the Colorado Constitutional Convention. A teacher, founding member of the Colorado State Grange, union supporter, as well as suffragist, Washburn (birth/death dates unknown) wrote a woman’s rights column for the Denver Labor Enquirer beginning in 1887.


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       Previous to last year there had been very little agitation on the subject of Woman Suffrage in Colorado, and a few of us waiting ones were glad to receive a visit from Mrs. Margaret W. Campbell[C], of Massachusetts, a tried friend and worker in the Suffrage cause, who arrived in Colorado about the middle of November, 1875. Anxious to avail ourselves of her valuable assistance we Suffragists, then scattered and unknown to each other, gave her a warm welcome and proceeded to agitate a little, and feel the public pulse. Mrs. Campbell lectured in nearly all the principle towns of Colorado, finding many interested, and devoting herself untiringly to presenting the claims of Woman to legal rights, to the popular comprehension, when a call was made for a Convention of the friends to be held at Denver, January 10th, 1876, which was responded to by a few from a distance, and others more numerous from the city. Four sessions were held, an organization effected of the Colorado Woman Suffrage Association, by-laws and Constitution adopted, and the following officers elected: President, Dr. Alida C. Avery[D], of Denver; Recording Secretary, Miss E. D. Sewall[E], of Denver; Cor. Secretary, Mrs. A. L. Washburne, Big Thompson; Treasurer, Mrs. I. T. Hanna[F], Denver. The meeting was addressed by Rev. Eliza T. Wilkes[G] and Mrs. M. F. Shields[H], of Colorado Springs; Mrs. M. W. Campbell, Mrs. A. S. Washburne, and Dr. A. C. Avery, of Denver. The first meeting, at best a venture, was a success, and the audience, composed of the best men and women of Denver, with many members of the Constitutional Convention, and the Legislature then in session, continually grew in numbers, until many were unable to enter, and even women heretofore apparently indifferent, stood the entire evening to hear the glad tidings of Woman’s resurrection. An able executive Committee was chosen of both men and women, as also several vice presidents from among known friends of the cause in different localities. A committee was appointed who waited on the Constitutional Convention in session, and were courteously heard by the committee on Suffrage and elections. This committee of five women, viz., Mrs. Campbell, Miss Avery, Mrs. Hanna, Mrs. Shields and Mrs. Washburne, urged upon the Convention the right and justice of Woman’s claim to an equal recognition before the law, and the injustice of taxing and governing women without their consent, not forgetting to remind them of the glory and éclat which would follow the memory of those who first offered the helping hand to the women of the Centennial State.

       Petitions were also presented from about one thousand citizens of the Territory, praying the Honorable members to so frame the new Constitution in fixing the status of voters, “that no distinction be made on account of sex.” Memorials were also presented from the Missouri Woman Suffrage Association and the American Woman Suffrage Association. Also an independent, personal letter from Wendell Phillips[I], urging that justice be done to the women of the new State by liberal provision in the Constitution.

       Very opportunely for us, just at this time arrived in Denver Dr. J. H. Hayford, of the Laramie Sentinel, Laramie City, Wyoming. He was readily prevailed upon to tell the people what he knew of the practical workings of Woman Suffrage in Wyoming Territory[J]. On a few hours notice one of the largest halls in the city was filled with intelligent people seeking light on this much abused subject, and the lecture was a plain unvarnished tale of the good that had followed the introduction of women into halls of justice and at the polls in that territory. In short the practice of the women of Wyoming proved the theory of the women of Colorado. But, notwithstanding all of this, the reform was too new to the people; in fact the members of the Constitutional Convention of Colorado had not been elected on any such issue, and the objectionable word “male” was introduced in qualifications for general elections, but allowing women to vote and hold office in school districts, under the same restrictions as other citizens.

       The following clause is the only result of all our effort in behalf of Woman and, as will be seen, calls for renewed and continued effort on our part until we stand equal with our brothers before the law.

       ARTICLE 7, SEC. 2. “The general assembly shall, at the first session thereof, and may at any subsequent session, enact laws to extend the right of suffrage to women of lawful age and otherwise qualified, according to the provisions of this article. No such enactment shall be of effect until submitted to the vote of the qualified electors at a general election; nor unless the same be approved by a majority of those voting thereon.”

       Thus you see we have only skirmished a little, and the main battle, or a series of battles rather, are before us, ere we may expect to storm the stronghold of the army. One year from now will secure the first general election for the new State Assembly,-the first Tuesday in October. We plead for reinforcements: cavalry, artillery, infantry-troops by land and sea; in short, the sinews of war in any shape or manner calculated to carry dismay into the opposing ranks, in order to scatter the forces of injustice and usurpation, and to place us in possession of our inheritance of freedom. We need money to promote the distribution of Woman Suffrage papers and tracts. We need speakers who will thoroughly canvass the State and present in a plain, truthful, and acceptable manner, the facts concerning the present disabilities of Woman before the law, and the injustice felt by a large and constantly augmenting number of this disenfranchised class.

Corresponding Secretary Colorado
Woman Suffrage Association.

A. “Washburn” was the later spelling of her name.
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B. This document is only a partial reproduction of the original article published in the Woman's Journal. The omitted material discusses formalities of the eighth Annual Meeting of the American Woman Suffrage Association held in Philadelphia at the Handel and Hayden Hall at which the Colorado Report, reproduced here, was read by Mrs Albina L. Washburne.
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C. Margaret W. Campbell, wife of a lawyer, wrote editorials for the Rocky Mountain News during the 1877 referendum campaign but fearing exposure used a pseudonym--her last name rendered in German--“Schlachtfeld.”
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D. Alida C. Avery (1833-unknown) was a Denver physician.
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E. Sewall’s first name was Eunice.
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F. Ione T. Hanna (1837-1924), suffragist and clubwoman, became the first woman elected to public office in Denver when she won a seat on the Denver School Board in May 1893.
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G. Eliza Tupper Wilkes (1844-1917), one of the first ordained female ministers in the U.S., moved to Colorado in 1873, set up a Unitarian congregation in Colorado Springs, and advocated votes for women.
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H. Mary Shields (birth/death dates unknown), Colorado Springs suffragist, later joined and became president of the Colorado W.C.T.U.
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I. Wendell Phillips was a famous abolitionist and Radical Republican.
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J. Wyoming territory enfranchised women in 1869.
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