Document 12: Exchange between W.C.T.U. President Frances Willard and Governor John Routt, 28 October 1892, Minutes of the National Woman’s Christian Temperance Union, at the Nineteenth Annual Meeting, Denver, Colorado, October 28th to November 2d, 1892 (Chicago: Woman’s Temperance Publishing Association, 1892), p. 25, Frances Willard Memorial Library, Evanston, Illinois.
In 1892, the W.C.T.U. held its annual national convention in Denver. The governor of Colorado at the time, John Routt, gave a welcoming address to the organization in favor of woman suffrage. His wife, Eliza (or Lila) Pickerell Routt (1839-1907), was a long-time suffrage advocate, campaigned in both the 1877 and 1893 referendum campaigns, and, after victory, became the first woman in Colorado registered to vote. The governor, however, was soon to be turned out of office, defeated in November 1892 by Davis H. Waite of the People’s Party.
At the W.C.T.U. convention Governor Routt exchanged a few words with W.C.T.U. President Frances Willard, who held her office from 1879 to 1898 and broadened the Union’s agenda to “Do Everything,” including fighting for female enfranchisement. This brief exchange reveals Routt’s and Willard’s mutual respect and commitment to woman suffrage, along with the existence of prominent male support for suffrage reform.
CONVENTION, Oct. 28, EVENING.
Devotional exercises were led by Mrs. Mary T. Burt, President of New York W.C.T.U.
Governor Routt offered generous welcome to the Convention, indorsing with all heartiness the enfranchisement of women, of which he said he had been an advocate for twenty years.
Miss Willard said:
I don’t think we ever had any speech we liked any better than that.
Governor Routt replied:
That is right. I am going to vote for you. (Laughter).
Miss Willard added:
We have had a welcome from a Governor with a good big head on his shoulders. . . .
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