Too Many Women in the East

In researching the Emigrant Escort Service and the involvement of Medorem Crawford and his brother LeRoy I came across this:

Massachusetts. General Court. Joint Special Committee on so Much of the Governor’s Address as Relates to the Emigration of Young Women to the West

Maybe I Should Go West......

Maybe I should go west…..

In Senate, March 29, 1865.

The Joint Special Committee to whom was referred so much of the Governor’s Address as relates to “the emigration of young women to the West,” have considered the subject and respectfully submit the subjoined Report, with the Resolution annexed.


The subject referred to the Committee is novel and extraordinary. For the first time in our history, the attention of the legislature has been called to an “excess of women in Massachusetts.” And from a new stand-point altogether, the most delicate and sacred of all the relations of our social economy have been earnestly commended to the deliberations of the General Court.

Says His Excellency, the Governor, in his Annual Address to the legislature, at the opening of our session: — “I desire to call attention to the excess of women in Massachusetts, and to the surplus of men in Oregon, California, and other remote western communities. The facility with which young men migrate, the attractions and opportunities for them of new States; the obvious embarrassments to the migration of young women, the attractions of home, wherever it is, to the heart of woman, and her natural dependence, combine to create this inequality in the distribution of the sexes. In Oregon, having 52,160 inhabitants, according to the census of 1860, there were 19,961 males over fifteen years old, and only 9,878 females above that age. Its population is now estimated at over 100,000 — this disproportion yet remaining. In Massachusetts there were 257,883 males between the ages of fifteen and forty, and 287,009 females, or a surplus of 29,166. The excess of women of all ages above fifteen years, was 38,846. The absorption of men by the military and naval service during the intervening four years has aggravated this disproportion. And it is a disastrous one: it disorders the market for labor; it reduces women and men to an unnatural competition for employments fitted for men alone, tends to increase the number both of men unable to maintain families, and of women who must maintain themselves unaided. In civilized, refined society, it is the office and duty of man to protect woman, to furnish her a sphere, a support, a home. In return, she comforts, refines and adorns domestic life, the family, and the range of social influences. This is also the plainly providential order. Where women are driven to the competitions of the market with men, or where men are left unsolaced and unrefined by the presence of women, society is alike weakened and demoralized.

” I know of no more useful object to which the Commonwealth can lend its aid than that of a movement adapted in a practical way to open the door of emigration to young women who are wanted for teachers, and for every other appropriate as well as domestic employment in the remote West, but who are leading anxious and aimless lives in New England.”

Essentially the same statistics and comments, as those in the Annual Address of the governor, appeared, a month previous, in a circular signed by Rev. Edward Everett Hale, chairman of the New England Emigrant Aid Company’s Committee on Oregon. This company was incorporated by the Massachusetts legislature, February 21st, 1855. It had been operating, however, for nearly a year, under a previous charter, as the Massachusetts Emigrant Aid Company, for the special object of promoting emigration to Kansas. It has never received any aid from the State treasury. “The original charter fixed five million dollars as the amount of its possible stock.” “In the month of May, 1856, the amount of money expended by the company, in Kansas, was 196,956.01. Of this, very much the largest proportion had been spent for two hotels, and for steam-engines and mills. A part had been expended for the erection of school-houses and dwelling-houses.” “But,”says the History of the Emigrant Aid Company, “we never paid the passage of any emigrant, nor paid anything towards his passage; we simply organized the emigration of individuals, and relieved it, as far as we could, of its solitude and other inconveniences.”

The chairman of the committee above mentioned has had much service, in aiding females to procure employment. At one of our meetings he urged the claims of destitute females, of good character, to legislative and pecuniary assistance in emigrating to Oregon. By a loan of $100 to each emigrant, the money obtained from donations or subscriptions, — he had sent forward, in December last, three or four young women, in charge of proper guardians. They went by the sea route, — defraying the balance of expenses themselves.

There is a strong desire, as we have been informed, to send out a much larger company this spring. So far as we can judge, no considerable amount of donations is expected from private individuals. And very little progress is likely to be made, in supplying from “. the excess of women in Massachusetts,” the marital and other wants of ” the surplus of men in Oregon, California, and other remote western communities,”

unless the legislature shall inaugurate a new department for the bounties or charities of the Commonwealth. With at least some hope of such a procedure, the attention of his excellency was solicited to the subject. And for the same purpose, doubtless, several articles have appeared in the columns of a leading ” daily ” paper, — evidently from the same source as that of the Oregon Committee circular.

In connection with the movements of the Emigrant Aid Company, there have been influences, probably, from the other side of the Atlantic. The “Social Science Congresses” in England, various articles in reviews or magazines, and particularly such as were written by the gifted Miss Frances Power Cobbe, have not been unknown among us, nor without effect upon a certain class of minds.

Since his Annual Address, the governor has received communications from Albert G. Browne, Jr., Military Secretary, — dated in January, at the city of Washington, in which mention is made of Captain Le Roy Crawford, A. Q. M., Senator B. F. Harding, and Representative J. R. McBride, of Oregon, and Delegate Wm. H. Wallace, of Idahoe Territory, formerly governor of that Territory.

Says Mr. Browne :• — ” It seems that there has been no system of emigration to Oregon, but for the last few years Congress has made annual appropriation of $25,000 or $30,000 for an escort (not military,) to such emigrants as should be on the road. The route of the emigration during the three years has been, starting from Omaha, in Nebraska Territory, or other points in that neighborhood on the frontier, to follow the main road up the Platte to the vicinity of the Wind River Mountains, and there to turn off into Lander’s road and follow that to Oregon.

” This escort, consisting usually of about fifty civilians hired for the purpose, has been chiefly of value in making repairs on the road, and assisting parties whose teams had broken, down, or whose stock had been stampeded. Obviously it was too small to have afforded any protection against Indians ; and as the emigration has not been in great bodies, but in scattered parties moving without concert, its value for any purposes of defence has been inconsiderable. Unless the appropriation can be largely increased this year, it may about as well not be made at all ; and the object of Captain Crawford, in his letter to you, was, I presume, to solicit your cooperation for such an increase.”  Speaking of a conversation with the gentlemen above named, Mr. Browne also says : —  ” I assured them of my belief that under proper auspices, in which the emigrants could have confidence, a party of perhaps one thousand, of which twenty per cent, might be males, could be collected from New England, for an emigration in a body to Oregon, overland, this coming spring and summer ; and that if such an emigration should succeed this year, it would be followed without doubt by one five times as large next year. From the discussion the fact appeared plain, that the expense of such an emigration across the Plains, would be much less than of emi- gration around by sea; for that horses and mules and wagons, in reasonably good condition, sell for as high prices in Oregon as in Missouri, always, and at the present time for higher prices.”  Other communications have been received by his excellency. One gentleman of Connecticut, while approving of the suggestions in the Annual Address, inquires if “the same thing could not be effected,” i, e., ” the excess of women ” be diminished, — ” by introducing some of the finer manufactures of Paris and other European cities into Massachusetts, which would attract thither respectable young unmarried men and of middle life from abroad, to come and stay in Massachusetts, and in the New England States.” A Kansas gentleman thinks that ” a large number of females from the East could be employed in this State, if they did not all want to be teachers ; but would go as milliners, house-servants, sales-women, &c.” He suggests, “that if different societies would combine, and use a portion of the money received for the purpose of aiding females, in fitting out and paying the passage out to Kansas of a portion of them, the West would be benefited and the East relieved.”



Elegant Tribute

Oregon City Enterprise, March 10, 1891
Last Saturday afternoon, while Grandma Stevens was home quietly in her parlor, she heard a knock at the door and, on answering the summons, was confronted by twenty-five ladies armed with lunch baskets. A look of blank astonishment overspread the aged woman’s face until she recognized that her unexpected guests were Mrs. M. M. Charman, Mrs. Diller, Mrs. C. Caufield, Mrs. W. T. Matlock, Mrs. R. Caufield, Mrs. McKee, Mrs. Greenman, Mrs. Stover, Mrs. Wilkinson, Mrs. Taylor, Mrs. Albright, Mrs. Broughton, Mrs. Dye, Mrs. Livermore, Mrs. Bestow, Mrs. Wilson, Mrs. Patrow, Mrs. Jennie White, Mrs. Brownell, Mrs. Purdom, Mrs. H. C. Stevens and others constituting the Ladies’ Aid Society of the Congregational Church. The ladies in turn reminded grandmother that this was the inauguration and also her seventy-first birthday. They proceeded to take possession of her house. Mrs. M. M. Charman gave a very appropriate address of congratuluation to Mrs. Stevens on the many years in which she and faithfully sewed as president of the society. In closing she said, “You shall be known in the future as the mother and grandmother of this society.” In the course of the afternoon many interesting facts were brought to light. In the early days for many years Mrs. Stevens energy kept the society alive and flourishing. It is estimated that enough quilts had been made to carpet the old immigrant road from here to the Rocky Mountains and the proceeds of various entertainments have placed hundreds of dollars in the church treasury. Among other pioneers Grandmother Whitlock should be mentioned who for thirty-five years taught in the Sunday School and has only recently retired through advancing age. Mrs. M. M. Charman has taught for twenty-five years and is good for twenty-five more. The women of our churches make very little noise but quietly, surely and steadily they remain the moral forces of our city. A bountiful lunch was shared with tea and toasts in three languages after which the happy guests left wishing many happy returns.


 — Mrs. Catherine A. Coburn Relates Instances of Injustice.

I have never been a militant suffragist and do not answer at all to the title ‘suffragette.’ But I have been for many years an ardent believer in equal political rights and privileges for men and women. Why? Listen. Many years ago, when I was a young widow with four young children to support, I applied for the position of teacher of the district school at Canemah, a small village on the east bank of the Willamette River just above the Falls.

I had been left by the sudden death of my husband with four little daughters, a small home and without means of support. My thoughts turned to school teaching, in which, in my girlhood, I had had some experience, and after several weeks of preparatory study I presented myself before Mr. Pope, then County School Superintendent of Clackamas County, for examination in the ordinary branches then taught in the public schools of the state, and was fortunate enough to secure a certificate of the first grade. Equipped with this certificate I presented myself before the good district fathers–three men with whom I had been acquainted for years and to whom my circumstances were well known, and in common parlance ‘applied for the school.’ They were most kind, examined my certificate individually and collectively, and made answer that I could ‘have the school’ asking: ‘What wages do you want?’ ‘Fifty dollars a month”, I replied. Dead silence fell over the three as they looked at each other with surprised. even astonished eyes. I waited, wondering in my unsophisticated mind what was the matter. Finally, one of the two arose, took a turn around the little room and stopped before me, his thumbs in the armholes of his vest, and said in tones of mingled rebuke and surprise: ‘We can get a man to teach for that.” But I protested no man can get a better certificate than I have shown you. and I am accustomed to children, their management and instruction.

But the district fathers were obdurate. insisting that they could “get a man to teach the school for $50 month, and that it would be absurd to pay a woman such a price.” The result was that I had to teach the school for $40 a month, which I did conscientiously, but with a rankling sense of injustice in my heart.

Clearly something was the matter. My capability in this contest was not questioned. But my sex was a bar when I came to compete with men in my struggle for a livelihood. Custom? Yes. But upon what was that custom founded? Upon the might which made right in the early history of the race and later upon woman’s inequality before the law through the usurpation of the law-making power by man. Traced a little further, to her total lack of political power. I had taken my first lesson in equal rights – in what may be called political sexology. I have taken many since, and all along the years that have intervened, years of taxation without representation, government without consent; years wherein my political opinions have been as strongly and firmly based as have those of any man with whom I have worked. I have waited and watched and hoped for the day of woman’s enfranchisement. An ardent partisan. I have never been allowed to express my preference at the polls for the candidate whom I hoped to see succeed. From the President of the United States, for whom, as an American citizen, I have longed to vote for many years as a matter of personal pride in citizenship, to the Assessor who has placed an arbitrary valuation upon my property, and the Sheriff who has collected my taxes. I have had decided preferences, yet have never been allowed to express this preference where alone it would count – in the ballot box. Do I believe in equal rights? Well, rather. I am a woman but not necessarily a fool. A human entity—not a mollusc.

 February 25, 1912. The Morning Oregonian

The Women’s Sufferage Proclamation was signed by Governor Oswald West on November 30, 1912. It was passed by a vote of 61,265 to 57,104 at a general election held on November 5, 1912.

Abigail Scott Duniway, after a lifetime of advocating for the vote for women, also signed the proclamation. She was 79 years old.

George Grantham Bain Collection (Library of Congress).

A bed owned by her is on exhibit at the Museum of the Oregon Territory, 211 Tumwater Drive, Oregon City.