Then, it ever, came perfect day.
The clear atmosphere brought the mountains into bold relief. A glance at their strong outline, striking fearlessly against the cloudless sky, would fill any soul with inspiration. What wonder, then, that the women of Colorado stepped forth on the morning of the 6th of November, with enthusiasm unbounded, to exercise for the first time the crowning act of citizenship.
Conscious of being critically watched by forty-two states, they were especially anxious that the result of this experiment should prove conclusively that women would vote.
At seven o'clock, when the polls opened, half of those in line were women. It was interesting to note the different voters; young girls who looked to be scarcely twenty-one standing in line with white-haired matrons. All nationalities were represented.
It is said that such rapid voting was never before witnessed in Denver. It was also the most quiet.
In nearly all the precincts the heaviest vote was polled during the morning. In one of the largest precincts, at two o'clock, P. M., 550 out of 675 votes which belonged to that department, had been polled.
At one of the polling places a woman was on hand at half past five o'clock, declaring that she was there to cast the first ballot.
The women not only voted, but they worked zealously and untiringly, many of them beginning before daylight. Women of all parties took an active part, but the Republican women seemed rather the most enthusiastic. They were most systematically organized and had worked the field thoroughly. All voted, those who had protested against having the ballot thrust upon them and those who had hitherto taken no interest in politics. They electioneered, they drove from house to house bringing voters to the polls.
The women generally followed the instructions of the party leaders and voted the prepared slate, through fear of losing their votes if they scratched their tickets. The credulity of woman was played upon to the utmost. It is known, however, that some women were independent enough not to mark the party emblem.
The Republicans were triumphant; they won by a handsome majority. In Arapahoe county no other party could claim anything. This was probably due to the determination to defeat Gov. Waite, against whom there is a strong sentiment, not only among the opposing factious, but in his own party. Voters from all ranks were induced to join the Republicans in order to elect Mr. McIntire over Gov. Waite.
Lessons learned from the election and campaign preceding it:
1. Women will study politics. Proven by the great number of political study clubs formed during the past year. A populist woman, who stumped the state, says, "Politics was the theme of discussion morning, noon and night. The women talked politics over their sewing, their dish-washing, and during their social calls. Politics has made them read and think more, and in new and different lines. Some of the women are getting these economic questions drilled into their heads in a way that would astonish you, and when the mothers understand these things it is going to make a vast difference, for they will teach them to the children."
2. Women will vote. The women of Colorado have demonstrated that conclusively.
3. They will generally vote straight. This fact was shown by the Republican women, though it may be that in this instance they believed it necessary to do so in the interest of law and order.
4. There should be thorough and systematic organization of the women of all parties.
The good government committee will now take steps to strengthen its force and organize more thoroughly for the municipal election in the spring.
The first important work of the women will be to see that the party emblem in the Australian ballot is done away with, thus insuring a truly secret ballot, find therefore more independent voting.
The readers of the ERA will be interested to know what special part the colored women have taken in the election. Most of them have done admirable work in the interest of the Republican party. They also formed clubs of their own and heroically helped their brothers to elect a representative to the legislature, although the majority of those brothers voted against woman's enfranchisement.
They made good campaign speeches.
Mrs. Olden is deserving of especial mention. She was one of fourteen delegates sent from the colored Republican club to the county convention held last summer. She suggested that they ask for representation in the state convention, but was discouraged by her too-timid brothers, on the ground that there was no use asking for what they would not get. But this courageous little woman persisted. The outcome of it all was that Mrs. Olden was unanimously elected third Vice-President of the Republican State League of Colorado. She has done most excellent work for the party.
Mrs. Olden is a graduate of Fisk University. On the eve of election in November, '93, she came to Denver from Tennessee at the head of a small colony of people who longed for the free air of the mountains. They sought a dwelling place where free speech would not be denied them.
The colored women of Denver have recognized the worth of Mrs. Olden by making her president of their league lately organized, and about which I will tell you later.