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Dakota Datebook

Linda Slaughter and Dakota Women for Suffrage in 1888

Since a first attempt at suffrage in Dakota Territory occurred in 1868, you might think that came about thanks to a concentrated effort. However, this was not the case. In fact, twenty years later, on Feb. 23rd 1888, Marietta Bones wrote to Linda Warfel Slaughter, well-known and prominent pioneer in the Bismarck area. Marietta said in part:

“…You can never know how gratified I am for your kindly suggestion to act in behalf of our worthy women; but must laugh when I think of the wonderful show we make – when the facts are, you and I are the only members of the N. W. S. A. [National Woman Suffrage Association] in Dakota—but let us not be discouraged in the good work—it will [get] better.”

At the time, Linda Slaughter was in Washington D.C., where she would continue to stay for a number of months. She was busy while there, working to further many goals. She petitioned on behalf of Dakota settlers that Fort Lincoln should not be abandoned, she gave a talk about prohibition in Dakota Territory, she was a member of the Women’s National Press Association, and delivered several lectures.

Consequently, she was already in Washington for the National Suffrage Convention (and also the International Suffrage Convention), allowing for better representation of women in Dakota Territory. She offered to make use of this, to which Marietta Bones wrote, “How I wish that I could see you, and how nice it would be if we could attend the Council together—only the lack of money prevents one being there.”

However, she promised to let “Miss Anthony,” famed suffragette Susan B. Anthony, know that   Slaughter would participate in events.  Slaughter gave a speech at National Suffrage Convention titled “Dakota Women.” Part of the speech called for Dakota Territory statehood, saying:  “Why Congress persists in keeping us in a state of territorial vassalage can only be explained on the supposition that the representatives of the older States are actuated by the same motive that impels the elder sisters of a family to keep in the background their younger and fairer sisters until their own market is made.”

Slaughter’s busy time in Washington did not keep her from writing home, acting as correspondent. In one letter, she noted that she felt a little homesick, saying she was coming “back to Dakota with the wild geese in the spring.”

Dakota Datebook by Sarah Walker


Bismarck Weekly Tribune, January 20, 1888, p5

Washington D.C. Evening Star, January 10, 1888, p4

Bismarck Weekly Tribune, January 27, 1888, p4

State Historical Society of North Dakota MSS 10003 Box 1 folder 3

State Historical Society of North Dakota general information file Linda Slaughter

The Washington Critic, April 6, 1888, p1

The Bottineau Pioneer, April 5, 1888, p2

Bismarck Weekly Tribune, April 13, 1888, p8

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