Catharine Paine Blaine
Return to Seattle
In 1882 or 1883, Reverend Blaine requested a transfer to the Puget Sound Conference of the Methodist Church and by March 1883 Blaine and his family were in Seattle.1 Meanwhile, following the Blaines strong belief in education, their daughter Martha Louise attended Syracuse University and graduated in 1886. When they returned there, the Seattle Methodist Congregation still worshipped in the little church the Blaines had built in the 1850s. However, Reverend Blaine did not return to active ministry.
Women in Washington Territory gained the right to vote in 1883, and Catharine Blaine was among the voters listed on voter registration rolls for the Third Ward in Seattle in 1885, making her the first known female signer of the 1848 Declaration of Sentiments to legally register as a voter. Though voting records are not available, presumably she voted in the next election. Shortly thereafter, Washington Territory’s Supreme Court nullified the territory’s woman suffrage law. In June, 1887, the Washington Pioneer Association passed a resolution calling upon the next legislative session to pass a woman suffrage law immune to judicial review. While the historical record does not indicate who proposed the resolution, both Catharine and David Blaine and their old friend A. A. Denny voted in favor of the resolution. David Blaine was first vice-president of the organization that year.2
In 1888, the Washington legislature reenacted the suffrage law with an appropriate title, but excluding women from serving on juries. However, that same year the Washington Territorial Supreme Court in deciding another case again invalidated the women’s suffrage law, claiming that the Organic Act creating Washington Territory had intended to limit citizenship to males only, precluding women voters.
This disqualification of women from voting weakened the cause for women’s right to vote at the 1889 Washington State Constitutional Convention since women could not vote for delegates to the conclave. Women’s suffrage was a separate issue on the State Constitutional ballot in 1889, but lost by 19,000 votes. In 1890 the legislature reinstated the limited right of women to vote in school elections, which had been authorized by the state constitution.
After statehood, enactment of women’s suffrage required both legislative authorization and a public vote to amend the state constitution. Fusionist and Populist reformers in the 1897 state legislature passed a bill for a statewide vote to amend the Washington Constitution to empower women’s suffrage. Despite work by suffrage groups statewide, the amendment lost the following year. Part of the ratification campaign in 1898 was recalling the 50th anniversary of the Seneca Falls Convention which was commemorated by suffrage campaigners Abigail Scott Duniway and Laura Hall Peters at Port Angeles in July, 1898.
A series of deeds and other transactions provide evidence that the Blaines bought and sold Seattle property from their earliest residence in the Territory. These transactions typify the requirement for both husband and wife to agree to legal transactions which empowered women as property owners and required an affidavit that the wife had given her assent voluntarily. Washington Territory was a common property territory from 1869 forward. While evidence of legal right to common property in Washington Territory, in New York and other states, the separate examination and signed affidavit of a wife’s agreement to sell property constituted protection of a wife’s dower right to a portion of the income from real property if widowed.
David Blaine was a charter member of the Puget Sound Conference of the Methodist church at its organization in 1884. As a charter member, he participated in adopting a report of the Educational Committee to establish a Methodist University that became the University of Puget Sound.3
John J. Blaine residence, 524 W. Highland Drive, Seattle, WA, Blaine family.
In Seattle, by 1900, John J. Blaine and his wife Florence and their family lived with David and Catharine Blaine at 524 W. Highland Drive. Catharine and David Blaine’s other son Edward L. Blaine and his wife Louisa and family lived nearby. Late in 1897, David Blaine noted that he had given up all business matters to his wife.4 David Edwards Blaine died in 1900.
All three of David and Catharine Blaine’s children eventually moved to Seattle. John J. Blaine (1856-1910) and his wife Florence Austin Blaine (1856-1901) and their three children lived with Catharine and David by the time of David’s death in 1900. John J. Blaine worked as a steam engineer and was employed by the city water department. At his death in 1910, John J. Blaine’s obituary recalled his birth during the Indian War of 1855-56. Edward L. (1862-1954) and Louisa Blaine (1864-1940) moved to Washington in 1890 with two daughters and a son. They built a house near their parents and brother.
E. L. Blaine was a prominent Seattle figure. Working in insurance, construction and with American Nitrogen Company, Blaine was on the City Council in Seattle, serving from 1910 to 1913 and from 1922 to 1931. An undergraduate and master’s graduate of Wesleyan University, Middletown, Connecticut, he also served for 40 years on the Board of Trustees of the College of Puget Sound, now University of Puget Sound. D.E. Blaine had promoted the college when he returned to Washington in 1884. E. L. Blaine was also president of the board for Washington Children’s Home Society and was very active in the Blaine Memorial Methodist Church as well as being on the board of the First United Methodist Church in Seattle.
Catharine and David’s daughter, Martha Louisa Blaine White (1864-1940) was an 1886 graduate of Syracuse University in fine arts. She married a fellow classmate from Syracuse University and Methodist minister, Edward White, in New York in 1885. They served in several New York Churches from 1885 to 1891 and then came to Seattle, and were assigned to Chehalis, Sedro-Woolley, Renton and Monroe, Washington pastorates. They had five daughters and two sons. Most of the Blaine extended family is interred at Mt. Pleasant Cemetery in Seattle.
Catharine Blaine lived to see her early history in Seattle commemorated in public events and locations. Though present, Catharine Blaine did not make remarks in November, 1905 when the Washington University State Historical Society placed a historical marker at the site of her first school in Pioneer Square in downtown Seattle. The marker is still extant on First Avenue in Seattle between Columbia and Cherry, replaced from an earlier structure on that location demolished in 1959. In addition, Blaine Street in Seattle is named for the Blaines.5 It is believed that Cherry Street in Seattle is named for the orchard planted by the Blaines near their home.
Throughout her long life, Catharine's interests in education, women’s rights, and anti-slavery were evidenced in her words and in her actions. Upon her death in 1908, Blaine left a considerable estate, with a large bequest to the Methodist Church, including special memorials for the Puget Sound Conference; the Board of Foreign Missions; Home Mission and Church Extension, as well as funds for the Board of Education, Freedmen’s Aid and Sunday Schools of the church — all reflecting her longtime interests in abolition and education as well as the Methodist Church.6
In the same year as Catharine’s death, 1908, a commemoration of the 60th Anniversary of the Seneca Falls Convention was held in the town with descendants of the signers including Harrison Chamberlain and Harriet Stanton Blatch and other names on the current memorial plaque represented by descendants of the signers.
The plaque dedication was not just a 60th anniversary observance. It was also a claim by Blatch to leadership in the New York State woman suffrage movement. Observances in Seneca Falls followed events at the National American Woman Suffrage Association annual convention, held in Buffalo, New York that year, and preceded a public speaking tour in support of a woman suffrage referendum in New York State. For more about the New York State Woman Suffrage campaign see: http://www.assembly.state.ny.us/member_files/084/20090313/.
Catharine Blaine did not live to see woman suffrage become the law in Washington in 1910. In 1909 suffragists successfully lobbied the legislature to pass a measure authorizing another state-wide vote to amend the state constitution to enable women’s suffrage in November, 1910. During the 1909-10 campaign, the suffragists followed a generally low-key strategy. The emphasis was not on public rallies but the personal, intensive work of wives, mothers and sisters to influence the men who went to vote at the polls. The suffragists used a campaign that we would recognize today using modern media, conducting poll list canvasses and distributing literature. They formed coalitions with the Washington State Grange, Labor Unions, the Farmer’s Union and other groups who backed the ratification.
Male voters approved the ballot measure to amend the Washington Constitution by a majority of 22,623, on November 8, 1910. Washington joined the western states of Wyoming, Utah, Colorado and Idaho, that had already enacted women’s suffrage. Washington was the first state in the 20th century to pass women’s suffrage, re-invigorating the national campaign since it had been 14 years since a state had enacted women’s suffrage. The Washington law, however, allowed only those who could read and speak English to vote. Native Americans women and immigrant Asian women who were subject to restrictive citizenship laws were denied the right to vote until later in the 20th century.
In March, 1920, in a Special Session, the Washington State Legislature unanimously ratified the 19th Amendment to U.S. Constitution, known as the “Susan B. Anthony Amendment,” enabling national suffrage for women. Washington was the second to the last state needed for ratification of the amendment which became effective August 26, 1920.