May Arkwright



May Arkwright Hutton (July 21, 1860 – October 6, 1915) was a
suffrage Suffrage, political franchise, or simply franchise, is the right to vote in public, political elections and referendums (although the term is sometimes used for any right to vote). In some languages, and occasionally in English, the right to v ...
leader and
labor rights Labor rights or workers' rights are both legal rights and human rights relating to labor relations between workers and employers. These rights are codified in national and international labor and employment law. In general, these rights influ ...
advocate in the early history of the
Pacific Northwest The Pacific Northwest (sometimes Cascadia, or simply abbreviated as PNW) is a geographic region in western North America bounded by its coastal waters of the Pacific Ocean to the west and, loosely, by the Rocky Mountains to the east. Though ...
of the United States.


May Arkwright Hutton, who has been described as an orphan by some sources, is now often believed to have been illegitimate. She was raised by her paternal grandfather, Aza, in
Ohio Ohio () is a state in the Midwestern region of the United States. Of the fifty U.S. states, it is the 34th-largest by area, and with a population of nearly 11.8 million, is the seventh-most populous and tenth-most densely populated. The sta ...
. Aza, who was blind, enjoyed political meetings and May often accompanied him. In 1883, she moved to Idaho, where she owned and operated a boarding house in Kellogg. In 1887, she married Levi "Al" Hutton, one of her customers. They moved to Wallace, Idaho where she oversaw the dining hall of the Wallace Hotel and her husband worked for the Northern Pacific Railroad. May and Al were part of a group of miners that struck it rich when discovering a vast silver mine. When miners dynamited the Bunker Hill and Sullivan's mine concentrator in Wardner, Idaho, Al was the engineer of the train used to deliver the dynamite. Al was arrested in connection to the destruction of the Bunker Hill and Sullivan's mine concentrator, and held in a stockade known as the "bull pen". He was soon released, but May continued to write letters to Governor Steunenberg of Idaho and to newspapers in the name of the
Western Federation of Miners The Western Federation of Miners (WFM) was a labor union that gained a reputation for militancy in the mines of the western United States and British Columbia. Its efforts to organize both hard rock miners and smelter workers brought it into s ...
. She accused the Governor of taking bribes of up to $50,000 and being a traitor to the union cause. In 1897, the Huttons, invested in the successful Hercules silver mine Hutton was a candidate for the Idaho State Senate in 1904, but was defeated. The last year of her life, she was ill with Bright's disease. She was known to travel in her chauffeured Thomas Flyer to farm communities, meeting farmers and trying to make matches to keep single mothers and their children together. In her memory, Al started the Hutton Settlement orphanage in the Spokane Valley.

Labor activism

Both Hutton and her husband were active in the associated labor movements. She wrote a book about the horrible treatment of the miners at the hands of the mine owners, and the treatment of her husband at the hands of the sheriff/mine owners in her book ''The Coeur d'Alenes: or, A tale of the modern inquisition in Idaho''. In later life, she bought all of the copies she could back. Hutton also supported an eight-hour work day and six-day workweek for women.

Suffrage movement

She was a supporter of the women's suffrage movement in Idaho. In 1906, the Huttons moved to
Spokane, Washington Spokane ( ) is the largest city and county seat of Spokane County, Washington, United States. It is in eastern Washington, along the Spokane River, adjacent to the Selkirk Mountains, and west of the Rocky Mountain foothills, south of the Ca ...
. She became a member of the Spokane Equal Suffrage Club and first vice-president of the Washington Equal Suffrage Association, which was then led by Emma Smith DeVoe. She became a well-known suffrage leader, but her outspoken style and unconventional behavior contrasted sharply with that of the more moderate Emma Smith DeVoe, a national suffrage organizer who was active in Tacoma, Olympia and Seattle. There was a great deal of conflict between the two, but they achieved their goal in 1910. Hutton attended the
Democratic National Convention The Democratic National Convention (DNC) is a series of presidential nominating conventions held every four years since 1832 by the United States Democratic Party. They have been administered by the Democratic National Committee since the 1852 ...
in 1912.


External links

May Arkwright Hutton
clip from "Courage in Corsets" PBS {{DEFAULTSORT:Hutton, May Arkwright 1860 births 1915 deaths People from Spokane, Washington American suffragists People from Kellogg, Idaho Idaho Democrats Washington (state) Democrats