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Farquharson, Mary (1901-1982)
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Mary Farquharson, a lifelong activist for social justice issues, was a Social Democrat who served two terms in the Washington State Senate from 1934-1942. As part of a small but influential faction of leftwing radicals elected to the state legislature during the Great Depression, Farquharson fought to combat unemployment and economic dislocation. She advocated for a more cooperative and less competitive model of government organized around the principle of Production-For-Use. For these reasons, and because of her crusade to protect civil liberties and women's rights, she was often accused of being a "Red," but in fact, she was adamantly anti-Communist. A dedicated pacifist and Christian, she opposed all forms of militarism. Farquharson fought tenaciously against racial discrimination, working through the American Civil Liberties Union and the Fellowship of Reconciliation to oppose the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II. She and her husband, Burt Farquharson (1895-1970), believed an educated and politically engaged public was essential to a functioning democracy, and to that end they worked their entire lives ceaselessly organizing through their many group affiliations.
U. Nichols was born in 1901 into a middle-class, Presbyterian family
in Tacoma, Washington. Although both of Mary's older brothers fought
in World War I, Mary's mother was a staunch pacifist, a value she
attributed to her Christian faith; she was unable to reconcile how a
Christian could justify killing anyone. Mary attributed her own
strong political and religious convictions to her early upbringing
and "her family's consistent study, reflection and discussion of
the implications for this world of Bible readings and the sermons at
their Presbyterian Church" (Honig, "Remember Mary").
Mary recalls peace rallies that her mother took her to as a little
girl and states in a 1980 interview that she can't recall a time
when she wasn't interested in politics. In her family "things
were discussed, issues were discussed, politics was discussed"
(Farquaharson interviewed by Kathryn Hinsch).
1925, Mary Nichols graduated from the University of Washington with a
bachelor's degree in English. She married Frederick "Burt"
Farquharson three years later, on June 22, 1928, at the University
Presbyterian Church. Burt, a civil engineer and professor at the
University of Washington, would make a name for himself through his
studies on the Tacoma Narrows Suspension Bridge. He was also a World
War I veteran, having served for over a year with the Canadian
Expeditionary Force and two years with the British Royal Flying
Corps. He also spent a year in a German prison camp. Mary and Burt never
had children, but were bound by their shared conviction in
finding peaceful solutions to conflict and a more equitable means of
Mary had always maintained an active interest in politics, she had
never considered the possibility of running for office until she was
approached and encouraged in 1934 by some members of the Women's
Legislative Council, mostly older women suffragists dismayed at the
low percentage of women in office. Hesitant at first, Farquharson
suggested to Burt the idea of her running for office. When he told her
that he couldn't think of a good reason why not, she filed to run for
a seat in the Senate in the 46th District (currently part of the 43rd
officially belonged to the Socialist Party from 1932 until 1934,
Farquharson left it and ran as a Democrat, although she did not
have the endorsement of the Democratic Party. She did have the full
support of the Commonwealth Builders, later known as the Washington
Commonwealth Federation, a group she and her husband helped to found
that served as an umbrella organization for radical groups
representing the unemployed, organized labor, and Democrats. She
adopted their motto as her campaign platform: "Production-For-Use,"
as opposed to profit, that advocated a new economic model built
around small groups acting cooperatively rather than competitively.
She also campaigned on the idea of a unicameral legislature (with only one legislative body rather than two), which
was in her opinion a more efficient, practical model of government.
She would return to this theme of better-organized government
throughout her two terms in office.
in a primarily Republican district against several strong opponents,
Farquharson did not think she had much chance of winning and viewed
her campaign as more of a "statement." Her biggest opponent
was the well-known Republican incumbent E. L. Howard, owner of the
Ford Agency and a board member of a local bank. Although she could
have focused on the need to elect more women to office, she preferred
to stick to the issues, pointing to E. L. Howard's previous record
of supporting private and opposing public power, a big issue at the
time. Prohibition had recently ended, and in a later oral history interview she conceded that some may have voted for her because she was a woman, since most
people knew women drank less and took their work more seriously.
However, Farquharson was not a proponent of women running for office unless first educated on the issues.
Seattle Argus painted an unflattering portrait of
Farquharson in an article noting her endorsement by The Commonwealth
Builders and referring to her as the "spouting and vituperative
wife of ranting radical U of W professor F. B. Farquharson" (The
Argus September 15, 1934). But some of the calumny backfired.
Farquharson recalls in a 1980 interview that the Republicans hired a
woman to spread the news that she believed in such things as the
redistribution of wealth. With Washington state crippled by the Great
Depression and unemployment reaching record highs, Farquharson's
message resonated with more people than expected. She won with a
margin of just over 700 votes.
office in 1935, Farquharson found herself in a legislature dominated
by Democrats in both houses, a trend that began when the Democrats
took over the Washington State Legislature with Franklin D.
Roosevelt's (1882-1945) election as president in 1932. That domination continued
throughout the 1930s. The two terms that Farquharson served in office
would be some of the most tumultuous in Washington state history;
with the state budget in crises and the tax code in a state of flux,
the mood among lawmakers was far from congenial. Even though 1935 saw
only nine Republicans in the Senate and eight Republicans in the House, the Democrats were frequently split between conservatives,
moderates, and liberals.
the first time in history, there was a significant faction of
leftwing radicals in office who veered to the left of
the typical profile of previous politicians. "The newcomers were
from all walks of life: Woodsmen and seamen, ne'er-do-wells ... Some
of the freshmen were dead broke ..." (Cunningham, Seattle
Times, May 4, 1979). And on their agenda were dismantling
privileges for special interests; socializing banks, and electric and
power companies; and eradicating hunger and unemployment. Although not
formidable enough to pass much legislation, their presence shook the
status quo and ushered forward more socially progressive legislation
than any other period in Washington state history. Perhaps more
effective than some of her leftwing contemporaries for her strong
negotiating skills, Farquharson never let a difference of opinion
stand in the way of her friendships or her goals. She was described
as a woman of "regal bearing whose eyes showed a strong sense of
determination" (Honig, "Remembering Mary," p. 3). By
the end of her two terms, The Seattle Times would
describe her as "brilliant, outspoken, crusading" (Honig,
"Remembering Mary," p. 5). Mary Farquharson would become a
key and influential player during this radical period in Washington
state political history.
Educator in Office
believed in the power and necessity of education as the foundation of
a functioning democracy. Without adequate education, "Ninety-five
percent of the consuming public ... are misled into opposing their own
interests" (Scott, "Mary Farquharson"). An educated
and active public, according to Farquharson, is necessary for a
society to enact meaningful change: "That is really what every
informed citizen ought to do, educate yourself first, get informed,
then agitate, get people stirred up a little bit, don't let them go
to sleep, sink back into their own private little affairs, and
organize, you've got to get organized, you can't do it just as an
individual" (Farquaharson interviewed by Kathryn Hinsch, p. 25). It was at the group
level that Farquharson saw change having the greatest effect in what
she saw as a slow process, occurring gradually through "evolutionary
rather than revolutionary means" (Farquaharson interviewed by Kathryn Hinsch, p. 25).
The important difference, she maintained, is that whereas revolution
relies on violence, evolution relies on education. Although, she
added, hopefully this meaningful change will occur a little more
quickly than evolution.
was in a good position to advocate for meaningful educational change as
chair of the Education Committee and Education Institutions
Committee where she advocated for more funding for underprivileged
students and rural schools. Although many of her bills during her
first year in office did not pass, she played an instrumental role in
pushing forward several key pieces of legislation such as the Library
Bill, which provided more public funding for educational
institutions. Ultimately, Governor Clarence Martin (1887-1955) vetoed the bill, causing
Farquharson to lament in a letter to an Aberdeen librarian, "The
really important questions are, where is the money going to, and
also, why isn't there enough, in this richest county in the world for
all the activities and projects that society needs to enrich its
life?" (Farquharson to Florence Lewis, April
A Woman Senator for Women's Rights
Farquharson first took office in 1935, she was one of 11 women in the entire legislature. But she
adamantly insisted that she felt no bias against her or preferential
treatment toward her while in office. Indeed, if such bias existed,
she didn't let it prevent her from serving on some of the most
powerful committees in the Senate by the end of her first term,
including the Appropriations, Judiciary, and Constitutional Review committees.
Still, throughout her two terms in office, Farquharson proved a staunch
supporter of women's rights. In 1941, during her second term, she
introduced an amendment aimed at giving a wife the same authority as
her husband in delegating affairs of their estate, prompting
a Seattle Times journalist to write, "The
State Legislature's leading feminist -- dark-haired Senator Mary
Farquharson ... is out to do battle for the ladies again"
("Equality for Wife," January 13, 1941). During the
1936 Seattle Post-Intelligencer strike, she
organized several busloads of women to head down to Olympia in support
of the striking union members. And when an increasing number of wives
were laid off from their jobs as a means of fighting the rising
unemployment of men, Farquharson again led a delegation in protest.
was during the second session of her first term in 1937 that she was
able to pass her most notable piece of legislation in support of
women's rights, ultimately impacting thousands of lives and catching
the attention of First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt (1884-1962). Senate Bill 60 set a
maximum workweek for domestic workers at 60 hours, and ensured that
all of the hours that a domestic worker spent officially on the job
were counted toward that maximum limit, providing for double pay in
times of emergencies and overtime. The bill was also co-sponsored by
activist community groups such as the YWCA's group of Industrial
Girls. At the request of Anna Roosevelt Boettiger (1906-1975), Eleanor
Roosevelt's daughter and associate editor of the Post-Intelligencer, The First Lady came to Seattle to speak to a crowd
of thousands of women gathered at the Pacific Auditorium. Mary
Farquharson spoke for 20 minutes on the passage of her bill,
sharing the stage with Eleanor Roosevelt. It was an event she would
describe as one of the highlights of her life.
strong advocate of civil rights, Farquharson played an instrumental
role in the repeal of the criminal-syndicalism law, first passed in
1919, which made it a crime to advocate, teach, publish, or further
in any way the use of force, violence, or sabotage to bring about
political or social change. The law was frequently invoked to
prosecute radicals such as the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW),
or Wobblies, and to justify federal and local raids on IWW offices.
American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) was actively lobbying to repeal
the criminal-syndicalism law, and Farquharson was active with
the ACLU, helping to found the Seattle chapter in 1935 and serving as
its chairman for a number of years. In 1937, the criminal-syndicalism
law was in danger of stalling indefinitely in the Senate Rules
Committee, but Farquharson, in a testament to her adroit leadership
and negotiating skills, was able to convince enough conservative
senators to move it out of committee and onto the floor for a
last-minute vote. "More can be accomplished by negotiation and
compromise than by attempted force and intimidation,"
Farquharson has stated. "The appeal to intelligence and to
reason is stronger than to fancied fear" (Scott, "Mary
Farquharson"). The repeal of the criminal-syndicalism law passed
with 34 votes in favor and 10 opposed and was signed into law by
was Farquharson's persistent effort working as a state senator and as a representative of the ACLU that made her able to secure the release
of Ray Becker, the last remaining incarcerated man convicted of
murder in connection with the Centralia Armistice Day "massacre"
of 1919. Because Becker saw taking parole as tantamount to admitting
guilt, he served 20 years in prison. It took four years of lobbying
on his behalf before Farquharson was able to convince Governor Martin
to agree to commute Becker's sentence. He did so on the condition
that Becker immediately leave the state. And so, on September 22,
1939, Farquharson and a fellow ACLU board member met Becker upon his
release and drove him directly to Oregon.
An Anti-Communist Liberal
Farquharson was a firm believer in the right to speak, gather, and
organize freely, she had a hard time justifying an extension of these
liberties to Communists. Although she was often labeled as a "Red"
for championing liberal policies, she was adamantly anti-Communist,
complaining publicly and vociferously of what she saw as their deceitful practices
and primary allegiance to a foreign government. She
blamed them for what she saw as ruining the Teachers Union at the University of
Washington. She refused to support King County sponsorship of the
Washington State Guide because of undue Communist Party influence.
Mary and Burt Farquharson would eventually leave the Washington
Commonwealth Federation because of Communist influence. And in 1941
Mary Farquharson proudly voted as a part of the block of 25 to unseat
Senator Linus Westman of Snohomish County because of his brief
membership in the Communist Party. Writing to Roger Baldwin (1884-1981),
founder of the ACLU, Farquharson defended her decision to unseat
Westman, claiming that protecting the Communist Party, which is based
on "deceit and lies," actually undermines the rights of
other groups. "The sooner CP [Communists Party] tactics are
clarified the better off is the cause of civil liberties and all
other liberal or radical issues" (Scott, "Mary
Farquharson"). At times, some have observed, her anti-Communist
stance could border on obsessive.
By A Razor Thin Margin
1938, at the end of Farquharson's first term in office, Washington
state was still mired in opposing ideologies on the shape and
direction of the tax structure. The graduated net income tax,
approved by voters in 1932, was declared unconstitutional the
following year. Thereafter it made consistent appearances on the
ballot. With the newly implemented sales tax having passed in a tense
and drawn-out extended session in 1937, and with the successful
passage of the 40 mill property tax limit that severely limited the
state's ability to raise money, Farquharson was set to face a hotly
to run for a second four-year term to save her seat, Farquharson
campaigned again as a Democrat on the "Roosevelt Program for
Washington," which included an increase in old age pensions,
equalization of public schools funds, support for a strong Social
Security Program, and of particular concern to Farquharson, a
graduated net income tax. She noted in her campaign flyer that she
was able to force the Senate Joint Resolution on the net income tax
out of Conference Committee and onto the ballot.
Communist Party filed a woman named Dorothy Butterworth to run
against her. In her interview, Farquharson claimed that the only
group the Communist Party hated more than the Republicans were the
Democratic Socialists, stating, "they fought me pretty bitterly
and I fought them equally" (Farquaharson interviewed by Kathryn Hinsch, p. 19).
Farquharson had the endorsement of future first-woman mayor of
Seattle, Bertha Landes (1868-1943), the Democratic Party threw its official
support behind a more conservative candidate and the Republicans
backed Frank C. Jackson, originator of the successful 40 mill
property tax limitation initiative. Farquharson found herself in a
neck-and-neck race. It was only when a man from the organization Young Cincinnatus also
filed to run, that the conservative vote was split, allowing
Farquharson and Jackson to progress to the general election. When all the
votes were accounted for, Farquharson won by a margin of a mere 70
Farquharson would muse in a letter why anyone would want her job
anyway, "With no income tax possible and with the property tax
limitation tighter than ever with the legitimate demands for
increased revenue greater than ever before -- school, social
security, and the rest of it -- it looks like a desperately bad
situation to me" (Farquharson to G. E. Goodspeed, November 30, 1938).
However, many were happy with Mrs. Farquharson's re-election
including chairman of the Washington State Tax Commission, H. H.
Henneford, who sent his congratulations to Farquharson for defeating
"that fine racketeer, Mr. Frank Jackson," stating that, "It
is most comforting that the 46th district is to be represented by
someone who thinks of the people and whose mind rises above property"
(H. H. Henneford to Farquharson, November 19, 1938).
Reforming State Institutions
issue of particular importance to Farquharson was improving
Washington's reformatory institutions. During her second term, she
served on the State Charitable Institutions Committee and pushed for
the formation of an interim committee to investigate conditions at
state charitable, penal, and reformatory institutions. In 1941, she
managed to pass Senate Joint Resolution 18 calling for a committee to
investigate and make recommendations for improvements to such
Farquharson chaired the committee, and it reported to
the 1943 session of the legislature a need for better salaries and
more training for penal institution personnel, maintaining that a
good civil service system for employees is essential. Farquharson
would later argue in an editorial in The
Seattle Times that
cutting spending on rehabilitation efforts is "penny-wise and
pound-foolish" since ultimately, "Recidivism compounds the
punishment to taxpayers" ("Juvenile-Rehabilitation Savings,"
September 7, 1960).
a strong practical disposition, Farquharson viewed ineffectual
government processes and policies as a major obstacle to effective
lawmaking. She claimed the current legislative machinery was too
easily manipulated by special interests and that the legislative sessions were not nearly long enough.
She proposed a unicameral legislature (with only one legislative body) with one longer session as a
possible solution. Farquharson stated in a campaign flyer, "If
political democracy is going to continue, our machinery of government
must be brought up to date ... . A One House Legislature ... with every
member responsible for
every vote, and with time
know what he is voting on ... is the most important step in making the
will of the People effective" ("Re-elect Mary Farquharson").
eventually opposed the Initiative process, arguing that it was too
contradictory and inflexible for the complicated business of
lawmaking. Serving on the Constitutional Review Committee,
Farquharson advocated for the appointment of a "Hoover
Commission" to analyze and compare the detailed and outdated
Washington State Constitution with the model constitution proposed by
the National Municipal League. As a senator, she introduced
legislation creating a unicameral legislature every session that she
served in office. Although it never passed, it became her hallmark
piece of legislation.
Peaceful Resistance to the War
the outbreak of World War II, the Farquharsons became increasingly
involved in community groups advocating peaceful solutions to
conflict. Farquharson saw peace as not just a nice idea, but the only
workable solution: "The universe is made in such a way that only
a sense of community, a feeling of recognition that we are party of
each other will work. All wars are self-defeating. My philosophy is
that you cannot overcome evil with more evil, but with good. It is
not just a beautiful idea -- it is a practical idea. It is the only
thing that will work" (Honig, "Remembering Mary," p.
Both Mary and Burt Farquharson were active members of Fellowship of Reconciliation,
since the early 1930s and later of the National Council for the
Prevention of War. They frequently took opportunities to speak out
against preparations for the war and voice their objections to
compulsory conscription and military training. They were also very
involved with the non-sectarian Church of the People, which was a
center for peace and social justice activities in their own
University District, where they worked closely with local activist and
church spiritual leader Fred Shorter. Farquharson channeled her
activist activities through her work with community groups, working
to oppose military action abroad and discrimination against Japanese
Americans at home.
Japanese American Internment
months after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, Japanese Americans on the
West Coast were forced to evacuate their homes and neighborhoods and
move into internment camps. Farquharson denounced Franklin D. Roosevelt's Executive Order 9066, which mandated the internment, as based on propaganda.
Writing as a representative of the ACLU to The
Seattle Times, she
claimed the order was motivated by special-interest groups who had
long wanted the Japanese removed. The Fellowship of Reconciliation issued a memorandum calling on all members
in the Midwest and East Coast to sponsor Japanese American families
who had volunteered to move to non-restricted areas. With the support
of this organization and the Church of the People, Farquharson helped raise
funds to buy Christmas gifts for children interned in the camps. She frequently delivered the gifts herself.
a visit to Camp Harmony in June of 1941, Farquharson remarked to a
friend, "Physical conditions are bad, and of course mental and
psychological effects are even worse ... . But if there is any way for me
to be on the inside, helping to lift the load a little, I want to be
there" (Farquharson to Miss Balch, June 1,
years later, Farquharson would reflect deeply on the impact of the
internment in a letter to a friend: "My sense of shame that this
policy was put into effect is always renewed and made stronger when I
visit one of the camps, but out of the tragedy has come greater
friendship and understanding as far as some of us are concerned. It
does seem true that many times we lose sight of the real values in
life and the real meaning of it until some tragic situation makes us
think more deeply than we have before" (Farquharson to Mr. Kanno, March 5, 1943).
of Washington student Gordon Hirabayashi (1918-2012) remained in Seattle the day
after all citizens of Japanese ancestry were ordered to evacuate to a
nearby prison camp at the Puyallup Fair Grounds. After turning himself in
to the FBI, Hirabayashi was convicted and sentenced to 90 days in prison.
Working with the ACLU and the Fellowship of Reconciliation, Farquharson played a pivotal role
pushing his case all the way up the United States Supreme Court. She helped convince the ACLU to agree to underwrite all litigation
expenses. His case was the first to challenge the expulsion of
Japanese Americans from the West Coast. At the time the Supreme Court upheld his conviction, but the fight
to overturn it resumed in the 1980s, culminating in his judicial
the end of Farquharson's second term, the United States was fully
embroiled in World War II. Drained of enthusiasm to run another
campaign and knowing that her pacifist stance was unpopular and would
make another electoral victory unlikely, Farquharson decided to not run again. Instead, she thought she could be more useful continuing
to fight for change through her many organizational affiliations.
out of public office had no effect on the pace of Farquharson's
activism. In 1943, she organized the Northwest arm of the Pacific
Coast Committee on American Principles and Fair Play, a group formed
to combat the persisting racism toward Japanese Americans and to help
protect their constitutional rights as citizens. To increase the
credibility of the Fair Play Committee, Farquharson convinced
prominent local citizens to join, then set about challenging baseless
rumors that questioned the loyalty of Japanese Americans, such as the
scientist falsely accused of purposefully poisoning yellow fever
serums. Through the The Fair Play Committee she also lobbied on
behalf of upstanding citizens such as one Dr. Suzuki, making sure he was
reinstated into the King County Medical Society and that he and his
family were safely resettled into new neighborhoods that were often
less than welcoming.
activities fighting racial discrimination extended to include other
racial groups as well. She became the first Northwest member of the
National Board of the Urban League, serving as chairman of the
Seattle League Membership Committee and spearheading its membership
drive in 1949 to attract 1,000 new members. And in her role as field secretary for the Fellowship of Reconciliation, Farquharson began a letter-writing campaign to
the Quaker Oats Company protesting their racist use of the "Aunt
Jemima" image in their advertising.
Christian Call for Aid
the end of World War II, Farquharson worked to promote international
understanding, advocating for increased humanitarian aid to Central
and Eastern Europe. In 1946 she served as the Northwest delegate to the
national body of the Women's International League for Peace and
Freedom. In 1947, she traveled to a conference in Luxembourg
for the Congress of Women's International League where she remained
for six months. During her sojourn oversees, she witnessed wide-scale
starvation and sickness in Germany and Eastern Europe, which depressed
her greatly, causing her to intensify her pleas to Congress to send
more aid and provisions. To Farquharson, more aid meant more
stability, and therefore greater likelihood for lasting peace. She
stated, "There can be no stability in the world with 60 million
people in the heart of Europe starving, sick and bitter" (Honig,
"Remembering Mary," p. 8).
adamantly opposed to Stalinism and Germany's military government, she
maintained a strong conviction, rooted in her Christian faith, that
everyone's fate is interdependent: "For Christianity a sense of
mutuality, a feeling of oneness with all human beings, a realization
that my welfare is bound to that of 'even the least of these, My
brethren' -- these attitudes are the essence of loving one's neighbor
and one's enemy" (Farquharson, Post
July 27, 1964). Speaking to a group of peace activists in Oregon
after touring war-torn Germany, she pushed for more cooperation with
former enemies and called for a reconciliation "built upon
democratic, Christian, and scientific premises that people are the
same the world over" (Honig, "Remembering Mary," p.
3). It was this same conviction that drove her during the height of
the "Red Scare" to urge Congress to send more food and aid
to China. Through a proliferation of letters, Farquharson argued that
increased aid would have an ameliorating effect on conflict and
Communism, instead of the opposite as many feared, ultimately
allowing for the formation of a healthy democracy.
by the buildup of arms during the Cold War, Farquharson dedicated
many letters and many of her later years to protesting the
proliferation of nuclear arms. Through numerous letters and op-ed editorials
Seattle Times and the Post
Farquharson argued that the effect of a nuclear-arms race was to stoke
rather resolve tension on the world stage, since other countries
would then feel the need to also demonstrate their arms power. There
is nothing about Russia or China that frightened her more, she
insisted in an editorial to The
than our own country's hunger to escalate the nuclear-arms race.
She wrote, "We are the most powerful and in the grip of a delusion
that monstrous machines of death will give us security and will not
destroy democracy" ("U.S. Dangerous?" November 24,
1966). Although Farquharson would remain active for the rest of her
life in various women's groups such as the YWCA and the League of
Women Voters, her primary concern until the end of her days remained
preventing the build up of nuclear arms.
1950, Farquharson decided to run for the Senate for a third time. She
campaigned on the idea of a graduated net income tax, but did not
make it past the primary. Although she would never serve in public
office again, she continued to influence public policy by putting her
insider's knowledge of the political system to work and continuing
her efforts to educate the public.
In 1960, she helped found and run
a campaign along with the YWCA and University Unitarian Church to end
capital punishment in Washington state, forming the State Information
Committee on Capital Punishment. A letter signed by Mary Farquharson
from the University Unitarian Church states in all capital letters
the importance of an informed public: "If we are going to move
in new directions that are constructive, intelligent, and purposeful
we must rid ourselves of this ancient symbol of terror and
destruction ... . INFORMATION IS ALL IMPORTANT. People do change their
minds when they learn the facts" (University Unitarian Church
Letter, UW Special Collections). Their initiative would not garner
enough signatures in time to make it on the ballot, but that didn't
stop Farquharson, who immediately started searching for an
alternative route to getting a bill on the matter introduced in the
continued her efforts to educate the public, serving as the Director
of the Students-in-Industry project sponsored by YMCA-YWCA, where she
hosted students from all over the United States to come to learn about issues of
race, housing, labor, police, and local government in an evening
educational program. She also served on the board of the Health and
Welfare Council. And in 1951 she was appointed as an aide to the regional
Wage Stabilization Board. Throughout her life she was involved with
progressive groups such as the Washington Progressive League, the
League of Women Voters Committee on Constitutional Revision, the
United Farm Workers, and the Seattle Draft Counseling Committee, to
name only a few.
her later years, physical ailments prevented Farquharson from making
public appearances. Instead, she continued to voice her views
through thousands of letters, over the course of her lifetime, to
Seattle's daily papers and other progressive media around the
lived for 55 years in her home in the University District of Seattle,
many of those years with her husband, Burt, until he passed away in
1970. In one of her final public appearances, she hosted Jeannette
Rankin (1880-1973), the first woman elected to Congress and another lifelong
pacifist. Rankin was one of a few to vote against United States involvement in World
Wars I and II.
1982, 12 years after the death of her husband, at the age of 81, Mary
Farquharson passed away. She left 90 percent of her estate to the Fellowship of Reconciliation.
Describing the organization in a letter to a friend, she recounted how
many people called it, "radical" and "pacifist"
(Farquharson to to Beatrice Meyer, July 31, 1944), labels tinged with implied disapproval but in which Farquharson
clearly took pride.
They were labels that could easily also apply to
Farquharson herself. It was working through the Fellowship of Reconciliation and other similar
organizations that she was best able to employ her philosophy of
activism working through numerous groups to create change on the
issues she cared most about: civil liberties, race relations, and
education around issues of peace and war. Farquharson's ceaseless
crusade for change was fueled by a sense of urgency that bordered on
fear of what would happen to a generation she described as "standing
on the 'edge of the abyss'" (Farquharson to Beatrice Meyer, July 31, 1944) should the public remain
uneducated and complacent. Clearly, Mary Farquharson was not about to
idly stand by and find out.
Mary Farquharson, "Juvenile-Rehabilitation Savings Are Not Real,"
The Seattle Times,
September 7, 1960, p. 1; Mary
Farquharson, "Japanese American Internment," Ibid.,
October 4, 1961, p. A-19; Mary
Farquharson,"Multiplying Armaments and Rising Tensions,"
Ibid., October 1,
1959, p. 1; "Senate Fight Close in 46th,"
November. 10, 1938, p. 18; "State Writers'
Project Illegal: Solon Charges," Ibid.,
February 28, 1940, p. 1; "Equality for Wife
in Property Sought," Ibid.,
January 13, 1941, p. 4; "Starvation and
Want Prevail in Germany, Says Seattleite," Ibid.,
January 19, 1947, p. 15; "Grain to Red China
-- Politics of Suicide?" Ibid.,
April 23, 1962, p. 1; "U.S. 'Dangerous'?,"
November 24, 1966, p. 1; "Mrs. Mary
Farquharson Files: She Favors State Income Tax," Ibid.,
July 13, 1950, p. 10; "Mrs. Farquharson
Appointed Aide to Wage Board," Ibid.,
October 19, 1951, p. 33; Ross Cunningham, "Saluting
Olympia Radicals of the '30s," Ibid., May 4, 1979, p. A-13; "Radicals," The
Argus, September 15,
1934, Vol. 41, p. 2; "Mary
Farquaharson" interviewed by Kathryn Hinsch, November 5, 1980, Women in Washington State Legislature Oral History Program, Office of the Secretary of State, available at Washington State Historical Society
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