The activities of the women societies and reaction of the authorities 2

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  • The activites of the women societies and the reaction of the authorities
    • Suffragettes
      • Early acts of the suffragettes consisted of demonstrations and minor acts of public disorder.
        • They would chain themselves to railings outside Buckingham Palace or Downing Street.
        • They also attended political meetings to heckle anti-suffrage politicians.
        • They hired boats and sailed past the House of Commons disrupting debates.
      • In June 1913 Emil Davison attended the Derby at Epsom.  As the horses thundered by she ran onto the course and tried to catch hold of one of the horses. She was thrown to the ground and died in hospital days laters.
        • Historians believe her death was a result of a protest that went wrong. She was probably trying to disrupt the horse race but misjudged the speed at which the horses were travelling.
          • The suffragettes immediately seized on the event as an example of the commitment of the members to the cause.Here was a martyr prepared to commit suicide to publicise the injustices faced by women.
            • Propaganda campaigns were created and her funeral attracted publicity.
    • In 1908 Parliament considered passing a low to give women the right to vote, but did not do so.
      • In 1911 Parliament voted to extend suffrage, but Prime Minister Asquith refused to introduce the measure.
        • The Suffragettes however, reacted in a  very different way. They stepped up their campaign, adopting even more agressive methods.
          • On March 1 1912 they started a massive stone throwing operation in London resulting in arrests.
            • Those arrested did not object to being imprisoned because their court hearings just bought more publicity.
          • Suffragettes began to slash valuable paintings and windows, dug up golf courses and cricket pitches, set fire to post boxes and cut telephone wires.
          • More seriously they put bombs in warehouses and disused churches, assaulted leading politicians and carried out arson attacks on their homes.
        • As a result of this the Suffragists organised a peaceful pilgrimage from Carlisle to London to show their disapproval.
    • Reactions to the Suffragettes
      • While there was a great deal of sympathy for the women's aims to win the vote, there was also opposition.
        • Men's League for Opposing Women's Suffrage
        • National League for Opposing Women's Suffrage.
      • Similarly the press was opposed. Newspapers  published critical articles and cartoon of the suffragettes and belittled their campaign.
      • Some women believed that the campaign for suffrage was contrary to the natural order of things, where men lead and women followed.
        • These women could join organisation like the Women's National Anti-Suffrage League.


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