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In 1649 a group of women petitioned Parliament for an equal share in 'the freedoms of
the state'. Parliament's reply was that they were represented in political affairs by their
husbands and that the women should 'go home and meddle with your housewifery. It is
fitter for you to be…

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The WSPU and early militancy

However, for one group of suffrage supporters, the WSPU, reform was happening too
slowly. Militancy was their answer and this initially involved heckling ministers and
campaigning at byelections. By 1906, they had acquired the name 'suffragettes' from a
critical Daily Mail article. In that same…

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Parliamentary reaction

It was this final phase of militancy that can really be said to have hindered women's
suffrage, especially in Parliament. Despite widespread support for women's suffrage in
the Liberal Party, the Liberals could not be seen to give in to political violence, because
they were dealing with industrial…

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NUWSS influence

The failure of the Conciliation Bills was partly caused by Liberals fearing that a new
female electorate would vote disproportionately for the Conservative Party. Similarly,
the Conservatives feared that a wider suffrage bill that included more men would benefit
the Liberals. As a result of what the NUWSS…

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Within a week of the declaration of war on Germany the government had agreed to
release the remaining suffragette prisoners in return for the WSPU suspending political
activity and helping the war effort. Both the NUWSS and the WSPU divided on whether
to support the war, but Emmeline and Christabel…


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