Women'sSuffrage

The campaign for women's votes

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A woman's Place

At the beginning of the 20th century women did not have suffrage and had to rely on an all male parliament to represent their intersests.

Most man and many women believed a woman's place was in the home being a wife and mother looking after children and supporting husband-angel of the hearth.

It was believed that they were not intelligent enough or too emotional to get innvolved with such matters as politics and business.

A single girl might have a job as a domestic made but in 1911 only 10% of married women were in employment.

But attitudes were beginning to change, at the beginning of the twentieth century-more girls were going to school and uni

-women could also vote in local elections and become local councillors or poor law guardians

-they were also involved in national politics: there were Women's Labour League; Women's Liberal federation; Primrose League

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The National Union of Women's Suffrage Societies

MP JOHN STEWART MILLsuggested women's suffrage in 1867 and 73 MPS supported--------------> many suffrage societies were formed.

1897-Millicent Fawcett brought all women's suffrage societies together to form the NUWSS.

The organisation of the NUWSS was determined to win the vote by peaceful, legal means----constitutional campaigning:

-encouraging men to join campaign to win over enough MPs to support cause

-believed men were wrong to oppose womne's suffrage and wanted to show this by putting their arguments across in a sensible manner.

So the NUWSS:

  • trained women to speak at public meetings
  • produced pamphlets and newspapers
  • supported cnadidates in elections who were in favour of women's suffrage.
  • BUT there was a curious situation in parliament backbench liberals wanted women's suffarge but leaders didn't due to possible increase in conservative votes. Coonservative leaders wanted women's suffrage but backbenchers did not due to principal. But neither were concerned enough about women's suffrage to make it a policy.
  • In the years leaing up to 1900 15 times parliament received the bill for women's suffrage, 15 times the bill failed.
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Women's Social And Political Union

  • 1903 Emmeline Pankhurst the leader of the Manchester Brach of the NUWSS felt the time ad come to take more extreme action.
  • With her daughters Sylvia and Cristable founded the WSPU who believed in, 'deeds not words' and were prepared to do anything to publiscise thir cause.
  • At first they were supported by the NUWSS but the militant actions of some of their members caused them to withdraw their support as they thought this might discourage men---> especially disproved when Sylvia spa at and struck a police officer at a Liberal Party Meeting in 1905.
  • Daily Mail nicknamed these te suffragettes.
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Militancy and Protest

The politician Henry Campbell Bannerman told the suffragettes not to show the virtue of patience but to go on pestering.

Initiallly the Suffragette campaign involved:

  • Chaining htmeeselves to railings outside 10 downing street
  • Disrupting debate by sailing passed the house of commons with hailers
  • Heckling anti-suffrage politicians by attending political debates
  • This was to raise the profile of the issue as they were concerned the gov weren't takig it seriously enough.

1908: parliament considered passing a law to give women the vote but they did not. In October Emmeline and ristabel Pankhurst and Flora Drummond were arrested for inciting a crowd to rush parliament.

1911: Parliament voted to extend the vote to women but prime minister Asquith  decided not to introduce the measure, instead he considered extending the vote to all men and then maybe to women later on.

Suffragist response: Decided to support labour party in the next election

Organised a peaceful pilgrimage from Carisle to London to shows their disproval, thousands joined the march.

Suffragette response: Decided to escalate campaign.

Early 1912 started massive stone throwing operations. On March 1 the suffragettes broke hundreds f windows-219 arrested and many sent to prison-didn't object as their court cases brought more publicity.

Also took action by slashing valuable paintings/digging up golf courses/ setting fire to post boxes/cutting telegraph wires/putting bombs in warehouses/and assaulting leading politicians.

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The Suffragette Derby

  • June 1913 Emily Davison went to the famous horse race the Derby at Epsom.
  • She stood by Tattenham Corner and ran onto the the course and tried to catch hold of one of the horses, she died in hospital days later.
  • Most Historians believe that Davison's death was probably a protest that went wrong. She was probably trying to disrupt the race but misjudges the speed at which the horses were travelling. However, the suffragettes seized on the event as an example of the comitment of their members-a martyr prepared to commit suicide to publiscise their cause.
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Reactions to the Suffragettes

OPPOSITION: Men's league for opposing women's suffrage and the national league for opposing women's suffrage. But also some women saw it as a way of damaging the natural order of things Women's Nationsal Anti-suffrage league.

Hunger Strikes: Suffragettes tactics led to many of them being arrested and given a prsion sentence. Many suffragettes decided to continue their protest in prison and went on hunger strike. This caused problems for the gov because if the suffragettes were allowed to strike it would lead to death and many of the suffragettes were from influential failies (for example Emmeline Pankhurst was the daughter of an important business man) and this would cause embarrassment for the gov.

So they decided to force feed them, this involved putting a tube down the nose of the suffragette and down into the stomach then pouring liquid food down into it. This was barbaric and caused uproar against the gov and sympathy for the suffragettes.

1913-gov introduced a new method as they passed the Temporary Discharge or Ill Health Act. This said that hunger strikers could be released when they became to weak and then re-admitted when they regained their strenght to compete their sentence.

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Suffragettes And The War

In 1914 opinion was split some people thought it was morally right to give women the vote others thogh that the extreme methods just proved they were irresponsible. At the outbreak of was the suffragettes called off their campaign and instead capaigned for the women's right to serve in voluntary work, factories and agricuture.

After the war even PM Asquith who had previousy opposed wmen's suffrage said 'i find it ipossible to withhold from these women the power and right of making their voices heard.

1918-Representation of the People's Act was passed granting all women over 30 the right to vote and in 1928 women were given the same voting rights as men.

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Suffragettes And The War

In 1914 opinion was split some people thought it was morally right to give women the vote others thogh that the extreme methods just proved they were irresponsible. At the outbreak of was the suffragettes called off their campaign and instead capaigned for the women's right to serve in voluntary work, factories and agricuture.

After the war even PM Asquith who had previousy opposed wmen's suffrage said 'i find it ipossible to withhold from these women the power and right of making their voices heard.

1918-Representation of the People's Act was passed granting all women over 30 the right to vote and in 1928 women were given the same voting rights as men.

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