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How different were the reactions of the WSPU and the NUWSS to the coming of war?

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Introduction

How different were the reactions of the WSPU and the NUWSS to the coming of war? When war was announced, in 1914, both the NUWSS and the WSPU were campaigning for female suffrage. Although, perhaps surprisingly, as these were the most violent campaigners, the WSPU stopped their campaign to focus on helping the war effort, the NUWSS did not, and continued to campaign, although peacefully, throughout the war. The government and the WSPU worked together to encourage women to go out to work for the war effort, as they thought that after the war, the female contribution would help gain the vote, and the leaders of the WSPU, the Pankhurst family, were patriotic, the NUWSS also supported the war effort, although it never stopped campaigning for women's votes. ...read more.

Middle

The WSPU also supported conscription, and gave white feathers to men not in uniform. This embaressed men, as it was seen as the symbol of a coward, encouraging them to join up. The NUWSS did not support conscription or the white feather campaign. During the war they focused on recruiting women to do the jobs that had been left vacant by the men going to the front. They also continued their campaign to get the vote for women. They kept the pressure on the government with petitions and still held meetings. They never forgot that they were set up to campaign for the vote for women and kept campaigning throughout the war. Although this can be seen as less patriotic, in my opinion it also shows deeper loyalty to their original cause, and proved how much they still wanted the vote. ...read more.

Conclusion

As the NUWSS were the more peaceful of the groups they would seem like the more likely of the two to disagree with the war, but also more likely to stop campaigning to take pressure off the government. They reacted quite differently to the WSPU, only easing off their campaigning slightly, whereas the WSPU stopped campaigning for votes and started campaigning to get women to join the war effort. The two organisations reacted to the outbreak of war in different ways, both from each other and what you would have expected from them. Both organisations campaigned for women to help the war effort. The WSPU became more patriotic than the NUWSS, encouraging both conscription and the white feather campaign, the NUWSS did not agree with either of these. The NUWSS kept campaigning, although their campaigning methods were peaceful. ...read more.

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