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Was the war effort crucial in getting women the vote?

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Introduction

History Coursework Q 1) What where the aims and methods of the suffragists? In the UK, woman suffrage was first advocated by Mary Wollstonecraft in her book A vindication of the rights for woman (1792) and was demanded by the chartist movement of the 1840s. The demand for woman suffrage was increasingly taken up by prominent liberal intellectuals in England from the 1850s on, notably by John Stuart Mill and his wife Harriet. The first woman suffrage committee was formed in Manchester in 1865, and in 1867 Mill presented to parliament this committee's petition, on which had been collected about 1,550 signatures. Committees and societies started forming in almost all of the major cities in Great Britain and they managed to get about 3,000,000 signatures sent to parliament. One of the consequences of this was for parliament in 1869 to grant women tax payers the right to vote in municipal elections, and women were also allowed to sit on county and city councils. In 1897 the various suffragist societies united into one National Union of Women's Suffrage Societies (NUWSS), thus bringing a greater degree of coherence and organization to the movement. Although the right to vote was the suffragists' main cause they had other ambitions, for example the married women's property act of 1870, which gave married women the right to own property and to keep their earnings. ...read more.

Middle

Some of the ways and methods that the suffragettes used were rather radical for their times. A lot of these methods included - * Heckling members of the government at public meetings. This was done to Winston Churchill in Manchester in 1905. For this Christabel Pankhurst and Annie Kenny were thrown out of the meeting. * Chaining themselves to the railings of Buckingham palace. * Assaulting politicians who were known to oppose votes for women. * Making attacks on public property, slashing pictures in the national gallery and breaking shop windows. * Arson attacks. Pillar boxes were set on fire and even houses and churches But the most famous single incident happened in 1913 when Emily Davison, a leading suffragette, threw herself out in front of King George V's horse in the national derby at Epsom, this drew a lot of attention to their cause, although sadly she died from this heroic act, becoming a martyr. The government also said that if the women themselves were split (suffragists and suffragettes) and could not decide upon what they wanted and how to get it then how would they ever be able to vote? A lot of the members of parliament were split, within their own parties as well, but the main reason as to why women did not get the vote is because of Asquith (the prime minister of the time) ...read more.

Conclusion

The government might have been concerned that women's protests would be more militant and more widely supported after their war effort as they had gained a lot more respect from people who had dismissed the idea before. The women had also gained the confidence and independence they needed through the experiences of war. There was a 12 months residency for all soldiers which meant that no soldiers could vote so finally the government had to change their whole voting system. This provided the British government with the leverage to change the voting system to include women as well, settling the workers unrest as well as stopping the women's protests. Conclusion I do not believe that the war effort was crucial to getting the vote as I believe that women would have attained the vote eventually anyway, but I do see the war as a catalyst that helped women get the rights they wanted. The protests had worried the government and they were also worried about spread of protests moving to include other male workers at the end of the war. Here is a simple flow diagram of how I think the war helped - Protests War Catalyst (Scared the (women did (changes in the Government) men's jobs) electoral register) Moment/Opportunity (Votes for women more acceptable after war effort) Ross Bowman 1 ...read more.

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