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Why did a campaign for Women’s suffrage develop in the years after 1870?

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Introduction

Why did a campaign for Women's suffrage develop in the years after 1870? In the second half of the 19th Century the rights of women began to develop towards greater equality with men. In the years after 1870 many factors began to contribute to a change. Woman began to rebel against the unfair situation they were in and slowly began to see a result. At the start of the Victorian age the position of women was even more clearly divided from the position of men than between the rich and poor. The strong division between men and women of the upper and middle classes kept women at home and men at work. Women would show the status of her household by remaining idle at all times. Ladies from respectable backgrounds were not expected to have careers or to work. Even the household chores or looking after of the children would be carried out by a servant. Having a female member of your family work would bring shame upon the husband. It would be assumed that the husband or father could not afford to support them on his own wages. Therefore, women were encouraged to remain idle and to leave household chores to domestic servants. This was true from the nobility of the country to the houses of the middle classes. Women were not even encouraged to take exercise except riding and dancing. The working class women however, had live a lot harder. Often the men's wages alone could not support the family. Wives or children would usually also need to work in order to earn enough money for the family. They could not afford to employ domestic servants, like the higher classes and this would mean that it was particularly burdensome for working class women. As well as raising their children, they would carry out the household chores like cooking and cleaning. Whilst working women were employed in factories, laundries or in trades like dressmaking and domestic service other, more significant and responsible careers were denied women of the middle and upper classes. ...read more.

Middle

Mrs Pankhurst, along with so many other supporters, thought the suffrage campaign needed an injection of new blood and a change of tactics. She had grown impatient with the old-fashioned, respectable ways of the suffragists so, with her daughters, she started the WSPU. Their new tactics included heckling speakers at political meetings and chaining themselves to railings outside Downing Street and Ministers homes. Younger members of the WSPU considered even more violent tactics as a means of gaining publicity for their causes. They burned letterboxes and buildings, hurled bricks through shop windows and generally made a nuisance of themselves. Their behaviour deeply shocked Edwardian society. In 1912, a violent campaign was organised by Christabel Pankhurst. Shop windows were smashed, telephone wires were cut, they tore up golf greens and poured acid on them and they slashed paintings in the national Gallery and Manchester Art Gallery. They set fire to the contents of port boxes and broke lampposts and caused great arson to the houses of MPs and other public buildings. Emily Davison, a suffragette, threw herself under the King's horse at the Derby and was fatally injured. When arrested, they would respond by going on hunger strike while in prison. The prison authorities forcibly fed many. This caused public outrage. The government passed a new law that became known as the Cat and Mouse Act. Hunger strikers would be released when they became dangerously ill and were re-arrested as soon as they were strong again. SOURCE D, part of a book called 'My own story' by Emmeline Pankhurst, shows us why they decided these tactics helped them. She tells of how the suffragist method brought no improvements. She goes on to say how they will now fight for their course. She also mentions how the violent campaign was making them a matter of news and how the newspapers were full of them. The press would often publish their sensational acts in the paper exactly as intended by the suffragettes in order to gain publicity. ...read more.

Conclusion

In some ways, I disagree with the statement. Before the war broke out, women had been working hard for a change for around a century. They had slowly been progressing towards their goal and had been fighting hard. Many events had taken place that helped aid the women's movement with no relation to the war. For instance, the violent tactics of the Suffragettes had brought the issue into the media and gained public attention for the cause. However, women were being held back for various reasons. The Suffragettes for example were making a mockery of their name by acting in a shameful manner, putting people off giving them the vote. Many politicians disagreed with giving women the vote simply for the reason that they saw the women as incapable due to these actions. Even the suffragists who were still campaigning peacefully were disgraced by their action. Women also felt that men doubted them because they had not been able to prove themselves. It would also have been impossible for government to grant women the vote as a reward for violence. When war broke out the suffragettes were persuaded by their own leaders to halt their movement for the time being in order to help in the war effort. They no longer campaigned and caused havoc. With the men fighting, women were also at last given the chance they wanted to show that they were capable. Government was impressed by how they handled the situation. I think this is a very important factor in the introduction of the women's vote. Another contribution may have been the fact that on the same date, all men were given the vote for the first time also. I think that if war had not broken out, women would still have worked to finally gain the vote but not for a long time. It was the war that acted as a catalyst, to help speed up the movement. ?? ?? ?? ?? Harriet Kemp ...read more.

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