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The British Suffragette movement.

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Introduction

BRITISH SUFFRAGE MOVEMENT The Suffragette Newspaper One of the most characteristic features of the Women's Social and Political Union was its militancy: Emmeline Pankhurst, founder of the Union, advocated a hard line for its members. When, in 1912, Pankhurst's two trusted and loyal supporters, Emmeline and Frederick Pethick-Lawrence, disagreed with her decision to encourage arson as a further step in the fight for suffrage, Pankhurst asked them to leave the Union. In October of that year, her daughter Christabel issued the first copy of The Suffragette to replace Votes for Women, the paper edited by Emmeline Pethick-Lawrence. The Suffragette became the Union's official weekly paper. Hulton Deutsch In the United Kingdom, the women's suffrage movement roughly paralleled that of the United States, but in the movement's later stages, more vigorous and violent tactics were often employed. Christabel Pankhurst In 1903 Emmeline Pankhurst created the Women's Social and Political Union to fight for woman suffrage in Great Britain. Though the National Union of Woman Suffrage Societies had been in existence since 1897, Pankhurst believed that its methods were too slow and ineffective. She advocated a more militant line, which included sending deputations to the Prime Minister, demonstrating outside Parliament, breaking windows, and arson. The Union sponsored hundreds of demonstrations during the 15 years it took to gain the first tier of suffrage for women (all women of at least age 21 did not earn the right to vote until 1928). Here, Pankhurst's eldest daughter, Christabel, addresses a meeting in Trafalgar Square on October 11, 1908.Mary Evans Picture Library The great pioneer figure of British feminism was the writer Mary Wollstonecraft. Her chief work, A Vindication of the Rights of Woman (1792), is one of the major feminist documents of the 18th century. During the 1830s and 1840s, British suffragism received notable aid and encouragement from the Chartists, who fought unsuccessfully for a sweeping program of human rights. ...read more.

Middle

But despite repeated promises to grant facilities for a women's enfranchisement bill, successive governments, and especially those Liberal governments led by Herbert Henry Asquith, notorious for his anti-suffrage stance, refused to yield and adopted tougher police responses with more arrests and longer prison sentences. With such provocation, militancy became reactive, with more aggressive forms being adopted, especially after 1912. Thus mass window-breaking, in particular of well-known shops in London's West End, took place; empty buildings were set on fire; mail was destroyed in pillar boxes; telephone and telegraph wires cut; golf courses were burnt with acid, and paintings attacked in art galleries. In this second stage of militancy, the aim was always to damage property, not to take life. Many of the influential supporters of the WSPU left with this change in policy direction, some historians suggesting that by 1913 the membership had been reduced to a rump of "guerrilla activists" who engaged in these more extreme forms of militant action. V SOCIAL BACKGROUND OF MEMBERS A constant theme of WSPU rhetoric was the common bond of sisterhood that united all women, irrespective of class background or political inclination, and the movement appealed to women from a wide spectrum of society. Although it has been assumed that suffragettes were educated, single, middle-class, and well-to-do women, recent research also reveals the extent of working-class membership, especially in the local branches, such as those in Glasgow and Liverpool. During the early years, most of the recruits were also members of the ILP, so there were close links with the socialist movement, despite the fact that the WSPU was supposed to be free from party political affiliation. It was not until the Cockermouth by-election in August 1906, that Christabel Pankhurst, now chief organizer of the WSPU and its key strategist and policy-maker, reaffirmed its independent political stance when she announced that henceforward the WSPU would not only oppose all Liberal and Conservative parliamentary candidates, but also those of the Labour Party. ...read more.

Conclusion

It was not until ten years later, however, that all women could vote on equal terms with men, at the age of 21 and over, the new bill becoming law on July 2, 1928. Emmeline Pankhurst, who had done so much to incite women to demand their suffrage rights, had died some weeks earlier, on June 14. The Suffragette Newspaper One of the most characteristic features of the Women's Social and Political Union was its militancy: Emmeline Pankhurst, founder of the Union, advocated a hard line for its members. When, in 1912, Pankhurst's two trusted and loyal supporters, Emmeline and Frederick Pethick-Lawrence, disagreed with her decision to encourage arson as a further step in the fight for suffrage, Pankhurst asked them to leave the Union. In October of that year, her daughter Christabel issued the first copy of The Suffragette to replace Votes for Women, the paper edited by Emmeline Pethick-Lawrence. The Suffragette became the Union's official weekly paper. Emmeline Pankhurst, Arrested in 1914 In 1903 Emmeline Pankhurst founded the Woman's Social and Political Union (WSPU), an organization dedicated to obtaining the vote for women in Great Britain. The WSPU became militant, smashing windows and burning unoccupied buildings to bring attention to its cause. Jailed for the first time in 1908, Pankhurst undertook hunger strikes in protest during this and subsequent arrests, and was released and then rearrested as her health permitted. Christabel Pankhurst In 1903, Emmeline Pankhurst created the Women's Social and Political Union to fight for woman suffrage in Great Britain. Though the National Union of Woman Suffrage Societies had been in existence since 1897, Pankhurst believed that its methods were too slow and ineffective. She advocated a more militant line, which included sending deputations to the Prime Minister, demonstrating outside Parliament, breaking windows, and arson. The Union sponsored hundreds of demonstrations during the 15 years it took to gain the first tier of suffrage for women (all women of at least age 21 did not earn the right to vote until 1928). Here, Pankhurst's eldest daughter, Christabel, addresses a meeting in Trafalgar Square on October 11, 1908. ...read more.

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