Suffragettes Storm Westminster
The Women’s Social and Political Union, well aware that the King’s speech on February 12 1907 would contain no mention of giving women the vote, organised a meeting at Caxton Hall for the following day to rally their forces before marching on Parliament. Even before that meeting the leaders had primed a hard core of 200 activists, in turn divided into sections in a quasi military fashion.
During the afternoon meeting the Pankhursts energised their fellow suffragettes, then with Charlotte Despard they led around 400 on a march to Parliament. At the green outside Westminster Abbey the massed police ranks halted them, or at least tried to – scuffles began, and burly coppers shoved women aside, only to find them returning to the fray time and again. In all some 60 women were arrested, but 15 of their number managed to reach the lobby of the Houses of Parliament. The disturbance lasted for hours, only ending after 10pm.
The march and the sheer determination of the women involved should have sent a message to the authorities that reform was not only just but inevitable. It would be another 11 years, however, before women were given the vote , and even then they were not on a totally equal footing with men.
Links: http://www.alicesuffragette.com Site dedicated to Alice Hawkins who was imprisoned for her actions on this day
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From Peter Barratt on 7th January 2011
My great-grandmother, Alice Hawkins, was one of the suffragettes there that day and we have within the family collection Alice‚s own bail warrant from that very day. Alice was arrested that afternoon and bailed from Cannon Row Police Station to appear the following day at the Westminster Police Court for Œdisorderly conduct and resisting police‚. Alice received her first imprisonment in Holloway for 14 days. I have created a web site for students of the movement www.alicesuffragette.com