Emmeline Pankhurst forms the Suffragette Movement
What effect the women dubbed suffragettes by the Daily Mail – not for the first or last time the voice of reaction – had on winning the right to vote for women in this country is still debated. Did they increase resistance by their actions? Or did they wear away at such resistance?
The suffragettes were more formally The Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU), the latest in a long line of organisations whose aim was women’s suffrage – the right to vote as equals with men in Parliamentary elections. In 1889 Emmeline Pankhurst and her husband formed the Women’s Franchise League; in 1897 The National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies was created as an umbrella group, uniting the efforts of disparate organisations throughout the country. Until 1903 the method of influencing the political parties had been peaceful persuasion. The WSPU was a radical departure: “Deeds, not words” was to be its motto.
Emmeline Pankhurst, her daughter Christabel , and four other like-minded women met at the Pankhurst home in Manchester on October 10 1903 and agreed on the change of tactics and the formation of the new - women-only - group. Initially they used non-violent protest to gain publicity for their cause, and try to garner more support from mainstream politicians. But as the years went on they became more extreme, taking sometimes violent direct action exemplified by the death of Emily Davison in the act of bringing down the king’s horse in the 1913 Derby.
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