Campaigns For Women Suffrage And Their Effectiveness

1153 words - 5 pages

Campaigns for Women Suffrage and their Effectiveness

Throughout the nineteenth century, the suffragists and the
suffragettes worked hard campaigning for women suffrage. Finally, in
1918, the vote was given to women, but only women over thirty. But
suffrage campaigns, although important, were not the only reason that
the franchise was granted. Some other reasons include, a fear of the
return of suffragette activity, the government following an
international trend, the government making changes to the voting
system anyway, and the Prime Minister, David Lloyd George, being more
sympathetic to the cause that the previous Prime Minister was.

The long-term factor was, in fact, the suffrage campaigns. Both the
suffragists and the suffragettes had very different styles of
campaigning. The suffragist's tactics were based on putting steady
pressure on politicians, by holding lectures, organising marches,
publishing leaflets and gathering petitions. They were led by
Millicent Fawcett, and the group consisted of mainly middle class
women, although many working class women were recruited. However, the
suffragette's tactics were nearly the opposite, for they used militant
tactics to attract as much attention as they could. They were a
breakaway group, and were led by Emmeline Pankhurst. The militant
methods that they used were very violent and radical. They felt that
the only way to gain suffrage was to show extreme force. 'Never before
[had the British ruling class] awarded the vote without some show of
force', stated Emmeline Pankhurst. They thought that politicians would
never be able to ignore them, if they were always in the spotlight.
Some examples of the tactics used are, deliberately being sent to
prison, hunger strike, arson attacks and sabotage campaigns.

The suffragists had mixed feelings about this type of tactic. On one
hand they admired the heroism of the suffragettes. This was
demonstrated by Millicent Fawcett herself (leader of the suffragists),
'the violence suffered by the suffragettes has been formidable…what
those who endures who underwent the hunger strike and the anguish of
force feeding can hardly be overestimated. Their courage made a deep
impression on the public.' But on the other hand, the violence put off
MP's who would otherwise support the cause, and the suffragists feared
that all their hard work would be wasted. Even though the suffragists
weren't too keen on these methods, they led to political debate, which
put the women's right to vote back on the political agenda. Historian,
Paula Bartley believes that the government used the violence as an
excuse to withhold the right to vote; they feared that other groups
would adopt similar tactics. However, the government and the
suffragists were not the only people to oppose the campaigns. The
press ridiculed...

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