Women's Suffrage in 19th Century England
Women's Suffrage in the right of women to share political privileges on equal terms with men, the right to vote in elections and referendums, and the right to hold public office. The women's suffrage was a worldwide issue that had begun a long time before the 19th century. The issues involving women's right to vote was aroused in 1839 when the American Missionary Association began to work to develop education opportunities for blacks and other minorities in the U.S. which begun with the defending of the slaves of the Amistad. (Banner, Lois W. 1,NP)
The Amistad was a ship that carried fleeing slaves from the coast of Cuba that brought them to the U.S. These slaves had mutinied against their Spanish owners and had no choice but to run away. Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucretia Mott joined the antislavery forces. They decided that the rights of women, as well as those of black slaves, needed to be dealt with. In 1841 John Quincy Adams defended these blacks as freemen before the Supreme Court and won their freedom. ("American Missionary Association", 333)
The women suffrage was first advocated in Great Britain by Mary Wollstonecraft A Vindication of the Rights of Women (1792). During the 1830's and 40's British Suffrages received notable aid and encouragement from the Chartists, who fought unsuccessfully for human rights. John Stuart Mill, John Bright, and Richard Cobden were Liberal Legislators that helped to make the Women's Suffrage issues public to Britain. (Banner, Lois W. 2)
John Stuart Mill was a great supporter of the suffrages. He helped to found the first British Women-Suffrage Association in 1865. At this same time he entered the Parliament as a member from Westminster. Mill emphasized that "Liberty could be threatened as much as social as by political tyranny." ("Mill, John Stuart"; Encarta 2000, NP).
Barbara Bodichon and Elizabeth Garrett co-drafted a petition for Women's Suffrage. The petition had 1,550 signatures. It was given to John Stuart Mill who presented it to The House of Commons in 1866. This petition was to support an amendment to the reform act so women could vote. In the voting of The House, it was defeated 196 votes to 73 votes. The Reform Bill of 1867 contained no provisions for women suffrage. ("Barbara Leigh Smith (Madame Bodichon) and Hastings", NP)
In the 1870's these organizations submitted to Parliament petitions that demanded the franchise for women and it contained almost 3 million signatures. . ("Barbara Leigh Smith (Madame Bodichon) and Hastings", NP) This led to the formation of the National Union of Women's Suffrage Societies (NUWSS) in 1897. Seventeen Suffragist societies had united to form a stronger, larger society. Lydia Becker was elected the President of the NUWSS; she died 3 years later, leaving Millicent Fawcett as the President. Millicent Fawcett believed that is was important to campaign for a wide variety of causes, not just for the vote....