2 Who were the Suffragettes? At the beginning of the 20th century only men were allowed to vote in elections for Members of Parliament.Many women thought this was unfair and started to demand that women should be allowed to vote.These women were called SUFFRAGETTES.They were called this because the word ‘suffrage’ means the right to vote.
3 The LeadersThe leader of the Suffragettes was a lawyers wife called Mrs Emmeline Pankhurst.In 1903 Mrs Pankhurst started a society called the W.S.P.U (Women’s Social and Political Union).This was the organisation the Suffragettes belonged to.
4 WSPU leaders Annie Kenney (left) and Christabel Pankhurst
5 The W.S.P.U.The W.S.P.U. had headquarters in Manchester and London but soon branches formed all over Britain.It was mainly a middle class movement but got some support from the working class.Its motto ‘Deeds, not words’ attracted many younger women.Its aim was to persuade the Liberal government to give women the vote but the Prime Minister Herbert Asquith was against this.The W.S.P.U. began a peaceful campaign which included – marches, distributing leaflets and posters, sending letters and articles to newspapers.
8 The Militant CampaignAs peaceful methods seemed to gain little, the W.S.P.U. began to break the law to gain publicity and support.They disrupted political meetings of leading Liberal politicians and harassed MP’s.They began a campaign of vandalism – smashing shop windows, painted slogans on buildings, cut telephone wires and slashed paintings in art galleries.They chained themselves to railings near Parliament in London.They set fire to letter boxes and empty public buildings.
9 Militancy Results in Death On 4th of June 1913 the famous Derby horse race was run at Epsom Racecourse.King George V and Queen Mary were there as the King’s horse, Amner, was running in the race.During the race as a group of leading horses reached the bend called Tottenham Corner a suffragette named Emily Davidson ducked under the rails and rushed on to the racecourse.The first horse missed her but she ran right into the track of the King’s horse.The women was hurled into the air by the force of the collision and died later in hospital.The horse fell, rose again and then galloped away dragging the jockey who had caught his foot in the stirrup. He survived.
10 I M P R I S O N M E N TMany women were imprisoned for breaking the law.Whilst in prison some women went on hunger strike to draw attention to their campaign.The prison authorities force fed these women though this was dangerous to their health.In one eighteen month period, Emmeline Pankhurst, who was 50 years old, endured 10 of these hunger strikes.
12 The Cat and Mouse Act 1913Many people were horrified at the cruelty of force feeding by prison authorities.In reaction to this and after a general election in which the Liberals had lost a lot of support the government passed the Temporary Discharge of Prisoners Act (1913).Hunger strikers who were very weak were released from prison but were then admitted back to prison once they were healthy.However it proved difficult to re-arrest those released from prison.This was known to the Suffragettes as The Cat and Mouse Act.
14 Reaction to MilitancyThe suffragettes did gain publicity for their cause.Some suffragists left the WSPU and joined the Women’s Freedom League which used less militant tactics.Some members of the public believed that the extreme actions of the militants were proof that women did not deserve the right to vote.Some ministers like Lloyd George and Winston Churchill were sympathetic to the women’s cause but others were very much against them.After the more militant actions of 1910 the government was determined not to give into force in case it encouraged other groups.