KEY EVENTS

Demonstrations
  • Mud March (2-7-1907): 3,000-4,000 suffragists show up to largest demonstration yet.

  • 15,000 march in London (June 1908)

  • The Pilgrimage of 1913: Nonmilitant suffragists take eight routes that meet in London

  • Hyde Park rally (1908): 500,000 protest

 

Militant
  • October 10, 1905- Christabel and Annie Kenney interrupt Manchester Meeting and are arrested for obstruction and assaulting the police

  • 1908- Cobden Sanderson was prisoned for a demonstration outside of House of Commons in October

  • June 24, 1909, an artist, Marion Wallace Dunlop, was arrested and imprisoned after painting an extract of the 1689 Bill of Rights on the wall of the House of Commons. Like other suffragette prisoners, she was refused political status in prison and, on July 5, began a hunger strike in protest.

    • Black Friday- In 1910, Asquith said that there was not enough time to complete the second reading of the Conciliation Bill, which would have extended the vote to women, in the current session. The WSPU send 300 women to protest and 200 were assaulted, making it the first documented use of police force. The women began to attack property rather than receive personal harm and there was a six-hour struggle with the police. 119 men and women were arrested.

    • 1911- Militants chain themselves to the grille of Ladies Gallery

    • 1913- Emily Wilding Davidson threw herself in front of the King’s horse at the derby and died. This was not a tactic, but a solo act and would have been forbidden. Davidson had earlier attempted to jump off of a landing in prison.

    • Rokeby Venus- Velasques Attack – in 1914, Mary Richardson went into the National Gallery and attacked the canvas with a meat cleaver, slashing Venus’s body. She said, “I have tried to destroy the picture of the most beautiful woman in mythological history as a protest against the Government for destroying Mrs. Pankhurst, who is the most beautiful character in modern history.”

    • Women’s Parliament attempts to deliver petition to parliament and the Prime Minister and they are arrested for refusing to stop.

 
Hunger Strikes and Force Feeding
  • First hunger strike on July 2, 1908 by Mrs. Wallace Dunlop

    • Protests against women not treated as political prisoners

    • Speedy release- the women were released so that they wouldn’t die and become martyrs

  • Hunger and thirst strikes began in 1913 with Emmeline and Sylvia Pankhurst. Emmeline had a 3-year penal servitude sentence, but only served six weeks.

  • Emmeline Pankhurst went on hunger strike twelve times.

  • Hunger strikers damaged their bodies permanently, while force-feeding causes refeeding syndrome. Refeeding syndrome happens after you have stopped eating and your metabolism shifts. Returning to large amounts of food quickly causes your body to release insulin. Vomiting may also occur.

  • Hunger strikers were force-fed twice a day.

  • Suffragettes considered force-feeding “instrumental rape” and a violation of their bodies.

  • Mary Leigh describes force feeding: “The Wardresses forced me on to the bed and the two doctors came in with them, and while I was held down a nasal tube was inserted. It is two yards long with a funnel at the end- there is a glass junction in the middle to see if the liquid is passing. The end is put up the nostril, one one day, and the other nostril, the other. Great pain is experienced during the process… the drums of the ear seem to be bursting, a horrible pain in the throat and the breast. The tube is pushed down 20 inches. I have to lie on the bed, pinned down by Wardresses, one doctor stands up on a chair holding the funnel at arms length, so as to have the funnel end above the level, and then the other doctor, who is behind, forces the other end up the nostrils. The one holding the funnel end pours the liquid down… The after effects are a feeling of faintness, a sense of great pain in the diaphragm or breast bone, in the nose and the ears.”

  • In 1913, the Cat and Mouse Act or Prisoner’s Temporary Discharge for Ill Health Act – hunger strikers may be released until they are healthy enough to serve the rest of their sentence

 
Significant Bills

 

Great Reform Bill of 1832

Before hand, women technically could vote, but it was not accepted by society. This bill includes the word male in the voting regulations, thus directly barring women from voting.

Married Women’s Property Act 1882

 

Women now have the right to own, buy and, sell her property. Beforehand, anything she owned became the property of her husband when they were married. This would allow married women to vote should the regulations change to allow women because she could meet the property qualifications.

 

Conciliation Bill

There were three Conciliation Bills in Parliament- one in 1910, 1911, and 1912. It would have given the vote to property owning women. The 1910 bill was set aside when the general election took place. Black Friday happened afterwards. The 1911 bill was a Private Member’s Bill that was dropped. Finally, the 1912 bill failed. It is argued that this is because Irish Nationalists believed it would force Asquith to resign and therefore harm Irish Home Rule, the absence of 13 Labour supporters, and Asquith’s torpedoing the bill by announcing that a reform bill would be introduced in the next session, and the adverse reaction to suffragette window smashing that month.

Irish Home Rule Bill of 1912

Ireland wanted to form a constituent part of the UK. The Home Rule Bill proposed a bi-cameral legislative assembly subordinate to the parliament in London. The movement was fought from 1801-1922. Rebellions happened in 1803, 1848, 1867, and 1916 to end British rule. In 1886, there was an initial attempt to legislate Home Rule. The 1912 bill was intended to pass, but when World War I broke out, it was delayed and never passed. The Irish War of Independence was from 1916-21.

Cat and Muse Act (Temporary Discharge for Ill Health) 1913

This allows prisons to release inmates that are in ill health and re-arrest them when they are well again. Essentially, the suffragettes that are refusing to eat are released from the prison so that they don’t die there and are rearrested to serve the rest of their sentence after they have started eating again.

 

Representation of the People Act 1918

This removed most of the property qualifications from voting regulations and gave the vote to women over 30 who met the minimum property qualifications. It was a result of soldiers returning from war that no longer met the qualification. Women now were 43% of the voters and Parliament set their age to 30 so that there would not be more female voters than men. Men were allowed to vote beginning at age 21.

 

Eligibility of Women Act 1918

Women over 21 may be elected as an MP.

 

Representation of the People Act (Equal Franchise Act) 1928

Women were granted equal voting rights as men, becoming the majority of the electorate. It also grants universal adult suffrage, meaning that anyone over 21 can vote.

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