Votes for Women

Votes for Women

Votes for Women

Votes for Women

Synopsis

Votes for Women provides an innovative re-examination of the suffrage movement, presenting new perspectives which challenge the existing literature on this subject.This fascinating book charts the history of the movement in Britain from the nineteenth century to the postwar period, assessing important figures such as;* Emmeline Pankhurst and the militant wing* Millicent Garrett Fawcett, leader of the constitutional wing*Jennie Baines and her link with the international suffrage movements.

Excerpt

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The campaigns for the parliamentary vote for women in Britain and Ireland, as well as biographical accounts of some of the figures involved in such activities, have been the subject of extensive research. As Jane Lewis notes, the agitation for women's suffrage is usually dated from John Stuart Mill's 1865 campaign to be elected to parliament, although the subject had been discussed much earlier. Votes for women was part of Mill's election address and, unusually for the time, three middle-class pioneers of the early women's movement, namely Barbara Bodichon, Emily Davies and Bessie Parkes, campaigned on his behalf. The following year, in the context of the debates about the Second Reform Bill which was imminent in parliament, Bodichon asked Mill if he would present a petition in favour of women's suffrage. Mill agreed, advising that anything less than one hundred signatures of support would probably do 'more harm than good'. Bodichon then called together Emily Davies, Jessie Boucherett, Rosamond Hill and Elizabeth Garrett and formed the first Women's Suffrage Committee which worked hard for a fortnight to collect 1,500 'distinguished and respectable signatures'. Although the petition was not successful, other suffrage committees were soon established with some of the activists, such as Lydia Becker and Millicent Garrett Fawcett, becoming central figures in the Victorian women's movement. Becker and Fawcett were what we may term 'constitutional suffragists' who advocated legal means of campaigning such as parliamentary lobbying. There were, however, 'divided counsels' within the movement, especially over whether the demand for the parliamentary vote should include married women who, under the common law doctrine of coverture, were subsumed in the legal personhood of their husband and thus held no property or wealth in their own right, as well as single women. To demand the vote for married women was more problematic than seeking it for spinsters and widows since the franchise at this time was based upon the ownership or occupation of property; not all men, of course, were enfranchised under these terms either. Matters came to a head in 1874 when Becker, reluctantly, supported a

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