Do you agree with the view that the suffrage movement made ‘substantial progress’ during the first decade of the twentieth century?
Source 13 is part of a speech made by Emmeline Pankhurst, who founded the WSPU, in 1908. It was delivered during her trial at Bow Street Magistrates Court in London; she had been arrested for obstruction caused during a suffragette demonstration. She was arrested on a number of occasions for using militancy. Her speech clearly shows that she felt there had been absolutely no progress made despite having ‘tried every way’, which is as if there was going to be no way they would achieve the vote. The statement seems very dramatic considering this was not even anywhere near at the height of the militant campaign and so they had clearly not tried every way. Pankhurst may having been thinking ahead and said this as a justification of her ideas for future acts, as if desperation drove the suffragists to militancy, which in my opinion was a very intelligent idea. This speech was made after the first mild militant attacks took place and many suffragettes had already been arrested. The WSPU were not afraid to be imprisoned however the NUWSS would not have wanted to confront them.
Source 13 blatantly strongly disagrees with the views of source 14, written by Harold Smith in The British Women’s Suffrage Campaign 1866 – 1928 which was published in 1998. This source was published decades after the suffrage campaigns and so had the advantage of knowing what happened and the result of women gaining the vote, which Emmeline Pankhurst did not know during her speech in 1908. Smith talks about the successes that the NUWSS had made but makes no mention of the WSPU who used controversial militant tactics. Many did not agree with the WSPU’s use of militancy and so as the NUWSS used peaceful tactics such as non-violent demonstrations, lobbying of MP’s and petitions. The founder, Millicent Fawcett thought that women needed to look like they would be...
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