The Suffragists

Many years passed without significant change until the Reform Act of 1832 when Henry Hunt proposed a political franchise that recognised equality for men and women which gave them the opportunity to vote. He was defeated, however middle class men were granted access into the parliamentary system. (Simkin, 2015) Chartism was the response to the … Read more

Women’s rights in Canada

The rights that women enjoy in Canada today are connected to the efforts and contributions of the suffragette movement dating back to the early 1900’s. The role of women in society has evolved tremendously over the years and this can be directly associated with the duties they performed during World War I and II, the … Read more

What reasons are there for women getting the vote in 1918?

During the 19th century many laws were passed which made Britain more democratic by empowering men, but women were never given the right to vote in elections. Most men, including those in government, believed that women were uneducated, unexperienced, indecisive, juvenile and understood little about the world of politics, economics and business. In the eyes … Read more

Women’s suffrage

The beginning of Queen Victoria’s reign might appear to the lay man as an opportunity for the female sex to have a voice owing to the fact that she was the first queen regnant in a hundred and twenty-three years of monarchy in Great Britain. Never the less this voice applied solely to the queen … Read more

Suffrage Movement in the United States and Britain

In regard to the British Suffrage Movement, similarly to The Civil Rights Movement, collective action and common purpose is also displayed. The NUWSS, the suffragists, led by Millicent Fawcett were a non-violent group that focused on lobbying members of Parliament to bring about legislative changes while the more aggressive WSPU, the suffragettes, led by Emmeline … Read more

Emmeline Pankhurst

This source has been extracted from the memoirs of a well- known suffragette, Emmeline Pankhurst . It covers the subject of militancy within the suffragette movement in the nineteenth century, by discussing the letter burning protests. This was a time in which women felt, was completely male dominated and therefore, they began to stand up … Read more

How women got the right to vote

In 1918, the Representation of the people act gave women over the age of 30 who owned land, were married to a land owner or were in local government the right to vote. In the 19th century women were treated poorly in comparison to men and were expected to lead different lives. Very few women … Read more

Women’s right to vote pre and post civil war, & the 19th amendment

The emergence of women in the political sphere heightened during the Civil War. With both the abolitionist and temperance movement gaining political momentum, women in the United States sought to further intensify political activism, shifting the attention onto themselves. The fight for suffrage stemmed from the Seneca Falls Convention in 1848 ultimately elevating the women’s … Read more

Splits within the women’s suffrage movement

Introduction The women’s suffrage movement and the abolitionists used to work together towards the same goal: suffrage and enfranchisement, or in other words full citizenship. But after the Civil war there was a split both within the women’s movement and between the abolitionists and the woman’s suffrage movement. Part of the women’s movement gave up … Read more

Lucy Stone – prominent U.S. orator, abolitionist and suffragist

Lucy Stone was born in West Brookfield, Massachusetts on August 13, 1818. She was one of Francis Stone and Hannah Matthews’s 9 children, and like her parents, became a committed abolitionist. In 1847, Stone graduated with honors from Oberlin College at Ohio, becoming the first woman from Massachusetts to do so, inspiring numerous other women … Read more

The Ohio Women’s Rights Movement

The Ohio Women’s Rights Movement on May 29,1851 was one of the many events in the 19th century where advocates called for growing the rights of women. Led by Frances Dana Barker Gage in Akron, Ohio, women going to the convention were inspired by the Sentiments and the Declaration of Rights. Using the constitution tenants … Read more

Women’s Suffrage Movement

Introduction “In the adjustment of the new order of things, we women demand an equal voice; we shall accept nothing less.”(Catt). “There will never be a new world order until women are a part of it.”. (Paul) “Men, their rights, and nothing more; women, their rights, and nothing less.”(Anthony). These quotes are just few of … Read more

History of voting rights in America

In 1789, George Washington became the first President of the United State under an electoral process set down by our founding fathers to separate us from the monarchical traditions of Britain. Under this system the people of America had the responsibility or power to select a leader for the country. At the time only white … Read more

Key figures in women’s suffrage

In 1912, the embers from the fight for the American woman’s right to vote were burning brighter than ever. In the movie, “Iron Jawed Angels”, this fight is illustrated by the true story of young suffragist activists Alice Paul and Lucy Burns. In Philadelphia 1912, the two women meet with the heads of NAWSA (National American … Read more

The March of the Women: A Revisionist Analysis of the Campaign for Women’s Suffrage (Martin Pugh)

In ‘The March of the Women: A Revisionist Analysis of the Campaign for Women’s Suffrage’ Martin Pugh attempts to provide the reader with a comprehensive and somewhat new way of looking at the fight for women’s suffrage in Britain. Pugh does not wish his book to be a narrative of the women’s suffrage movement but … Read more

Alice Paul

Alice Paul did many things in her life in support of suffrage, the right to vote in political elections. She continued to push for equal rights for women as well. She organized many protests with the help of many other women and supporters of suffrage. She dedicated her life to the single cause of bringing … Read more

President Woodrow Wilson impact on the women’s suffrage movement

Twenty-eighth President Woodrow Wilson is often remembered for the large role he played in ending World War I. However, he also greatly impacted the women’s suffrage movement. Women did not possess the right to vote when President Wilson took office on March 3, 1913. Although Wilson considered himself an intelligent man with high morals, he … Read more

The Right to Vote

The right to vote, otherwise known as franchise or suffrage, is very important to many American citizens as it provides them a voice in the selection of America’s leaders. While most United States citizens are free to practice this right today, this was not always the case. Many Americans were once unable to practice this … Read more

The social wars

The Progressive Era is an often forgotten time in history that had a huge impact on our modern day America’s social and political welfare, and even though not all our nation’s conflicts were settled once it was over, all of them were one step closer to positive solutions. The Social Reform can be considered the … Read more

About the suffragettes:

You walk into the tight booth, shifting around a bit to reach for a ballot. You write your name quickly, and scan the small sheet. You find what you’re looking for, and check “Female”. You smile slightly, knowing it wasn’t always this way, and it had taken the dedication and passion of many strong women to make selecting “Female” an option that wouldn’t immediately send you to jail. The many women, like Alice Paul and Susan B. Anthony, whose work made this possible had fought through many trials and tribulations, from the President denying support, to being force fed and tortured in jail. But, in the end, they prevailed, and their efforts will leave a permanent legacy of strength, sisterhood, and justice.

One of the many important make-or-break moments for the suffragist movement was when Susan B. Anthony and other female delegates from the US attended the World Anti-Slavery Convention of 1840 in London, but found out that the women weren’t allowed to participate. They even had to sit in separate seats where it was ensured they could only watch and listen, but not take part. On pages 21-23, it was told what followed; “All at once, Elizabeth Cady Stanton saw something she had never seen quite so clearly before: In the eyes of the world, I was not as I was in my own eyes, I was only a woman.” The book goes onto to say “And to be a woman in 1840 was to be less than a man. Socially less, politically less, and perhaps most of all, legally less.” This event was a turning point for another suffragette, Lucretia Mott, who went on to be a close friend and colleague of Stanton. It is quoted her experience “unleashed her; thereafter she did not attempt to hold back either anger or commitment.” The convention and the discrimination that took place there sparked the beginning of a movement, and added fuel to the fire that was their resolution to hold a convention and form a group to advocate for and promote women’s rights. Without this happening, it may have taken many more years for the suffragettes to come together and help pass the 19th Amendment.

Another primary event was the imprisonment, torturing, and force feeding of the suffragettes. Suffragettes were taken to jail because of their protesting, but they had prepared for this, and knew what to do. They refused to eat and went on a hunger strike. This move found enough sympathy with those supporting their plight, and the British authorities let them go free after 5 days. In November of 1909, Alice Paul was arrested again, but by then, the jailers had a new tactic of their own. If the women we allowed to continue their strikes, it could be dangerous for them, because the suffragettes were willing to die for their cause, since they knew it would bring more attention and light to the movement. Those at the jail realized that if the women became martyrs for their cause, it would paint them in a bad light, and garner more support for the cause, which they were deeply against. They decided that the best option was the forcibly make sure they wouldn’t die, so force-feeding was the route they chose. Alice Paul described the harrowing experience on pages 186-187 in excruciating detail as “One of the doctors stood behind & pulled my head back till it was parallel with the ground. He held it in this position by means of a towel drawn tightly around the throat & when I tried to move, he drew the towel so tight that it compressed the windpipe & made it almost impossible to breathe—with his other hand he held my chin in a rigid position. Then the other doctor put the tube down through the nostril. When they have finally secured you in this position you can scarcely budge.” As a further thought, the books continues by saying that “The tube would rarely go in correctly the first time, and sometimes it would take a half-dozen tries before it did. Once in place, the doctors would pour a mixture of milk and eggs down the tube. Paul was “fed” like this twice a day for nearly a month, permanently damaging her health.” If this hadn’t happened, the support from sympathizers never would’ve been gathered, and thus less awareness. What happened in those days showed the cruel lengths people were willing to go to prevent the suffragettes from having the same rights as they did.

Finally, Alice Paul meeting Lucy Burns was also a crucial happening to the movement. The two women met while detained together in a London police station after being arrested for protesting for a meeting with the British prime minister at the time, H. H. Asquith. He had heard about the protest, and had sent a massive police barricade outside the Parliament building to obstruct them. The suffragettes that had been sent were told he had refused to meet, and that they should just turn back and accept it. They did the exact opposite, and instead tried to force their way in. The police showed no empathy, and opted to instead use a terrifying show of police brutality. Alice Paul later describes the horror on pages 182, “The suffragettes threw themselves against the lines of police & forced their way through once or twice only to be captured in a few minutes. Behind them was the crowd yelling & shouting & pushing them on but afraid to take any part for fear of being arrested. The police grabbed the suffragettes by the throats & threw them flat on their backs over & over again.” Paul was arrested for her part, and while at the station, she spotted a woman wearing an American flag in her lapel. She introduced herself to the woman, Lucy Burns, and thus began a long friendship. Over the 18 months of apprenticeship to the Pankhursts, a pair of prominent suffragettes, and as the book says is on page 183, “…they grew incredibly close.” They worked together unwaveringly during the last years of the battle for suffrage, “…making sacrifices and taking risks that even Stanton and Anthony had avoided.” In this way, Paul and Burns exemplified and continued the radicalness that fueled Stanton and Anthony.”


Writing essays about the suffragettes: points for discussion

  1. Overview of the history of the suffragette movement: Explain how the suffragette movement began, who was involved, and the various tactics employed to achieve their goals.
  2. Discuss the various tactics used by the suffragettes, such as hunger strikes and protests, and the impact they had on the movement.
  3. Analyze the impact of the suffragette movement on the course of history: Describe the changes that occurred as a result of the movement and discuss why the suffragettes were so successful.
  4. Analyze the role of women in the suffragette movement, such as their leadership and organization.
  5. Discuss the legacy of the suffragette movement: What changes have occurred since the suffragettes achieved their goals, and what challenges remain for women today?
  6. Analyze the impact of the suffragettes on other social movements: Consider how the tactics and ideas of the suffragettes have been adopted by other social movements, such as the civil rights and LGBTQ+ movements.
  7. Explore the role of media in the suffragette movement: How did the media help to spread the message of the movement and shape public opinion?
  8. Discuss the role of men in the suffragette movement: Consider how male allies helped to support the movement and how their involvement has changed over time.