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Consent of the Governed / Right to Vote

Civil Disobedience > The Suffragettes

The suffragettes were among the most conspicuous exponents of civil disobedience.

In Britain, the move for women to have the vote started in 1897 when Millicent Fawcett founded the National Union for Women's Suffrage. Suffrage means the right to vote. Fawcett believed in a campaign of peaceful protest and that violence would simply reinforce the view that women could not be trusted with the right to vote. Her strategy was that of patience and logical argument.

Frustrated by the lack of progress, Emmeline Pankhurst and her daughters broke away from the NUWS and founded the Womens Social and Political Union. Its motto was "Deeds not Words."

 

In 1912 and 1913, the Suffragettes organized a campaign of arson directed against those opposed to granting women's suffrage. Houses belonging to members of parliament were damaged including one belonging to David Lloyd George, the Chancellor of the Exchequer. Other targets included railway stations, cricket pavilions, golf courses, and public mail boxes.

Some members of the WSPU who disagreed with the arson campaign were expelled for voicing their opposition while others simply ceased to participate.

Arson Campaign
Arson Campaign
Punch Magazine 1913

 

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