Do you agree with the view that the argument over the principle of women's enfranchisement had been won by the time the Pankhursts joined the campaign for female suffrage?

Essay by FoxyLaydee88High School, 12th grade May 2004

download word file, 2 pages 0.0

Downloaded 16 times

Yes, I agree that the principle had been won by 1903 (when the Pankhursts joined). Historian Martin Pugh raises some points that would support this view.

Since 1866 the non-militant suffragists had campaigned in conjunction with allies like the Liberal MP John Stuart Mill, at this time (1867-1884) most Conservative MPs who voted were opposed to votes for women but in the period 1884-98 the opposition had changed and now the majority who voted were in favour of votes for women.

Pugh puts this move of favour from the politicians at the turn of the century, down to the meetings, pamphlets, petitions and bills of suffragists. The tactics that the suffragists adopted also showed men their political skills.

In the late Victorian period women showed they were capable of existing in the 'male sphere': women made great advances at all levels of education in this period, winning a wider share of employment especially in the fast expanding white collar sector where they performed the same work as men.

From the 1880s women again showed their political skills, as thousands of women joined organizations attached to the political parties. There they became essential as the volunteer activists organised social events, canvassing voters, making platform speeches and often playing leadership roles. Their competence in the 'male sphere' made more people open to them voting as they believed if women had all these skills surely they should be capable of voting.

Historian Martin Pugh believes that the principle had been accepted, as women had been successful with their 'participation in public roles'. Women had been so successful that now they had put women's suffrage at the top of the political agenda.

Some historians may argue of course that the principle had not been won: in terms of general voting women's suffrage had not...