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Peacettes : Suffragettes who opposed World War One

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PostPosted: Sat Jul 20, 2013 11:43 am    Post subject: Peacettes : Suffragettes who opposed World War One Reply with quote

Once Suffragettes turned to ' destructionist ' methods in 1912, as directed by Annie Kenney upon the suggestions of Christabel Pankhurst who was living in Paris where she had escaped to after her mother's arrest, the upsurge in militancy was marked by deliberately celebrating Bastille Day with a rally on the 14th July 1912 ... which just happened to be Mrs Pankhurst's birthday ... in London massed ranks of Suffragettes marched through the streets organised in battalions led by ' liberty capped ' poles topped with scarlet phrygian caps, each with their own colours : green and gold were chosen for Wales, and I don't know why. The writers were all marching together under the ink and paper of the Black and White banner, Labour Women under the blood and bandages of Red for Socialism and White for Peace ... and all of this radical unity was about to be severely tested by World War One.

Meanwhile Christabel tried to unleash war, using men's own methods against them, urging Sylvia to burn down Nottingham Castle : Sylvia demurred and suggested a torchlit procession followed by a symbolic flinging of torches towards it ... she later commented " Both Christabel and her mother were against the taking of human life ... but Christabel felt the times demanded sterner measures, and burning she knew would frighten both public and parliament. ... But no life must be taken on our side, we alone are the ones who are prepared to give our lives, if necessary." ... Meanwhile that epitome of Welsh chivalric gallantry David Lloyd-George was encouraging his supporters to beat up Suffragettes and when they challenged a speech which he made on the 21st September 1912 in Llanystymdwy his constituents - or should we say his assistants - assaulted the Suffragette protestors and deliberately stripped their women almost naked. Mrs Pankhurst responded in October 1912 with " I incite this meeting to rebellion ! Be militant each in your own way, I accept responsibility for everything you do ! " - and explained that this militancy was to save both women and men from immorality like this :

" Until by law we can establish an equal moral code for men and women, women will be fair game for the vicious section of the population, inside Parliament as well as out of it ... When I began this militant campaign I was a Poor Law Guardian, and it was my duty to go through a workhouse infirmary, and never shall I forget seeing a little girl of thirteen lying in bed playing with a doll ... I was told she was on the eve of becoming a mother, and she was infected with a loathsome disease, and on the point of bringing, no doubt, a diseased child into the world. Was that not enough to make me into a militant Suffragette ? We women Suffragists have a great mission - the greatest mission the world has ever known. It is to free half the human race, and through that freedom to save the rest."

So, you'll understand that the Suffragists succeeded the Chartists who had succeeded the Republicans and had very nearly by this point had won one-man-one-vote but the women Suffragists were now lagging far behind and were deeply frustrated. As the inheritors of the Democratic Republican tradition ( i.e. they were seeking votes ) they had returned to the displaying of its symbols in their rallies and literature but as the Chartists before them had done, they were also beginning to split in that familiar way as their militancy increased along with their frustration, between what might be termed ' Moral Force Feminism ' and ' Physical Force Feminism.' Chartist women had been split in the same ways in supporting their menfolk, but in order to be finally received into the political system their successors the male Suffragists had compromised and left their female Suffragists and their new radical rivals the Suffragettes outside of it - whilst expressing their sincerest sympathies with their struggling sisters of course ... and whilst denouncing them for their desperate acts, some of them symbolic acts of destruction, which followed as a consequence.

That may be a rather crude way of looking at it but it is basically true that when severe injustices are not redressed and protest escalates through destruction into violence then the oppressors blame the oppressed as just one more way of justifying denying the latter redress. By the time that violence is erupting at flash-points all over society, usually due to some added forms of distress which accentuate and emphasise the injustice being protested against in the first place by peaceable political means, the opportunities for finding political solutions are long gone : peace is a necessary condition for doing politics - but it is often abused by those who talk of ' political consultations ' and ' listening to minorities ' to fob off protesters by filliblustering those who are foolish enough to be drawn into such dialogues by politicians who declare that ' something must be done ' - which is mostly that these politicians want to record a sound-bite and have their pictures in the paper and get some votes out of it and ... well the Suffragettes had witnessed all of that and understood that what Democratic politicians really meant was that ' nothing must be done.' For the more radical Suffragettes of the WSPU it became obvious that the United Kingdom was in fact waging a war against women, so why not wage war back ? Their moderate constitutional rivals the women Suffragists of the NUWSS reasoned that in fighting fire with fire they might end up burning the whole political house down, which was hardly going to help anybody's political cause.

But in the case of the Suffragettes World War One intervened and things became more complicated and the internal divisions of the women's movement fractured in unexpected ways : women who had bitterly denounced the ' violence ' done to golf course turves, letter boxes and windows ( ' violence ' strictly speaking is an assault on a person's body not their property, which is termed ' destruction ' ) now became enthusiasts for their own men's violence against ' the Hun ' whilst still denouncing other women for resorting to this vice of men everywhere in using ' destruction ' for political purposes. Still determined to oppose the vices of men, to defy their oppression of women and the political system that embodied it, women who had previously practiced ' destruction ' now found further expression for their political sensibilities in confronting the United Kingdom's war against women by opposing the ways in which it now conducted World War One. The split that occurred within the Pankhurst family, who were after all notably bellicose in their attitudes and choice of words, divided Mrs Pankhurst and Christabel - who previously had talked of conducting a guerrilla-style civil warfare to liberate women - from Sylvia - who remained firm upon the matter but then had already parted ways with her mother and sister having become a convinced Socialist, founding the ' East London Federation ' which became in 1916 the ' Workers' Suffrage Federation.'

The magazine ' The Suffragette ' was transformed by Mrs Pankhurst and Christabel into ' Britannia ' which declared " It is a thousand times more the duty of the militant suffragettes to fight the Kaiser for the sake of liberty than it was to fight anti-suffrage governments." It advocated military conscription, internment of aliens and a war of attrition against Germany - and the WSPU itself then split and the Independent WSPU left. Sylvia's WSF became allied to the anti-conscription movement but her mother was trying to recruit men into the army and navy and women into munitions factories, whilst the WSPU was handing out white feathers to men she deemed to be cowards. Sylvia commented - " To me, this seemed a tragic betrayal of the great movement to bring the mother-half of the race into the councils of the nations ... " Mrs Pankhurst and Christabel however saw the opportunity to redeem the WSPU in the eyes of the public and to be admitted into the council of the nation, that women would prove themselves worthy of the vote by their patriotic sacrifices for the United Kingdom : that when the war ended, women would be able to bargain for the vote ... Sylvia disagreed, and she was proven correct, but Sylvia and a lot of feminist republicans* like her were in a minority who found themselves enveloped in the jingoistic madness of World War One.

( * Feminists inevitably were opposed to the United Kingdom in all of its forms then existing, which oppressed women, and almost any kind of alternative vision of our society was considered back then to be some form of ' republicanism ' - but note that the modern proper Republican theories ' The New Republicanism ' and ' The Open Conspiracy ' were also being born just before World War One and they constituted a more generalised aspect of the then radical political culture of which the Suffragettes were just another but more focused part of.)

I don't think that I'll post any links to the Pankhursts or Suffragettes here at the moment - perhaps I will find some explicitly pertinant webpages later, if I ever get back to this ...

The above paragraphs were knocked out for this purpose by my reaching for the book ' The Ascent of Woman - A History of the Suffragette Movement and the Ideas Behind It " by Melanie Phillips, my copy published 2003 by Little Brown Books / Time Warner Books - isbn 0 326 72533 1 - and on the seventh plate between pages 116 - 117 there is a photograph of Sylvia Pankhurst speaking from a movable platform decorated with Green-White-Violet tricolours : the Suffragist's " Give-Workers-Votes !!! " had become the Suffragettes " Give-Women-Votes !!! "

[ A note on the uses of Purple / Violet / Mauve in Republicanism ... The reader will I hope note that " dai's " ' avatar ' is a bunch of violets which were originally used as a man's button-hole or a woman's posy to indicate sympathies with Napoleon Bonaparte whose nick-name was " Corporal Violet " because he took a bunch of them from Josephine's grave when he went into exile on the Island of Elba - but as he did so he promised his compatriots that he would return " bringing home the violets " which he did in 1815. Displaying violets thus became a symbol of Republican Resistance, and therefore being found in possession of a bunch of violets became thereafter a criminal offence in France and so people substituted their cultivar pansies whose name in French is a pun on ' pensee ' implying ' free-thought ' i.e. " you can not get inside my head and make me think as you wish : I resist." Purple was associated with the Divine Rights of Kings and the wearing of purple clothes was only allowed to priests, kings and statues of gods in ancient Rome so when its early populace ( who later became the Patricians ) overthrew their last king they deliberately tore his sacred royal purple clothes into strips and thus symbolically divided his priesthood and kingship between themselves. The strips were presumably in the first instance sewn onto their clothes and so possession of such a strip was proof of a family's claim to possess an anciently inherited citizenship, but later this was denoted by dying a purple strip along the edge of the toga ( i.e. when the Plebians were finally granted citizenship all they really got out of it was a toga, the equivalent of the Roman T-shirt, which had a purple stripe on it - just to let everybody else know which team they were supporting : their bosses' - " Patricians United " - " C'M-ONNN - YEIEW - STRYPE-EEEE-PERRRR-PWLSSS !!! " ) Until the invention of Mauve - a coal tar die nick-named after the inventor as ' Perkin's Purple ' any amount of cloth in these colours was very expensive - and whilst the original Tyrian purple, made from rotting Murex snail shells, was fast its colour had to be revived by washing it in urine ... its full of fascinating things like this, the study of Republicanism.]



The following paragraphs are derivative from reading the book that I picked up more recently, ' Voices Against War - A Century of Protest ' by Lyn Smith, my copy published 2010, Mainstream Publishing isbn 978 1 84596 599 0 - which prompted me to think about the women involved because most histories of Conscientious Objection involve men being conscripted, standing trial, being beaten up, imprisoned, shot etc whereas the women who were and are involved are often barely mentioned. So when I came across the word ' Peacettes ' I just had to investigate - just for a mo - and four or five hours later I have got this far ... er, did I eat ? ... six hours perhaps seven ... any further bids then ? ... I have just got to go eat : I may not finish this today, or ever - sorry !


As a post-script to the above, before I return to this, I want to point out my suspicions of the psycho-dynamics of Mr Pankhurst and Christabel as opposed to Sylvia : Sylvia maintained her integrity and found her mother and sister's positions inconsistent and unintelligeable but I do not. The Pankhursts were notoriously treacherous betrayers of those they worked with, although some admired them and accepted the idea that they cut other people out of their lives ' on principle.' Sylvia does not seem to have been much different to her mother and sister in what I would suggest was and is the narcissism of those enamoured of Democracy because it offers them opportunities to portray politics as warfare, as a Manichiean contest between good and evil, where other people are either allies or enemies of themselves as the self-appointed great leaders ... whereas I think that Sylvia was more committed in her self-image to the actual Suffragette cause, I would suggest that Mrs Pankhurst and Christobel were more infatuated by the idea of being involved in ' fighting ' and so they constituted together with those around them a ' black faction ' which had merely attached themselves to the fight for women's emancipation, because they were looking for a fight.

So : I wish to argue that, when World War One arrived, Mrs Pankhurst and Christobel enthusiastically subverted the cause of the Suffragettes, of their own self-proclaimed civil war, in favour of supporting the United Kingdom's war effort because they were narcissistically excited by the idea of being able to get involved in a much bigger fight - ? - Meanwhile Sylvia chose the moral high ground more or less on the basis that she was merely opposed to and fighting her own private war with her mother and sister - Sylvia was fighting to disentangle herself from a narcissistic family structure in which Mrs Pankhurst was treating her daughters as extensions of herself, and in which any of their friends and colleagues might be denounced as ' bradwyr ' for asserting their own independence of mind.

The intense loyalties experienced by people in groups like this and their imagined and real predisposition to do violence to their ' enemies ' - especially ' friends ' declared to be ' enemies ' for their disobedience to the authority claimed over them by other members - demonstrates to me that such ' black factions ' are merely diminutive monarchies. The Pankhursts appointed themselves in effect to be the royal family of radical Edwardian politics, and as such they held themselves to be above any particular political convictions or loyalties because they were in it for the opportunity of being significant, of being historical not political leaders : others were supposed to be loyal to them, to fight for them, to provide them - the Pankhursts - with glory and importance and the admiration of others, and whether that was to be secured by victory or martyrdom was irrelevant because it was to be done by others not by them personally : I think that the Pankhursts were pursuing a franchise for themselves rather than enfranchisement for others.

On the other hand, threats of war followed by actual fighting are not conducive to cool-headedness on anybody's part and the sheer novelty of it scrambles many people's minds and presents for most of us a steep learning curve in the decisions that we need to make : the whole point of military training is of course to have an effective set of behaviours already rehearsed and made ready for war ... they don't have to be the right behaviours of course because they are designed in order to keep you calm : just so long as you have confidence in them and trust that those you are loyal to ( and willing to fight for to win for them the glory and admiration they deserve to provide them with their place in history ) are right in deciding that we should now all go over the top dressed in pink tutus and armed with tins of flaked beans and blue bananas as the effective tools with which to fight World War Three.

What happened in World War One offers a sort of guide to what some people choose to do : to object either to this particular war - or all wars.

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PostPosted: Sun Jul 21, 2013 11:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

SO ... to get to the book : " Buy this book ! " - Amazon lets you glimpse inside to get an impression of it - and appears to indicate that you can buy it for as little as £2.47 with free P&P from TreeSavers at the moment that I am writing ... damn ; I paid £7.99 ! An impulse buy ...


" Voices Against War - A Century of Protest " is by Lyn Smith who lives in Beirut and is a war correspondent who says " I dedicate this book to [ the contributors ] and their fellow campaigners, who, each in their own way, have struggled against war and tried to push the world along the path of peace." The book does not deal in detail with the development of the peace movement out of the religious Renaissance Republicanism of the 16c but sets its sights upon what happened in the 20c because of the collections of witness statements held in the Imperial War Museum, which the book is written in association with. I will hereby jot down some notes from the material in the book to set the scene.

Lyn Smith uses the term " anti-war " movement, and notes that Conscientious Objectors are not necessarily pacifists : he does not make a distinction between " Pacificist " which is a term coined around the beginning of the 20c to signify an absolutist position and tends to be regarded as meaning a ' passive ' reaction to war, refusing to fight, and " Pacificator " which is the ancient term implying " Peacemaker " which signifies actively trying to prevent war and sometimes in the past has meant the use of or threat of the use violence, whereas it is supposed to be associated with the Sermon on the Mount's " Blessed are the Peacemakers." The whole thrust of Republicanism is pacificatory : to create political systems which solve the problems of Wales and the World which lead to war, but to be realistic and prepare for our military defence against enemies external and internal yet without prostituting our society to militarism and manufacturing paranoia about the ' others.' The bottom line upon which to account for any form of Republicanism is to judge whether it proposes to use the resources of our society to distribute lead or bread.


Conscription was introduced for the first time in the United Kingdom in 1916 and 16,000 CO's faced tribunals and often got rough treatment - 69 died to prove the right to conscientiously object to war by citing a variety of religious and political reasons, 39 went mad under the abuses they suffered at the hands of the United Kingdom's military establishment. There were no women conscripted in World War One, but they supported the men imprisoned and helped to found and maintain organisations like War Resisters International ( WRI ) the Peace Pledge Union ( PPU ) the No Conscription Fellowship ( NCF ) and the International Fellowship of Reconciliation ( IFOR ) [ - the branch of IFOR which operates in Wales is called " Cymdeithas Y Cymod." ]

http://wri-irg.org/ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/War_Resisters'_International

http://www.ppu.org.uk/ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peace_Pledge_Union

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/No_Conscription_Fellowship redirects to the anarchists' - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/No_Conscription_League

If you haven't heard of the NCF and have £100 - http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/0938626019

http://ifor.org/ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_Fellowship_of_Reconciliation

http://www.cymdeithasycymod.org.uk/ .

Conscription was introduced for women for the first time in the United Kingdom in 1941 and 1,074 faced the tribunals along with 60,000 men [ - and in my opinion - the threat of Nazi aggression and the crimes of Fascism did not deter the growth of the peace movement between the war years but rather polarized opinion as to what to to about this.] Whilst CO's were often still scorned, the courage of the absolutists in prison and the cruel behaviour of the United Kingdom towards them during the First World War had won CO's a certain amount of respect - but when the full horror of the Nazis behaviour was exposed many then revised their opinions and decided to fight, whilst others reacted to the war crimes that the United Kingdom was committing and in refusing their orders became CO's. The advent of nuclear warfare in 1945 changed everything because now nobody could pretend that wars were something that only involved those wearing uniforms : 20% of the casualties in WW1 were civilians, 80% of the casualties in WW2 were civilians [ - and in my opinion in WW3 civilian casualties will be 100% and then the idea that wars are being fought to defend anybody will be proved obviously and definitely false.]

[ Thus whilst women have always been prominent in Republicanism since the women Levellers marched on the Commonwealth Parliament in 1649 and whilst women may have come to prominence in the public mind in peace politics only finally with the Greenham Common brigade, women have been active as advocates for the politics of peace for centuries if not millennia. The link between Republicanism and Women and Peace is obvious in the Ancient Athenian play Lysistrata ... but this book by Lyn Smith offers us verbatim not fictionalised accounts of women's reactions to war and their protests against it.]






... and I'll sign off for tonight with a reminder that whilst those Democrats who wage wars with both ballots and bullets praise themselves for their own courage in paying other people to murder unarmed civilians, those Republicans who wage peace are as often as not contempted as cowards for spending their lives standing on the line themselves at their own expense and getting killed as a result - especially women who do so, who should be at home looking after their heroes ... with regards then to the memory of Helen Wynne Thomas, the Welsh woman peace campaigner who died at Greenham Common aged 22.


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PostPosted: Mon Jul 22, 2013 1:52 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Actually, before I finally hit the hay, I might point out that I am inclined to view women as being naturally more inclined towards Republican political methods which are based upon extended discussions to arrive at carefully deliberated conclusions with plenty of time to collect new facts and mull over their implications before coming to a collective understanding of the necessary action to embark upon about anything - which may be to do nothing at all.

Men are perhaps more naturally inclined to Democratic political methods, rushing to conclusions upon a limited number of facts in a minimal amount of time without giving anything much thought but demanding instead that taking a vote is the absolutely necessary thing to do, even if the matters involved are not properly understood, because something must be done - anything ! - otherwise the world will be out of control and we must wage war against those who resist our control over them ... against the unruly forces of Mother Nature herself if necessary.
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 22, 2013 3:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

As I try to plan what to write next, I find myself focusing upon finding out exactly who Catherine Marshall was because she looks to me to be a key figure who connected the Suffragettes ( or, given her position, women Suffragists ) with the Conscientious Objectors and other war resisters. Once the male leaders of the No Conscription Fellowship were mostly in prison the female leadership emerged to replace them, and Clifford Allen was replaced as chairman by Catherine Marshall as chairwoman of the No Conscription Fellowship - but she was also the secretary of the National Union of Women's Suffrage Societies i.e. the kind of woman suffragist that ardent feminists and worshippers of the Pankhursts are usually so sniffy about : yet clearly by 1918 the ' radical ' Mrs Pankhurst had been taken back into the ample bosom of the United Kingdom's establishment whereas the rather more prim Ms Marshall was sticking out like a sore tit because she stuck to her political principles.

By the end of " The War To End All Wars " Catherine Marshall was clearly the connecting rod in the political machine that was campaigning both against men killing and for women voting. I surmise that she must have been a prominent figure at the time yet, if Google is any guide to her present significance, she has all but been written out of the history of both the women's and peace movements ... or am I merely projecting my habitual prejudices about how such characters in the awkward squad, being difficult to classify because of their unusual stances, are not attractive to those who in reading about past events project their fantasies onto such historical figures who most probably were narcissists anyway who calculated their public images for exactly that sort of effect.

Perhaps my own narcissistic knickers are showing ... let's take a look at the dull-as-ditchwater-tea-and-biccies-brigade of the women's movement then, the National Union of Women's Suffrage Societies ( NUWSS ) and have a think about the differences between these women suffragists, who were arguing for parity with men in an electorate defined by property qualifications, and the Pankhurst's ' black faction ' within the suffragettes of the Women's Social and Political Union ( WSPU ) who demanded universal male and female adult suffrage NOW ... and a lot else besides.

There is a lot out there on the internet about the women's movement, but these look authoratative and useful enough -


The National Union of Women's Suffrage Societies (act. 1896–1918)

[ The following quotations have been cut and pasted from the above DNB article by Sandra Stanley Holton which I recommend to be read in its entirety for a fully coherent sense of events ( & I apologise if either DNB or she feels that I took too much for my purposes : for the purposes of a discussion, I deem fair usage for private study to apply - and I'm also getting fed up waiting literally years to be granted little copyright permissions in order to write scruffy little spouts like this, it is ridiculous that I am providing free advertising and earning others money whilst being vaguely threatened for this in the small print when the rules are clear.) ]

" ( the ) National Union of Women's Suffrage Societies (act. 1896–1918) is generally characterized as the ‘constitutional’ or ‘non-militant’ suffrage body at the forefront of the twentieth-century campaigns for women's suffrage in Britain. ... Millicent Garrett Fawcett ... became the foremost figure among its leadership ... she aligned herself with the more moderate and cautious current ... The aim was to build an all-party body of support for a private-member women's suffrage bill, and 1897 saw the first such bill pass its second reading. By such means it was hoped to persuade the government of the day to take up the question. ... [ A STRATEGY SIDELINED BY THE BOER WAR ] ... Women's suffrage was debated in parliament on four occasions from 1904 to 1906 and 415 pledges to support women's suffrage were secured from parliamentary candidates ...

[ AND THAT IS WHY WOMEN BECAME INCREASINGLY ANGRY AND TURNED TO THE MORE RADICAL METHODS OF THE WSPU ] ... From 1905, however, its [ WSPU ] methods also reflected a growing impatience with the strategy of the NUWSS, after a private-member suffrage bill that year was talked out in a spirit of ridicule and contempt. ... [ FAWCETT ] spoke out against criticism of the militants, blaming rather the refusal of politicians to listen to reasoned argument for this new spirit among suffragists. ... the approaches of the two bodies complemented each other at this time and membership of both was not uncommon at branch level. ... [ BUT IN 1908 ] Herbert Asquith, became Liberal prime minister and announced his intention of bringing in a manhood suffrage bill. ...

[ BUT NOT OFFERING WOMEN SUFFRAGISTS ANYTHING SO - ] Militant suffragists turned now to still more controversial methods ... Fawcett now publicly sought to distance the NUWSS from the militants ... It [ NUWSS ] continued to grow in size and extent, with the formation of 200 branches by 1910 with a membership of 21,571. In 1909 it established its own journal, The Common Cause, edited by Helena Swanwick, one of a new generation of suffragists then moving into the national leadership of the NUWSS, including Catherine Marshall, who shortly revolutionized its press department, and went on to become a skilled lobbyist as its parliamentary secretary; ... [ OK - SO CATHERINE MARSHALL REALLY WAS PROMINENT PUBLICLY ] ... When Liberal preparations began in 1914 for the next general election ... sympathetic ministers opened discussions with leading members of the NUWSS ... These negotiations were interrupted, however, by the outbreak of war in August 1914, which also threatened to split the NUWSS ... Fawcett refused participation of the NUWSS in the international conference of women that was to meet in The Hague to discuss means of bringing an end to the war. ... Most of the NUWSS's executive now resigned. Figures like Marshall were now free to take a still more active part in anti-war bodies and she shortly became the principal organizer for the No Conscription Fellowship ...

[ AT THE END OF THE WAR SO MANY MEN WERE DEAD THAT WOMEN CONSTITUTED THE MAJORITY OF THE ELECTORATE SO - ] ... The NUWSS leadership lent its support to a compromise that required a higher age qualification of thirty for women compared to twenty-one for men. After the passage of the Representation of the People Act of 1918 the NUWSS had to decide whether to wind up its organization, or to find a new purpose. A general meeting decided it should now become the National Union of Societies for Equal Citizenship. Under the leadership of Eleanor Rathbone this body took up the needs of the most disadvantaged of women, while also pursuing sexual equality in the franchise laws, which was finally achieved in 1928."

[ Sandra Stanley Holton is the authoress of " Feminism and Democracy: Women's Suffrage and Reform Politics in Britain, 1900-1918 " Cambridge University Press 1986 / 2002 paperback - isbn 0 521 52121 1 - & you can read the Introduction to this book online here - ]



I decided to read that Introduction posted on line and Sandra Stanley Holton actually gives some focussed attention to Catherine Marshall : I wrote the following notes to myself on WordPad ...

" Ah ... right ... it WAS my own habitual prejudices cutting in : the introduction to " Feminism and Democracy: Women's Suffrage and Reform Politics in Britain, 1900-1918 " zooms in on Catherine Marshall describing her as a ' democratic suffragist ' [ i.e. one of the more radical NUWSS members ] who " was at the centre of suffrage politics from 1911 when she began to act as parliamentary secretary for the National Union of Women's Suffrage Societies. ... she was one of those who negotated with the Labour Party leadership on the implementation of her organisation's new electoral policy." i.e. when the NUWSS gave up on private members bills and a non-sectarian approach trying to persuade all parties [ - which was pretty much a Republican approach, making an appeal for the natural justice of their cause to all parties.] She became secretary of the Election Fighting Fund managing the affairs of the constitutional brand of suffragists on behalf of the Labour Party, which was still fighting for one-man-one-vote at that point, so she was in correspondence with the women's suffrage movement throughout the United Kingdom - and Sarah Stanley Holton says that through the letters left amongst her papers the voices of the organisers of that movement can be heard again.

Sandra Stanley Holton argues herein that neither the militants nor the constitutionalists as such secured the vote for women but rather it was the democratic-suffragists in their alliance with the Labour Party that achieved that objective : neither the NUWSS nor the WSPU - an interesting proposal, if that is what she means ? Neither parliamentary lobbying nor demonstrating through acts of destructionism ? I am intrigued : " Political vision and political acumen were needed, and both were provided in large part by the democratic suffragists. ... Democratic suffragism was able to speak to their discontents both as women and as members of the working class." This Introduction proposes to explore the ideological homogeneity amongst suffrage supporters and how the ethos of sexual solidarity amongst women of all classes led to the conception of the cause of votes for women could be argued to be an essential and integral part of a progressive politics, whatever party individual women were inclined to support. This challenged supporters of the Labour Party to understand that middle class women were suffering injustice at the hands of men - and to consider how working class women were suffering in the same way besides their oppression as workers ... and supporters of the Liberal Party and votes for women were challenged vice versa to understand how working class women were being oppressed otherwise than by their men.

The Introduction says that the second chapter debates the way in which the militan-constitutionalist division of suffragette v suffragist has been portrayed, that it was neither rigid nor static and that both changed over time until they were at odds with each other. The third chapter examines the emergence of the democratic-suffragist movement and its attempts successful and otherwise to persuade to feminist and labour movements to cooperate.

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PostPosted: Mon Jul 22, 2013 6:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think that I understand now why I knew nothing before about Catherine Marshall ... she makes me think a bit about Republican women too : watch them at any demonstration weighing the available guys up and deciding which Republican man is eligible for their attentions : the sensitive artistic ones who cook wonderful meals and might eat them alive - the emotional ones who profess their undying and undivided love for all women - the cognitive ones cogitating like clockwork for coaxing them into codependencies - the actual men of action acting out acts of axiomatic pro-activities ... having surmised these guys' curriculum vitae, the girls always seem to choose the guy with the biggest bulge in his pants ... which most probably means that she will not choose a Republican, but will aspire to espouse a man that she can make into one ?

Not very p-c but then I'm one of the clockwork Republican males as far as relationships go, so naturally I read a few books on Feminism when I thought that I was eligible as a younger man and yearned not to oppress any woman without her explicit consent. Daf on the other hand has always been caught up in action and has that charisma which fascinates women in ways which I just do not understand : just recently over on Barry Island two teenage girls - obviously budding Republican women - walked straight up to him and pronounced him " AWESOME !!! " and wanted their pictures taken with him - there and then !!! Awesome ??? He's " AWFUL !!! " I mean, no offence Daf - we're the best of mates - but but but ... I mean - I've tried to hard to be lovely in order to be loved ... but how come you get to molest girls that are most probably jail-bait and our female friends fall about laughing and have you kissing them and never ever take you seriously whereas with me not even mistletoe works ... I just don't get it ... never will either I guess ... obviously women distrust men who are interested in Feminism, but is there really anything that can be thought of as that wrong with us ?

Anyway, back to this Catherine Marshall, who sounds like my kind of woman : I have ever been impressed by the size of a woman's hemispheres when they are the ones between her ears. It seems that it may be the case that my reading of Feminist texts was either not of the deeper and historical sort that featured her or - more likely - that she was rehabilitated and dusted off by Sandra Stanley Holton in her book " Feminism and Democracy: Women's Suffrage and Reform Politics in Britain, 1900-1918 " which was published in the 1980's which must have been about the time that I gave up trying to figure women out or impress them. Let me see if I can find out a bit more about her before I continue ...
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 22, 2013 7:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

If you get yourself a National Library of Wales reader's card, or have a library card for Pembrokeshire or Cardiff City County Council, it can open otherwise locked websites for you like the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography which can be a particularly useful one. I believe that if you do not live in Cardiff you can still ask for a library card if you can produce proof of where you reside locally : Merthyr Tydfil may be local enough ?


I am paraphrasing just some of it with a few choice quotes of the authors words which I don't wish to muddle with - this article was written by Jo Vellacott, and I will add a bit about her as an author and academic at the end or in a further post.

" Marshall, Catherine Elizabeth (1880–1961), suffragist and internationalist, was born on 29 April 1880 at Harrow on the Hill, Middlesex, the elder of two children of Francis E. Marshall (1847–1922), mathematics master at Harrow School, and his wife, Caroline, née Colbeck (d. 1927), formerly a teacher. " - " Remembered as a woman of humour and courage, Catherine Marshall died in the New End Hospital, Hampstead, on 22 March 1961 after a fall at her home."

Catherine Marshall was educated privately at first and then in Scotland at St Leonards school, St Andrews. She received a liberal education which involved opportunities to discuss a wide range of matters but like many gentle-women of her era she had no real expectations of a career. When her family moved to Keswick she helped to build up a strong local branch of the National Union of Women's Suffrage Societies ( NUWSS ) demonstrating a flair for organisation, being both innovative and effective.

The NUWSS had a constitution which was essentially democratic but was dominated by its London executive so its administration did not serve the various branches around the country well. Catherine Marshall helped to use the existing procedures to create a new constitution which despite opposition from the existing leadership was adopted in March 1910. As a consequence the power of the organisation in the provinces was unleashed through the establishment of new provincial councils.

Kathleen Courtney and Catherine Marshall both worked at NUWSS national headquarters between 1911 - 1914 as honorary secretary and honorary parliamentary secretary to develop the new organisation. Marshall was apparently an astute political operator, able at both lobbying parliamentarians and speaking at public meetings, she cut a dynamic figure being both well-informed and purposeful in her arguments.

Abandoning the previous NUWSS approach which involved pleading for individual private member's bills in the hope that the government would adopt the legislation, Marshall led the NUWSS campaign to persuade the Labour movement to adopt women's suffrage as a manifesto commitment and to support Labour candidates who endorsed it : previously the NUWSS had aligned itself to no party in the hope of persuading all involved of the merits of women's suffrage - and failed.

[ The NUWSS' original approach may be deemed to have been ' republican,' since they were trying to reason with people in the political system, whereas the new approach was dubbed, as described in previous posts, as ' democratic suffragist ' because they allied themselves to a party and thus made it an issue designed to win votes for the Labour party. ]

The new ' democratic-suffragist ' approach was directed towards the anticipated 1915 election but this was canceled after the outbreak of war and as the United Kingdom erupted into war-fever the pendulum within the NUWSS swung back towards the previous leadership because Marshall and her associates and supporters were either confirmed pacifists or war-resisters and thus for many they were little better than traitors, and were already perceived as having sold the women suffragists to a political party, so they ended up resigning from the executive of the NUWSS.

" The history of the non-militant women's suffrage campaign, written by Marshall's opponents, omitted not only any in-depth account of the débâcle but almost all mention of Marshall's pre-war achievements: even the archives of the NUWSS may have been ‘weeded’. Marshall herself, throughout her life, wrote only short articles addressing current causes. "

Catherine Marshall fell in love with Clifford Allan, the chairman of the No Conscription Fellowship, and when he was arrested and imprisoned whilst frail and became ill she worked herself to exhaustion and perhaps a breakdown when he prepared for a work and hunger strike. He was released when seriously ill and she was in a state of collapse and as they convalesced together they tried an unusual trial marriage which failed.

Having retreated for a while into various spiritual pursuits, Catherine Marshall returned to pursuing peace at the Women's International Congress in Zürich in May 1919, where the proposed League of Nations and the Versailles peace settlement was immediately criticised. She went to the Reichstag later in 1919 to witness the submission of the German people to the humiliating terms being imposed upon them.

Having helped before the war to develop the the International Committee of Women for Permanent Peace, later the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF), and to plan the Women's International Congress at The Hague in April 1915 which the United Kingdom government successfully prevented her and all but three delegates from attending, Catherine Marshall went to investigate conditions in the Ruhr in the wake of the invasion of 1923-4 and then as WILPF envoy went to speak to the French and German heads of state about it.

Catherine Marshall was constantly working behind the scenes, refusing to be sidelined into roles more suitable for a woman, arguing for peace in Geneva at the headquarters of the League of Nations, traveling back and forth across Europe with increasingly bad health and monitoring the rise of Fascism and Naziism and the returning threat of war. She also argued for the not only women's rights but also their involvement in politics at every level, for economic reforms and the protection of minorities.

In the 1930's Catherine Marshall helped to provide reception and resettlement for Czech refugees, but this DNB biography says nothing of what she may have thought or done during the Second World War : she moved back from the English Lake District's Derwentwater and settled at a house she already co-owned with her brother at No.2 Linnell Drive, Golders Green, London after that war. She remained active in the local Labour Party and had many international, social and political concerns.

Catherine Marshall certainly seems to have been a gifted woman whose achievements have been forgotten, lost or indeed airbrushed out of the picture of the women's movement - and it looks to me as if this was being done right before her eyes within years if not weeks of her resigning from her job as honorary parliamentary secretary of the NUWSS. She seems to have shrugged and just moved on, and not made a fuss : perhaps she was not the sort to waste her time on the personal suffragist in-fighting of the NUWSS and WSPU when she needed to be out there waging peace and Conscientiously Objecting to ... well, not all men.

" Marshall had thought deeply about the role of force in politics, and rejected the force-based arguments of anti-suffragists and militants alike. Her conclusions, that good government rested on the consent of the governed, and that to base governance on physical force was particularly inimical to the rights of women, translated readily to the international sphere. For Marshall, to work for a more peaceful world was to work for the women's cause "

I have quoted that last bit because I don't feel that I can do any better : as far as I am concerned Catherine Marshall's methods and aspirations are those of a Feminist Republican Democrat, even if she has been described or described herself as a ' Democratic Suffragist ' - and I feel compelled by what I am now learning about her to believe she was one of the good eggs too. Somebody to dream of meeting some day.


Jo Vellacott ... well I gather so far that she is Canadian and presumeably was living in Ontario when she wrote the following book which covers this period and features Catherine Marshall whose papers she had access to :

Pacifists, Patriots and the Vote: The Erosion of Democratic Suffragism in Britain During the First World War - ( Dr ) Jo Vellacott - 2007 - Pallgrave MacMillan - isbn 978 0 230 01335 3 ( hardback )


More pertinantly, Jo Vellacott has also written this, which has a portrait photograph of Catherine Marshall on the front cover :

From Liberal to Labour with Women's Suffrage: The Story of Catherine Marshall - ( Dr ) Jo Vellacott - 1993 - McGill-Queen's University Press - ISBN-13: 978-0773509580


... and since I wish to direct you to buy it for me, I shall entice you with both the description and review of Jo Vellacott's book from that webpage :

By 1913 Marshall was uniquely placed as a lobbyist, with inside information and sympathetic listeners in every party. Through her the dynamically re-organized NUWSS brought the women's suffrage issue to the fore of public awareness. It pushed the Labour Party to adopt a strong stand on women's suffrage and raised working-class consciousness, re-awakening a long-dormant demand for full adult enfranchisement. Had the general election due in 1915 taken place, NUWSS financial and organizational support for the Labour Party might well have been substantial enough to influence the final results. These impressive achievements were forgotten by the time Catherine Marshall died in 1961. Even recent research on the period has failed to show the full significance of the issue of women's suffrage, much less Marshall's part in the movement. Jo Vellacott's revealing account of Marshall's political work also includes vivid descriptions of a liberal Victorian childhood, a strangely purposeless young adulthood, and the heady experiences of women who, through the awakening of political consciousness, forged a lifestyle to fit their new aspirations. [ AUTHOR ? ]

"Vellacott's illuminating story tells of the life and work of a woman who made an important contribution to suffrage -- and later to peace-activism ... and contains outstanding research on an important topic." Deborah Gorham, Department of History, Carleton University. "The book's significant new contribution is its 'insider' perspective, based on the author's exemplary, definitive analysis of the huge archive of Catherine Marshall papers -- a source never so thoroughly worked before ... The author is clearly the world authority on this material ... and her work is, in addition to its contribution to British political history, a real addition to the growing corpus of British women's biography." Sybil Oldfield, School of Cultural and Community Studies, University of Sussex. "Vellacott's study of Catherine Marshall blends admirably the political history of the Edwardian period, surveyed until now almost exclusively from a perspective of males, with the new dimensions of women's history."

... and Jo Vellacott has also written this - & LOOK ! HE'S ' WELSH ' TOO !!!

Bertrand Russell and the Pacifists in the First World War - ( Dr ) Jo Vellacott - 1981 - Palgrave Macmillan - ISBN-13: 978-0312077051

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PostPosted: Wed Jul 24, 2013 9:10 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Whilst just searching for something else, I just came across this article in the Cambrian News of the 19th February 1897 which sort of conveys what the NUWSS was like as an organistion in the 1890's and why the failure of the leadership under Fawcett to procure Women's Suffrage that time round in 1897, by quietly talking to people in a lady-like manner and hoping for a successful private members bill in order to avoid aligning themselves politically in public in an un-lady-like manner ( - thus displaying a classically Republican attitude in rejecting any alliance with an actual political party lest the expression of any political preferences divide their organisation, ) was driving the rank and file of the NUWSS - like the young Catherine Marshall - nuts. This was what led to the founding of the reactionary-revolutionary WSPU and then the rise of the Democratic Suffragists to power within the NUWSS, who then ousted these elitist leaders who were headed by Fawcett and went on to briefly forge their electoral compact with the Labour Party ready for the 1915 election - which never happened because of the outbreak of World War One in 1914 which enabled Fawcett to return upon a tide of jingoism ousting Catherine Marshall and the other more ardent Democratic Suffragists on account of their internationalist, socialist and therefore absolutist pacifist stances. It seems to me that in many ways there were not really so many differences between the social values of Mrs Millitent Fawcett and Mrs Humphrey Ward ...

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Millicent_Fawcett --- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Union_of_Women's_Suffrage_Societies

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mrs._Humphrey_Ward --- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Women's_National_Anti-Suffrage_League

Apart from the aristocratic signatories in the list below, you will note that some women refer to themselves as " NORA PHILIPPS (Mrs. Wynford Philipps) " or " ELENOR NIDDEL SIDGWICK (Mrs. Henry Sidgwick) " which was then just passing out of common usage and here more or less probably denotes somebody with a very conservative social background : in this social convention, a married woman became an appendage of her husband in ways now almost lost to modern 21c comprehension, losing not only her surname to her husband but even her personal names in order to become in public simply ' the Mrs ' of ' Joe Bloggs.' One of the strongest opponents of the NUWSS and WSPU was Mrs Humphrey Ward, and as you can see from the Wikipdia page ' Women's National Anti-Suffrage League ' she was no lone crazy scribbling out long strange rambling telegrams ... there were in fact lots of such women who had been driven crazy by the distortions in social relationships created by the oppressive patriarchal politics of the United Kingdom :


page 3 - bottom of fifth column of - The Cambrian News - 19th February 1897


THE LADIES THANK THOSE M.P.'s WHO VOTED FOR THE BILL. The following has been sent to all M.P.'s who voted in favour of the Bill for extending the Parliamentary franchise to women DEAR SIR,—We observe with much gratification that you recorded your vote in favour of the extension of the Parliamentary suffrage to women, and hope that you will continue to do all that lies in your power to further this important cause.—Yours faithfully, ELIZABETH GARRETT ANDERSON, M.D., ALICE BALFOUR (Miss Balfour), MARY BURT (Mrs. Thos. Burt), KATE COURTNEY (Mrs. Leonard Courtney), MILLICENT GARRETT FAWCETT (Mrs. Fawcett), RosA GILBERT (Lady Gilbert), ROSAMOND DAVENPORT-HILL, LOUISA M. KNIGHTLEY (Lady Knightley), PRISCILLA BRIGHT McLAREN (Edinburgh), ELIZABETH LECKY (Mrs. W. E. H. Lecky), NORA PHILIPPS (Mrs. Wynford Philipps), ANNE M. PRIESTMAN (Bri,tol), ANNE SWANWICK, FLORA C. STEVEN- SON (Edinburgh), ISABEL SOMERSET (Lady H. Somerset) ELENOR N IDDEL SIDGWICK (Mrs. Henry Sidgwick), MAUD SELBORNE (Lady Selborne), BEATRICE TEMPLE (Mrs. Temple. Lambeth's Palace), CAROLINE TREVELYAN (Lady Trevelyan), ELIZABETH SPENCE WATSON (Mrs. Spence Watson), HANNAH MARIA WIGHAM (Mrs. Wigham, Dublin).
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