Why did a campaign for Women’s suffrage develop in the years after 1870? Essay

There were many reasons why women wanted the vote and started campaigning for women’s suffrage after 1870. Most reasons were to improve the lives of women and to put more meaning into their lives. The development actually started before 1870 and continued into the 20th century. Women wanted the vote for three different reasons political reasons, economic reasons and social reasons. Political reasons were say a middle class woman involved with local politics and there were many ‘old fashioned’ reasons why they shouldn’t get this.

These were that women had no education so they didn’t know about politics, they had little interest in politics, that politics were bad and nasty and women should be protected against it and that women were not rational enough and were too pure for the political world. Women tried to show that they could be interested and educated in politics by having political groups. Political awareness was shown in groups like Anne Knight’s ‘Sheffield Women’s Political Association’.

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Women already had some rights like the ‘Municipal Corporations Act’ of 1869 and this allowed a single woman the right to vote in municipal elections.However a married woman couldn’t and this is what they wanted. Another right was that women ratepayers could be elected to, and vote on, School Board elections. Women didn’t want these ideas remembered so they could get the vote and these are some reasons why they felt justified in arguing against these ideas. Women still had to pay taxes like men so they should be allowed to be part of politics. Parliament decisions affect both men and women. So women should be able to vote for the MPs who pass those laws. Two people voting are better than one and uneducated men can vote but educated ‘respectable’ women couldn’t.

This was ever since 1867. Women have special skills and expertise and if given the right to be in parliament they could pass laws that improve education and the home where they are specialists. Women can already vote in local and serve on local government bodies. They have shown they are able and can be trusted with the vote. This shows that women had good points why they wanted the vote but no one listened. Women felt that they should get the vote to improve things further like better education and working rights. In political rights women could get lots of rights included in the other reasons.This is a big reason why women started campaigning in 1870 as it allowed them freedom from working just at home.

The symbolic importance was to more respect and to be treated better as if they were equal to men. The reform act of 1832 stated that only ‘male persons’ could vote even if the women meet the required property qualification. This inspired the women to seek the vote. There are two different reasons in the economic reason section. This is because it involves all three classes and gives reasons for their arguments.The first is employment for the middle and upper classes in other words say a job in the medical profession.

Again there were old fashioned ideas against this happening, the most common being women are inferior to men and women were meant to work at home and have children. Women already had the right to work as general practioners in the 1874. In 1892 a step forward was taken as the first women factory inspector was appointed that year. Women felt that to get to work in hospitals they had to get some good reasons why they felt justified for the rights.This is one reason, women could work in hospitals if they had the education needed and the women felt they needed the vote to improve their situation further so they wanted to be able to work with property and have education. This is another good reason why women started campaigning for suffrage in 1870.

This is because the upper and middle class women were now involved and there was more people behind the vote. If the vote went through the women would be able have job possibilities allow their live to have meaning and a bit more meaning to live than staying at home.This inspired lots of women to join in for this freedom hence the reason why the campaign developed in 1870. The second reason in the economic sections is employment for the lower classes say an office, shop or factory worker.

These are some ‘old fashioned’ ideas that prevent women from working alongside men, if women started working there would be less jobs for men and women were too weak. The working class women had to work in domestic service or factories and out of necessity worked thought their married life. The concerns for the working class were the conditions they work in and the low pay.Women felt justified in arguing against these ideas because they made a vital contribution to the nation’s economy and they should be rewarded by giving them these possibilities in the vote.

The women also felt they needed to improve their situation further by making improvements they wanted like shorter hours, improved working conditions and equal wages to men. This caused the women of the lower class wanting to join the campaign for the vote and this is yet another reason why the women started campaigning in 1870. This reason allowed the lower class women to join in and the number of women behind the vote increased yet again.In the social reasons there are two different sections family life and education. The family life had lots of old fashioned ideas like a woman has to stay at home and give all her possessions and property to her husband. In 1870 the ‘Married Woman’s Property Act’ allowed the woman to keep her processions and money during marriage. This allowed the women then to be able to get the ‘Matrimonial Causes Act’ which allowed the women to separate from their husbands on the grounds of cruelty. This leaves the women will little and sometimes no leisure time.

The women felt justified in arguing these ideas because women had no legal rights over their children and could be legally imprisoned and beaten by their husband. Women felt they needed to vote to improve their situation further like getting the children when divorced and not the men, which they did get in 1878. These are reasons that will improve the leisure of women and home life but they aren’t important in the start of the campaigns. Yes it made the vote more desirable but people were joining because of the economic and politic reasons.Also the family life was more of a further improvement on top of the political and economical reasons as it would not change the way women were treated but just make it more bearable. The second education is a bit more important and there were more old fashioned ideas these were that women didn’t have the intellectual capacity to cope with a high level of study. Women again felt justified in arguing against these views because with the right education they would be able to achieve a lot in politics and employment.

Women already had some rights like in1850 the North London Collegiate School for Girls and in 1878 London University admitted female students. This reason is just as important as the others because with the education they would be able to get the jobs they wanted and the political positions they wanted. This would also allow the women a bit more respect as they would have a good place at a works. This did help the women become more justified in getting the vote and help the campaigns start in 1870.

In conclusion campaigning for women’s suffrage developed after 1870 because women were being united by the rights they wanted. In other words, it was the rights that the women would have if they got the vote that made the campaign for women’s suffrage develop. Women were together in the arguments: lower, middle and upper class all united and this made the numbers behind votes for women increase steeply. This allowed the campaign for suffrage also to develop in 1870. I came to the conclusion that it was mainly for the political and the economic reasons that a campaign for women’s suffrage developed in 1870.


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