Explorations of Aims and Methods Used by the Suffragists

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Explorations of Aims and Methods Used by the Suffragists

Although they seemed less active than the W.S.P.U., the N.U.W.S.S.

were active in trying to convert public opinion. Unlike the

Suffragettes, Suffragists welcomed male members in an effort to

convince more men to their point of view. They had several methods

that they used to persuade the harsh public opinion.

peaceful, e.g. reasoned argument, meetings, issuing leaflets and

collecting petitions.

Met with politicians to argue their case.

In elections they supported candidates who were in favour of female


They trained women to speak at public meetings.

In 1866 a group of women from the Kensington Society organised a

petition that demanded that women should have the same political

rights as men. The women took their petition to Henry Fawcett and John

Stuart Mill, two MPs who supported universal suffrage. Mill added an

amendment to the Reform Act that would give women the same political

rights as men. The amendment was defeated by 196 votes to 73.

Members of the Kensington Society were very disappointed when they

heard the news and they decided to form the London Society for Women's

Suffrage. The following year, Millicent Fawcett joined the group.

Although only a moderate public speaker, Millicent was a superb

organizer and soon became the leader of the London suffragists.

Similar Women's Suffrage groups were formed all over Britain. One of

the most important of these was in Manchester, where Lydia Becker

emerged as a significant figure in the movement.

In 1887 seventeen of these individual groups joined together to form

the National Union of Women's Suffrage Societies (NUWSS). Lydia Becker

was elected as president. Three years later, when Becker died,

Millicent Fawcett became the new leader of the organisation.

The NUWSS held public meetings, organised petitions, wrote letters to

politicians, published newspapers and distributed free literature.

Millicent Fawcett believed that it was important that the NUWSS

campaigned for a wide variety of causes. This included helping

Josephine Butler in her campaign against the white slave traffic.

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