The Development of a Campaign for Women's Suffrage in the Years After 1870

The Development of a Campaign for Women's Suffrage in the Years After 1870

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The Development of a Campaign for Women's Suffrage in the Years After 1870

A campaign for women's suffrage developed in the years after 1870
because there were a growing number of unmarried wealthy women who did
not have the right to vote and wanted to. The traditional women would
be expected to live their lives totally at home and not work outside.
As soon as they married they became the property of their husband and
were not recognised as individuals or even parents of their own
children. During the mid-19th century, men had stopped marrying as
early as they should have done and this meant that there were a lot of
women with nothing to do and they could not be the traditional
housewife they were meant to be. Because of their status there was
lack of respectable jobs and this led to a large number of
intelligent, frustrated women watching their lives pass them by.

After 1850 some middle and upper-class women began to rebel against
their situation, they wanted greater equality with men and the right
to vote. Before 1832 however, not many men (about 10%) were allowed to
vote, but then the 'Great Reform Act' was passed and this increased
the number of men who could vote to about 18%. In 1867, there was a
'Second Reform Act' that increased numbers to about 30%. Many women
had hoped they would receive the vote at this time but it did not
happen. However, an MP called John Stuart Mill, who supported votes
for women, was elected, but the Government rejected his ideas. A
'Third Reform Act' in 1884 again failed to give any women the vote but
increased the numbers of men voting to over 50%. Some wealthy and
educated women were annoyed as more men got the right to vote, they
were often richer and better informed about politics than men who got
the vote, only their gender stopped them from voting.

Women were actually given the vote in local elections in 1888, as long
as they met the same rules as men regarding income or property.

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This
showed that change could come and women could be treated equally with
men in politics and voting.

In the 19th century there were several new laws passed that changed
the status of women regarding property and marriage, for example,
women could apply for a divorce rather than just be divorced, they
could own money and property and they had the right 'not to be
kidnapped', which meant they were no longer their husbands property.

There were also changes in education. The 1870 Education Act made it a
legal requirement for all children to receive an education up to the
age of 12. Many of the girls proved extremely capable and most of the
time more capable than boys. So the law changed to allow them to go to
University and Medical School. Elizabeth Garrett Anderson was the
first woman in Britain to qualify as a doctor. Florence Nightingale
was famous for her work in the Crimean war and showed that women could
do great things, so she set up her own school for nurses.

During the 1860's, many small suffragist societies were set up. They
campaigned for votes for women and were mainly found in the big cities
like London, Manchester and Glasgow. These groups worked
independently, but in 1897 many small suffragist societies were
brought together as one organisation to form the NUWSS (National Union
of Women's Suffragist Societies) and were led by Millecent Fawcett.
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