Why a Campaign for Women's Suffrage Developed in the Years after 1870

Why a Campaign for Women's Suffrage Developed in the Years after 1870

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Why a Campaign for Women's Suffrage Developed in the Years after 1870

During the 19th century women had very few rights.

In 1839, a law was passed which stated that if a marriage broke down
and the parents separated, children under seven years of age should
stay with their mother. This showed that women could be independent
and were able to make decisions for themselves.

In 1857, women could divorce husbands who were cruel to them or
husbands who had left them. This act enabled women to divorce if her
husband was being cruel.

In 1869 single or widowed rate paying women were given the right to
vote for municipal councils. This showed that women were capable to
vote.

These I believe were the start of what was to come because it made
women believe that they should have the vote. Being given the vote
for municipal councils meant that they thought that they should be
able to vote in the general elections as if they were capable to vote
for Municipal councils they were capable to vote in the general
election. Being able to divorce meant that women were given the choice
to be able to make big decisions for themselves this sparked women
into believing that they should be given more decisions and to have
more responsibility. Later some women were given the vote for county
councils. Generally the feeling was that women were no less capable
than men for the same reason as above as women believed that it was no
bigger responsibility to vote at national level as opposed to county.

In 1870, as a result of the education act, women were eligible to
serve on the newly created school boards, which had the responsibility
for the education of children in state schools. After these
appointments women sought the vote because they wanted to make a
public statement that women were capable of governing. This led
nowhere, as women were declared ineligible for election after this
campaign. Women could not understand why they were able to help the

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government but were not allowed to decide which party they helped.

Until 1870 women could not even possess property in her own name after
marriage. But in 1870 the women’s property act of 1870 enabled women
to retain their own earnings, savings and legacies up to a value of
£200. In 1882 and act in able married women to own property
independently of their husbands. This was significant as since
manhood suffrage was based on property qualifications, many women who
owned property believed that it was particularly unfair that they were
unable to vote this was because at this time men who owned property
were allowed to vote only. In 1884, more and more wealthy property
owning women saw men less wealthy than themselves obtain the vote.
Women-owned huge acres of land, were wealthy, owned houses and were
taxpayers, however the women didn’t have the same rights to men of
their class and of men of a lower class as they were unable to take
part in the vote when many lower class men were. English women
farmers in 1884 had to watch the English male farmers use their newly
obtained vote whilst women remained disenfranchised.

Women therefore argued that as women were allowed to hold property,
they should be able to exercise their political rights that possession
of property brought to its holder. It was also believed that who put
money into the national purse should be able to decide spends it. So
women taxpayers thought they should be able to vote. So women who were
paying taxes were not allowed a say in who was to be represented in
Parliament.

In 1884 to thirds of adult males had gained the vote. This annoyed
women and was a strong factor for why women’s suffrage developed, as
women, like criminals and patients in lunatic asylums, were not
allowed to vote. As you can imagine women were not pleased by this
and did not agree that they should be compared to criminals and
lunatics.

To conclude there were three main causes of campaigns for women’s
suffrage after 1870 as I have explained but I feel the most important
was the growth of the vote for men the fact women were almost
considered to be like criminals.
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