Emmeline pankhurst freedom or death speech. Freedom or Death 2022-10-30
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Emmeline Pankhurst's "Freedom or Death" speech is a powerful and poignant call to action for women's suffrage. Pankhurst, a prominent British suffragette and leader of the Women's Social and Political Union (WSPU), gave this speech on November 13, 1913 at the Opera House in Manchester, England. In it, she made a compelling case for the need for women to have the right to vote, and for the use of militant tactics to achieve this goal.
Pankhurst began her speech by recounting the history of the suffragette movement and the struggles that women had faced in their efforts to win the right to vote. She emphasized the importance of this right, arguing that it was essential for women to have a say in the decisions that affected their lives. Pankhurst then went on to argue that the time for peaceful protests and appeals to reason had passed, and that more drastic action was needed to bring about change.
"We have tried every other means," she declared. "We have petitioned, we have begged, we have demonstrated, we have been insulted, we have been dragged through the streets, we have been thrown into prison. And all the time the government has done nothing. And so now we have decided that the only thing left for us to do is to fight."
Pankhurst's call for militant action was met with both enthusiasm and outrage, as many saw it as a radical departure from traditional suffragette tactics. However, Pankhurst was unapologetic in her beliefs, and she argued that women could no longer afford to wait for change to come. "We are not asking for special privileges," she said. "We are asking for our rights as citizens. We are asking for the right to live our own lives, to be the masters of our own destiny."
Pankhurst's "Freedom or Death" speech was a defining moment in the suffragette movement, and it remains an important and powerful testament to the determination and courage of women fighting for their rights. It is a reminder that, even in the face of overwhelming opposition, it is possible to stand up for what we believe in and to fight for a better future.
Emmeline Pankhurst Freedom Or Death 1913 Speech at Jeffrey Leibowitz blog
No man was ever put out of a public meeting for asking a question. I come to ask you to help to win this fight. It has come to a battle between the women and the government as to who shall yield first, whether they will yield and give us the vote, or whether we will give up our agitation. It was done, and it was proved to the authorities that weak women, suffrage women, as we are supposed to be, had enough ingenuity to create a situation of that kind. I dare say, in the minds of many of you - you will perhaps forgive me this personal touch - that I do not look either very like a soldier or very like a convict, and yet I am both. Well now, we have had a royal commission on divorce and we have had a report, but there is no security for women that they are to have justice under a new law so long as men are chosen by men to legislate and those men are likely to register the moral opinions of men, not the moral opinions of women, in legislation. One man who thought this was Senator Leighton.
If we win it, this hardest of all fights, then, to be sure, in the future it is going to be made easier for women all over the world to win their fight when their time comes. It means you refuse food until you are at death's door, and then the authorities have to choose between letting you die, and letting you go; and then they let the women go. It is perhaps a hard saying for many men that there will have to be self-control and an equal standard of morals, but the best men now, the scientists of every country, are supporting the woman's point of view. They had to dip back into the middle ages to find a means of repressing the women in revolt, and the whole history shows how futile it is for men who have been considered able statesmen to deal with dissatisfied women who are determined to win their citizenship and who will not submit to government until their consent is obtained. That is the industrial situation.
November 13: One of the 20th Century’s Greatest Speeches
The law has already been broken, because there has been considerable riot in the streets of Belfast, and lives even have been lost, and I want to say to you in this meeting how much have you heard of all this in the American newspapers? The home secretary said: "Give me the power to let these women go when they are at death's door, and leave them at liberty under license until they have recovered their health again and then bring them back. That is the way in which we women of England are doing. According to Pankhurst, people find iteasier to understand a revolution organised by men than one organised by women, even though womenare only trying to make men accept them as human beings. If we win it, this hardest of all fights, then, to be sure, in the future it is going to be made easier for women all over the world to win their fight when their time comes. You won the civil war by the sacrifice of human life when you decided to emancipate the negro. It is a practical political means, the only means we consider open to voteless persons to bring about a political situation, which can only be solved by giving women the vote.
Well, our women decided to terminate those unjust sentences at the earliest possible moment by the terrible means of the hunger strike. The comparison deftly demonstrates an injustice. But it hadn't that effect at all. Have you heard loud condemnation from English newspapers echoed in your own papers? This was not from disinterest or a lack of qualifications, but because women had no rights. The majority of men in Ireland desired it; presumably the majority of women acquiesced in their desire, but they were not asked whether they wished it or not. When they put us in prison at first, simply for taking petitions, we submitted; we allowed them to dress us in prison clothes; we allowed them to put us in solitary confinement; we allowed them to put us amongst the most degraded of criminals; we learned of some of the appalling evils of our so-called civilisation that we could not have learned in any other way. By comparing herself to a soldier, she is comparing her actions to those of a soldier at wartime.
If an Irish revolutionary had addressed this meeting, and many have addressed meetings all over the United States during the last twenty or thirty years, it would not be necessary for that revolutionary to explain the need of revolution beyond saying that the people of his country were denied - and by people, meaning men - were denied the right of self-government. The great thing is to see that no more damage is done than is absolutely necessary, that you do just as much as will arouse enough feeling to bring about peace, to bring about an honourable peace for the combatants; and that is what we have been doing. I am not going to tell you how the women got to the mains and cut the wires; but it was done. So here am I. I come to ask you to help to win this fight.
Great speeches of the 20th century: Emmeline Pankhurst's Freedom or death
Since women were excluded from the political government, they pressured the government to grant them political rights. Matters have become sadly worse; we have scratched on the surface instead of cutting out the root of the evil. Your right to send to France and ask for help was never questioned. When your forefathers threw the tea into Boston Harbour, a good many women had to go without their tea. I always take them with a grain of salt - but you have read within the last few days that some more empty houses have been burned, that a cactus house has been destroyed and some valuable plants have suffered in that house, that some pavilion at a pleasure ground has also been burned. The whole country went wild.
They couldn't vote the legislature out. No man was ever put out of a public meeting for asking a question until Votes for Women came onto the political horizon. You can kill that woman, but she escapes you then; you cannot govern her. Well, we are showing them that government does not rest upon force at all: it rests upon consent. It is about eight years since the word militant was first used to describe what we were doing. There are a great many risks that go along with it. Then they began to legislate.
Pankhurst roused crowds on both sides of the Atlantic, including during her visit to Connecticut and several other states as part of a speaking and fundraising tour in November 1913. It has always seemed to me an extraordinary thing that you did not follow it up by throwing the whiskey overboard; you sacrificed the women; and there is a good deal of warfare for which men take a great deal of glorification which has involved more practical sacrifice on women than it has on any man. They also broke the windows of many of the clubs, the smart clubs in Piccadilly. Men have done splendid things in this world; they have made great achievements in engineering; they have done splendid organization work; but they have failed, they have miserably failed, when it has come to dealing with the lives of human beings. Pankhurst, a suffragette during the Victorian era in the UK, made the claim that the freedom of all humans is intrinsic to the success of humanity. We have tried, we women, for generations to undo some of this evil; we have had our rescue societies; we have made all kinds of efforts; we have taken the poor unfortunate children who have been the outcome of this unequal code of morals between men and women, and what has happened? Mary Wollstonecraft Research Paper 1166 Words 5 Pages She reasoned that because men and women were both undeniably human beings, one should not be treated in a better way than the other.