Emmeline Pankhurst 2

Letter from Emmeline Pankhurst to the WSPU's membership concerning temporary suspension of militant activity

12 August 1914


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August 12th, 1914


Dear Friend,


           Even the outbreak of war could not affect the action of

the W.S.P.U. so long as our comrades were in prison and under



           Since their release it has been possible to consider what

should be the course adopted by the W.S.P.U. in view of the war



           It is obvious that even the most vigorous militancy of

the W.S.P.U. is for the time being rendered less effective by

contrast with the infinitely greater violence done in the present

war not to mere property and economic prosperity alone, but to

human life.


           As for work for the vote on the lines of peaceful argu-

ment, such work is we know futile even under ordinary conditions,


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to secure Votes for Women in Great Britain. How much less therefore

will it avail at this time of international warfare.


           Under all circumstances it has been decided, to

economise the Union’s energies and financial resources by a tem-

porary suspension of activities. The resumption of active work

and the reappearance of the Suffragette, whose next publication

will be also temporarily suspended will be announced when the right

time comes.


           As a result of the decision announced in this letter,

non only shall we save much energy and a very large sum of money

but an opportunity will be given to the Union as a whole and above

all to those individual members who have been in the fighting line

to recuperate after the tremendous strain and suffering

of the past two years.


           As regards the war, the view the W.S.P.U. express is

this: - we believe that under the joint rule of enfranchised women

and men the nations of the world will, owing to the women’s influence

and authority find a way of reconciling the claims of peace and

honour and of regulating International relations without bloodshed;

we nevertheless believe also that matters having come to the

present pass it was inevitable that Great Britain should take part

in the war and with that patriotism which has nerved women to

endure torture in prison cells for the national good, we ardently

desire that our country shall be victorious - this because we hold


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that the existence of all small nationalities is at stake and that

the status of France and of Great Britain is involved.


           It will be the future task of women, and only they can

perform it, to ensure that the present world tragedy and the peril

in which it places civilisation, shall not be repeated and there-

fore the W.S.P.U. will at the very first possible moment step forward

into the political arena in order to compel the enactment of a

measure giving votes to women on the same terms as men.


           I want in conclusion to thank you with all my heart the

generous and devoted women who have supported the W.S.P.U. until

now, and to assure them of my confidence that at the present time

and later when we resume active work, that support will be



           Yours sincerely,


           Emmeline Pankhurst