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
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
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
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