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Modern History Sourcebook:
Emmeline Pankhurst:
Militant Suffragist, 1913


I do not come here as an advocate, because whatever position the suffrage movement may occupy in the United States of America, in England it has passed beyond the realm of advocacy and it has entered into the sphere of practical politics. It has become the subject of revolution and civil war, and so to-night I am not here to advocate woman suffrage. American suffragists can do that very well for themselves. I am here as a soldier who has temporarily left the field of battle in order to explain--it seems strange it should have to be explained--what civil war is like when civil war is waged by women. I am not only here as a solider temporarily absent from the field of battle; I am here-- and that, I think, is the strangest part of my coming--I am here as a person who. according to the law courts of my country, it has been decided, is of no value to the community at all; and I am adjudged because of my life to be a dangerous person, under sentence of penal servitude in a convict prison. So you see there is some special interest in hearing so unusual a person address you. 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. . . .
Now, I want to say to you who think women cannot succeed, we have brought the government of England to this position, that it has to face this alternative; either women are to be killed or women are to have the vote. I ask American men in this meeting, what would you say if in your State you were faced with that alternative, that you must either kill them or give them their citizenship,--women, many of whom you respect, women whom you know have lived useful lives, women whom you know, even if you do not know them personally, are animated with the highest motives, women who are in pursuit of liberty and the power to do useful public service? Well, there is only one answer to that alternative; there is only one way out of it, unless you are prepared to put back civilization two or three generations; you must give those women the vote. Now that is the outcome of our civil war.
[Transcription by John F. Tinkler.]

 


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(c)Paul Halsall April1998
halsall@murray.fordham.edu