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The History of Harvard's Commencement, Explained
Mrs. Emmeline Pankhurst, president of the Women's Social and Political Union of England, spoke on "Woman Suffrage" in Brattle Hall yesterday afternoon. The lecture was given under the auspices of the Harvard Men's League for Woman Suffrage.
History of Woman Suffrage Movement.
In opening her address, Mrs. Pankhurst briefly outlined the history of the woman suffrage movement. From the French Revolution and the Reform Act of 1832 in England, women learned by experience that although they helped men to win political freedom, they were excluded their proper privileges on account of their sex after that freedom was won. It was this open injustice which led women to take up the fight for their political rights. Hence, at the opening of this century, the first woman's political organization in England was formed to organize the suffrage movement and to take some definite action in behalf of its cause. At the same time a popular demand for some social reform had sprung up in England chiefly owing to the women's increasing influence in politics. The Liberal party at that time realizing that this influence might be used for their own ends, brought women into actual politics by organizing a political league for women, and, as a result, won the next elections. As the number of these leagues established by both parties rapidly increased, women began to think about politics and to realize how intimately it was connected with both their domestic affairs and happiness.
What gave the leaders of this cause the courage to keep on the struggle was not so much their own sense of personal injustice, but that of the great mass of womankind. Women have to pay every kind of tax that is laid, yet they have no hand in electing the officials who make them pay. Even in making laws in regard to infantile paralysis, child labor, free competition of women in business, and social questions of this kind, their opinion is not asked.
Women are Wage-Earners.
When men pride themselves on being the wage-earners of the world, they over-look the fact that in the United States alone there are over seven million women who are earning their own living. If fitness to vote is tested by obedience to the law or by the sense of responsibility to citizenship, women have proved by statistics of crime and by the equal suffrage elections in California that they are even more fit to vote then men.
Methods of Suffragettes Justified.
The methods of the modern suffragettes have been often condemned, yet these have been the only means of securing their rights left open to them. Although obliged at times to use forcible methods, it is a significant fact that no human being has ever been injured in their agitations except possibly the suffragettes themselves. In closing, Mrs. Pankhurst added that equal suffrage would in the end be of more benefit to men than to women and would mark a great advance in human progress.
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