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Twentieth Century


As with many towns, Dartford got caught up in the debate about votes for women and attracted attention from the suffragettes who travelled the country promoting their cause. The first women's suffrage society in Britain was founded in 1867. It took Parliament fifty-two years to agree that women should be given the vote. From 1908 onwards the suffragettes adopted a militant campaign to draw public attention to their cause. The suffragettes attacked property. Shop windows were smashed on a large scale. Arson was resorted to as a regular weapon in 1913 and 1914. The activities which enraged the public most were the setting fire to the contents of pillar boxes and damage to golf courses.

War came in 1914 and it was the patriotic devotion of the leaders and the service of women in the war effort, which helped win the vote rather than political agitation. The campaign ceased in August 1914, and the vote was finally gained in February 1918, while war was still being waged.

Document 1: Click the link below to view the document

Suffragettes at Dartford in August 1913


Next topic: The campaign for Borough status and a town charter


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