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July 25, 2021

Historical Photos of Emmeline Pankhurst Being Arrested in London in the Early 20th Century

Emmeline Pankhurst (July 14, 1858 – June 14, 1928) was a British political activist. She is best remembered in these photographs for organizing the UK suffragette movement and helping women win the suffering right to vote. Her activism and agitation for suffrage led to numerous arrests between 1908 and 1914.

Pankhurst was arrested for the first time in February 1908, when she tried to enter Parliament to deliver a protest resolution to Prime Minister H. H. Asquith. She was charged with obstruction and sentenced to six weeks in prison. She spoke out against the conditions of her confinement, including vermin, meagre food, and the “civilized torture of solitary confinement and absolute silence” to which she and others were ordered.

Pankhurst saw imprisonment as a means to publicize the urgency of women’s suffrage; in June 1909 she struck a police officer twice in the face to ensure she would be arrested. Pankhurst was arrested seven times before women’s suffrage was approved. During her trial on 21 October 1908 she told the court: “We are here not because we are law-breakers; we are here in our efforts to become law-makers.”


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