Black Friday – 18 November 1910

Dr Maureen Wright writes


What does ‘Black Friday’ make you think about? Highly advertised shopping sales, bad weather or the major date in history and the campaign for women’s political rights in the UK. The events of ‘Black Friday’, 18 November 1910, culminated in the assault of 200 women by police officers.
Emmeline Pankhurst, of the Women’s Social and Political Union, led a delegation of 300 members to Parliament following the defeat of the Conciliation Bill. The Bill, which passed its first reading in the House of Commons was de-railed when the Prime Minister, Herbert Asquith, made it clear that no more time would be given to discussing the issue in that session of Parliament. If it had been passed, the Bill would have enfranchised upwards of 1,000,000 property owning women.
History records show that many suffragettes suffered serious injury at the hands of the police and 119 women were arrested on this occasion. It was the first time that the police had used force against the women activists and the whole event prompted the public mood to change towards the women. Many who had previously opposed their actions were persuaded to take a more sympathetic line. Many MPs, however, who had hitherto had some sympathy with the women’s cause, chose to distance themselves after this event.
You can find out more about this period of political history on the Parliament and National Archives websites.
How did British women make progress to full political rights (The National Archives website – 2010 article)

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