FREEDOM OR DEATH (13 NOVEMBER 1913)

EMMELINE PANKHURST

I am here as a soldier who has temporarily left the field of battle in order to explain what civil war is like when civil war is waged by women.

Suppose the men of Hartford had a grievance, and they laid that grievance before their legislature, and the legislature obstinately refused to listen to them, or to remove their grievance, what would be the proper and the constitutional and the practical way of getting their grievance removed? Well, it is perfectly obvious at the next general election the men of Hartford would turn out that legislature and elect a new one.

But let the men of Hartford imagine that they were not in the position of being voters at all, that they were governed without their consent being obtained, that the legislature turned an absolutely deaf ear to their demands, what would the men of Hartford do then? They couldn't vote the legislature out. They would have to choose; they would have to make a choice of two evils: they would either have to submit indefinitely to an unjust state of affairs, or they would have to rise up.

Your forefathers decided that they must have representation for taxation, many, many years ago. When they felt they couldn't wait any longer, when they laid all the arguments before an obstinate British government that they could think of, when every other means had failed, they began by the tea party at Boston, and they went on until they had won the independence of the United States of America.

We are called militant, and we are quite willing to accept the name. We are determined to press this question of the enfranchisement of women to the point where we were no longer to be ignored by the politicians.

You have to make more noise than anybody else; you have to make yourself more obtrusive than anybody else; you have to fill all the papers more than anybody else.

We wear no mark; we belong to every class; we permeate every class of the community from the highest to the lowest; and so you see in the woman's civil war the dear men of my country are discovering it is absolutely impossible to deal with it: you cannot locate it, and you cannot stop it.

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.

You won your freedom in America when you had the revolution, by bloodshed, by sacrificing human life. You won the civil war by the sacrifice of human life when you decided to emancipate the slaves. Human life for us is sacred, but we say if any life is to be sacrificed it shall be ours; we won't do it ourselves, but we will put the enemy in the position where they will have to choose between giving us freedom or giving us death.



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