October 24, 1911, To the Editor of The Evening Standard, “Militant Demonstrations”
The Woman Suffrage movement played out in the midst of an on-going series of political
protests, some concerned with labor rights, others with political autonomy that characterized
early twentieth century British history. In this letter Davison draws a line between suffrage
methods of protest and the more extreme actions of the Tonypandy or Rhondda rioters, coal
miners in South Wales who, in the midst of an industrial dispute with mine owners, smashed
the home windows of mine officials’ houses and the windows of shops on 8 November, 1910.
The Irish Land League was formed in the later nineteenth century to help abolish absentee
landlordism in Ireland and enable tenant farmers to own the land they worked; violence
occurred on the occasion of tenant evictions for non-payment of rents. The Unionists she
refers to are the early twentieth-century Ulster Unionist party who vehemently opposed Irish
Home Rule, that is a repeal of the Act of Union of 1800 that united Ireland to Great Britain.
Sir,– In your leader of October 18, headed ‘Methods of Anarchy,’ you assert that ‘the great
Unionist Party cannot afford to adopt the ethics of the Suffragettes, the Irish Land League,
and the Tonypandy rioters.’ In bringing all these three together will you allow me to point
out that the two last have freely indulged in bloodshed and stone-throwing on a very
considerable scale, such as has certainly not been seen in the case of the Suffragettes?
Further, whether the Unionists could afford it or not, they have certainly indulged in some
decidedly militant demonstrations, such as the very interesting recent scenes in the House
of Commons. Consideration of these makes Suffragists inclined to give the Unionist Party
the wise advice that it is not politic for those who live in glasshouses to throw missiles.
EMILY WILDING DAVISON
31, CORAM-STREET, W.C.