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Account by Emmeline Pethick-Lawrence of her visit to Germany

(Carbon copy, with a handwritten alteration.)

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Transcript

On Sunday October 5th, the German Parliament House in Berlin was filled to overflowing with a great gathering of people, who met to celebrate the memory of the friends of peace in all lands, and especially of those who had devoted themselves in life and in death to the furtherance of international understanding and friendship.

The speakers were Dr. Frithjof Nansen (Norway) Senator Henri La Fontaine (Belgium) Senator Ferdinand Buisson (France) Herr Paul Loebe (Leader of the German Social Democratic Party and late President of the Reichstag) and myself as representative of England and also of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom which is now established in 33 countries. Every speech was received with great enthusiasm and ardent desire for Peace permeated the spirit of the meeting.

There is a great movement of reconciliation growing rapidly between the German and French women and also between the youth of both countries. The German women have collected money to build a Reconciliation House in the North of France which will consist of a library, public halls, and club rooms. The German Youth Movement has arranged with the inhabitants of the devastated areas to send its qualified members in large numbers to rebuild with their own hands the houses of the peasant land owners. The French working women of Paris have received 300 children from the Ruhr into their own homes. A procession of French children marched through the streets carrying little banners inscribed “German children and French children are brothers and sisters” and the German children were met thus at the station loaded with flowers and gifts and brought home in loving triumph. Those women whose homes were too small and overcrowded to take an adopted child, give or collect 30 francs a month for the support of some particular child in the Ruhr with whom a correspondence is carried on, and many hundreds of children in the distressed areas are supported in this way. Not the money only, but gifts of clothing and good things find their way by post to the adopted little ones.

I addressed a great meeting of one thousand young men and women in Berlin organised by the German Youth Movement for Democracy and Worldwide brotherhood and peace. A young man told the story of how he had walked through France (for as he had no money he could not travel in any other way) to attend the recent International Peace Conference organised by the French Youth Movement. As he was at last, after many days, nearing the place of meeting he was met by an old French peasant woman, of whom he enquired the way. “Are you going to the young people’s Peace Conference” she asked. He pointed to his badge. “Over there” said the old woman solemnly pointing to a military burial ground in the distance, “lie my three sons.” “Over there” replied the young German student, “lie my three brothers.”

The old woman bent down and gathered some earth in the palm of her hand. Showing the dust to him and touching it, she said slowly, “Earth! The same earth covers my three sons and your three brothers,” then lifting herself and pointing upward she added, “Heaven—the same heaven is over us all.”

In company with Marcelle Capy (French) and Gertrud Baer (German) I went from town to town speaking about International Brotherhood. Magdeburg is a large town famed for its iron and steel industry two hours by express train from Berlin. There we met an audience of over three thousand men and women. They listened in intense silence with occasional bursts of applause, and when the meeting was over many of the audience walked with us to our train and gave us a send off with cheers.

Frankfurt, Heidelburg, Rastadt, Karlsruhe, Freiburg, Offenburg, Schopfheim, Stuttgart, Goppingen, Dresden were amongst the towns visited, and there were many more invitations that could not be accepted. Everywhere we found the same eager response.

The German and French people are far more deeply concerned with the subject of peace than we in England are. Listening to their impassioned words I realised that speaking comparatively we know little in England of the miseries and devastations, physical and moral—of war.

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A few typing errors have been silently corrected.

{1} i.e. ‘had’.

Biographical note on Emmeline Pethick-Lawrence

(Typed, with handwritten corrections.)

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Transcript

Biography of Mrs. Pethick Lawrence.

Mrs. Pethick-Lawrence is well known all over the world as a feminist who played a leading part in the world wide Woman Suffrage Campaign before the war She is also known as an internationalist who during the four years of the great war brought all the influence she possesses as a public speaker upon the people of her own country and upon the people in America to work for a Peace by negotiation and reconciliation, rather than a Peace dictated by the victorious armies.

In the Autumn of 1914, a cable summoned her to New York to address a vast suffrage meeting at the Carnegie Hall. On that occasion she helped to inaugurate the campaign which two years later led to the political enfranchisement of the women of that State. As a result of her campaign the American section of the Women’s International League was formed at Washington in January 1915, with Jane Addams as its President, and the two women sailed with fifty American women delegates to take part in an International Conference of Women held at the Hague in April 1915.

At the Conference of the Women’s International League in Zurich in May 1919, she registered her vigorous protest against the terms of the Versailles Treaty which had been published a few hours before the meeting was held.

In June 1920, Mrs. Pethick-Lawrence represented her country in an International Peace meeting in the German Reichstag in Berlin. She also spoke in the Mozarteum Great Hall in Salzburg, in the Town Hall, Vienna and in other towns on the “Women’s International League and Constructive Peace”.

She has since visited America twice and has been once to South Africa where she took part in the celebrations that welcomed the granting of woman suffrage in South Africa, the last dominion in the British Commonwealth to enfranchise its women. Mrs. Pethick-Lawrence is President of the Women’s Freedom League and vice-President of the Women’s International League, British Section,

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‘Revised March 1933’ has been written at the top of the first sheet, together with the file number ‘2069’.

Biographical note on Emmeline Pethick-Lawrence

Transcript

Biography of Mrs. Pethick Lawrence

Mrs. Pethick-Lawrence is known in many countries as a Feminist who played a leading part in the world-wide Suffrage Campaign before the War.

She often says she was born to take part in the great Movement of Thought, which in her life time has entirely transformed the Status of women in every sphere of life. At any rate she remembers that as a very young child, slighting references to women made carelessly, aroused in her a burning protest, and a desire to become their champion. This desire found outlet first in Social Service, including the founding (with Miss Mary Neal) of Maison Espérance—a Business for working girls with the 8 hours day—a minimum wage, and the many activities associated with it.

In the ear 1905 came the clarion call of the Militanti† Suffrage Movement. In 1906 Mrs. Pethick-Lawrence became Treasurer for the Campaign and during the next 6 years there was raised in one organisation, a fund of a Quarter of Millions {1} sterling.

Together with her husband she started the first Militant Suffrage Paper Votes for Women, which they carried on as co-Editors.

In 1908 she was arrested for attempting to speak in the Lobby of the House of Commons, after the refusal of the Government to receive a Deputation of Women (that had come to put their case) had been announced to them by the Police. Subsequently she was arrested twice for leading a Deputation to Parliament, and once under the old Conspiracy laws. In the latter case she was sentenced to 9 months and placed in the 1st division. The majority of her fellow suffragists in prison were not accorded the same treatment as political prisoners. They protested by the Hunger Strike, and she made common cause with them, was forcibly fed and subsequently released, having served five weeks of the 9 months sentence.

In the Autumn of 1914 a cable summoned her to New York to address a vast Suffrage Meeting in the Carnegie Hall. On that occasion she helped to inaugurate the campaign which two years later led to the political enfranchisement of the women of the State. Further she called up {2} the Women of America (this the greatest of the neutral Powers) not to become obsessed by the War spirit but to combine their allegiance to the principle of arbitration and to work for a real settlement rather than a fight to the finish. She travelled from the East to the West of America, speaking everywhere of the Solidarity of women as the Mothers of the human race and therefore the {3} natural Peacemakers. As a result of her campaign the Women[’]s Peace Party (afterwards the American Section of the Women’s International League) was formed {4} with Jane Addams as its president, and the two women sailed with fifty American delegates to take part in an International Conference of Women held at the Hague in April 1915. It will be remembered that this Congress representing 16 nations was unanimous in urging a Peace by Negotiation, and that a delegation appointed at the Hague was received by several Chancellors in Europe, by the President of the Swiss Republic and by the United States; it was also received by the Pope. On behalf of the women of the world this delegation pleaded for a continuous Council of Mediation and Reconciliation to be formed by the Neutral States, in order to conduct negotiations between the warring Powers, and if possible secure an understanding and a[n] agreement which would avoid a fight to the finish and its consequent devastation of the whole of Europe.

Mrs. Pethick-Lawrence has continued up to the present moment to work towards the Removal of all legal Restrictions upon the equality and freedom of the sexes, also towards and for the practical realization of the solidarity of the Human race (rooted in the Solidarity of women of all races as political {5} Mothers) which demands the abolition of Poverty and War.

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Carbon copy of a typed original, corrected by hand. ‘? About 1920’ has been added by hand at the top of the first sheet. A few mistypings which are not easy to represent in print or describe briefly have been corrected, as noted below.

{1} ‘of Millions’ mistyped.

{2} Perhaps a slip for ‘upon’.

{3} Mistyped.

{4} Altered from, or to, ‘founded’.

{5} Altered from ‘potential’.

† Sic.

Biographical note on Emmeline Pethick-Lawrence

Transcript

Biography of Mrs Pethick Lawrence

Mrs Pethick Lawrence realised when quite a child the very deplorable position of unprotected women in this country[,] especially those who belong to the working class. Upon the completion of her education she offered her services to the West London Mission then controlled by the Rev. Hugh Price Hughes and became one of the “sisters of the people”. She helped to found and organise the Esperance Club for working girls which has since established a reputation all over the country for its revival of folk dance and song.

Incidentally she had to do with many sad and difficult cases of human misery and she was often appealed to by the police on behalf of unfortunate women. In connection with these cases she attended Police Courts and became responsible to the magistrate for the woman prisoner in the dock.

After five years work in the West London Mission she went to live in a block of artisan buildings and tried the experiment of how much a working girl could live upon. She decided that the minimum was 15/– a week, whereupon she started with her friend Miss Mary Neal a co-operative dress-making establishment which paid its workers a miminim† wage of 15/– a week for an eight hour’s day. Several other schemes have been launched with her co-operation, including a holiday hotel for working girls at Littlehampton. Her marriage in 1901 did not put an end to any of these interests and the last twenty-two years of her life have been devoted to the social service of the community.

But every attempt at social and economic reform only drove more deeply home her conviction that so long as women were politically outside the pale of citizenship, the necessary leverage to life {1} working women and girls out of the morass was lacking.

In 1906 she became the first National Treasurer of the Women’s Social and Political Union. In the October of that year she suffered imprisonment for taking part in a protest in the lobby of the House of Commons. In 1909 she was arrested for leading a deputation for the purpose of presenting a Petition to the Prime Minister. In 1911 she was again imprisoned for a repetition of this offence. In 1912 she was arrested on a charge of Conspiracy and sentenced to imprisonment. On this occasion she adopted the Hunger Strike as a protest against the prison treatment and was forcibly fed. In the October of that year she was requested by Mrs Pankhurst to resign from the W.S.P.U. as Mrs Pankhurst had decided upon a development of the militant policy and did not want to be hampered by a Committee.

Great pressure was put upon Mrs Pethick Lawrence to found another Suffrage Organisation. To this she responded by forming the “Votes for Women” Fellowship—not a Suffrage Society, but an association of co-workers and Fellows to further a common enterprise, namely the establishment of the paper “Votes for Women” as the expression of the Suffrage Movement in its wide catholicity of ideal and purpose.

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Carbon copy of a typed original. ‘About 1912’ has been added at the top of the first sheet by hand, as well as the file number ‘2069’.

{1} A slip for ‘lift’.

† Sic.

Biographical note on Emmeline Pethick-Lawrence

(Carbon copy.)

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Transcript

Emmeline Pethick-Lawrence is of Celtic stock. Her forbears lived in Cornwall[,] the rock-bound peninsular to which in ancient days came the intrepid Phoenician mariners to mingle their blood with the aboriginal inhabitants. But her father, a Bristol merchant, made his house in Weston-super-mare and she herself responded to the call to come to London to be a “Sister” in the West London Mission under Hugh Price Hughes and Mark Guy Pearse.

It was not until she was nearly 40 years of age that the little band of militant suffragettes unfurled their banner of revolt and at Keir Hardie’s suggestion sought her help. In a spirit of dedication she yielded to the entreaties of Annie Kenney[,] the mill girl who had come from Lancashire with £5 in her pocket “to rouse London”.

Her Cornish love of freedom, her passionate anger at injustice, her sense of shame at the humiliating status of women, her desire to befriend the weak and oppressed all combined to force this choice upon her. She consented to become the treasurer of the new movement. Instinctively she realised that she was setting her foot upon an uncharted path. But she certainly could not have forseen† into what strange and unconventional ways it would lead her.

In fact she was on seven separate occasions to see the inside of His Majesty’s prison. She was to go through the hunger strike and to suffer the painful indignity of forcible feeding. As a treasurer she was to raise a campaign fund of over a quarter of a million pounds and to become known as the most seductive beggar in London. In all this she was sustained by a strong inner sense of mission; and she was fortunate in having what was denied to many others of the suffragettes[,] the active support of her men folk—her father, her husband and other relatives and friends.

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The file number ‘2069’ has been written at the top of the first sheet in pencil.

Biographical note on Emmeline Pethick-Lawrence, by F. W. Pethick-Lawrence, for a broadcast in Australia

(Carbon copy, with handwritten corrections.)

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Transcript

Mrs. Pethick-Lawrence is well known all the world over as an ardent champion of liberty and as an opponent of war and all other antagonisms of race, class, or sex which threaten the freedom of the human spirit.

One of her earliest recollections is of the great fight which her father put up in Weston-super-Mare for the right of free speech over a Salvation Army case; and his ultimate victory [in the Beatty v Gilbanks judgment] {1} establishing an important tradition of liberty made her very proud to be his daughter.

When she was only eight years old she fought her own first battle for democracy. At her school a barbarous and antiquated rule forbade the pupils to speak to the domestic servants in the house. Emmeline Pethick broke this rule and was “sent to Coventry” for a whole week as a punishment. On another occasion, when one of the head mistresses was relating to the girls with great approval an assault made with rotten eggs upon the late Henry Bradlaugh, she horrified the school by protesting in the presence of the lady and before them all that Bradlaugh’s atheism was preferable to the kind of Christianity that resorted to such cowardly persecution.

In her teens her spirit was fired to a sense of injustice by the reading of many books such as “Adam Bede”, Goethe’s “Faust[”], and “The Story of a South African Farm”.—Later in life Olive Schreiner the author of the latter was to become one of her intimate friends.

Determined to do her part she enlisted as a “Sister” in Mrs. Prior Hughes’ West London Mission. In these {2} days the working girls of London had no holiday at all during the year except Sundays and bank holidays. “Sister Emmeline” personally visited a number of employers and persuaded them not to sack their girls if they absented themselves for a week in the summer. Of course they got no wages but Sister Emmeline herself took them away into the country.

Later she and another sister founded the Espérance Working Girls Club which became famous through introducing the old Morris Dances into every county of England.

It was during a performance by the Esperance Club that she first met her future husband, and their common Cornish heritage at once drew them together. The guests at the wedding included the old women of St. Pancras Workhouse, the members of the Canning Town Men’s Club, and Mr. Lloyd George then known mainly as an opponent of the Boer War. After marriage they decided to unite their two surnames of Pethick and Lawrence and for a time their interests were absorbed in the London Evening paper of which Mr. Lawrence was the editor.

But it was not long before the militant suffrage movement with its insistent challenge to Authority was to claim all their attention. The name of Mrs. Pethick-Lawrence coupled with those of Mrs. Pankhurst and “Christabel” was on everybody’s lips. Six times she faced arrest and imprisonment, once going through the hunger strike and being forcibly fed. As Treasurer of the W.S.P.U. (Women’s Social and Political Union) her speeches at the Royal Albert Hall, London, were famous and her success was demonstrated by the gathering of no less than a quarter of a million pounds for the movement.

She and her husband edited the weekly newspaper “Votes for Women” which rapidly attained a large circulation. It chronicled at one time two hundred meetings a week on behalf of the organisation & reported that at a demonstration in Hyde Park the audience had been estimated by the Times newspaper in the neighbourhood of half a million.

On one occasion when Mrs. Pethick-Lawrence was announced to take the chair at a meeting from which it was intended that women should start a march to the House of Commons, a body of students broke into the hall for the express purpose of preventing the meeting. Mrs. Lawrence came in and mounted the platform and addressed the students. She told them that as men who had already secure[d] the rights that women were struggling for she was confident that their sense of fair play would not allow them to stand between women and their freedom, and she called upon them one by one to withdraw. So great was the power of her personality that they went out row by row and the meeting took place as originally arranged.

On another occasion addressing the jury in a law court she explained and defended the militant methods of the suffragettes in the following words:—“This great movement is, as you heard counsel for the plaintiff say, gathering momentum every day like a great flood. Now, when a tide is dammed back it overflows, and inevitable destruction is wrought. But men do not argue with a flood; they do not put the responsibility on the flood; they put the responsibility upon, and they argue with, those who have dammed back the stream and prevented it from flowing in its ordinary channel.”

“The Story of the progress of the human race is the story of the birth of great moral ideas, new ideas that have pushed their way into the common life, either by the process of evolution or by the process of revolution. Evolution is the natural and the right process, but there have been occasions in history, as you know very well, where the process of evolution has been obstructed by those who held the sceptre or rule. That is the position at the present moment.” Mr. Justice Darling who tried the case said at the opening of his summing up that hers was the “most eloquent speech he had ever heard in that Court”.

During the years of the great war Mrs. Pethick-Lawrence used all her powers as a speaker and writer to urge upon her countryment the need for securing a Peace by negotiation and reconciliation rather than one dictated by victories on the field of battle.

Summoned to the U.S.A. in the Autumn of 1914 to address a vast suffrage meeting in the Carnegie Hall (inaugurating the campaign which two years later led to the adoption of the women’s vote throughout the whole of the United States), she made a tour of that country speaking both on questions of peace and of women’s disabilities. Largely as a result of her campaign the American section of the Women’s International League was formed with Jane Addams as its President; and the two women sailed with fifty American delegates to take part in the International Conference of Women held at the Hague in April, 1915.

Mrs. Pethick-Lawrence strongly disapproved and protested against the terms of the Versailles treaty which she clearly foresaw contained the germs of future trouble in Europe. After the war was over she travelled over the Continent and was the first English person to address meetings in the principal cities of Austria. She also spoke in the Reichstag in an international conference.

Many parts of the British Empire have secured visits from her. In Canada, India, and South Africa she has held many public meetings. On more than one occasion she has hoped to come to Australia to return the visit of Miss Vida Goldstein, but so far circumstances have always intervened to prevent her.

During recent years she has continued to urge the claims of peace and disarmament and to champion the right of the married women to the choice of her own nationality and the character of her employment. In all her activities Mrs. Pethick-Lawrence has had the active support of her husband who was Financial Secretary to the Treasury in the late Government in England.

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At the top of the first sheet is written the file number ‘2069’ and the following note: ‘Compiled by F.W.P.L August 1934 & sent to Mrs Littlejohn in Australia for a Broadcast in Sydney.’

{1} The square brackets were added in pencil.

{2} i.e. ‘those’.

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