Circumstances

The speech “Freedom or Death” by Emmeline Pankhurst was delivered on 13th of November, 1913 in front of the audience assembled by Connecticut Women's Suffrage Association, in Hartford, US.

The speech came during the speaker’s tour in the US to raise funds for her organisation in Britain, Women's Social and Political Union (WSPU), founded in 1903.

In the ten years since WSPU was founded, the organisation campaigned for women’s rights in Britain through different means, including marches, sabotage, and boycotts. Pankhurst also mentions the newspaper Votes For Women which was established in 1907 by WSPU.

The speech came after 18 months in which the speaker had been imprisoned several times by the British authorities and had gone on hunger strikes (something she refers to in the speech).

An important thing you should note about the Women’s Suffrage Movement in Britain is that not all activists agreed with Pankhurst’s militant and aggressive methods for obtaining voting rights for women. She was sometimes criticised for encouraging women to act outside the law or to endanger their ...

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