Emmeline Pankhurst

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Pankhurst visited North America in 1916 together with the former Secretary of State for Serbia, Čedomilj Mijatović, whose nation had been at the centre of fighting at the start of the war. They toured the United States and Canada, raising money and urging the U.S. government to support Britain and its Canadian and other allies. Two years later, after the US entered the war, Pankhurst returned to the United States, encouraging suffragettes there – who had not suspended their militancy – to support the war effort by sidelining activities related to the vote. She also spoke about her fears of communist insurgency, which she considered a grave threat to Russian democracy.[96]

By June 1917 the Russian Revolution had strengthened the Bolsheviks, who urged an end to the war. Pankhurst's translated autobiography had been read widely in Russia, and she saw an opportunity to put pressure on the Russian people. She hoped to convince them not to accept Germany's conditions for peace, which she saw as a potential defeat for Britain and Russia. UK Prime Minister David Lloyd George agreed to sponsor her trip to Russia, which she took in June. She told one crowd: "I came to Petrograd with a prayer from the English nation to the Russian nation, that you may continue the war on which depends the face of civilisation and freedom."[97] Press response was divided between left and right wings; the former depicted her as a tool of capitalism, while the latter praised her devout patriotism.[98]

In August she met with Alexander Kerensky, the Russian Prime Minister. Although she had been active with the socialist-leaning ILP in years past, Pankhurst had begun to see leftist politics as disagreeable, an attitude which intensified while she was in Russia. The meeting was uncomfortable for both parties; he felt that she was unable to appreciate the class-based conflict driving Russian policy at the time. He concluded by telling her that English women had nothing to teach women in Russia. She later told the New York Times that he was the "biggest fraud of modern times" and that his government could "destroy civilisation".[99][100]

When she returned from Russia, Pankhurst was delighted to find that women's right to vote was finally on its way to becoming a reality. The 1918 Representation of the People Act removed property restrictions on men's suffrage, and granted the vote to women over the age of 30 (with several restrictions). As suffragists and suffragettes celebrated and prepared for its imminent passage, a new schism erupted: should women's political organisations join forces with those established by men? Many socialists and moderates supported unity of the sexes in politics, but Pankhurst and Christabel saw the best hope in remaining separate. They reinvented the WSPU as the Women's Party, still open only to women. Women, they said, "can best serve the nation by keeping clear of men's party political machinery and traditions, which, by universal consent, leave so much to be desired".[101] The party favoured equal marriage laws, equal pay for equal work, and equal job opportunities for women. These were matters for the post-war era, however. While the fighting continued, the Women's Party demanded no compromise in the defeat of Germany; the removal from government of anyone with family ties to Germany or pacifist attitudes; and shorter work hours to forestall labour strikes. This last plank in the party's platform was meant to discourage potential interest in Bolshevism, about which Pankhurst was increasingly anxious.[102]

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