The not for the universal suffrage of women but

The method of campaigning that Fawcett and her organisation
used was that of peaceful and democratic petitioning and lobbying. They were
the ‘Suffragists’ demonstrating through constitutional methods. Despite running
her large association she still found time to support the smaller, newer,
specialised societies including The Men’s
League (1990), Catholic Society, Jewish League, Artist’s League and the
Actresses’ League; she was always ready to help those fighting for the Cause1.
The Liberal Party at that time, under Asquith, had won a huge majority in the
House of Commons, the largest landslide victory of any party in British politics
and the last time that the Liberals would hold power without a coalition
government. This was significant as it meant that they were able to pass any
legislation they wanted quite easily. In Asquith’s cabinet of nineteen people, however, fourteen were adamant that
women should have the vote and only four were strongly against their
enfranchisement; normally this would not have made much of a difference, but
one of the ‘nays’ was Asquith himself. Another problem was that the second most
powerful man in the Party was David Lloyd George, who had hopes to be the next
Prime Minister and thus did not want to
upset his present Party leader.2 Furthermore,
there was the man that the suffrage women named ‘the wobbler’ as he never exclusively said he was against female
emancipation – that man was Winston Churchill.

The purpose of the NUWSS was
not for the universal suffrage of women but rather votes for women ‘on the same term as it is, or may be granted to
men’. As the husband of an MP, Fawcett
expected wives to follow their husbands’ example of voting as a method to make
the Suffragists look more respectable3.
As a result of the ‘damnation of men’ the moral outrage against the
establishment, Fawcett and her NUWSS took the middle path between seeing women
as having superior or degraded morals in comparison to their husbands; she said
in 1905 that ‘The claim to the suffrage was based not on similarities but the
differences between men and women. If men and women were exactly alike, the
representation of men would represent us; but not being alike that wherein we
differ is unrepresented under the present system’4.

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Garrett Fawcett is, therefore, a strong
contender for the woman who sealed the fate of British women in the 19th
and 20th centuries. As a Liberal MP’s wife, she was able to work the
system from within. She was obviously very committed to the cause as a
self-proclaimed suffragist from the cradle5.
As well as being faithful to her own organisation, her ability to help others
showed that she was loyal to the movement as a whole and determined to achieve
this goal through all democratic means. So much so that her memorial has an
inscription that reads: ‘Dame Millicent Garrett Fawcett 1847-1929. A wise
constant and courageous Englishwoman. She won citizenship for women.’6 In

Strachey Ray, Millicent Garrett Fawcett,
pg. 225

Interview with Ian Porter

Phillips Melanie, The Ascent of Woman,
pg. 158-159

Phillips Melanie, The Ascent of Woman,
pg. 201

Phillips Melanie, The Ascent of Woman,
pg. 108

Anon., Millicent Garrett Fawcett