The first petition for women's suffrage: 1866
In 1866 a group of women from the Kensington Society organised a petition that demanded that women should have the same political rights as men. The women took their petition to Henry Fawcett and John Stuart Mill, two MPs who supported universal suffrage. Mill added an amendment to the Reform Act that would give women the same political rights as men. The amendment was defeated by 196 votes to 73.
Members of the Kensington Society were very disappointed when they heard the news and they decided to form the London Society for Women's Suffrage. The following year, Millicent Fawcett joined the group. Although only a moderate public speaker, she was a superb organizer and soon became the leader of the London suffragists. Similar Women's Suffrage groups were formed all over Britain. One of the most important of these was in Manchester, where Lydia Becker emerged as a significant figure in the movement. In 1887 seventeen of these individual groups joined together to form the National Union of Women's Suffrage Societies (NUWSS). Lydia Becker was elected as president. Three years later, when Becker died, Millicent Fawcett became the new leader of the organisation.
The painting above depicts the presentation of the first suffrage petition by Emily Davies and Elizabeth Garrett Anderson
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