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Freedom or Death Speech
Emmeline Pankhurst

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It is perfectly evident to any logical mind that when you have got the vote, by the proper use of the vote in sufficient numbers, by combination, you can get out of any legislature whatever you want, or, if you cannot get it, you can send them about their business and choose other people who will be more attentive to your demands, But, it is clear to the meanest intelligence that if you have not got the vote, you must either submit to laws just or unjust, administration just or unjust, or the time inevitably comes when you will revolt against that injustice and use violent means to put an end to it, That is so logically correct that we hear politicians today talk about the inherent right of revolution and rebellion on the part of human beings suffering from an intolerable injustice, and in England today we are having a situation brought about by men which exactly illustrates the case. We have got in Ireland today a very serious situation. I refer to the fact that for generations Irish agitators, Irish lawbreakers, Irish criminals, who have been sentenced to long terms of imprisonment in English convict prisons, have come over to America and have asked the people of the United States to give them money, to send them help in various forms to fight the Irish rebellion.

The Irish rebellion has at last, during the past few years, come into practical politics, and it has found shape in a measure which has now passed through the House of Commons and through the House of Lords, giving what the Irishmen so long wanted, home rule to Ireland. That is to say, next June, a parliament is going to be set up in Dublin, an Irish parliament, for the management of Irish affairs quite distinct from the government in London. The majority of men in Ireland desired it; presumably the majority of women acquiesced in their desire, but they were not asked whether they wished it or not. It is certain that in the course of the Irish rebellion women have taken a very prominent part; and it is rather a notable point to which I should like to call your attention, that when the imprisonments of Irishmen took place in the course of their political rebellion they were put almost invariably, after a certain amount of struggle, in the first division, and were treated as political offenders; but when women, helping the men, got into the coils of the law, all those women in Ireland who were helping the men to get home rule, were invariably treated as ordinary criminals and got ordinary criminals' treatment. You see, ladies, even in a rebellion, there is an advantage in being a voter, and if you are not a voter you are liable to get very much worse treatment than the voters, even the law-breaking voters, get. Now, the situation today then is, that home rule for Ireland is to take effect early next year, or in the course of next year.

But there is a part of Ireland which does not want home rule. There is a part of Ireland which prefers to be governed from London. That is the north of Ireland, in the County of Ulster. For racial reasons, for religious reasons, for economic reasons, the majority of the people there do not want home rule at all. They call themselves Loyalists, Unionists, and they want to maintain the union with Great Britain in its present form. Directly the home rule bill passed, directly it was perfectly clear that Home Rule was to be granted, these people began to revolt. They had a leader, a man who formed a part of the last Conservative administration, Sir Edward Carson. A distinguished lawyer, a distinguished statesman: he is an Irishman. Sir Edward Carson came to be the leader of the Ulster rebellion. He has advocated civil war: he has not only advocated civil war, he has urged the men of Ulster to drill and prepare to fight if civil war comes to pass. The first stage in this rebellion was the signing of a great declaration on behalf of the Union. It is rather notable that not only men signed that declaration, but women signed it also; the women of Ulster were invited to sign the declaration along with the men. And to those people who say that the province of woman is quite apart from politics, and that women by nature take no interest in politics, I would like to say that more women signed that declaration than did men, considerably more.
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