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Black Friday was an event on 18 November 1910 when approximately 300 suffragettes campaigned outside the British House of Commonsmarker when the Liberal government of H.H. Asquith failed to pass a Conciliation Bill which would allow some women to vote in General Elections for the first time.

Although the Bill got to its second reading, Asquith indicated that there would be no more Parliamentary time for the Bill. In response, the Women's Social and Political Union (WSPU) sent a delegation of around 300 women who were assaulted when they attempted to run past the police. Many suffragettes reported being assaulted and manhandled by the police and well over 100 were arrested; Asquith's car was vandalised in reaction to this treatment. The event caused some embarrassment to Winston Churchill who was Home Secretary at the time.

The aftermath of Black Friday

The events of Black Friday were a public relations disaster for the government, the press took the side of the Suffragettes, printing pictures of police assaulting unarmed female protesters. The actions of the police were greatly criticised. After Black Friday, Asquith stated that if the Liberals were elected at the next general election, they would include a Suffrage Bill that could be amended to allow women to vote. The WSPU rejected this believing that it was an attempt to delay reform; the events of Black Friday were damaging to the suffrage campaign, as they caused MPs to distance themselves from the campaign.

This was the first time that Suffragette protests were met with violent physical abuse, however it was generally supported by the British population, who at the time were relatively opposed to womens' franchise. Two women died as a result of police violence, and two hundred women were arrested.


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