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A Splendid Talk


Annie Kenney came to the attention of the British press in 1905. That was the year she and Christabel Pankhurst were arrested after they heckled Sir Edward Grey at a Liberal rally in Manchester. They insisted that he respond to their demands for women’s suffrage.

The two women were credited with initiating a new phase of protest with the adoption of militant tactics, saying vote would be won by deeds, not words. When the Prime Minister ignored a mass rally of over 300,000 protesters, women smashed windows in Downing Street, and suffragettes tried to force their way into Buckingham Palace to personally petition the King.

When World War I broke out, the British suffragettes called a truce of sorts. They urged women to actively become involved in war work, taking jobs traditionally held by men who were serving in the military. But this did not mean they gave up on their dream of voting rights for women. On this date in 1914, Kenney was touring North Dakota to speak about women’s suffrage. She said British political leaders would reconsider the matter if American women won the right to vote. The Washburn Leader reported on Kenney’s presentation in that town. The newspaper called it a “splendid talk” and made a point of noting that she was not a mannish, militant woman, but instead very pleasing in her appearance.

There was a great deal of interest in Kenney. It was standing room only in spite of the extra chairs placed at the back of the Washburn Opera House. Mayor C.G. Forbes said he was pleased to have the honor of introducing such a famous woman. Kenney was well received and the crowd was attentive.

Kenney explained why the suffragette movement had become militant. She said that women quietly tried to attend political meetings, but this was considered a disturbance and their participation was prohibited. When they held their own meetings outside, they were arrested. Kenney said that Britain as a whole was not opposed to women’s right to vote. That was being blocked by a few political leaders she called stupid and obstinate.

The 19th Amendment granted American women the right to vote in 1920. British women finally won equal voting rights in 1928.

Dakota Datebook written by Carole Butcher


Washburn Leader. “A Splendid Talk.” Washburn, ND. 16 October 1914.

The Telegraph. “Suffragette Timeline.”