Battle of Downing Street
|Battle of Downing Street|
|Date||22 November 1910|
|Methods||Demonstration, smashing windows|
|Parties to the civil conflict|
|Arrested||159 women; three men|
|Preceded by: Black Friday|
The Battle of Downing Street was a march of suffragettes to Downing Street, London, on 22 November 1910. Organized by Emmeline Pankhurst's Women's Social and Political Union, the march took place four days after Black Friday, a suffragette protest outside the House of Commons that saw the women violently attacked by police.
Taking place in the context of the debate over the Conciliation Bill 1910 (giving a limited number of women the vote according to property and marital status), the march was a direct response to the statement by the Prime Minister H. H. Asquith that: "The Government will, if they are still in power, give facilities in the next Parliament for effectively proceeding with a Bill which is framed so as to admit of free amendment", which suggested that the bill would have no chance of being passed.
Emmeline and Christabel Pankhurst were at Caxton Hall when news arrived of Asquith's speech; Christabel announced to the audience that it was a declaration of war: "The promise for next parliament is an absurd mockery of a pledge. They have been talking of declarations of war. We also declare war from this moment." Emmeline told the crowd: "I am going to Downing Street. Come along, all of you."
Around 200 women marched on Downing Street, smashing windows at the Colonial Office and Home Office, and on Asquith's car; 159 women and three men were arrested, including Emmeline and her sister, Mary Clarke. Clarke was arrested for throwing a stone through the window at Canon Row Police Station, where Emmeline was being held, after the police refused to let Clarke see her. About 20 women approached 10 Downing Street, the prime minister's residence, from the back and swarmed around Augustine Birrell, the Chief Secretary for Ireland. He was "pulled ... about and hustled", had his hat knocked off and was left with a twisted knee. Burrell did not prosecute those responsible, writing to the Home Secretary, Winston Churchill, on 21 February 1911: "Let the matter drop but keep your eye on the hags in question."
- Bartley, Paula (2002). Emmeline Pankhurst. London: Routledge. ISBN 978-0-415-20651-8.
- Lee, Alison (2008). "Appendix D: The Conciliation Bill and Black Friday". Suffragette Sally. By Colmore, Gertrude. Lee, Alison, ed. Peterborough, Ontario: Broadview Press. pp. 342–357. ISBN 978-1-55111-474-3.
- Purvis, June (2002). Emmeline Pankhurst: A Biography. London and New York: Routledge.
- Rosen, Andrew (2013) . Rise Up, Women! The Militant Campaign of the Women's Social and Political Union, 1903–1914. London: Routledge. ISBN 978-1-136-24754-5.