Why did a campaign for women's suffrage develop in the years after 1870?
A campaign for women's suffrage developed in years after 1870 because many women were unhappy with their legal and political rights. Caroline Norton was a popular novelist, a perfectly acceptable job for someone of her social standing, her husband, George Norton, jealous of her success in comparison to his failing political career, accused her of being unfaithful with the prime minister, Lord Melbourne, who was well known as a womaniser. While no concrete evidence was found and Lord Melbourne won the case George Norton forbade Caroline access to the house and her children. Caroline wrote a pamphlet explaining the unfairness of this entitled 'The Natural Claim of a Mother to the Custody of her Children as affected by the Common Law Rights of the Father.' Caroline argued that under the present law, a father had absolute rights and a mother no rights at all, whatever the behaviour of the husband. In fact, the law gave the husband the legal right to desert his wife and hand over his children to his mistress. For the first time in history, a woman had openly challenged this law that discriminated against women.
Caroline began a campaign to regain custody of her children. She gained the help of her Member of parliament and he put in a bill to change the law regarding the custody of children. This bill was initially passed in the house of commons but rejected by the house of lords. She then wrote a pamphlet and sent it to every member of parliament. This time the bill was passed in both houses and the 1839 'Custody of Infants' act was passed and became the first piece of feminist legislation to succeed. While the campaign for women's suffrage developed in the years after 1870 women were attempting to change discriminatory laws long before they tried to gain suffrage.
After Initial resistance George Norton eventually allowed Caroline to see her children again. After this Caroline returned...