British Depth Study 1890-1918 Essay
British Depth Study 1890-1918
What were the living and social conditions like in the 1890s? Living conditions:
* Towns became overcrowded.
* People lived in slums, often whole families lived in one room. * No internal water supplies.
* Shared outside toilets.
* Limited electricity, wealthy families were starting to get it. * Larger families but higher infant mortality.
* Very limited birth control, moral distaste.
* Church taught contraception was wrong.
* Most workers worked in factories.
* Peace work – women given work to do at home or in small workshops, sewing or making matchboxes or candles, many others worked in textile factories. It was used to supplement the man’s income. * No minimum wage or restrictions on the amount of hours worked. * No unemployment benefit, sick pay or pensions.
* Many workers only had seasonal employment.
* Safety at work had improved, rates of pay were still the same. The state believed it was down to the employee to accept a wage. State of education:
* State education until twelve.
* Church schools provided a different type of education, most school were church schools. * Factory schools educated the children of their workers. * Very limited secondary education, only available for the wealthy Victorian attitudes and solutions to poverty:
* Rich deserved to be rich, poor deserved to be poor.
* Deserving poor were morally correct, mainly women and children. * The undeserving poor spent money on beer, drugs and prostitutes and were morally irresponsible. * Had to help yourself.
* People went to workhouses, worked for food and a bed.
What were social reformers doing in 1890s and what motives were there for reforms? William Booth and the Salvation Army:
* Like Christian groups gave hot soup and bread to people but did more. * William and Catherine Booth went out and found poor people within East London. * East London mission expanded until in 1878 had 45 branches and was called Salvation Army. * Organised like an army.
* Used attention-grabbing techniques – smart uniforms, brass bands to get attention and money. * By 1900 it ran training centres, labour exchange to help people find jobs, a farm and brickworks. * Designed to help people and train poor.
* Salvation Army gathered information about poor and causes of poverty, showed some people couldn’t help being poor – out of their control * William Booth described poverty in three circles; the starving and homeless (honest poor), those that lived by vice and those that lived by crime. Charles Booth:
* Wealthy Liverpudlian, inherited business and moved to London. * Refused to accept Government statistic that 25% of working population in London was in poverty. * Spent 17 years with a team investigating living conditions, income and spending of over 4000 people. * Found 31% of Londoners lived below poverty line.
* Many thought it was their own fault they were poor but Booth worked out 85% were poor because of wage and unemployment problems. Split the poor into four groups:
* Class A – lowest class – street sellers, criminals, loafers – life of savages with extreme hardship – 11,000/1.25% population * Class B – causal earnings – widows, deserted women, part time labourers – shiftless and helpless – 110,000/11.25% population * Class C – occasional earnings – hit by trade depressions – 75,000/8% population * Class D – low wages,
less than 21 shillings per week – dock labourers and gas workers -just enough to survive – 129,000/14.5% population Seebohm Rowntree:
* Intrigued by Charles Booth’s findings he wanted to see how York compared. * Calculated a family of 5, 3 adults and two children could live off 21 shillings and 8 pence per week. * Found 28% of York families were below this line, divided them into two categories: * Primary poverty – no matter how hard a family worked, they would never earn enough money to provide themselves with adequate food, shelter and clothing. These families didn’t stand a chance. * Secondary poverty – These families could just about feed, clothe and shelter themselves, provided there were no additional calls on their income. These families lived on the edge. * 10% of York in Primary poverty, 18% in Secondary poverty. * Used Booth’s idea of poverty line to work out when may be above or below.
* Surveys like those of Charles Booth and Rowntree changed opinion. * Impact of the Boer War – 40% volunteers were unfit for the army and falling behind Germany. People feared Britain would no longer be great power imperially, economically and militarily unless looked after people better. * German government had already introduced social reforms like pension and insurance schemes. * Labour party formed in 1900 poised a threat and Liberals feared losing working class votes unless they acted. * In 1906 Liberals won landslide majority and were expected to act. * Some New Liberals were in Cabinet and had the power and responsibility to help the state.
What reforms were brought in?
Pensions Act (1908)
* Gave weekly pensions from government funds to the elderly. * Only for over 70s
* Promised to be introduced in 1908 and made law the year after. * Single person could receive 5s (s=shillings) per week. * Married couple could receive 7s 6d (d=pence). Later increased to 10s.
Free School Meals (1906)
* Local councils given power to give free school meals to children from the poorest families * Paid for from the local rates
* By 1914, 158,000 children were getting free meal once per day
School medical inspections (1907)
* Doctors and nurses went to schools and gave compulsory medical checks. * Recommended any treatment that should be done.
* Checks were free, treatment wasn’t.
* In 1912 treatment became free
Children’s Act (1908)
* Children became ‘protected persons’, people could be prosecuted for cruelty against them. * Poor law authorities had to visit and supervise children who had suffered cruelty or been neglected. * All children’s homes were registered and inspected.
* Children under 14 who broke the law couldn’t go to adult prisons. * Juvenile courts were set up to try children accused of a crime. * Children who committed a crime were sent to Borstals, specially built and equipped for young offenders * Children under 14 couldn’t go in pubs.
* Cigarettes couldn’t be sold to under 16s.
School clinics (1912)
* Network of school clinics set up to provide free medical treatment. * Necessary because some parents could not afford the treatment needed that was discovered during medical inspections.
The sick and unemployed:
Labour Exchanges Act (1909)
* National string of labour exchanges set up.
* Unemployed workers went to labour exchange to look for work. * More efficient than tramping around workplaces and more efficient for those offering work to people. * Like modern job centre.
National Insurance Act (1911)
* Insurance scheme aimed to prevent poverty because of illness. * Workers could insure themselves against sickness and draw money from the scheme if they fell ill and could not work. * All manual workers and people in low-paid white-collar jobs had to join. * Workers paid 4d for insurance stamps which they stuck on a special card. * Employers contributed 3d per worker.
* Government contributed 2d per worker.
* If a worker fell ill they got sick pay of 10s for 13 weeks, then 5s for 13 weeks in any one year.
National Insurance Act, Part 2 (1911)
* Aimed to prevent poverty because of unemployment.
* Insured workers for the periods of time that they were out of work. * At the start scheme open to mainly men who worked in jobs where there was a great deal of seasonal unemployment such as shipbuilding and engineering. * Workers, employers and Government each paid 2d in insurance stamps per week. * When unemployed workers could claim 7s 6d per week for 15 weeks.
How effective were these reforms?
* Free school meals for the poorest families’ children. * Free medical checks at school and after 1912 free treatment. * New laws passed to protect children.
* Had to pay for medical problems between 1907 and 1912 despite free checks. * Only some councils gave free school meals.
* Limited enforcement of new laws.
* Funded by the state (non-contributory).
* Provided some state assistance.
* Kept elderly out of workhouse.
Couldn’t get it if:
* Had been in prison within the last ten years.
* Earned over £31 2s per year.
* Hadn’t been a British citizen for twenty years.
* 10 million men and 4 million women involved.
* Stopped people falling into poverty through sickness.
* Allowed people to get money if they were ill.
* Got 9d for every 4d paid in.
* Cost worker 4d for insurance stamps, employers paid 3d and Government 2d. * Could only claim for 26 weeks per year, half at reduced rate. * Was compulsory.
* Stopped people going into poverty because of unemployment * Labour exchanges.
* Helped people who were in seasonal employment.
* Cost worker, employer and Government 2d per week.
* Only available for 15 weeks per year.
* Limited to a number of professions (2.25m eligible).
What were the social, political and legal positions of women in the 1890s?
* Before 1870, most didn’t go to school. In 1870 state education set up and became compulsory by 1880. * By 1900 97% of all children could read and write.
* At school predominantly taught to be good housewife.
* Most working class women had small job – supplement man’s income. * Near end 19th century new jobs for women appearing e.g. typing. * Got less pay for same wage as men and worked long hours.
Middle and upper class women:
* Educated to be good companions.
* In 2nd half of 19th century women got more freedom.
* Still hard for women to get into higher education.
* Women’s colleges had been set up but women still couldn’t get degrees. * New employment opportunities opened up for middle-class women; teaching, nursing and clerical work.
* Inferior position to husbands.
* Became property of husband when they married, transferred all belongings. * Could rape and batter wives, women couldn’t instigate divorce. * Some changes came in in 1900: women could divorce men for cruelty, desertion and bigamy, women kept property after marriage, women couldn’t be kept in husband’s home against will.
* Women had good jobs but couldn’t vote.
* In 1867 Parliament had considered giving women the vote but decided against it.
For and against female suffrage
* Women had wealth and careers but were not allowed to vote. * It would get men to raise their moral standards like women. * Equality would stop pre-marital sex, prostitution and venereal disease. * Britain is not a democracy until women get the vote.
* Voting is a right to which women are entitled.
* Other countries were giving women the vote.
* Women and men have separate spheres.
* Most women do not want the vote.
* Women are represented by their husbands.
* It is dangerous to change a system that isn’t broken. * Women’s role is in local affairs.
* Women do not fight to defend their country.
How effective were the activities of the suffragists and the suffragettes?
* Bulk of campaigners; they encouraged, educated and persuaded people. * Didn’t undertake direct action campaign.
* Entered political pact with labour party.
* Were the minority.
* Set up by Emmeline Pankhurst and her two daughters.
* Frustrated in 1906 when the vote wasn’t given to women. * At start causes nuisance and attacked symbols of the state.
Winning the vote:
* Propaganda – newspapers, posters and pamphlets
* Meetings and demonstrations – held mass meetings and parades drawing over 20,000 protestors. * Civil disobedience and petitions – not paying taxes, boycotted 1911 census, 1910 petition to parliament in support of Conciliation Bill, over 250,000 signatures. * Hunger strikes – 1909 a number of WSPU supporters went on hunger strike whilst in prison to be recognised as political prisoners. Authorities force-fed them and passed cat and mouse act in 1913. * Suffragette violence – Slasher Mary destroyed paintings at the National Gallery, Lloyd George’s second home was firebombed, Emily Davidson dies at the Derby in 1913.
Cat and Mouse Act:
* Women began going on hunger strike in 1909 to be recognised as political prisoners. * Government couldn’t allow them to die and be seen as martyrs. * First started releasing them after a few days then started force-feeding. * In 1913 Cat and Mouse Act was passed allowing the women on hunger strike to be released after a few days and re-arrested once they had gone back to a healthy weight.
* WSPU calls off violence when Asquith agrees to give women the vote. * Asquith stalls on Conciliation Bill.
* WSPU protests and turns into Black Friday, fights with police leading to WSPU members being assaulted. Date| Actions by Parliament| Actions by Militants|
1906| Liberals elected to Government| Start to disrupt liberal’s meetings to get votes for women discussed.| 1907| Government shows no interest in votes for women| NUWSS organises march to London| 1908| Herbert Asquith becomes Prime Minister| Suffragettes step up campaign to prove to support for women’s votes to Asquith| 1908| Some WSPU members arrested|
WSPU smash windows in Downing Street and chain themselves to railings| 1909| Start force-feeding in prisons| WSPU step up campaignsHunger strikes in prison start| 1910| Discussions about Conciliation BillGovernment stall about Conciliation Bill| WSPU suspend campaignBlack Friday, when Government stalls.| 1911| Government abandons Conciliation Bill and gives more votes to men| WSPU furiously restart and step-up campaign| 1912| | Massive window smashing campaign by WSPUWSPU headquarters raided and many arrests, Cristobel Pankhurst flees to Paris| 1913| Introduction of the Cat and Mouse Act| Violence is increasedEmily Davidson dies at the Derby| 1914| Cracks down on WSPUWSPU prisoners released at start of the war| Continues with more violence, lose public supportHalts campaign when war breaks out|
Did the violent methods of the Suffragettes help?
* Made female suffrage front page news, brought to the attention of the public and Government. * When the issue had been raised it wouldn’t go away. Sooner or later they’d get the vote. * The idea of women voting became less strange.
* The violence didn’t change Asquith’s opinions, he was already against it.
* Violence played into Government’s hands, gave them an excuse not to give them the vote. * Government at time appeared close to giving vote but couldn’t be seen to be giving in to violence. * Violence turned moderate MPs against female suffrage, why bills for suffrage failed. * Supported the view women were not responsible enough to vote. * In 1913/14 NUWSS was growing in popularity at expense of WSPU, turning away from violence.
How did women contribute to the war effort?
Attitude of campaigners to the outbreak of war:
* WSPU called off campaign and contributed to the war effort. * Emmeline and Cristobel Pankhurst started ‘Right to serve’ campaign demanding bigger roles for women. * Sylvia Pankhurst headed a breakaway pacifist movement opposing the war. * NUWSS – Millicent Fawcett backed the effort and NUWSS helped enrolling women to work in factories. Continued to campaign for suffrage but more low key.
Roles of women during the war:
* Supporting men – run families whilst men away fighting (extra responsibility) * Occupied position in the workforce.
* Worked in expanded armaments factories and other jobs vacated by men. * Vital especially after munitions crisis of 1915 and by 1918 6 million women in employment (mainly munitions). * Suffered poor conditions e.g. ‘canaries’ who worked with dangerous chemicals (sulfur) * Canaries skin went yellow, some were sterilised by chemicals and some got kidney and liver disease. * Women’s land army – 16,000 women joined army to grow food, act as nurses and drivers.
Problems women faced:
* Balancing work and home
* Food problems – rationing and food prices
* Monetary problems – rent strikes, resolved by Rent Restriction Act. * Separation allowances – money paid to wives of servicemen and a pension if he died at war.
Changing social attitudes:
* Motherhood – Mother’s day introduced in 1916 to celebrate importance of women. Raised profile of mothers and encourage growth of birth rate, including recognition of unmarried mothers. * Greater social freedom – utilised extra income and numerous affairs leading to growth of STDs, some councils attempted a curfew to solve problem.
Why women were given the vote in 1918
Problems with the franchise:
* Wartime problems – many men lost the right to vote and registers out of date * Lobbying by Fawcett and NUWSS – petitioned electoral conference held in 1917
Details of the 1918 Representation of the People’s Act
* All women over 30 allowed to vote and become MPs, all men over 21 could vote * There were some concerns over the majority of the electorate being women and young women lacking maturity
Reasons for female suffrage in 1918:
* Changing attitude of politicians – more sympathetic Lloyd George now PM * Contribution to the war effort – war work gave ideal reason for many politicians to end opposition * Limited female suffrage – appeased moderate opponents * Fear of return to suffragette militancy – avoid prospect of locking women up who had helped the war effort
Campaign did not end until 1928 when the age of voting was equalised to 21
Impact of WWI
How were civilians affected by the war?
* Initial voluntary campaign led by Kitchener
* ½ million men joined in first month, 2.5 million by March 1916 * Men kept together in ‘Pals Battalions’
* Liberal Government wouldn’t force people to join up
* In 1914 Britain had a huge empire but army of only 250,000 men * January 1916 Conscription Act passed making all men ages between 18-41 eligible for military service * Those in vital war industries were kept
* People who would not join up – mainly religious or humanitarian reasons e.g. Quakers * Mostly viewed as cowards by general public and referred to as ‘conchies’ * Given white feathers to shame objectors into joining up * Government – set up tribunals to decide if there were genuine reasons not to go to war * Could force them to help war effort in non-combatant roles on front line * Those who refused were imprisoned, if refused orders they were shot.
Threat of shells, bombs and fear of invasion:
* Shelling of coastal towns – December 1914 shelled Scarborough, Whitby and Hartlepool killing 119 people * Zeppelin and Gotha bombing raids – smaller zeppelins started bombing January 1915 – responsible 564 deaths and 1370 injuries. Later larger Gotha airships from May 1917 responsible for 835 deaths and 1990 injuries. First time UK vulnerable to foreign air attack. * Preparation for invasion – shelling of costal ports lead to plans issued in event of invasion.
Organising Britain for war:
* Defence of the Realm Act (DORA) – August 1914
* DORA gave government powers over nearly all areas of life including seizing businesses, land and controlling the spread of information * Control of industry – mining industry taken over by government, improved wages of workers. * Lloyd George headed new Ministry of Munitions created after shell crisis of May 1915. * Introduced modern techniques and dramatically improved efficiency – controlled over 20,000 factories. * Took over shipbuilding, mines and train networks.
* Brought in drinking laws, controlled pubs (watered down beer) and controlled football fixtures. * Railways – needed to move troops around to ports to send them to France. Guaranteed the companies the same profit levels as 1913. Same thing happened with mines.
Controlling food production:
* Threat to food imports – UK relied on foreign imports of food and with the unrestricted German U boat campaign from 1916 faced severe food shortages and by April 1917 had 9 weeks supply left. * Germany wanted to ‘starve Britain to the negotiation table’ * Imported: 80% wheat, 50% milk, 50% fruit and veg, 100% sugar. * Improve supply of food – focus on expanding cultivation by increasing amount of arable land and expand agricultural workforce with Women’s Land Army. * Rich people bought more food than they needed causing prices to rise.
Rationing – Also Ministry of Food of food set up anti-waste campaign and subsidised price of bread. * Voluntary rationing replaced by compulsory scheme in 1918, rationing included meat, sugar and butter. Ended in 1920. * Changes to British lifestyle – Asquith ran war effort as ‘business as usual’. * Lloyd George attacked waste, idleness and drunkenness and introduced restrictions on public entertainment (e.g. banning sports event and public holidays) and the sale and consumption of alcohol – introduced idea of total war effort. * Loss of holidays lead to strikes in 1917 and 1918.
How effective was Government propaganda during the war?
* Tight controls on what journalists on the front line could say. * Censored the wording of the reports.
* No casualty lists until May 1915.
* Ministry of Information censored letters home from soldiers, soldiers felt betrayed that their families believed the lies produced by the newspapers.
Posters, postcards and cartoons:
* Useful visiual impact, 110 were published during the war, 5 million copies issued. * Range of messages – anti-German, anti-waste and morale raising themes, recruitment. * All avoided any explicit description of the war.
* Used postcards to develop themes e.g. ‘Telling the Story’ which showed the progression of a young soldier to his proud parents and family.
Official photographs and paintings:
* Low number of official photographers at the start of the war, 4, compared to Germany’s 50 and France’s 35. * Weren’t allowed to photograph dead bodies.
* Later when Lord Beaverbrook became Minister of Information he gave the photographers more freedom as he wanted to collect a record of the war.
* Used as newsreels.
* Aimed to persuade people to help the war effort by mocking German’s and praising the British effort. * Most famous, The Battle of the Somme, consisted of staged and real footage. * Played to huge audiences and shocked many people with graphic scenes of death.
Why did some women get the vote after the war?
* Lloyd George had replaced Asquith in 1916 and he was more sympathetic to the idea. * Soldiers had lost right to vote by being abroad for a long time, needed more voters. * War work by women destroyed arguments of MPs against votes for women. * Many men were now in favour of women getting the vote after their contribution to the war effort – Britain may have lost the war without their help. * One of the arguments against women getting the vote was that they couldn’t help to defend their country, this argument was now invalid. * Conservative MPs were happy women under 30 wouldn’t get vote as they were worried young working-class women vote Labour. * Liberal and Labour MPs were happy all women over 30 would get the vote. This meant working-class, middle and upper class, so they wouldn’t all vote Conservative. * The Government was afraid that the suffragettes would restart their campaign after the war and didn’t want to imprison those who helped them win the war.
On the other hand:
* Many men, especially those in trade unions, did not welcome women workers in the First World War. They were worried that they would work for lower wages and take their jobs. They were not impressed by the work that women did! * Some women did not support the war effort, for example, Sylvia Pankhurst. She campaigned against the war. Some members of the NUWSS continued to campaign for votes for women. Did the Government really feel it wanted to reward these women? * The women who did much of the really dangerous, hard, and crucial work in the war were young and working class, for example, the munitions workers. And yet they were not given the vote in 1918!
After the war
What was the attitude of the British people at the end of the war towards the Germans and the Paris Peace Conference?
Attitudes towards Germany:
* Impact of wartime propaganda and casualty figures – effect of anti-German propaganda and UK casualties of over 600,000 * Felt Germany should be severely punished as they started the war * Public mood and the 1918 election – Lloyd George and the Conservatives dominated the collation given mandate to ‘hang the Kaiser’ and ‘squeeze Germany
Attitudes towards war in general:
* Influence of war poets – Sassoon etc. changing the image of war * Rise of pacifism – anti-war mood, First World War seen as the ‘the war to end all wars’ * Changing attitudes towards the Peace Treaties – Keynes and other criticisms of peace treaties leads to change in public attitude