Emily Davison (1872-1913): The Militant Suffragette Leader

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Emily Davison

A Portrait of Emily Davison c.1912

Emily Wilding Davison was an English suffragette, famous for her fatal dedication to earning women’s voting rights in Britain. In this article, the Zero Theft Movement will chronicle how Davison completely gave her life to her mission.

Historically speaking, women laborers have received even less wages than their often poorly paid male counterparts. For the same duties, the same hours, and so on. Between 1950 and 1960, women with full-time jobs earned about 59-64 cents for every dollar men made for the exact same job. The current economic foul play could be taking money out of the average American’s pocket. Start fighting for what you deserve…

Who was Emily Wilding Davison? 

On 11 October 1872, Emily Davidson was born to a merchant father and housewife, in Southeast London. She showed a great academic aptitude from an early age, eventually earning a scholarship to study literature at the Royal Holloway College when she was 19. But, after her father’s untimely passing in 1893, the family could not afford the £20 term fees. Davison had to cut her formal academic pursuits short and work in the hopes she could save enough to complete her studies. 

By day, Emily Davison worked as a live-in governess; and by night, she studied. To her credit, she remained frugal, enabling her to fund her last term of college. This time, however, Davison attended St. Hugh’s College, Oxford. She achieved first-class honors in her final exams but did not receive a degree because Oxford did not award them to women. In 1908, Davison finally got her long overdue degree from the University of London. 

Emily Davison on her graduation

Emily Davison, on her graduation in 1908

Becoming a Suffragette Leader

The sexism in the academic world angered Emily Davison. Merit alone, she realized, would not give women the opportunities afforded to men. Davison refused to quietly accept these traditions and societal norms that had long prevented many women from pursuing their dreams. Thus, in 1903, she joined the Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU),the famous organization led by the militant matriarch Emmeline Pankhurst.  

Davison quickly rose up the ranks of the union, soon taking charge as one of its leaders. She even quit her teaching job in order to commit full-time to winning women’s suffrage (a.k.a “The Cause”). Few could match her dedication. Not just in the time she spent advocating for women’s suffrage, but also the extent she was willing to go to in order to see the WSPU’s mission through.

The Manchester Strangeways Prison Incident

Leading up to the infamous Strangeways Prison incident, Davison had already been incarcerated twice in a single year (1909). She served two months each time—once for trying to enter a room where the Chancellor was delivering a speech, and the other for causing property damage by throwing rocks. Davison, as well as her fellow suffragettes, employed the hunger strike, starving themselves close to the point of death as a way to force officials to release them earlier.


Hunger strikes first emerged as early as 700 to 450 BC, in India. Nevertheless, protesting by fasting did not return to prominence until the suffragettes came along in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. They utilized the hunger strike even before Mahatma Gandhi first fasted.

For her third stint behind bars, Davison ended up in the Manchester Strangeways Prison. She again resorted to a hunger strike as an attempt to earn an early release. The authorities, however, refused to surrender and began to implement force-feeding. What followed was an intense back and forth between the two sides. 

Davison blocked off her cell with the furniture she had. Her prison officer then flooded her cell with frigid water. Neither side were willing to give in, even as the chilly water continued to rise. She was willing to die for “The Cause.” That day, she came very close to drowning but was saved.  Incarcerated in HM Prison Holloway

Incarcerated in HM Prison Holloway, a suffragette on hunger strike gets force-fed with a nasal tube c.1911. 

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Holloway Prison Turning Point

The Strangeways Prison incident brought much attention to the women’s suffrage movement, inciting public uproar at the treatment of Emily Davison. Rather than reconsidering her extreme measures, she became even more fearless of death. 

In 1912, the authorities jailed Davison again. This time for starting fires in post boxes. As expected, she fasted in protest and the Holloway prison guards tried to force-feed her. Somehow escaping her cell, she threw herself off a balcony fully intending to end her life. She claimed

“I did it deliberately and with all my power because I felt that by nothing but the sacrifice of human life would the nation be brought to realise the horrible torture our women face! If I had succeeded I am sure that forcible feeding could not in all conscience have been restored to again.”  

Davison’s actions forced the authorities to recognize that the suffragettes were truly willing to die for their cause. They could not resort to force-feeding any longer, especially with the profound reputational damages it incurred. Thus, the government enacted the Prisoners’ Temporary Discharge for Health Act (a.k.a the ‘Cat and Mouse’ Act). The legislation allowed the temporary release of prisoners who were near death due to a hunger strike, only for them to be arrested again post-recovery. 

The Epsom Derby and Emily Davison’s Death

Growing more and more reckless, Emily Davison knew one of her extreme protests would lead to her death. She didn’t necessarily desire to be a martyr; nevertheless, if she ended up dying fighting for “The Cause,” she only hoped that it would be in public for all to see. 

On June 4th 1913, the prestigious Epsom Derby took place. Countless people flocked to the event, even royalty. King George V had entered his horse, Anmer, into the race. The starting gun went off, and the horses bursted out of the gates. Davison made her way through the throng all the way to the protective rail. When she caught sight of Anmer, blazing fast in the royal colors, Davison ducked under the rail, stood in the horse’s path, and held the suffragette flag close. Horse and woman collided, seemingly witnessed by the whole of Britain.

Medics rushed her to the hospital, where she would die four days later due to fatal internal injuries. Thousands mourned her at the WSPU-organized funeral.Front page of the Daily Sketch June 9th 1913

Frontpage of the Daily Sketch, June 9th, 1913.

One possible reason for this phenomenon is due to low capital gains tax rates. 

While someone working for a $500,000 salary must often pay federal, state, and local taxes, an investor who makes $500,000 every year gains pays only 10% to 20% taxes. They can often keep $400k to $450k after taxes. Now imagine that when dealing with millions or even billions. Is the ‘investor class’ paying as much taxes as they arguably should?

A Catalogue of Exploits 

  • Found in an air duct in the House of Commons three times, listening in on parliamentary meetings.
  • Threw metal balls labelled “BOMB” and rocks through windows of private residences.
  • Burned post office boxes.
  • Hurled rocks at the Chancellor’s car that she’d wrapped with banners. The banners had “Rebellion against tyrants is obedience to God” emblazoned on them. 
  • Jumped off a balcony after officers tried to force feed her during one of her hunger strikes in prison.
  • Trampled to death by King George V’s horse

Fight the Rigged Layer of the Economy with the Zero Theft Movement 

To solve an immense, systemic issue, Emily Davison took no half measures, but it wasn’t until 1928 that all women in Britain above the age of 21 could vote.  Even after the massive aid they provided in World War I, British women were again forced back into their traditional role as homemakers. Those who could get employment had their wages suppressed and/or had to pass on all of their wages to their husbands. This continued even after women had secured suffrage.

Similar economic injustices plagued U.S. women, especially during the industrial revolution. Wealthy business owners unethically capitalized on ‘traditional family roles,’ citing it as a major reason for paying women a fraction of men’s salaries (40%-60%). This legal, but immoral sexism allowed the rich to generate major profits on the backs of women they paid poorly. 

To this day such economic rigging still occurs. Crony capitalists continue to hire lobbyists who corrupt congress, creating a rigged layer of our economy. By exposing the crony capitalists and lawmakers who have succumbed to regulatory capture, we can all share in an ethical economy that isn’t ripping us off. Just as the Kuznets curve suggested. 

By fighting, we can experience higher wages across the board, markets that involve genuine competition for our business, and a government that legislates based on our interests rather than moneyed interests. But we need YOUR help.

Perform a Heroic Act Every Day

We can eradicate the rigged layer of the economy through Public’s Total Theft Report. 

Through the Zero Theft Movement’s secure and decentralized platform, each and every one of the citizenry can propose and vote on reports of potential rigged economy theft. These serve as ‘criminal investigations’ that thoroughly explore each case, coming up with names of the perpetrators and how much they have stolen

By covering all economic sectors, we can come up with an accurate sum for the total amount stolen via the rigged economy. This report serves as strong evidence to prove theft is occurring. The more votes we have, the more legitimate and powerful our reports become.  

Not only can we achieve our goals, but also significantly aid other anti-corruption movements such as RepresentUS and Move to Amend.

All it takes is twenty minutes a day for you to review and vote on a report.

Free Education

Only through constant learning can we all wakeup to the economic injustice occurring year after year. That is why we regularly publish educational articles on Zerotheft.net that informs you about all the ways crony capitalists and corrupt officials are ripping you off. You can easily keep yourself protected by reading our content, presented to you in small easily digestible chunks.

Standard Disclaimer

The ZeroTheft Movement does not have any interest in partisan politics/competition or attacking/defending one side. We seek to eradicate theft from the U.S economy. In other words, how the wealthy and powerful rig the system to steal money from us, the everyday citizen. We need to collectively fight against crony capitalism in order for us to all profit from an ethical economy.   

Terms like ‘steal,’ ‘theft,’ and ‘crime’ will frequently appear throughout the article. ZeroTheft will NOT adhere strictly to the legal definitions of these terms (since congress sells out). We have broadly and openly defined terms like ‘steal’ and ‘theft’ to refer to the rigged economy and other debated unethical acts that can cause citizens to lose out on money they deserve to keep.