Letter - Adela Pankhurst to Sallie Walsh
Letter - Adela Pankurst to Sallie Walsh,
National Library of Australia,
Thomas Walsh and Adela Pankhurst Walsh papers, MS 2123, Box 7, File 61Contributors
This letter was written by Adela Pankhurst to her step-daughter Sallie Walsh from Pentridge Prison in Coburg.
By 1917, Pankhurst had started to move away from Vida Goldstein’s Women's Peace Army, and was involved more with the Women’s Peace League associated with the Victorian Socialist Party. A major campaign of the League in late 1917 concerned food prices, which had risen significantly in mid-1917. Agreements with Britain over supply of produce meant that large amounts of food were being stored and shipped while the local market suffered shortages. This led to resentment and a large campaign, of which Pankhurst was a leading member.
Adela Pankhurst was arrested several times during the course of this campaign. The first was on August 15 for obstruction, while addressing a crowd on the steps of Parliament House; on this occasion Pankhurst was fined. A week later these events were repeated. Pankhurst was sentenced to a first imprisonment, but immediately released on bail pending an appeal. Then on August 30, Pankhurst led a march from the Treasury Gardens to Parliament House. The day before such marches had been banned under the War Precautions Act and Pankhurst was arrested along with two other women. This time all three were imprisoned, but Pankhurst appealed again, and was released from custody after serving about a week.
Shortly after her release, Pankhurst defiantly addressed a number of meetings, advocating a more militant approach towards the government, including one at Yarraville on September 20 before striking dock workers. The previous night Pankhurst had led a march of several thousand people from the Yarra Bank into the city. When they arrived, a disturbance broke out. Police attempted to block the march, in response they were pelted with stones. Shop windows were smashed, with a couple of businesses targeted. Based on her later speech at Yarraville, Pankhurst was arrested and convicted once more, on charges of threatening damage to property.
At this time, Pankhurst's appeal against her first conviction failed, and so Pankhurst entered prison for a second time and served a month, being released on 3 November. In October the High Court had quashed Pankhurst’s second conviction, but in November it upheld the third and on December 1 1917, Pankhurst went to jail for the third time, with a sentence of four months in Pentridge.
In the period between her second and third stints in prison, Pankhurst married Tom Walsh, Secretary of the Seaman’s Union. Sallie Walsh was one of the daughters of Tom and his first wife, who had died in 1914.
This letter shows some of the effects that jail had on Pankhurst. Initially optimistic about an early release, Pankhurst grew increasingly despondent during her time in prison. She was eventually released on January 21, 1918, having served just under half of her sentence. This experience possibly shaped Pankhurst's later move away from socialism, in convincing Pankhurst that such militancy could be destructive to families.
My darling little Sallie,
I have knitted Father a pair of socks since I came here – I wonder whether you have done any? I think of you everyday & your photographs are on my table with Father’s so that I can look at you all.
I have for some beautiful flowers which make everything nice & pleasant. I have seen Father nearly everyday. Now, Sallie, I am going to tell you that I have learned what a wonderful thing a door is.
Australia and World War One
Photograph - Send-off to the Brunswick Soldiers
Photograph - Brunswick Town Hall Honour Board
Memorial Plaque - Leonard William Telford
Poster - 'Australia has Promised Britain 50,000 More Men'
Labour Activists of Brunswick and Coburg
Photograph - Frank Anstey
Photograph - John Curtin
Photograph - Frank Hyett
Photograph - Maurice Blackburn
The Trade Unions' Anti-conscription Campaign
Handbill - 'The Blood Vote'
Cartoon - 'The Charge of the Would to God Brigade'
Handbill - Slave Conspiracy
The Women's Movement During the War
Photograph - Vida Goldstein
Photograph - Adela Pankhurst
Handbill - Conscription and Woman's Loyalty
Photograph - 'Women's No Conscription Demonstration'
Bella Lavender - Brunswick Campaigner
Photograph - Bella Lavender
Cartoon - Bella Lavender
Letter - Bella Lavender to Education Department
Photograph - Labor Women's Anti-conscription Committee
Religious Perspectives on Conscription
Handbill - Conscription and Christianity
Handbill - Conscription Questions for Voters
Handbill - How Would Christ Vote?
The Catholic Church and Conscription
Photograph - Daniel Mannix
Article - Cause of the War
Article - Revolt Victims
Cartoon - Australian Workman's Burden
Brunswick and Coburg During the Campaigns
Article - No Anti-conscription Meetings in Brunswick
Handbill - Public Meeting Against Conscription
Advertisement - Recruitment Meeting
Article - Remarkably Quiet Day
The Two Referendums
Handbill - Vote Thus Against Conscription
Article - Military Service Referendum Poll
Article - Conscription. Mr Hughes in Queensland
Article - 'Bourke'
The Soldiers' Votes
Diary - Claude Ewart
Photograph - Jack and Bert Grinton
Handbill - Returned Soldiers' No Conscription League Manifesto
Photograph - Soldiers Voting
Consequences for the Campaigners
Inscription - Police Just Raided
Article - 'Failure to Enrol'
Letter - Adela Pankhurst to Sallie Walsh
Article - 'Serenading Miss Pankhurst'
Story education resources
Education Against the Odds: The Victory over Conscription in WW1 Education Resource
The Against The Odds Education Resource provides a stimulating range of activities for students undertaking the compulsory Victorian History Curriculum Level 9/10 unit Australia at war (1914 – 1945). It helps students reflect on the complexities of the conscription debate through a range of analytical, creative and research tasks.
Education Against the Odds: The Victory over Conscription in WW1 Walking Map
The Against the Odds: The Victory over Conscription in WW1 Walking Map is a map of some of the sites described in the digital story or related to individuals therein. Download the map to use it for a self-guided tour in the area.