Josephine Butler to the New Zealand Press

Scope and Content

General letter. No date but refers to her 26 years of campaign work which began in 1864 so dating the letter to 1895

She is intimately acquainted with the working of the Contagious Diseases Acts both in Europe and in England up to a few years ago. Knows that such laws can only be successfully overthrown by the combined action of men and women. Women in England had always felt that if they were voters they would be much stronger and more able to keep out attempts at the reintroduction of these laws. 'It would be a bitter grief to us...if it could be said throughout that world that the first group of Anglo-Saxon women who possessed the vote had failed to use it in this purifying work'. She hopes therefore 'to hear of an early and serious uprising on their part against this wickedness',

'The women of New Zealand are now in possession of the Parliamentary suffrage'

This was granted then in 1893, the 1st women of the British Empire to have it'

Distribution of this letter to the New Zealand press was made by Mrs. Aldis of Howick, New Zealand.

Administrative / Biographical History

From Mr W Steadman Aldis's letter in 'The Sentinel' written from Howick, New Zealand 9 Aug 1895.

'Just on the very day that Mrs Butler's letter arrived in Auckland, the Liberal Association of Women made us feel sick at heart by actually passing a Resolution in favour of the rigid and universal enforcement of the Contagious Diseases Act, which at present is a dead letter; putting in a futile proviso that it be applied to men as well as women.

'The Sentinel' Oct 1895, p 145.

This was 11 Jun 1895 (RR no 714)

(See list of Acts of dealing with New Zealand and the Contagious Diseases Acts on other page of notes attached to this letter)

That, allowing in time taken by steamship at that period as about 6 weeks, would make date of writing letter be about 30 Apr.

'How often in the course of our long crusade we in England have wished that we had possessed the suffrage ...'

This is another example of Josephine Butler's views on the importance of women having the vote. The fact that she did not take a public part in the agitation, which was gathering strength at the end of the century, was that she had neither the time nor the strength to do so in addition to her own work.

Entries in RR dealing with New Zealand and the Contagious Diseases Acts

11 Jun 1895 No 714 - 'Auckland women's Liberal League' pass resolution in favour of enforcement of Contagious Diseases Acts'

The Act in question is the 32nd and 33rd Vict No L11 and is contained on pp 175-184 of the official 'Statutes of New Zealand' for the years 1891, 1892, 1893 and 1894 show that this is the law which is still in force and that there is no other law on the same subject. (From Article by Maurice Gregory in the 'Sentinel' Oct 1895 p 143 entitled 'The Approaching Crisis in Australasia Description of the New Zealand Contagious Diseases Act') 29 Jun 1895 No 716 - 'Auckland Women's Political League repudiate resolution of 'Auckland Women's Liberal League'

1895 Jun or Jul No 719 - Repeal Bill passed by New Zealand Lower House but rejected in the Upper House.

(from letter by W Steadman Aldis to the Ed of the Sentinel)

'In New Zealand a Repeal Bill, introduced by Mr Seddon, the Prime Minister, very soon after the publication of Josephine Butler's appeal to the women of New Zealand on this matter, passed through the Lower House without a division, it was however rejected in the Upper House on the motion of Dr Pollen an old colonial medical man.