The Common Cause was first published on 15th April 1909. Mainly financed by Margaret Ashton, it supported the policies of the National Union of Women's Suffrage Societies and in its first edition it stated that it was "the organ of the women's movement for reform". Helena Swanwick was the newspaper's first editor, at an annual salary of £200. Clementina Black and Maude Royden also had spells as editor.
According to Elizabeth Crawford, the author of The Suffragette Movement (1999), the newspaper "enabled the local societies to keep in touch weekly with both the activities of the executive committee and with each other." It also helped to increase membership from 13,429 in 1909 to 21,571 to 1910. It now had 207 societies and its income had reached £14,000.
In 1913 the National Union of Women Suffrage Societies (NUWSS) had nearly had 100,000 members. Katherine Harley, a senior figure in the NUWSS, suggested holding a Woman's Suffrage Pilgrimage in order to show Parliament how many women wanted the vote. According to Lisa Tickner, the author of The Spectacle of Women (1987) argued: "A pilgrimage refused the thrill attendant on women's militancy, no matter how strongly the militancy was denounced, but it also refused the glamour of an orchestrated spectacle." Members of the NUWSS set off on 18th June, 1913.
During the next six weeks held a series of meetings all over Britain where they sold The Common Cause and other NUWSS literature. The meetings held on the way were nearly all peaceful. However, the women had to endure a great deal of abuse. Harriet Blessley of Portsmouth recalled: "It is difficult to feel a holy pilgrim when one is called a brazen hussy." The campaign was a great success and b y 1914 the NUWSS had over 600 societies and an estimated 100,000 members.
Soon after the 1918 Qualification of Women Actwas passed, that gave women over the age of 30 who were householders, the wives of householders, occupiers of property with an annual rent of £5 or graduates of British universities, the vote, The Common Cause, ceased publication.