Alice Paul


Alice Paul Essay, Research Paper

Alice Paul was born on January 11,1885,

in Moorestown, New Jersey. Her father, who

died when Alice was sixteen, was a businessman,

banker, and property owner. The Pauls lived in the

small Quaker community of Moorestown. One of

the beliefs of the Quakers was equality of the sexes.

As a young girl, Alice attended the Quaker suffrage

meetings with her mother.

Alice Pauls’ father left them enough

money so she could attend the exclusive Swarthmore

College in Pennsylvania. She graduated in 1905 as

a biology major, but after discovering politics in her

senior year, she went on to attend the New York

School of Philanthropy. She majored in sociology,

and spent all of her spare time working for the

woman suffrage in New York.

In 1907, Paul earned a master’s degree

in sociolgy. She went to England to continue her

work toward her doctorate degree. She was begin-

ning to realize that she couldn’t change the

situation by social work alone, but needed to

change the actual laws. Women had no voice in

either England or America to change any law.

The suffrage movement was different

in England than in the States. British suffragists

had begun wild women protests in 1905. They

would sneak into male political meetings, and

disrupt the meetings by shouting questions, wave

banners and be arrested.

As Alice Paul became more involved

with the Women’s Social and Political Union, she

was warned of possible imprisonment. This threat

did not prevent her from sneaking into political

events. She was arrested ten times in England,

three of which ended in prison time. While in

prison, she continued to protest the government’s

refusal to let women vote or speak publicly, by

not eating. She was force-fed for four weeks.

She returned to America in 1910, where

she continued her studies and her suffrage work.

She brought back from England with her the same

tactics used to get the attention of the newspapers

and the government. She brought the wild suffragette

movement back to the United States.

She teamed up with Lucy Burns, who

she spent prison time with in England. They went

to the National American Women Suffrage

Association and proposed forming a committee to

lobby congressmen for a national suffrage

ammendment. They were named president and

vice president but were told they would have to

raise their own funds.

They began by organizing a volunteer

network then decided to bid for national attention.

Their first appearance as a committee was a

celebration parade for the inauguration of President

Woodrow Wilson. This would certainly be heard

throughout the nation. In just a few weeks they

had over 8,000 marchers representing states, colleges,

and even some other nations. They included 26 floats

depicting women’s lives and hardships. This was

the first procession of women in our nation for

any cause. This parade caused so much excitement

that it brought the women suffrage movement into

the headlines. By that summer both houses of

congress were discussing women suffrage.

Alice Paul then began publishing a

weekly newspaper, The Suffragist, in November of

1913. In the issues to follow they spoke of injustice

and the laws affecting the interest of women.

In April 1916, the National Women’s

Party was established as a political party. This party

did not endorse any candidate but only woman

suffrage. The Democrats and Republicans were

beginning to realize the women’s votes could

definitely influence the election.

For the first time in American politics,

both parties included support for women in their

campaign platforms. Woodrow Wilson was elected

in spite of his demeaning behavior to women, so,

on January 10, 1917, one day after his inauguration,

Alice Paul and her organization began picketing

the White House and continued for the next

18 months.

On April 6,1917, America went to

war. The picketers began to use the war to

make their points. There were many arrests of the

picketters to follow, the fines were larger and the

prison terms longer and harsher. Alice Paul was

arrested on October 20 and served seven months,

which was the longest term ever served for women

suffrage. The cells were unclean, with rotten food,

parasites, and police brutality. She was put in a

psychiatric ward, where she was questioned and

awakened every hour by inspectors or insane

inmates. But the truth began to reach the public.

Released suffrage prisoners, wearing prison

uniforms, travled on "The Prison Special" and

told of terrible conditions. One week later Paul

was released.

President Wilson began urging members

of the House and Senate to vote for the nineteenth

amendment, but kept losing. Then in October 1918,

he pleaded for woman suffrage as part of the

war effort. The amendment was passed in 1920,

giving women the rights of citizens, including the

right to vote.

She did not stop there. In 1922, she

received her Law degree and in 1928 formed

the World Party for Equal Rights for Women.

Pauls equal rights amendment was "Equality of

rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged

by the United States or by any State on account

of sex."

Living in Switzerland, she encouraged

an Equal Rights Treaty and a World code of Law.

Equality was then written into the United Nations


Paul fought for equal rights the rest of

her life, nationaly and internationally. In1977, at

the age of 93, she died in her childhood town of


Alice Paul was a remarkable, unstop-

pable feminist and social reformer, who paved the

road we now walk.


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