Alice Paul born January 11, 1885
Feminist, Suffragist and Political Strategist
Women of History
Alice Paul was born on January 11th, 1885 into an “intellectual” (Foner & Garraty, 1991) and religiously disciplined Quaker family in Moorestown, New Jersey. She attributed her unshakable belief that men and women are born equal to her fundamentalist Quaker beliefs.
“When the Quakers were founded…one of their principles was and is equality of the sexes. So I never had any other idea… the principle was always there.” (Alice Paul Institute, 2013)
Alice graduated from Swarthmore College, Swathmore PA. in 1905 and at the age of 22 she moved to England to attend the Quaker training school in Woodbridge, England. It was during this time that Alice came to understand the role of social activism in influencing male politics and drawing attention to the plight of women. It was during the three years that Alice lived in England that she was arrested and imprisoned for the first time. It was here that Alice learned how to use publicity – how to make women’s rights a topic of discussion from political forums to kitchen tables.
Upon her return to America she earned a Ph. D. in sociology and, in 1910, joined the National American Woman Suffrage Association. In 1914 Alice left the NAWSA and co-founded the Congressional Union seeking “federal constitutional amendment for women suffrage” (Foner & Garraty, 1991). Subsequently, in 1916 she founded the National Women’s party.
Alice's determination to gain the equal rights for women meant that she continued to put pressure on the US government through World War I, and she was arrested, beaten and imprisoned because of this. Even jail the politician of the day could not silence Alice Paul for she went on a hunger strike, thereby ensuring that the rights of women remain on the political agenda and in the papers.
In 1943, the ERA was rewritten and dubbed the "Alice Paul Amendment." The new amendment read, "Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex. (Alice Paul Institute, 2013)
Alice Paul continued to work for the National Women’s Party until her health failed in 1972.
“I think if we get freedom for women, then they are probably going to do a lot of things that I wish they wouldn’t do … but it seems to me that isn’t our business to say what they should do with it. It is our business to see that they get it.” Alice Paul. (Foner & Garraty, 1991)
It is important to me that my daughters and granddaughters know the history of our emancipation and that I provide them with strong female role models to follow.
Women and girls around the world continue to struggle to be recognized for more than their sexuality and so the journey that Alice Paul embarked on is not over. We need to remember and keep the struggle alive for all the women and girls around the world who remain chattel - enslaved as sexual objects.
January 11th is also
Human Trafficking Awareness Day
All pictures in this blog are from the Alice Paul Institute
Alice Paul Institute. (2013). Alice Paul Institute. Retrieved from Alice Paul Institute: http://www.alicepaul.org/index.htm
Foner, E., & Garraty, J. (1991). Alice Paul. Retrieved from History.com: http://www.history.com/topics/alice-paul