Alice Paul Organizes National Women's Party
One hundred years ago, women won the right to vote.
In her twenties, Alice Paul learned about the struggle for women’s voting rights while studying in England. Back home in 1910, she joined the American movement. Unlike her peers, Paul took a more radical approach. She organized 5,000 women to parade Pennsylvania Avenue on March 3, 1913, the day before President Wilson’s inauguration. Onlookers attacked them with obscenities and physical violence. The police simply watched but national headlines made suffrage a hot topic.
In 1916, Paul organized the National Women’s Party. They picketed the white house. Their banners mocked Wilson. Jailed for obstructing traffic, they staged hunger strikes. Jailers responded with more brutality, including forced feeding, and declared her insane.
Public support for the prisoners convinced caused Wilson to get behind the suffrage amendment. After it became law in 1920, Alice Paul proposed a further amendment: “equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged on account of sex…” known as the ERA, it was introduced in every congress from 1923 until passage in 1972. Paul worked for ratification until her death in 1977. Today, the ERA has yet to be added to the constitution.
This message is produced by the Kanawha Valley National Organization for Women with funding from the WV Humanities Council.