William Paul was the President of the Burlington County Trust Company in Moorestown, New Jersey. In 1881, William and Tracie Paul got married and moved to Paulsdale in 1883.  On January 11, 1885, they gave birth to their first-born Alice Paul. She has three siblings, William, Helen, and Parry.  Not only was she raised as a Hicksite Quaker, but also her family brought her up to believing in gender equality and how the society needs work.

After graduating High School in 1901, she went to Swarthmore College, where she earned her Bachelors Degree in Biology. There she was taught by some of the leading female academics of the day, such as Susan Cunningham, who was the first woman to be admitted to the American Mathematics Associate. After graduating in 1905, Alice Paul did graduate work in New York City and England.

When Alice Paul was in England from 1906 to 1909, she transformed from a reserved Quaker girl into a militant suffragist. There she came across Christabel Pankhurst, whom was a speaker for women’s suffrage.  Chaos broke out and Pankhurst was forced off the stage. She believed that the only way to let the public be aware of the suffrage issue is by using visible measure and direct approach. Violent actions such as rock throwing, heckling and window smashing. Alice Paul soon joined their movement and was arrested on several occasions. While they were imprisoned, they protested their confinement with hunger strikes. Paul saw how the English Suffragettes found a path to victory, so she wanted to bring Americans Suffragettes to the same victory.

In 1910, Alice Paul returned to America and immediately joined the National American Women’s Suffrage Association. She was quickly appointed as the head of the Congressional Committee, who is in charge of working for a federal suffrage amendment. In 1912, Paul and her two friends Lucy Burns and Crystal Eastman, headed to Washington DC to organize a publicity event for women’s suffrage, using Pankhurst methods. The parade was on March 3, 1913, the same day as Wilson’s presidential inauguration, women marched up Pennsylvania Avenue. The parade was beautiful, since there were women marching as lawyers, graduates, activists and a Greek toga on a white horse. The beautiful scene quickly turned into chaos, as men were disgusted by the cause and began to physically attack the women. Paul and her suffragettes made it in the headlines across the nation. Even though Alice Paul was glad that the publicity for women’s suffrage spread, the NAWSA did not feel the same way.

Alice Paul

The NAWSA endorsed President Wilson and view them as allies, however Alice Paul sees him as someone preventing them from achieving women’s suffrage. In 1916, she along with Lucy Burns founded the National Women’s Party (NWP). They organized the “Silent Sentinels”, where they stand outside the White House, holding banners quoting President Wilson. It wasn’t problem until the United States entered World War 1 in 1917. The NWP still picket, however many people believed that they were being unpatriotic and going against the president, so they were attacked by angry mobs. The picketers, along with Alice Paul, were arrested on the charge of “Obstructing Traffic” and were to jail when they refuse to impose the fine. When imprisoned, they staged a hunger strike. Their demands were met with brutality as they were being beaten, pushed in the cold, and some were forced fed. When the news of the suffragettes’ treatment and hunger strike was leaked to the public, the press, politicians and some of the public demanded their release. The sympathy for the imprisoned women brought more support to the women’s suffrage movement.

Suffrage Movement Publicity
Women’s Suffrage Movement Publicity

In 1917, President Wilson announced that he support the suffrage movement. And then in 1920, the nineteenth amendment was passed, giving women the right to vote.

After the 19th amendment was passed, many left the NWP thinking it was over. Alice Paul believed that the battle for true equality had yet to be won. In 1923, she introduced the first Equal Rights Amendment to Congress. She then spent the rest of her life working on the civil rights bill and fair employment practices.


Alice Paul died on July 9, 1977.

Alice Paul is a radical change agent because she made an impact in U.S History. When she was in London, she learned the methods and tactics of the suffrage movement and when she saw how successful it as she brought it back to the United States. When she didn’t agree with the actions of the NAWSA, she dropped out and started the NWP. It was due Alice Paul’s organized hunger strike in prison that may have changed President Wilson’s mind of women’s suffrage. it was because of her planning the parade in Washington DC, that quickly turned into chaos, that the publicity of the women’s suffrage grew. If Alice Paul did not bring a change to the tactics that were used in the suffrage movement, women would have to wait who knows how much longer for the right to vote.


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