A leader for women’s rights and famous for promoting a federal constitutional amendment for woman suffrage.
Born to a wealthy Quaker family in a small New Jersey farm. From a young age developed a passion for reading and learning. She went on to study and gain multiple degrees, including a Ph.D. in Sociology and three Law degrees.
What made her a national icon was her activism for women’s right to vote. She became engaged with the cause during a fellowship in England. Despite violent experiences of 7 arrests, 3 imprisonments, and 4-week force-feeding, campaigning for suffrage became her life mission.
Upon her return home, she became a central figure in organizing the 1913 Women March in Washington. In 1917 she stood wearing a white dress and holding a purple and gold banners as part of the “Silent Sentinels” – the first political picket in front of the White House. She was again subject to arrests and forced-feeding.
After the 19th amendment was successfully ratified, giving women the right to vote, she moved her efforts to the international arena: co-founding the World Woman’s Party and lobbying for gender equality to be referenced in the United Nations charter.
She then went back to national politics, drafting the Equal Rights Amendment, which was never ratified.
Paul was considered professionally demanding and personally conservative, including being criticized for elitism and racism within the Suffragist Movement. Among the many biographies of her life, there are no accounts of personal life.
“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”
More Interesting Anecdotes:
- She was an athlete as a child, playing baseball, tennis, and basketball.
- Due to Quakers values, she grew up without hearing any music at her house in her childhood. Only after her father died, was music allowed.
- She cycled alone through France in 1908.
- Since 2019, her birthday January 11th is designated as “Alice Paul Day” in New Jersey.