Earlier this week we celebrated the birth of Alice Paul, one of the most influential feminists of the 20th century. Born in 1885 to a Quaker in New Jersey, Paul helped her family work on their farm, embedding a strong work ethic that aided her as a suffragette.
In 1907, Paul left for England to study social work. She ended up working closely with the Pankhurst sisters, daughters of the British Suffragette movement and famous for speaking and acting out—breaking windows, throwing rocks and participating in hunger strikes.
Upon her return to the US, she noted how much more successful the movement was in England and pushed to practice their militant actions the American campaign. As a new member of the National American Women’s Suffrage Association, Paul was appointed as head of the Congressional Committee that would work for a federal suffrage amendment. She and two cohorts worked tirelessly to organize a huge parade of women that would march down Pennsylvania Avenue during Woodrow Wilson’s presidential inauguration ceremony. This massive public stunt landed in headlines all over the country, bringing great attention to their cause.
Ultimately, the 19th amendment was passed, thanks to Paul’s fearless dedication. She cited a quote that she and her fellow suffragettes kept in mind throughout their work: “Resistance to tyranny is obedience to God.”
Cover image courtesy of YouTube.