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Definition: Paul, Alice from The Columbia Encyclopedia

1885–1977, American feminist, b. Moorestown, N.J. She helped found the Congressional Union for Woman Suffrage (1913), which became the National Woman's party (1917). After the passage of the 19th amendment to the U.S. Constitution, she worked for passage of an equal rights amendment. See also woman suffrage.

Summary Article: PAUL, ALICE (1885–1947)
from Encyclopedia of Constitutional Amendments, Proposed Amendments, and Amending Issues, 1789-2010

Scholars often identify Alice Paul as one of the “new suffragists” (Lunardini 1986, 17). Paul, who never married, earned a PhD in political science from the University of Pennsylvania and law degrees from the Washington College of Law and American University. After taking part in suffragist demonstrations in England—where she met fellow American Lucy Burns, with whom she would subsequently work quite closely—Paul was appointed chair of the Congressional Committee of the National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA) in 1912. Paul subsequently founded the Congressional Union for Woman Suffrage, which became independent in 1914 and firmly opposed the Shafroth-Palmer Amendment (which would have left women's suffrage to be determined by individual state referendums), which NAWSA representatives had initially approved.

Paul was a persistent organizer who sponsored a suffragist parade the day before Woodrow Wilson's inaugurations in 1913 and 1917 and founded the National Woman's Party in 1916. This organization, which was regarded as more radical than the NAWSA, worked to oppose candidates who did not support the Anthony Amendment. It also sponsored a series of pickets in front of the Wilson White House for 18 months beginning in January 1917, the same year that the Congressional Union merged with the National Woman's Party (NWP). Pick-eters, including Paul, were jailed; Paul was forcefed after she declared a hunger strike. Unlike the NAWSA, the NWP refused to support Wilson's war efforts. Still, the combined pressures from the NAWSA and the NWP, along with Wilson's hopes that such a measure would help boost war morale, convinced him to endorse the Anthony Amendment, which became the Nineteenth Amendment in 1920.

Thereafter, the NWP continued its push for women's rights. Initially, it was the only such women's organization to support the Lucretia Mott, or Equal Rights, Amendment. The amendment was written and first proposed by Paul at the 75th anniversary of the Seneca Falls Convention and subsequently was introduced in Congress in December 1923 by Republican Senator Charles Curtis (S.J. 21) and Republican Representative Daniel Anthony, both of Kansas.

Paul crusaded for the League of Nations in the 1920s and 1930s. She was also instrumental in getting recognition of equal gender rights in the preamble to the United Nations Charter (McHenry 1980, 320). Paul opposed the seven-year deadline for ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment, as well as the deletion of concurrent enforcement power in the states (Fry 1986, 21).

See also Equal Rights Amendment; Mott, Lucretia Coffin; Nineteenth Amendment; Seneca Falls Convention; Shafroth-Palmer Amendment.

For Further Reading:
  • Flexnor, Eleanor. 1974. Century of Struggle: The Woman's Rights Movement in the United States. Atheneum New York.
  • Fry, Amelia R. 1986. “Alice Paul and the ERA.” In Rights of Passage: The Past and Future of the ERA, ed. Joan Hoff-Wilson. Indiana University Press Bloomington, IN.
  • Lunardini, Christine A. 1986. From Equal Suffrage to Equal Rights: Alice Paul and the National Woman's Party, 1910-1928. New York University Press New York.
  • Copyright 2010 by ABC-CLIO, LLC

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