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01-11   Print  E-mail
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Alice Paul, chief strategist for the militant wing of thesuffrage movement and author of the Equal Rights Amendment, was born on January 11, 1885 in Moorestown, New Jersey. The product of an upper middle-class Quaker family, Paul attended Swarthmore College and earned a doctorate in social work from the University of Pennsylvania.

Alice Paul joined the woman suffrage movement while pursuing graduate studies in England. There, she was schooled in the militant tactics of Emmeline Pankhurst's Women's Social and Political Union. After her return to the United States in 1912, Paul took on leadership of the Congressional Committee of the National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA).

Charged with maintaining NAWSA's presence in Washington, D.C., her first task was organizing a parade and pageant designed to draw attention to the suffrage movement. Timed to coincide with festivities surrounding the inauguration of Woodrow Wilson, the event resulted in a near riot as crowds surrounded and at times engulfed parade participants. Nonetheless, the parade on March 3, 1913 highlighted the suffrage cause at a time when the issue was falling from public consciousness.

In 1913, Alice Paul, Lucy Burns, Crystal Eastman, and others organized the Congressional Union (CU), later known as the National Women's Party (NWP). The group's goal was ratification of a suffrage amendment to the United States Constitution. Until the late 1910s, NAWSA mainly worked on the state level, urging each state to pass legislation permitting women to vote. Sensing the Congressional Union was moving in a more radical direction, NAWSA ousted the CU almost immediately following its formation.

Over the next seven years, Paul and her followers relentlessly pursued a Constitutional Amendment. Their policy of holding the party in power responsible for the Amendment's success contrasted sharply with NAWSA's commitment to political neutrality. In the 1916 election, for example, the National Woman's Party campaigned against Wilson's Democrats in states where women could vote.


 

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