Alice Paul Biography (1885-1977)

AlicePauljpg, , and . Born on January 11, 1885, in Moorestown, New Jersey. spent much of her life fighting for women’s rights. Influenced by her Quaker family, she studied at Swarthmore College in 1905, and went on to do graduate work in New York City and England.

While in London from 1906 to 1909, Alice Paul became political active and unafraid to use dramatic tactics in support of a cause. She joined the women’s suffrage movement in Britain and was arrested several times and served time in jail three separate times. While incarcerated, she even went on a hunger strike.

When she returned to the United States in 1910, Alice Paul became involved the American women’s struggle for the right to vote. Driven to change the laws that affect women, she earned a Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania in 1912. At first, Paul was a member of the National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA), and served as the chair of its congressional committee.

Out of frustration with NAWSA’s policies, Alice Paul left to form the more militant Congressional Union for Woman Suffrage with Lucy Burns. The group was later renamed the National Woman’s Party (NWP). It focused on the national level and its members even picketed the White House in 1917 to get its point across—making the NWP the first group to do so. As a part of this action, Paul was jailed in October and November of that year. She chose to go on a hunger strike in protest of her confinement.

After women won the right to vote with the 19th Amendment in 1920, Alice Paul devoted herself to gaining equal rights for women. In 1923, she introduced the first equal rights amendment in Congress. She had meanwhile studied the law and broadened her field to the international arena. Although she did not live to see an equal rights amendment to the U.S. Constitution, she did get an equal rights affirmation in the preamble to the United Nations charter.

Until she was debilitated by a stroke in 1974, Alice Paul continued to fight for the equal rights amendment. She died on July 9, 1977, in Moorestown, New Jersey.

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