Alice Paul
Alice Paul cph.3a38295.jpg
Alice Paul in 1918
Alice Stokes Paul

(1885-01-11)January 11, 1885
DiedJuly 9, 1977(1977-07-09) (aged 92)
Resting placeWestfield Friends Burial Ground, Cinnaminson, New Jersey, U.S.
EducationSwarthmore College (BS)
Woodbrooke Quaker Study Centre
London School of Economics
University of Pennsylvania (MA, PhD)
American University (LLB, LLM, DCL)
Political partyNational Woman's Party
Parent(s)William Mickle Paul I
Tacie Parry

Alice Stokes Paul (January 11, 1885 – July 9, 1977) was an American Quaker, suffragist, feminist, and women's rights activist, and one of the main leaders and strategists of the campaign for the Nineteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which prohibits sex discrimination in the right to vote. Paul initiated, and along with Lucy Burns and others, strategized events such as the Woman Suffrage Procession and the Silent Sentinels, which were part of the successful campaign that resulted in the amendment's passage in 1920.[1]

Paul often suffered police brutality and other physical abuse for her activism, always responding with nonviolence and courage. She was jailed under terrible conditions in 1917 for her participation in a Silent Sentinels protest in front of the White House, as she had been several times during earlier efforts to secure the vote for women in England.

After 1920, Paul spent a half century as leader of the National Woman's Party, which fought for the Equal Rights Amendment, written by Paul and Crystal Eastman, to secure constitutional equality for women. She won a large degree of success with the inclusion of women as a group protected against discrimination by the Civil Rights Act of 1964 alongside legal scholar Pauli Murray.

Early life and education

Alice Stokes Paul was born on January 11, 1885 to William Mickle Paul I (1850–1902) and Tacie Parry Paul (1859–1930) at Paulsdale, Mount Laurel Township, New Jersey.[2][3] She was a namesake for Alice Stokes (1821–1889), her maternal grandmother and the wife of William Parry (1817–1888). Her siblings were Willam Mickle Paul II (1886–1958), Helen Paul Shearer (1889–1971), and Parry Haines Paul (1895–1956). She was a descendant of William Penn, the Quaker founder of Pennsylvania. Her ancestors included participants in the New Jersey Committee of Correspondence in the Revolutionary era and a state legislative leader in the 19th century. She grew up in the Quaker tradition of public service. Alice Paul first learned about women's suffrage from her mother, a member of the National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA), and would sometimes join her mother in attending suffragist meetings.[4]

Paul and Helen Gardener, ca. 1908–1915
Paul and Helen Gardener, ca. 1908–1915

Paul attended Moorestown Friends School, where she graduated at the top of her class.[5] In 1901, she went to Swarthmore College, an institution co-founded by her grandfather. While attending Swarthmore, Paul served as a member on the Executive Board of Student Government, one experience which may have sparked her eventual excitement for political activism. She graduated from Swarthmore College with a bachelor's degree in biology in 1905.[4]

Partly in order to avoid going into teaching work, Paul completed a fellowship year at a settlement house in New York City after her graduation, living on the Lower East Side at the Rivington Street Settlement House.[6] While working on settlement activities taught her about the need to right injustice in America, Paul soon decided that social work was not the way she was to achieve this goal: "I knew in a very short time I was never going to be a social worker, because I could see that social workers were not doing much good in the world... you couldn't change the situation by social work."[7]

Paul then earned a Master of Arts from the University of Pennsylvania in 1907, after completing coursework in political science, sociology and economics.[4][8] She continued her studies at the Woodbrooke Quaker Study Centre in Birmingham, England, and took economics classes from the University of Birmingham, while continuing to earn money doing social work. She first heard Christabel Pankhurst speak at Birmingham. When she later moved to London to study sociology and economics at the London School of Economics, she joined the militant suffrage group the Women's Social and Political Union (WSPU) led by Christabel and her mother, Emmeline Pankhurst. Paul was arrested repeatedly during suffrage demonstrations and served three jail terms. After returning from England in 1910, she continued her studies at the University of Pennsylvania, earning a Ph.D. in sociology. Her dissertation was entitled "The Legal Position of Women in Pennsylvania"; it discussed the history of the women's movement in Pennsylvania and the rest of the U.S., and urged woman suffrage as the key issue of the day.[9]

After the 19th Amendment was ratified, Paul enrolled at two law schools, taking day and evening classes to finish more quickly.[10] Paul later received her law degree (LL.B) from the Washington College of Law at American University in 1922.[11] In 1927, she earned a master of laws degree, and in 1928, a doctorate in civil law from American University.[12]



Early work in British woman suffrage

Alice Paul in 1915
Alice Paul in 1915

In 1907, after completing her master's degree at the University of Pennsylvania, Paul moved to England, where she eventually became deeply involved with the British women's suffrage movement, regularly participating in demonstrations and marches of the Women's Social and Political Union (WSPU). After a "conversion experience" seeing Christabel Pankhurst speak at the University of Birmingham, Paul became enamored of the movement. She first became involved by selling a Suffragist magazine on street corners. This was a particularly difficult task considering the animosity towards the Suffragists and opened her eyes to the abuse that women involved in the movement faced.[8] These experiences, combined with the teachings of Professor Beatrice Webb, convinced Paul that social work and charity could not bring about the needed social changes in society: this could only be accomplished through equal legal status for women.[8]

While in London, Paul also met Lucy Burns, a fellow American activist, whilst arrested in a British police station,[13] who would become an important ally for the duration of the suffrage fight, first in England, then in the United States. The two women quickly gained the trust of prominent WSPU members and began organizing events and campaign offices. When Emmeline Pankhurst attempted to spread the movement to Scotland, Paul and Burns accompanied her as assistants.[8]

Paul quickly gained the trust of fellow WSPU members through both her talent with visual rhetoric and her willingness to put herself in physical danger in order to increase the visibility of the suffrage movement. While at the WSPU's headquarters in Edinburgh, Paul and local suffragists made plans to protest a speech by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Sir Edward Grey. For a week prior, they spoke with people on the streets to promote knowledge about why they were protesting against the Cabinet member. At the meeting, after Grey discussed proposed legislation he claimed would lead to prosperity, Paul stood up and exclaimed: “Well, these are very wonderful ideals, but couldn't you extend them to women?”[8] Police responded by dragging her out of the meeting and through the streets to the police station where she was arrested. As planned, this act was viewed by many as a public silencing of legitimate protest and resulted in an increase of press coverage and public sympathy.[8]

Later events involved even more risk of bodily harm. Before a political meeting at St. Andrew's Hall in Glasgow in August 1909, Paul camped out on the roof of the hall so that she could address the crowd below. When she was forced by police to descend, crowds cheered her effort. Later, when Paul, Burns, and fellow suffragettes attempted to enter the event, they were beaten by police as sympathetic bystanders attempted to protect them. After Paul and her fellow protesters were taken into custody, crowds gathered outside the police station demanding the women's release.[8][14]

On November 9, 1909, in honor of Lord Mayor's Day, the Lord Mayor of London hosted a banquet for cabinet ministers in the city's Guild Hall. Paul planned the WSPU's response; she and Amelia Brown disguised themselves as cleaning women and entered into the building with the normal staff at 9:00 am. Once in the building, the women hid until the event started that evening. It was then that they came out of hiding and "took their stand". When Prime Minister H. H. Asquith stood to speak, Brown threw her shoe through a pane of stained glass and both women yelled "Votes for women!" Following this event, both women were arrested and sentenced to one month hard labor after refusing to pay fines and damages.[8] She was imprisoned at Holloway Prison in London.[15]

Civil disobedience and hunger strikes

While associated with the Women's Social and Political Union, Paul was arrested seven times and imprisoned three times.[16] It was during her time in prison that she learned the tactics of civil disobedience from Emmeline Pankhurst. Chief among these tactics was demanding to be treated as a political prisoner upon arrest. This not only sent a message about the legitimacy of the suffragists to the public but also had the potential to provide tangible benefits. In many European countries, including England, political prisoners were given a special status: "[T]hey were not searched upon arrest, not housed with the rest of the prisoner population, not required to wear prison garb, and not force-fed if they engaged in hunger strikes."[8] Though arrested suffragettes often were not afforded the status of political prisoners, this form of civil disobedience provided a lot of press for the WSPU. For example, during a London arrest (after being denied political prisoner status), Paul refused to put on prisoner's clothing. After the prison matrons were unable to forcibly undress her, they requested assistance from male guards. This shockingly improper act provided extensive press coverage for the suffrage movement.[8]

Another popular civil disobedience tactic used by the Suffragettes was hunger striking. The first WSPU related hunger strike was conducted by sculptor Marion Wallace Dunlop in June 1909. By that fall it was being widely used by WSPU members because of its effectiveness in publicizing their mistreatment and gaining quick release from prison wardens. Refusing food worked in securing an early release for Paul during her first two arrests. However, during her third prison stint, the warden ordered twice daily force-feeding to keep Paul strong enough to finish out her month-long sentence.[8]

Though the prisons staunchly maintained that the force-feeding of prisoners was for their own benefit, Paul and other women described the process as torturous. At the end of her month in prison, Paul had developed severe gastritis. She was carried out of prison and immediately tended to by a doctor. However, after this event, her health was permanently scarred; she often developed colds and flu which would sometimes require hospitalization.[8][17]

Paul had been given a Hunger Strike Medal 'for Valour' by WSPU.

United States

After the ordeal of her final London imprisonment, Paul returned to the United States in January 1910 to continue her recovery and to develop a plan for suffrage work back home.[16] Paul's experiences in England were well-publicized, and the American news media quickly began following her actions upon her return home. She drew upon the teachings of Woodbrooke and her religion and quickly decided that she wanted to embrace a single goal as a testimony. The single goal she chose was the recognition of women as equal citizens.

Paul re-enrolled at the University of Pennsylvania, pursuing her Ph.D., while speaking about her experiences in the British suffrage movement to Quaker audiences and starting to work towards United States suffrage on the local level. After completing her dissertation, a comprehensive overview of the history of the legal status of United States women, she began participating in National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA) rallies, and in April 1910 was asked to speak at NAWSA's annual convention. After this major opportunity, Paul and Burns proposed to NAWSA leadership a campaign to gain a federal amendment guaranteeing the vote for women. This was wholly contrary to NAWSA's state-by-state strategy. Paul and Burns were laughed at by NAWSA leadership; the only exception was Jane Addams, who suggested that the women tone down their plan. As a response, Paul asked to be placed on the organization's Congressional Committee.[17]

1913 Woman Suffrage Procession

Inez Milholland leading the Woman Suffrage Procession on horseback
Inez Milholland leading the Woman Suffrage Procession on horseback

One of Paul's first big projects was initiating and organizing the 1913 Woman Suffrage Procession in Washington the day before President Wilson's inauguration. Paul was determined to put pressure on Wilson, because the President would have the most influence over Congress. She assigned volunteers to contact suffragists around the nation and recruit supporters to march in the parade. In a matter of weeks, Paul succeeded in gathering roughly eight thousand marchers, representing most of the country. However, she had much more trouble gaining institutional support for the protest parade. Paul was insistent that the parade route go along Pennsylvania Avenue before President Wilson. The goal was to send the message that the push for women's suffrage existed before Wilson and would outlast him if need be. This route was originally resisted by DC officials, and according to biographer Christine Lunardini, Paul was the only one who truly believed the parade would take place on that route. Eventually the city ceded the route to NAWSA. However, this was not the end of the parade's troubles. The City Supervisor Sylvester claimed that the women would not be safe marching along the Pennsylvania Avenue route and strongly suggested the group move the parade. Paul responded by demanding Sylvester provide more police; something that was not done. On March 3, 1913, the parade gained a boost in legitimacy as Congress passed a special resolution ordering Sylvester to prohibit all ordinary traffic along the parade route and "prevent any interference" with the suffrage marchers.[17]

Cover to the program for the 1913 Woman Suffrage Procession which Paul organized
Cover to the program for the 1913 Woman Suffrage Procession which Paul organized

On the day of the event, the procession proceeded along Paul's desired route. The event, which was led by notable labor lawyer Inez Milholland dressed in white and riding a horse, was described by the New York Times as "one of the most impressively beautiful spectacles ever staged in this country".[17] Multiple bands, banners, squadrons, chariots, and floats were also displayed in the parade representing all women's lives. One of the most notable sights was the lead banner in the parade which declared, "We Demand an Amendment to the United States Constitution Enfranchising the Women of the Country."[16] Some participating groups and leaders, however, wanted black and white women's organizations and state delegations to be segregated; after much discussion, NAWSA decided black women could march where they wished. Still, Ida B. Wells was asked not to march with the Illinois delegation; ultimately, she joined the Chicago group and continued the march with the state delegation.[18]

Over half a million people came to view the parade, and with insufficient police protection, the situation soon devolved into a near-riot, with onlookers pressing so close to the women that they were unable to proceed. Police largely did nothing to protect the women from rioters. A senator who participated in the march later testified that he personally took the badge numbers of 22 officers who had stood idle, including 2 sergeants. Eventually, the Massachusetts and Pennsylvania national guards stepped in and students from the Maryland Agricultural College provided a human barrier to help the women pass. Some accounts even describe Boy Scouts as stepping in and providing first aid to the injured. The incident mobilized public dialogue about the police response to the women's demonstration, producing greater awareness and sympathy for NAWSA.[8][16][17]

After the parade, the NAWSA's focus was lobbying for a constitutional amendment to secure the right to vote for women. Such an amendment had originally been sought by suffragists Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton who, as leaders of the NWSA, fought for a federal amendment to the constitution securing women's suffrage until the 1890 formation of NAWSA, which campaigned for the vote on a state-by-state basis.

National Woman's Party

Paul's militant methods started to create tension between her and the leaders of NAWSA, who thought she was moving too aggressively in Washington. Eventually, disagreements about strategy and tactics led to a break with NAWSA. Paul formed the Congressional Union for Woman Suffrage and, later, the National Woman's Party (NWP) in 1916.[19]

The NWP began introducing some of the methods used by the suffrage movement in Britain and focused entirely on achieving a constitutional amendment for woman suffrage.[16] Alva Belmont, a multi-millionaire socialite at the time, was the largest donor to Paul's efforts. The NWP was accompanied by press coverage and the publication of the weekly newspaper, The Suffragist.[12]

Silent Sentinels

In the US presidential election of 1916, Paul and the National Woman's Party (NWP) campaigned in western states where women could already vote against the continuing refusal of President Woodrow Wilson and other incumbent Democrats to actively support the Suffrage Amendment. Paul went to Mabel Vernon to help her organize a picketing campaign.[20] In January 1917, the NWP staged the first political protest and picketing at the White House. Picketing had been legalized by the 1914 Clayton Antitrust Act, so the women were not doing anything illegal.[10] The pickets, participating in a nonviolent civil disobedience campaign known as the "Silent Sentinels", dressed in white, silent and with 2,000 taking part over two years, maintained a presence six days a week, holding banners demanding the right to vote.[21] Paul knew the only way they could accomplish their goal was by displaying the President's attitude toward suffrage, so picketing would achieve this in the best manner. Each day Paul would issue "General Orders", selecting women to be in charge and who would speak for the day. She was the "Commandant" and Mabel Vernon was the "Officer of the Day". In order to get volunteers for the pickets, Paul created state days, such as Pennsylvania Day, Maryland Day, and Virginia Day, and she created special days for professional women, such as doctors, nurses, and lawyers.[10]

After the United States entered World War I in April 1917, many people viewed the picketing Silent Sentinels as disloyal. Paul made sure the picketing would continue. In June 1917, picketers were arrested on charges of "obstructing traffic". Over the next six months, many, including Paul, were convicted and incarcerated at the Occoquan Workhouse in Virginia (which later became the Lorton Correctional Complex) and the District of Columbia Jail.[12]

When the public heard the news of the first arrests, some were surprised that leading suffragists and very well-connected women were going to prison for peacefully protesting. President Wilson received bad publicity from this event, and was livid with the position he was forced into. He quickly pardoned the first women arrested on July 19, two days after they had been sentenced, but reporting on the arrests and abuses continued. The Boston Journal, for example, stated, "The little band representing the NWP has been abused and bruised by government clerks, soldiers and sailors until its efforts to attract the President's attention has sunk into the conscience of the whole nation."[16]

Suffragists continued picketing outside the White House after the Wilson pardon, and throughout World War I. Their banners contained such slogans as "Mr. President, How Long Must Women Wait For Liberty?"[22] and "We Shall Fight for the Things Which We Have Always Held Nearest Our Hearts—For Democracy, For The Right of Those Who Submit To Authority To Have A Voice in Their Own Governments." With the hope of embarrassing Wilson, some of the banners contained his quotes.[23] Wilson ignored these women, but his daughter Margaret waved in acknowledgement. Although the suffragists protested peacefully, their protests were sometimes violently opposed. While protesting, young men would harass and beat the women, with the police never intervening on behalf of the protesters. Police would even arrest other men who tried to help the women who were getting beaten. Even though they were protesting during wartime, they maintained public support by agitating peacefully. Throughout this time, more protesters were arrested and sent to Occoquan or the District Jail. Pardons were no longer offered.[16]

Prison, hunger strikes, passage of 19th Amendment

Alice Paul toasting (with grape juice) passage of the Nineteenth Amendment. August 26, 1920[24]
Alice Paul toasting (with grape juice) passage of the Nineteenth Amendment. August 26, 1920[24]

In solidarity with other activists in her organization, Paul purposefully strove to receive the seven-month jail sentence that started on October 20, 1917. She began serving her time in the District Jail.[25]

Whether sent to Occoquan or the District Jail, the women were given no special treatment as political prisoners and had to live in harsh conditions with poor sanitation, infested food, and dreadful facilities.[16] In protest of the conditions at the District Jail, Paul began a hunger strike.[26] This led to her being moved to the prison's psychiatric ward and being force-fed raw eggs through a feeding tube. "Seems almost unthinkable now, doesn't it?" Paul told an interviewer from American Heritage when asked about the forced feeding. "It was shocking that a government of men could look with such extreme contempt on a movement that was asking nothing except such a simple little thing as the right to vote."[27]

On November 14, 1917, the suffragists who were imprisoned at Occoquan endured brutality allegedly endorsed by prison authorities[21] which became known as the "Night of Terror". The National Woman's Party (NWP) went to court to protest the treatment of the women such as Lucy Burns, Dora Lewis and Alice Cosu, her cellmate in Occoquan Prison, who suffered a heart attack at seeing Dora's condition.[21] The women were later moved to the District Jail where Paul languished. Despite the brutality that she experienced and witnessed, Paul remained undaunted, and on November 27 and 28 all the suffragists were released from prison.[19] Within two months Wilson announced there would be a bill on women's right to vote.[21]


After Suffrage, the National Women's Party (NWP) continued to lobby in Congress and abroad advocating for legal equality for women. Alice Paul and NWP members successfully lobbied to include equality provisions into the United Nation's charter, such as the phrase "the equal rights of men and women and of nations large and small." NWP is credited with drafting over 300 pieces of legislation which became law.[10] Paul remained in leadership positions, officially and unofficially until she moved to Connecticut in 1974.

Equal Rights Amendment

In January 2019, the House and Senate introduced resolutions to remove the deadline for ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment, which was added in 1972 and which Paul accurately predicted would compromise the ERA's chances for success.
In January 2019, the House and Senate introduced resolutions to remove the deadline for ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment, which was added in 1972 and which Paul accurately predicted would compromise the ERA's chances for success.

Once suffrage was achieved in 1920, Paul and some members of the National Woman's Party shifted attention to constitutional guarantees of equality through the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA), which was written by Paul and Crystal Eastman.[28] Drafted and delivered to Congress in 1923, the original text of the Equal Rights Amendment—which Paul and the National Woman's Party dubbed the "Lucretia Mott Amendment" in honor of this antislavery and suffrage activist of an earlier generation[29]—read, "Men and women shall have equal rights throughout the United States and every place subject to its jurisdiction."[30] In 1943, the amendment was renamed the "Alice Paul Amendment". Its wording was changed to the version that still exists today: "Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex."[31] For Paul, the ERA had the same appeal as suffrage in that it was a constitutional amendment and a single-issue campaign that she believed could and should unite women around a common core goal. Paul understood the value of single issue politics for building coalitions and securing success.[32]

Not everyone agreed about next steps or about the ERA, and from the start, the amendment had its detractors. While Paul's activism in the years after suffrage centered on securing legal protections for women's equality in the U.S. and abroad, other activists and some members of the NWP focused on a range of issues from birth control to educating newly enfranchised women voters. Some of Paul's earlier allies in suffrage found the ERA troubling, especially since they believed it would erode protective legislation—laws about working conditions or maximum hours that protected women in the workplace. If the ERA guaranteed equality, opponents argued, protective legislation for women would be null and void. The rival League of Women Voters (LWV), which championed workplace legislation for women, opposed the Equal Rights Amendment. Paul and her cohorts, including a small group from the NWP, thought that sex-based workplace legislation restricted women's ability to compete for jobs with men and earn good wages.[33] In fact, Paul believed that protective legislation hurt women wage earners because some employers simply fired them rather than implement protections on working conditions that safeguarded women. Women were paid less than men, lost jobs that required them to work late nights—often a prohibition under protective legislation—and they had long been blocked from joining labor unions on par with men. She also believed that women should be treated under the law the same way men were and not as a class that required protection. To Paul, such protections were merely "legalized inequality," a position shared by suffragist Harriot Stanton Blatch.[34] To Paul, the ERA was the most efficient way to ensure legal equality.[35] Paul expected women workers to rally behind the ERA; some did, many did not. While early on there was hope among NWP members that they could craft a bill that would promote equality while also guaranteeing labor protection for women, to Paul, that was a contradiction. What's more, she was surprised when Florence Kelley, Ethel Smith, Jane Addams and other suffragists parted with her and aligned with protective legislation.[36]

While Paul continued to work with the NWP, and even served as president again in the 1940s, she remained steadfastly committed to women's equality as her singular mission. Along with the ERA, Paul worked on behalf of similar efforts in state legislation and in international contexts. She helped ensure that the United Nations proclamations include equality for women and hoped that this would encourage the United States to follow suit.[37] Paul worked to change laws that altered a woman's citizenship based on that of her husband. In the U.S., women who married men from foreign countries lost their U.S. citizenship and were considered by the U.S. to be citizens of whatever country their husbands were from. To Paul, this was a violation of equal rights, and as such, she worked on behalf of the international Equal Nationality Treaty in 1933 and in the U.S. for the successful passage of the Equal Nationality Act in 1934, which let women retain their citizenship upon marriage.[38] Just after the founding of the United Nations in 1945, Paul wanted to ensure that women's equality was a part of the organization's charter[39][40] and that its Commission on Human Rights included a focus on women's equality in its Universal Declaration of Human Rights. She prevailed: the final version of the Declaration in 1948 opened with a reference to "equal rights of men and women".[41]

The ERA was introduced in Congress in 1923 and had various peaks and valleys of support in the years that followed, as Paul continued to push for its passage. There were favorable committee reports in Congress in the late 1930s, and with more women working in men's jobs during the war, public support for the ERA also increased. In 1946, the ERA passed by three votes in the Senate, not the majority needed for it to advance. Four years later, it would garner the Senate votes but fail in the House, thereby halting it from moving forward.[42]

Paul was encouraged when women's movement activism gained steam in the 1960s and 1970s, which she hoped would spell victory for the ERA. When the bill finally passed Congress in 1972, Paul was unhappy about the changes in the wording of the ERA that now included time limits for securing its passage.[43] Advocates argued that this compromise—the newly added seven-year deadline for ratification in the states—enabled the ERA's passage in Congress, but Paul correctly predicted that the inclusion of a time limit would ensure its defeat. In addition, this version put enforcement power in the hands of the federal government only; Paul's original and 1943 reworded version required both states and the federal government to oversee its provisions. Paul's version was strategic: politicians who believed in states' rights, including many Southern states,[44] were more likely to support an ERA that gave states some enforcement authority than a version that did not.[34] Paul was proved correct: while the ERA did receive a three-year extension from Congress, it remained three states short of those needed for ratification.[45]

States continued to attempt to ratify the ERA long after the deadline passed, including Nevada in 2017[46] and Illinois in 2018.[47] In 2017 and again in 2019, the Senate and House introduced resolutions to remove the deadline from the ERA.[48][49] These or similar measures, if passed, according to some experts, would make the amendment viable again, although other experts disagree.[50]

1964 Civil Rights Act

Main article: Civil Rights Act of 1964 § Women's rights

Paul played a major role in adding protection for women in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, despite the opposition of liberals who feared it would end protective labor laws for women. The prohibition on sex discrimination was added to the Civil Rights Act by Howard W. Smith, a powerful Virginia Democrat who chaired the House Rules Committee. Smith's amendment was passed by a teller vote of 168 to 133. For twenty years Smith had sponsored the Equal Rights Amendment in the House because he believed in equal rights for women, even though he opposed equal rights for blacks. For decades he had been close to the National Woman's Party and especially to Paul. She and other feminists had worked with Smith since 1945 trying to find a way to include sex as a protected civil rights category.[51]

Personal life and death

Paul had an active social life until she moved to Washington in late 1912. She enjoyed close relationships with women and befriended and occasionally dated men. Paul did not preserve private correspondence for the most part, so few details about her personal life are available. Once Paul devoted herself to winning the vote for women, she placed the suffrage effort first in her life. Nevertheless, Elsie Hill and Dora Kelly Lewis, two women whom she met early in her work for NAWSA, remained close to her all their lives. She knew William Parker, a scholar she met at the University of Pennsylvania, for several years; he may have tendered a marriage proposal in 1917. A more thorough discussion of Paul's familial relations and friendships is found in J.D. Zahniser's biography.[52]

Paul became a vegetarian around the time of the suffrage campaign.[53]

Alice Paul's grave site
Alice Paul's grave site

In 1974, Paul suffered a stroke and was placed in a nursing home under the guardianship of her nephew, who depleted her estate. News of her penniless state reached friends, and Paul was quickly aided by a fund for indigent Quakers.[10] Paul died at the age of 92 on July 9, 1977, at the Greenleaf Extension Home,[54] a Quaker facility in Moorestown, New Jersey, less than a mile from her birthplace and childhood home at Paulsdale.[5] She is buried at Westfield Friends Burial Ground, Cinnaminson, New Jersey, U.S.[55] People frequently leave notes at her tombstone to thank her for her lifelong work on behalf of women's rights.


Alice Paul residence hall at Swarthmore College
Alice Paul residence hall at Swarthmore College

Paul was posthumously inducted into the National Women's Hall of Fame in 1979,[56] and into the New Jersey Hall of Fame in 2010.[57]

Her alma mater, Swarthmore College, named a dormitory Alice Paul Residence Hall in her honor. Montclair State University in New Jersey has also named a dormitory (Alice Paul Hall) in her honor. On April 12, 2016, President Barack Obama designated Sewall-Belmont House as the Belmont–Paul Women's Equality National Monument, named for Alice Paul and Alva Belmont.[58][59][60] The University of Pennsylvania, her doctoral alma mater, maintains the Alice Paul Center for Research on Gender, Sexuality, and Women.[61]

Two countries have honored her by issuing a postage stamp: Great Britain in 1981[62] and the United States in 1995. The U.S. stamp was the $0.78 Great Americans series stamp.[63]

Paul appeared on a United States half-ounce $10 gold coin in 2012, as part of the First Spouse Gold Coin Series. A provision in the Presidential $1 Coin Program[64] directs that Presidential spouses be honored. As President Chester A. Arthur was a widower, Paul is shown representing "Arthur's era".[65] The U.S. Treasury Department announced in 2016 that an image of Paul will appear on the back of a newly designed $10 bill along with Lucretia Mott, Sojourner Truth, Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and the 1913 Woman Suffrage Procession that Paul initiated and organized. Designs for the new $5, $10, and $20 bills will be unveiled in 2020 in conjunction with the 100th anniversary of American women winning the right to vote via the 19th Amendment.[66]

In 1987, a group of New Jersey women raised the money to purchase Paul's papers when they came up for auction so that an archive could be established. Her papers and memorabilia are now held by the Schlesinger Library at Harvard University,[67] and the Smithsonian Institution in Washington D.C. In 1990, the same group, now the Alice Paul Institute, purchased the brick farmhouse, Paulsdale, in Mount Laurel, New Jersey, where Paul was born. Paulsdale is a National Historic Landmark and is on the New Jersey and National Registers of Historic Places. The Alice Paul Institute keeps her legacy alive with educational exhibits about her life, accomplishments and advocacy for gender equality.[68][4]

Hilary Swank played Paul in the 2004 movie Iron Jawed Angels, which portrayed the 1910 women's suffrage movement for passage of the 19th Amendment.[69] In 2018, Alice Paul was a central character in an episode of Timeless (Season 2, Episode 7[70]) which alludes to Paul giving an impassioned speech to President Woodrow Wilson during a march that ends in police violence upon the suffragist marchers. According to history, Paul was at the event, and was arrested, but there is no evidence that she spoke to Wilson on that day.[71] In 2022, SUFFS, a musical written by Shaina Taub, premiered at the Public Theater with Alice Paul as a main character.[72]

On January 11, 2016, Google Doodle commemorated her 131st birthday.[73]

See also


  1. ^ Baker, Jean H., "Placards At The White House," American Heritage, Winter 2010, Volume 59, Issue 4.
  2. ^ "Alice Paul". National Women's History Museum. Retrieved January 10, 2018.
  3. ^ Kahn, Eve M. "Group Seeks to Buy a Suffragist's Home", The New York Times, July 13, 1989. Accessed July 12, 2008. "The Alice Paul Centennial Foundation plans to buy the house in Mount Laurel, but first the organization must raise $500,000 by Sept. 8.... The 2½-story, stucco-clad brick farmhouse was built in 1840 and once overlooked the Paul family's 173-acre Burlington County farm, east of Camden. Miss Paul was born in an upstairs bedroom in 1885 and lived in the house until she left for Swarthmore College in 1901."
  4. ^ a b c d "Who Was Alice Paul". Alice Paul Institute. Archived from the original on September 9, 2014.
  5. ^ a b "Paul, Alice Stokes". Social Welfare History Project. January 21, 2011.
  6. ^ "Image 3 of Official program woman suffrage procession. Washington, D. C. March 3, 1913". Library of Congress. Retrieved April 21, 2022.
  7. ^ Alice Paul in oral history compiled by Amelia Fry, Online Archive of California, quoted in Adams & Keene (2008), p. 7.
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  64. ^ see Pub.L. 109–145 (text) (PDF), 119 Stat. 2664, enacted December 22, 2005
  65. ^ Alice Paul is explicitly specified in 31 U.S.C. § 5112(o)(3)(D)(i)(II)
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Further reading