Alice Paul: Architect of American Suffrage

OV Digital Desk

Image Courtesy: Google Doodle

Alice Paul (11 January 1885 – 9 July 1977 was one of the most prominent activists of the 20th-century women’s rights movement. An outspoken suffragist and feminist, she tirelessly led the charge for women’s suffrage and equal rights in the United States.

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.

Life and Career

She was born on 11 January 1885, in Mount Laurel, New Jersey. Paul was educated at Swarthmore College and the University of Pennsylvania, where she earned a degree in sociology. After graduation, she traveled to England to study the British suffrage movement. Upon her return to the United States, she became involved in the National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA) and worked with its leader, Carrie Chapman Catt.

In 1913, Paul founded the Congressional Union for Woman Suffrage (CU), which later became the National Woman’s Party (NWP). The NWP focused on campaigning for a constitutional amendment to grant women the right to vote and organized large-scale protests and demonstrations. Paul was also instrumental in drafting the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA), which was introduced in Congress in 1923 and remains unratified to this day.

National Freedom Day and its Significance

Paul’s activism was often controversial and she faced opposition and persecution for her efforts. She was arrested multiple times and went on hunger strikes while in prison, leading to force-feeding and other mistreatment. Despite the challenges she faced, Paul’s tireless work for women’s suffrage and equal rights had a lasting impact and she is remembered as a pioneering feminist leader. She died on 9 July 1977 at an age of 92, in Moorestown, New Jersey.

Award and Legacy

Alice Paul received numerous awards and honors for her work as a suffragist and women’s rights activist. In 1969, she was inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame. In 1978, a year after her death, she was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Jimmy Carter.

Paul’s legacy as a suffragist and women’s rights activist is significant. She played a leading role in the campaign for women’s suffrage in the United States and was instrumental in the passage of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which granted women the right to vote. Paul was also a key figure in the development of the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA), which sought to guarantee equal rights for women under the law. Although the ERA has not yet been ratified, Paul’s efforts helped to bring about important legal and cultural changes for women in the United States.

Paul is remembered as a pioneering feminist leader and her work continues to inspire activists and advocates for women’s rights around the world.

On 11 January 2016, Google Doodle celebrated Alice Paul’s 131st Birthday.

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