Saturday, June 5, 2010

Sepia Saturday: National Women's Party and Alice Paul

Do you know about Alice Paul?

 Alice was a suffragist and, with Lucy Burns, a co-founder
 in 1916 of the National Women's Party.
The National Women's Party focused on achieving
the right to vote for women via
 a federal constitutional amendment.

They picketed for women's rights in front of the White House
and were especially critical of President Woodrow Wilson.
Their picketing was tolerated initially, but after
the US declaration of war in World War One
(which the NWP opposed),
women picketers were arrested for "obstructing traffic."

They were jailed under frightful conditions at Occoquan Workhouse in Virginia. Many jailed suffragists
went on hunger strikes to protest their treatment.
Some, including Alice Paul and Lucy Burns (pictured below), were force-fed by jail personnel through hoses forced down their throats or tied to iron bars to limit their movement.

The resulting scandal and its effect on the U.S.'s image
at a time when Woodrow Wilson was attempting to create a reputation as an international leader in human rights
was a major influence on Wilson's eventual decision
to publicly urge Congress to pass the 19th Amendment.

After securing for women the right to vote,
the NWP turned its attention to passing laws eliminating gender discrimination.

Though the Equal Rights Amendment authored
 by Alice Paul was never ratified,
it was an ally of the NWP and close friend of Alice Paul
Virginia Congressman Howard W. Smith
(chairman of the House Rules Committee)
who inserted the word "sex" into the list
of protected classes in the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Alice Paul died on July 9, 1977 in New Jersey.
Later that summer, a memorial service was held
at the National Cathedral. The officiant was one of the first
women ordained by the Episcopal Church.
I was in the congregation, paying tribute
to this Mother of Women's Rights.
 For more detailed information
about Alice Paul, click HERE.

For an HBO movie about this struggle,
find a copy of 
Iron Jawed Angels. 

Photo credits: Photos downloaded from the Library of Congress collection.


Tattered and Lost said...

That was a wonderful movie and shared a perspective to the Suffragette movement I hadn't known about. Great you're keeping her memory current.

Nana Jo said...

Thank you for this fascinating photographic reminder of these amazing, courageous women. We owe them much. How wonderful that you were actually able to pay tribute at Alice's Paul's funeral.

John Hayes said...

What a great post--thanks for providing this important history. I tweeted this one!

Vicki Lane said...

Excellent post! Excellent women!

Alan Burnett said...

I agree with everyone else - a great post. As long as Sepia Saturday can help to publicize posts like this about stories like this, it is still doing a good job.

Nancy said...

These are interesting photographs. My daughter and I watched "Iron Jawed Angels" a few years ago. What horrible - worse than horrible but I don't have a word - treatment they received. Thanks for sharing the photos and the history, Meri.