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.
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