Monumental historical activist and suffragist Alice Paul was born on January 11, 1885, in Mount Laurel. She grew up in a Quaker family, which significantly influenced her decision to study at Swarthmore College, a Pennsylvania school founded by Hicksite Quakers, after completing private school in Moorestown. She graduated from Swarthmore in 1905 with a bachelor’s degree in biology.
From there, Alice Paul continued her graduate studies in New York City and then London, England in 1906. She spent several years in London, where she became politically active. It was here in the United Kingdom where she first joined the women’s suffrage movement; she was arrested multiple times and served time in jail for her role in the movement. Paul would go as far as initiating a hunger strike for the cause she so greatly believed in.
In 1910, Paul returned to the United States and zealously joined the nation’s women’s suffrage movement. She earned a PhD. from the University of Pennsylvania in 1912, intent on fixing other laws that affected women. Alice Paul became a member of the National American Woman Suffrage Association, and even served as the chair of its congressional committee, before leaving to form the Congressional Union for Woman Suffrage with Lucy Burns, a women’s rights advocate and suffragist from New York. The group later renamed itself the National Woman’s Party (NWP) and sought to create change on a federal level.
Members of the NWP, known as the “Silent Sentinels,” became the first group of individuals to picket outside of the White House, in 1917, under the Woodrow Wilson administration. Because of the group’s multiple protests, Paul was arrested twice that same year.
In 1920, women finally received the right to vote with the implementation of the 19th Amendment, but much work still needed to be done; Alice Paul introduced the very first Equal Rights Amendment to Congress in 1923, to bring equal justice under the law to all citizens of the U.S. Years later, she went on to work on a civil rights bill and other issues regarding equal employment practices.
Even in old age, Paul never gave up in the fight for women’s rights. It wasn’t until 1974, when she suffered a stroke, that she ended her active pursuit for the absolute equality of women. Three years later, on July 9, 1977, Paul died in Moorestown at the age of 92. She left behind an extraordinary legacy of dedication, determination and tenacity that has encouraged generations of diligent women to never give up on what they believe in.
- Hero (Top) Feature Image: © Harris & Ewing / Library of Congress (via Wikimedia)
- Additional Images (in Order) Courtesy:
- National Photo Company Collection / Library of Congress (via Wikimedia)