Alice Paul

Lived:January 11, 1885—July 9, 1977 (aged 92)
Party:National Woman's Party
Education:B.A., Swarthmore College
M.A. and Ph.D., University of Pennsylvania
LL.B, LL.M and D.C.L., American University

Alice Paul was one of the main leaders in the U.S. women's suffrage movement.

Paul was born on January 11, 1885, in Mount Laurel, New Jersey, a descendant of William Penn, the Quaker founder of Pennsylvania. Paul’s parents supported gender equality and social reform, and Paul attended women’s suffrage meetings with her mother. Paul graduated from Swarthmore College, a Quaker school co-founded by her grandfather, in 1905 with a bachelor's degree in biology. She received a Master of Arts in 1907 and a doctorate in 1912 from the University of Pennsylvania. Paul later received a law degree (LL.B) in 1922, a master of laws (LL.M) in 1927 and a doctorate in civil law (D.C.L.) in 1928 from American University.

Paul moved to England in 1907 to study social work and became involved with the women's suffrage movement there, joining the militant Women's Social and Political Union and learning tactics such as picketing and hunger strikes. Paul was jailed several times and force-fed during her third imprisonment, permanently damaging her health. While in England, Paul also met fellow American and suffragist Lucy Burns, who would become a close ally.

After returning to the United States, Paul and Burns both joined the National American Woman Suffrage Association. They advocated campaigning for a federal women's suffrage amendment, in opposition to NAWSA's state-by-state strategy. As part of NAWSA's Congressional Committee, they organized the Woman Suffrage Parade held on March 3, 1913, the day before President-elect Woodrow Wilson’s inauguration. Tension between NAWSA leadership and Paul and Burns over strategy and their use of more militant tactics led to their founding of the Congressional Union for Woman Suffrage in 1913 and the National Women's Party in 1916.

In January 1917, Paul and the NWP organized the Silent Sentinels campaign, which picketed the White House six days a week from January 10, 1917, to June 4, 1919. Seen as unpatriotic by many after the start of World War I, the picketers endured verbal and physical attacks from spectators and many were arrested on charges of obstructing traffic, including Paul. She was sentenced to jail for seven months, where she began a hunger strike. The brutal beatings experienced by Paul and other jailed suffragists on November 14, 1917, which became known as the Night of Terror, helped sway public opinion in favor of women's suffrage.

After 1920, Paul continued as a leader in the National Women's Party, fighting for the passage of the Equal Rights Amendment and for women's rights around the world. In 1938 she founded the World Woman’s Party, which worked with the League of Nations to include gender equality in the United Nations Charter and establish the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women. Paul also played a major role in adding a sexual discrimination clause to Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

Paul died on July 9, 1977.