Leading figure of the Women’s suffrage movement, Alice Paul led several women’s rights protests and demonstrations in order to pave the way for the adoption of the 19th amendment to the US Constitution. Alice Paul was born in Mount Laurel, New Jersey on January 11, 1885, to William Paul and Tacie Parry, both of whom advocated for improvement of women in society and gender equality. From a young age, Paul attended women's suffrage meetings with her mother which further developed her beliefs of gender equality.
Paul attended the Quaker school, Swarthmore College and graduated with a degree in biology in 1905. She continued postgraduate studies at the New York School of Philanthropy in 1907. Afterwards she traveled to England and continued her studies at the University of Birmingham and London, and eventually earned a PhD from the University of Pennsylvania in 1910. Upon Paul’s return to the U.S, she and several from the National American Woman Suffrage Association formed the National Woman’s Party due to their differing opinions.
During Paul’s time in England, she witnessed and joined the women’s suffrage movement, learning several militant tactics. Using what she learned, Paul led several parades, marches, and rallies at the White House, where she and her fellow activists endured both support and backlash from many spectators. Paul’s most significant and influential protest was a year and a half long picketing at the White House on January 1917, where she was arrested by law enforcement for obstructing traffic and was sentenced to 7 months in jail. Paul and several of her fellow activists’ time in jail was filled with constant brutality from the guards. Their demands to be political prisoners and their plans of hunger strikes was met with almost daily beatings of all the suffragists. News coverage began to pick up on Paul’s mistreatment in the jail, gaining sympathy from the public and the support needed toward women’s suffrage. Woodrow Wilson, the president at the time, even openly voiced his support for women’s suffrage. By 1920, the 19th amendment had been finally adopted into the Constitution.
After Paul’s success with the 19th amendment, she continued her efforts by introducing the Equal Rights Amendment to Congress in 1923. After this failed to pass, Paul began reaching out internationally with great success. She was able to gain support from the League of Nations around the 1930s; she became chairman of the Woman’s Research Foundation in 1927; and later founded the World Party for Equal Rights for Women in Geneva which became known as the World Women’s Party in 1938. Alice Paul died on July 9, 1977 in Moorestown, New Jersey. Her courageous actions and determination for gender equality left an impact on society that will forever be felt.