Though few have heard her name, Alice Paul’s courage was the driving force behind women winning the right to vote in the United States.
The seed for women’s suffrage (the right to vote in political elections) was planted early in Alice’s life by her mother, who would often bring her along to her suffrage meetings.
As Alice grew older, so did her belief that women were equal to men, and were entitled to the same rights.
After graduating college, Alice became a leader with women’s suffrage movement.
She moved to Washington and organized parades, protests and demonstrations.
When President Woodrow Wilson took office, she organized protesters to stand in front of the White House with signs like, “President Wilson, let us vote’ and “Wilson is against Women.”
Alice was arrested several times. Charges ranged from obstructing traffic to loitering. She was sent to Occoquan Workhouse, a prison in Virginia. There she was beaten, handcuffed in her cell, kicked, punched and forced to live in rat infested conditions.
Alice staged a hunger strike, in retaliation, she was tied in a strait jacket and force fed raw eggs until she vomited blood. Prison officials moved her to a sanitarium and attempted to have a psychiatrist declare her insane. The psychiatrist was asked if Alice’s behavior showed insanity. His reply, “Courage in women is often mistaken for insanity.”
Alice’s hunger strike and other suffragette horror stories would lead to President Wilson reversing his position and announcing his support of a suffrage amendment.
On August 18, 1920, the Nineteenth Amendment to the Constitution was ratified, and six days later it was certified. On August 26, 1920, after sixty-two years of struggle and sacrifice, for the first time in our country’s history, women received the right to vote.
Alice Paul and her courage to stand up for women everywhere led to women gaining the long overdue right to vote.
Alice fought starvation and torture for the greater good. When you are facing a dilemma to do the right thing, remember Alice Paul. She stood for women all across the United States and for what was right.
By: Jeremy Bader
Courage is a powerful, yet abstract word. The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines it as:
“Mental or moral strength to venture, persevere, and withstand danger, fear, or difficulty.”
while the Oxford dictionary explains it as:
“The ability to do something that frightens one.”
I thought it would be interesting to look at courage as defined by some of history’s fearless heroes...
When he arrived, the men in charge tried to convince him to serve as a commander general. In this position he would remain safe from the harm of musket balls. Joseph Warren refused. He was a doctor, not a general. Despite his friend’s pleas, he insisted that a more experienced soldier be placed in charge. He would fight as an ordinary soldier.
...All night long she rode furiously through the countryside, sounding the alarm and rallying the men. A friendly man stopped her and asked if she would like him to accompany her on her dangerous mission. She refused, sending him the opposite direction so that he could help spread the word farther. All in all, Sybil road 40 miles, more than double the amount Paul Revere rode on his famous night ride. She did not weary. She did not give up...