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National Woman's Party


NATIONAL WOMAN'S PARTY. Inspired by her experience with English suffragettes, Alice Paul led a group of women out of the National American Woman Suffrage Association in 1914 to form a new organization, the Congressional Union, renamed the National Woman's Party in 1916. Its purpose was to put pressure on the Democratic Party, which controlled both houses of Congress as well as the White House, to secure the right of women to the suffrage.

Beginning on 14 July 1917 (the anniversary of the fall of the Bastille in France), women began picketing in Washington, D.C., under purple, white, and gold banners using such slogans as "Liberty, Equality, Fraternity" and "Kaiser Wilson, have you forgotten your sympathy with the poor Germans because they were not self-governing? Twenty million American women are not self-governing. Take the beam out of your own eye." Mobs attacked the women and destroyed their banners without interference from the police. Picketing continued through October of that year. Although the demonstrations were peaceful, many women were jailed and drew attention to their campaign through hunger strikes. This period was climaxed by the attempted burning in effigy of President Woodrow Wilson on New Year's Day 1917.

President Wilson finally did give official support to the Nineteenth Amendment, which was the object of the women's campaign, and eventually persuaded the one senator whose vote was needed to pass it (1920). Subsequently the activities of the Woman's Party were oriented toward passage of further legislation to end discrimination against women and toward ratification of enfranchisement by state legislators.


Flexner, Eleanor. Century of Struggle: The Woman's Rights Movement in the United States. Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1975.

Kraditor, Aileen S. The Ideas of the Woman Suffrage Movement, 1890–1920. New York: Norton, 1981.

CarolAndreas/a. g.

See alsoBill of Rights in U.S. Constitution ; Progressive Movement ; Suffrage: Exclusion from the Suffrage, Woman's Suffrage ; Women's Rights Movement .

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