The Jersey Girl Who Played a Real Hunger Game and Won The 19th Amendment

Proud to Be a New Jersey Girl of 19th Amendment History Celebrated Every August 26th. Alice Paul still lives on in New Jersey with the Alice Paul Institute in Mt Laurel, NJ

August 26th is now celebrated as Women's Equality Day in the
United States.  Few today realize that it took 75 years for women to gain the right to vote on August 26, 1920.  Passing the 19th Amendment had become a battle of brave endurance against physical torture executed by its own keepers of American Justice.  The physical infliction these women endured made President Wilson reverse his position and announced his support for a suffrage amendment, calling it a "war measure."  

The key suffragette leader in the fight for the 19th Amendment was a fashionable, and wealthy young women from Mt Laurel, New Jersey named Alice Paul.  In 1916 Paul became one of the founders of the National Woman's Party (NWP). They also called themselves the "Silent Sentinels".  They stood in silence outside the White House holding banners inscribed with confrontational phrases directed toward President Wilson. The president took these silent protests in good humor, tipping his hat to them as he passed by.  However, his tolerance soon ended when the United States entered World War I in 1917. This did not stop the suffragists “Silent Sentinels” who dared to picket a wartime president, use the war in their written remarks and phrases such as calling the President "Kaiser Wilson." Many saw the suffragists' wartime protests as unpatriotic, and the sentinels, including Alice Paul, were attacked by angry mobs. The picketers were arrested on a trumped up charge of "obstructing traffic’. They were jailed and refused to pay their imposed fine.

Alice Paul was taken to Occoquan Workhouse, a prison in Virginia. Paul demanded that she and her group of suffragists be treated as political prisoners. They staged hunger strikes. Their demands were met with brutality. They were beaten, thrown into cold, unsanitary, and rat-infested cells. Arrests continued and conditions at the prison worsened. Paul and several other suffragists were tortuously forced fed for staging these hunger strikes.  When these tactics failed to break their leader the prison officials removed Paul to a sanitarium.  They hoped they could win the battle by declaring her insane. But the tide of public opinion was now moving in Paul’s favor when news of the prison conditions and hunger strikes were made public.  The press, some politicians, and the public began demanding the women's release.  Overwhelming sympathy for the prisoners brought many to support the
cause of women's suffrage and they all were released from prison.

In 1919, both the House and Senate passed the 19th Amendment. However it was a battle for state ratification. Three-fourths of the states were needed to ratify the amendment. In the summer of 1920 the battle for ratification came down to the state of Tennessee. It needed a majority of the state legislature votes for the amendment to become law.  The deciding vote was cast by 24 year-old Harry Burn. He was the youngest member of the Tennessee assembly. Burn was all set to vote "no," but he received a telegram from his mother asking him to support women's suffrage and so he cast the ultimate “Yes” that gave Women the right to vote. 

We are fortunate that Alice Paul’s family home and farm “Paulsdale”
in Mt Laurel, NJ has been preserved and open to the public through the Alice Paul Institute.  The Alice Paul Institute’s position is to develop future generations of leaders and human rights activists, demonstrating the extraordinary difference one person can make.  Please visit their website for further info http://www.alicepaul.org/index.htm

Are you registered to vote?  Be proud of Jersey Girls and watch Iron Jawed
Angels, the 2004 movie starring Hillary Swank.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

The Watcher August 29, 2012 at 10:46 PM
In my opinion there are people who are being defamed with abusive comments who I do not believe ever posted on Patch. I don't think Brendan would have allowed it. You are right Michelle they are abusive comments. People are responsible for their own comments but by the same token Patch is allowing bad behavior by not removing the comments. I have talked to people who are disgusted with some of the postings and have even flagged them, but to no avail. So once again the many suffer for the actions of a few. Maybe Patch will find a way to resolve these issues......let's hope so.
Observer August 29, 2012 at 11:32 PM
There can be a fine line between a response that “nails it” in terms of refuting a position and a personal attack, as interpreted by the recipient. Oh well, you have to be mature about these things. If you dish it out, you have to be willing to take the rebuttal. Certainly, libelous attacks are out of bounds but everyone needs to keep a sense of humor too; after all it’s ONLY Hopatcong Patch! There is a place for censorship; I think foul language is an example. People need to lighten up!
Michele Guttenberger August 30, 2012 at 12:44 AM
Observer - I agree you have to lighten up and have a little humor too. I usually let a moronic comment about me go without reply. Some of them were so stupid that I got a chuckle. You can't have a thin skin and cry foul to every biting remark someone dishes out on Patch. I usually let it rest and get them later with a real I gotcha moment. But with my jokes I try not to give a specific name to them. Keep it generic. Where would we be without humor especially when things are gloomy. Sometimes we take Political Correctness a bit too far too.
Tammy August 30, 2012 at 01:21 AM
You are able to comment about the Board of Ed article now.
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