Perhaps contradictorily, Alice Paul thought nonviolent militancy was
suited to woman's peaceable nature, but she also believed women must be
militant—determined and aggressive—in pursuit of political rights. As
militants, the feminists of the NWP stepped out of their prescribed roles
by fighting their own battles to gain power. This struggle appealed to many
women, including not only an upper-class elite or even middle-class elite
but also working-class and leftist women. The consequences of the women's
demonstrations were arrest and imprisonment, but the women picketers
decided that it was well worth the hardship since it led to the success of
their cause. So much valuable publicity for suffrage was generated by NWP
tactics that, together with NAWSA's continuing massive lobbying efforts,
Woman's Party efforts have to be given a great deal of credit for the eventual congressional passage of the woman suffrage amendment in 1919.
Woman's Party militancy is significant in the history of nonviolent resistance and the feminist rights struggle, not only because it was the first
example of an American use of organized nonviolence, but also because
the Woman's Party campaign worked.
Ida Husted Harper, The Life and Work of Susan B. Anthony (Indianapolis: Bowen and Merrill, 1898), 654, 678, 683, 945.
New York Times, July 12, 1917, 11; Martin to James and E. M. Garrett,
July 9, 1917, Reel 45 of the National Woman's Party Papers on Microfilm
(Wilmington, Del.: Microfilming Corporation of America, 1979), hereafter
NWPP; The Suffragist (the NWP's journal), July 21, 1917, 9; Hazel Hunkins
Hallinan, “A Talk to the Woman's Press Club,” Washington, D.C., August 23,
1977, transcribed by Angela Ward, Bancroft Library Oral History of Suffragists Project, University of California, 5; for full explication of militancy and
its significance, see the author's Iron-Jawed Angels: The Suffrage Militancy of the
National Woman's Party (Lanham, Md.: University Press of America, 1991).
See Judith Stiehm, Non-Violent Power: Active and Passive Resistance in
America (Lexington, Mass.: D.C. Heath, 1972), 60–62, describes how
nonviolent resistance occurs in groups committed to social justice who
have been pushed too far.
Amelia Fry, Interview with Alice Paul, 1972–73, “Woman Suffrage and
the Equal Rights Amendment,” Bancroft Oral History Project, 17–19.
See Ellen DuBois, Feminism and Suffrage (Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1978); Harper, Life and Work, 954; Doris Stevens, Jailed for
Freedom (1920; reprint, New York: Schocken Books, 1976), 8.
Questia, a part of Gale, Cengage Learning. www.questia.com
Book title: Votes for Women:The Struggle for Suffrage Revisited.
Contributors: Jean H. Baker - Editor.
Publisher: Oxford University Press.
Place of publication: New York.
Publication year: 2002.
Page number: 186.
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