Parades, Pickets and Prison: Alice Paul and the Virtues of Unruly Constitutional Citizenship, Journal of Law and Policy 24 (2008): 339-433
Sisterhood of Struggle: Leadership and Strategy in the Campaign for the Nineteenth Amendment, in Feminist Legal History (Tracey A. Thomas & Tracey Jean Boisseau eds., NYU Press, 2011)
In recent years, constitutional scholars interested in "popular constitutionalism" have examined the role of citizens in interpreting and transforming the Constitution. This article analyzes the campaign for the Nineteenth Amendment led by Alice Paul's Congressional Union and National Women's Woman's Party (NWP). To evaluate the impact of Paul's unyielding campaign of wartime picketing and prison protests in convincing President Wilson to endorse the federal amendment and to work on its behalf, the article scrutinizes the relationship between Paul's more militant tactics and the conciliatory posture adopted by her rival Carrie Chapman Catt and the National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA). The article offers an interdisciplinary analysis of Paul's strategy that incorporates the insights of research on American political development, social movements, and presidential leadership, and draws on the archival records of the NWP, presidential papers, and contemporary newspaper coverage.
Inez Milholland Boissevain (Credit: LC)
Paul's more contentious, unruly methods played a decisive role in obtaining the necessary congressional votes in the House and Senate during Wilson's second term. Paul refused to merely to play the role of the insider lobbyist. She instead perfected the an outsider strategy by appealing directly to voters and the public-first through parades, deputations, petitions, and other well-publicized events, and later through much more oppositional activities, such as anti-incumbent campaigns, pickets, and prison protests. Paul had an astute sense of the power of emotional appeals, and it was this feature of her outsider strategy that made the NWP such a formidable force in the suffrage movement. A kind of insider-outsider dynamic-with Catt eventually serving as the more cooperative suffrage leader, and Paul as the unruly, contentious outsider-appears to have been the crucial combination needed to gain Wilson's help in pushing suffrage through Congress in 1918-19. Paul's most controversial tactics-the picketing and protests in 1917-were implemented with such ruthless determination that Wilson and other opponents in Congress began searching for a way to end the standoff. Paul's resort to civil disobedience may have appeared unruly to her political opponents and the public, but it was in reality a tactic, like all of her strategies, chosen and deployed after a careful consideration of its political impact. That Wilson gave Catt and NAWSA all of the public credit for the shift should not obscure the crucial role that Paul's campaign played in creating this pressure. Given this success, Alice Paul deserves more recognition as a leading exemplar of the transformative model of constitutional citizenship.
This chapter examines the role of Alice Paul's leadership in securing passage of the Nineteenth Amendment. Recent scholarship on popular constitutionalism reminds us that constitutional history encompasses more than the work of litigators and judges; it also addresses movements for social and political reforms, including constitutional amendments. To achieve success, reformers must consider opportunities and constraints posed by the broader social and political context, make use of available resources, and devise appropriate tactics. All these strategic choices depend upon effective leaders and organizations. When the twenty-eight-year-old Paul assumed the leadership of the militant suffrage campaign, she sought to establish her place among an older generation of remarkable female reformers and activists: Jane Addams, Ida B. Wells-Barnett, Carrie Chapman Catt, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Florence Kelley, Mary Church Terell, Lillian Wald, among many others. Historians like Anne Firor Scott have called attention to the "extraordinary efflorescence of female leadership" in this era, and a rich literature in women's history has examined these leaders' lives and legacies. Paul's work in the militant suffrage campaign is one of the most notable examples of successful leadership in the "age of reform," and yet her role has never received similarly sustained appraisals.The Rhetoric of Gender Upheaval During the Campaign for the Nineteenth Amendment, Boston University Law Review (2013)
This chapter focuses, in particular, on two important features of her strategy: her use of a passionate politics relying on emotional appeals for recruitment, mobilization, persuasion, and contention; and her commitment to unruly defiance, through the party accountability campaigns and wartime acts of civil disobedience. Rather than simply describe these tactics and their results, this chapter instead draws on recent scholarship examining the role of leadership style and organizational form in social movements-what one scholar has called "strategic capacity"-in order to explore how these strategies were chosen and implemented, and to assess the strengths and weaknesses of Paul's approach.
This essay examines the anti-suffragists' rhetoric of gender upheaval during the final years of the suffrage campaign in order to more precisely identify their concerns and justifications regarding the virtues of traditional gender roles and women's civic membership. When scholars of the history of women's civic status focus on "patriarchy's appeal" to "dominant white male citizens," they miss the prevalence of the women who opposed changes to their own civic status. This essay explores their arguments in two leading anti-suffrage journals, The Remonstrance and The Woman Protest, and considers what their legacy might offer to today's debates regarding the evolution of woman's roles.