Thank The Leaders Of The Suffrage Movement For Your Independence

Published July 4, 2014
Updated December 6, 2017

Carrie Chapman Catt

Carrie Chapman Catt

Source: YouTube

As leader of the National American Women’s Suffrage Association, Carrie Chapman Catt came up with the “Winning Plan,” a campaigning strategy that secured a constitutional amendment granting women the right to vote. She was so confident that the plan would work that she founded the League of Women Voters before the amendment even passed.

Lucy Burns and Alice Paul

Lucy Burns has a dubious distinction; she was the suffragist who spent the most time in prison. More militant than Anthony, Stanton, or Catt, Burns was arrested at demonstrations time and again. In prison, she led hunger strikes and was force fed. Along with Alice Paul, she founded the National Woman’s Party (NWP).

Suffrage Movement Leaders Alice Paul

A suffragist protests the treatment of Alice Paul in prison. Source: LOC

Alice Paul was probably the most educated of women’s suffragists. She earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees, a PhD, as well as three law degrees. She also gained experience in militant suffragist actions while studying in Britain. Back home, she organized the largest women’s suffrage parade in Washington, D.C. in 1913.

Suffrage Movement Parade

Source: Wikipedia

But this didn’t make a dent in the opinions of Congress or president Woodrow Wilson. So, in 1917, Paul joined a group of women that became the first ever to picket the White House.

Over 18 months, they became known as the Silent Sentinels; they wordlessly strode back and forth, holding signs with slogans like, “Mr. President, how long must women wait for liberty?” They were arrested over and over again, and given longer and longer sentences. Paul was also force fed in prison when she attempted a hunger strike. Less than two years later, women were finally granted the right to vote.

Silent Sentinels

The Silent Sentinels picket the White House.

Leslie Maryann Neal
Leslie Maryann Neal is a writer and editor living in Los Angeles. She received her BA in English from California State University, Long Beach.