The subject of Unit 6, Lesson 20 in our embedded eCampus textbook is a period of intense political, economic, and social reform: The Progressive Era. One of the signal reforms of the period was the 1920 ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment to the US Constitutionwhich guarantees women the right to vote. Nearly a century later, issues of income inequality, institutional glass-ceilings, sexual violence, affordable day-care, and media-driven body shaming animate today’s feminist discourse.
Oddly, our online textbook does not address the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment. For context, I would like you to read the short segment found in The American Yawp (Chapter 20, Section III, “Women’s Movements,” near midpoint of section) that summarizes the woman suffrage movement known to historians as “first-wave feminism.” The word “suffrage” means the right to vote in political elections. Women involved in the movement were called “suffragists.” You may access this short text through the preceding link or find it in a PDF document available at the link below. The American Yawp text is brief but makes clear the issue of voting rights for women involved not only questions of gender, but race and class as well which speaks to the complexity of historical analysis and interpretation. The text also mentions two women who participated as leaders in the woman-suffrage movement; one of them is Alice Paul.
Who is Alice Paul?
Alice Stokes Paul (b. 1885, d. 1977) was an American suffragist and feminist. Her organizing efforts contributed directly to the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment. In January 1917, Alice Paul and over 1,000 American suffragists began eighteen months of picketing the White House. They endured verbal and physical attacks from spectators, which increased after the US entered World War I. Instead of protecting the women’s right to free speech and peaceful assembly, the police arrested them on the flimsy charge of obstructing traffic.
The American Yawp has this to say about Paul: “Meanwhile, a new, more militant, suffrage organization emerged on the scene. Led by Alice Paul, the National Woman’s Party took to the streets to demand voting rights, organizing marches and protests that mobilized thousands of women. Beginning in January 1917, National Woman’s Party members also began to picket the White House, an action that led to the arrest and imprisonment of over 150 women.”
Paul herself received a prison sentence of seven months. Once in prison, she organized a hunger strike in protest. Doctors threatened to send Paul to an insane asylum and force-fed her, while newspaper accounts of her treatment garnered public sympathy and support for suffrage. By 1918, President Woodrow Wilson announced his support for suffrage. It took two more years for the Senate, House, and the required 36 states to approve the amendment.
What are your thoughts?
Please proceed with the Discussion Board Forum 2 assignment in this way:
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