Why Alice & Lucy threatened NAWSA


Why Alice & Lucy threatened NAWSA


Alice Paul & Lucy Burns didn’t rebel against the mainstream suffrage organization. It kicked them out. Natl Am. Woman Suffrage Assoc was an organization of white moderates. Religiously conservative, politically mainstream, proudly respectable. Alice&Lucy threatened all that.🧵

Their accomplishments, media savvy, youth, self-confidence; their single-minded focus on a federal amendment, their fundraising - all of it threatened NAWSA leaders Anna Howard Shaw & Carrie Chapman Catt. But most concerning was their allegiance to the Pankhursts.

Alice spent 2 years apprenticed to the radical wing of the British suffrage movement - itself born of frustration with the dull probity of the UK’s mainstream org. Brooklyn's Lucy Burns was already in the UK when Alice arrived; she stayed 2 years more organizing in Edinburgh.

Reunited in the US, Alice & Lucy spent 1913 in a frenzy of activity - the year began with the pre-Inauguration march, and continued with constant presidential and Congressional lobbying. They stayed in touch with their UK mentors.

That October, Emmeline Pankhurst was barred from entering the US due to convictions of “crimes involving moral turpitude.” (This is STILL a category in our immigration law.) Alice Paul & Alva Belmont hired a lawyer who got her in, and Alice & Lucy hosted her in Washington.

This photo from that trip looks like it may be in front of Union Station, DC. Mrs Pankhurst is the one in fur. Lucy Burns is on the left, eyes closed.

This was all too much for NAWSA. When Lucy Burns was arrested chalking a meeting notice on a Washington DC sidewalk, Anna Howard Shaw rebuked her: “You may think we are all a set of old fogies, and perhaps we are….[but] We will not be like England.”

NAWSA began working to eject Alice & Lucy at the end of 1913. Motivations inc jealousy, intrgenerational conflict, genuine strategic differences. But the core was their certainty that Alice & Lucy were radicals who would demolish the respectability NAWSA had worked hard to build.

Alice & Lucy believed violence would be unnecessary in the US. But if you are willing to starve in jail with a tube shoved down your nose for the cause, you aren’t likely to repudiate your comrades because Anna Shaw & Carrie Catt disapprove. #suffrage100 #19thAmendment


Daily Suffragist




-7- Daily Suffragist on Twitter- -Alice Paul -amp- Lucy Burns didn’t rebel against the mainstream suffrage organization- It kicked them out- Natl Am- Woman Suffrage Assoc was an organization of white moderates- Rel.png


Daily Suffragist, “Why Alice & Lucy threatened NAWSA,” Daily Suffragist, accessed July 22, 2024, https://dailysuffragist.omeka.net/items/show/457.

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