National Woman's Party nomenclature


National Woman's Party nomenclature


What was the National Woman’s Party? How did it differ from the Congressional Union? Was that different from the Congressional Committee? The effort led by Alice Paul & Lucy Burns to amend the U.S. Constitution operated under three different names across eight years. 🧵

Each name change was gradual, and the boundaries are blurry. Shorthanding it as National Woman’s Party is fine; only serious suffrage obsessives care about NWP v. CU v. CC. But August is going to be a long centennial month, so here's a cheat sheet...

CONGRESSIONAL COMMITTEE (CC) was a standing NAWSA committee founded in 1910. It was marginal, as NAWSA was then totally focused on state campaigns. Hence NAWSA VP Jane Addams (yes, THE Jane Addams) could persuade the board to let Alice Paul become committee chair in late 1912.

It was under the CC name that Alice & Lucy organized the 1913 Inauguration march. A month after the march, Alice & Lucy organized the CONGRESSIONAL UNION (CU), affiliated with NAWSA but not run by it.

The CU was Alice & Lucy’s attempt to remain under the NAWSA brand, but with more control over the money they were raising to support the federal amendment. CC & CU had overlapping leadership. NAWSA Pres. Anna Howard Shaw had approved this, but it quickly became unworkable.

By the end of 1913 NAWSA had wrested control of the CC from Alice, replacing her as chair. In January 1914, 400 women met at a palatial Washington home and encouraged Alice to form an independent Congressional Union. Alice & Lucy organized under that name through the end of 1916.

NATIONAL WOMAN’S PARTY was created for the 1916 general election to be exactly what the name says - a party of voting women, a third-party spoiler like the Progressive Party was in 1912. (More to come on the election of 1916.)

In early 1917, the Congressional Union merged into the National Woman's Party. NWP is then the name of Alice & Lucy’s organization all the way to ratification. #19thAmendment #Suffrage100 


Daily Suffragist




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Daily Suffragist, “National Woman's Party nomenclature,” Daily Suffragist, accessed August 17, 2022,

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