Alice Paul

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Alice Paul (1885-1977)

Alice Paul:
Feminist, Suffragist and Political Strategist

Alice Paul was the architect of some of the most outstanding political achievements on behalf of women in the 20th century. Born on January 11, 1885 to Quaker parents in Mt. Laurel, New Jersey, Alice Paul dedicated her life to the single cause of securing equal rights for all women.

Few individuals have had as much impact on American history as has Alice Paul. Her life symbolizes the long struggle for justice in the United States and around the world. Her vision was the ordinary notion that women and men should be equal partners in society.

Growing up at Paulsdale

William and Tacie Paul married in 1881 and moved into Paulsdale in 1883. Two years later, their first child, Alice, was born, followed by William in 1886, Helen in 1889 and Parry in 1895. Alice's father was a successful businessman and, as the president of the Burlington County Trust Company in Moorestown, NJ, earned a comfortable living.  His economic success allowed Paulsdale to become a gentleman's farm; family members may have had some farm chores, but hired hands actually provided a majority of the farm labor. Alice's life on the "home farm" (as she referred to her home) marked her early childhood and is reflected in her work as an adult. As Hicksite Quakers, Alice's parents raised her with a belief in gender equality, and the need to work for the betterment of society. Hicksite Quakers stressed separation from the burgeoning materialistic society and advocated the benefits of staying close to nature. Paulsdale reflected this ideal; the 265-acre farm was situated away from the town, isolated but not closed to society.


Alice Paul (age 6) and her brother Billy (age 4)


Alice Paul, 1901

Despite their relative wealth and in accordance with Quaker practice, the Pauls lived very simply. Alice and her siblings likely had many domestic and agricultural responsibilities instilling the values of industry and perseverance; two lessons critical for her later success. Though it followed Quaker designs for simplicity, Paulsdale boasted many comforts. The house was large and spacious, possessing indoor plumbing, electricity and a telephone by the early twentieth century. A wraparound porch overlooked the farmyard complete with a barn, hen house, icehouse, and several peach orchards. Irish maids and hired hands carried out the most arduous work, allowing Alice and her siblings to enjoy leisure activities, such as playing tennis at Paulsdale's own court or sitting under the shade of the massive Copper Beech tree watching the goldfish in the pond. Alice was an excellent student, a voracious reader, and played several extracurricular sports in school including basketball, baseball and field hockey.

"When you put your hand to the plow, you can't put it down until you get to the end of the row. "
                                                                         -Alice Paul recalling the advice of her mother

 

The most enduring legacy of Paulsdale was its role in the suffrage movement and the resulting influence it had upon Alice. Alice's suffrage ideas were planted early as Tacie, who as a member of the National American Woman Suffrage Association attended women suffrage meetings-- often with Alice in tow. Tacie may have also held meetings at Paulsdale or entertained members afterwards. It was at Paulsdale, Paul noted years later, that she was first introduced to the suffrage movement.

When a Newsweek interviewer asked Paul why she dedicated the whole of her life to women's equality, she credited her farm upbringing by quoting an adage she learned from her mother, "When you put your hand to the plow, you can't put it down until you get to the end of the row."

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Alice Paul Institute, Inc. at Paulsdale Directions
PO Box 1376 (mailing),  128 Hooton Road (street),
Mount Laurel, New Jersey 08054
856-231-1885 phone    856-231-4223 fax  
info@alicepaul.org       www.alicepaul.org