Feminist, Suffragist and Political Strategist
Paul was the architect of some of the most outstanding
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
Growing up at
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
reflected this ideal; the 265-acre farm was situated away from the town,
isolated but not closed to society.
(age 6) and her brother Billy (age 4)
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
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
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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