Hellraisers Journal: Suffragist Alice Paul Sentenced to Six Months in Workhouse for “Obstructing Traffic”

We feel that we are not subject
to the laws of this court,
in the making of which we have no part.
-Alice Paul


Hellraisers Journal, Friday October 26, 1917
Washington, D. C. – Rebel Alice Paul Jailed for Freedom’s Cause

Although the following report from the News and Observer scores Alice Paul and the National Woman’s Party as “the laughing stock of Washington,” we nevertheless find therein the statement issued by Miss Paul and her supporters shortly after sentence was passed upon her.

From North Carolina’s Raleigh News and Observer of October 24, 1917:

She Will Serve at Least Half a Year Unless
There Is Un-expected Turn

Congressional Union For Woman Suffrage or Its Successor
The National Woman’s Party
Considered More or Less a Fake Organization
Since It Started


Suffragists, Alice Paul, Eve Pb Ldg p1, Philly, Oct 22, 1917

Washington, Oct. 23.-Miss Alice Paul is happy now that she is in jail, and can make the claim of martyr. She was ill when the first White House pickets were arrested, tried and sent to prison but as soon as she got well she began to try to force the authorities of the District of Columbia to recognize her as the leader of the lawbreakers. She was sentenced to six months for one offense and one month for another. She will serve at least a half a year unless some unexpected turn comes to free her.

The Congressional Union for Woman Suffrage or its successor, the National Woman’s Party, has been more or less a fake organization ever since it started. Conventions have been held, and delegates “selected” from the “various States.” A few years ago, when a national convention was held here, and all the States were to be represented, the News and Observer correspondent went to the Columbia Theatre, where it assembled, to get a list of the North Carolina suffragists. The Tar Heel seats were filled with women carrying North Carolina standards but only one or two out of the score who “represented” the State had ever as much as passed through it. Most of the women claiming to be North Carolinians lived in the District of Columbia, where they were born. The “national convention” was made up of fake-delegates. Like the three famous tailors of Tooley street they met and resoluted.

Miss Paul and her satellites have done the cause of woman suffrage lasting injury. They have become the laughing stock of Washington. Nobody except themselves takes them seriously.

[Today, after Judge Mullowney had passed sentence on her, Miss Paul said:]

We feel that we are not subject to the laws of this court, in the making of which we have no part.

Here is the view of Miss Paul and her associates, in the form of a statement sent out before the court passed sentence:

Miss Paul has personally directed the picketing campaign during which women from every State in the country have stood on the picket line at the White House gates. For five months the picketing was undisturbed. On June 20th the government and the authorities at Washington, who are, from the chief of police up, appointed by the President, changed their policy and began the arrests on the technical charge of “obstructing traffic,” since there is a law in the District which permits picketing. One hundred and twelve suffragists have been arrested, and 62 have served jail or workhouse sentences.

Alice Paul is a rebel, like many another Quaker. She has conceived and directed the most daring and conspicuous political campaign ever conducted in this country, and, true to her Quaker spirit, has remained completely inconspicuous behind her work. Three years ago she came to Washington with the conviction that a Federal suffrage amendment could be put through Congress, that it was the way that it should be, and the only way that political freedom could be won for the women of America. She determined to devote herself to securing freedom.

Until Alice Paul, then 27 years old and completely unknown appeared as their leader, women had struggled patiently to educate one by one the men voters of this nation, they had grown accustomed to spending their money, their energy, their lives in yearly campaigns and to meeting defeat with an unembittered cheerfulness. Alice Paul knew no patience in the face of delayed justice.

In three years she has raised and formed a national organization of 50,000 members. She has changed the federal amendment from an academic phrase of hope to an immediate issue in party politics. She has moved it from the lecture platform to the party platform, from the propaganda leaflet to the Senate calendar, where it now waits for its prophesied passage as a war measure in the next session of Congress.

To do this, Alice Paul’s friends say, she has gone without food or sleep or proper clothing, that for years she has lived in an unheated room so that she might not be tempted to sit at home of an evening, and now she is going to jail rather than forsake her vision of freedom for women, rather than give up the battle for democracy for women while all the world is at war for democracy for men.

It will be recalled that when President Wilson first came into office Miss Paul had delegation after delegation of women go to the White House to urge him to support the Federal amendment. The President stated his position clearly and then refused to see any more delegations. Miss Paul kept sending them [delegations of women] to nag him. Then the Congressional Union sent speakers into all of the equal suffrage States to speak against the Democratic candidates for Congress to punish members of the House and Senate for the President’s refusal to accept their creed. They have gone from bad to worse to get publicity. Miss Paul’s theory is that publicity, no matter what sort, is good for her cause. She has kept up her unwise campaign until hundreds of the enthusiastic women who first stood with her have quit. About all she has left not is Mrs. O. H. P. Belmont, who furnishes much of the money to defray the expenses of the organization, and a small party of well-meaning but misguided fanatics.


[Photograph added.]

From the Duluth Labor World of October 20, 1917:


Two members of the National Woman’s party, Miss Mabel Vernon of Nevada and Mrs. Lawrence Lewis of Philadelphia, will speak in Duluth Monday night, Oct. 22, at Coffin’s Dancing academy, Lake avenue and First street. Miss Vernon represented the National Woman’s party at the conference of the League of Liberals held in St. Louis last April, and was a member of the committee appointed by that conference to urge upon the president the immediate passage of the suffrage amendment as a war measure. Miss Vernon was the only woman invited to speak at the conference of the Nonpartisan league in St. Paul in September. Mrs Lewis is one of the suffragists who has not only worked and spoken for suffrage, but has served a workhouse sentence for insisting upon her right to petition the government for political liberty.



The News and Observer
(Raleigh, North Carolina)
Oct 24, 1917

The Labor World
(Duluth, Minnesota)
-Oct 20, 1917

Suffragists, Alice Paul, Eve Pb Ldg p1, Philly, Oct 22, 1917

See also:

Alva Belmont

Jailed for Freedom
-Doris Stevens
New York NY, 1920
Chp 11: Administration Terrorism
-describes “night of terror.”
Chp 12: Alice Paul in Prison


Shout the Revolution of Women
-Tune: “Charlie is My Darling”


Woman Suffrage, Song Revolution, Jailed for Freedom, D Stevens, 1920