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House Honors Alice Paul, Pioneer of Women’s Suffrage Movement

On May 15, the House approved, 412-1, the Alice Paul Congressional Gold Medal Act (H.R. 406). Sponsored by Rep. Joe Baca (D-CA), the measure would award posthumously a Congressional Gold Medal to Alice Paul in recognition of her role in the women’s suffrage movement and in advancing equal rights for women.

Speaking in support of his bill, Rep. Baca said, “Because of Alice Paul and the work of other suffragists, we have the 19th Amendment to the United States Constitution that guarantees that women have the right to vote. Women have the right to be members of Congress, state officials, and to participate in local policies and the ability to run for public office. That’s why, here in Congress, we currently have [90] women in Congress. Because of Alice Paul, Speaker [Nancy] Pelosi [(D-CA)] can be the Democratic leader right here in the 110th Congress. Because of Alice Paul, Senator [Hillary] Clinton [(D-NY)] can run for the highest office in the nation, and maybe be the president of the United States of America. Alice Paul was a remarkable person who made America more democratic by fighting for equal rights and creating opportunities for women…The Congressional Gold Medal is only a small token in comparison to the legacy that Alice Paul gave us all. Alice Paul’s contribution to America cannot be understated. For this reason I urge all Members to support its passage.”

Rep. Judy Biggert (R-IL) said, “A graduate of Swarthmore College, a recipient of a PhD from the University of Pennsylvania, and a believer in working towards the betterment of society, Alice Paul became an ardent proponent of women’s suffrage in 1907 while in London. Upon her return to the United States in 1910, Ms. Paul brought the determination of the English movement to bear on the American campaign. She joined the National American Women’s Suffrage Association and was quickly charged with heading the drive for a federal suffrage amendment. Recognizing that boldness was needed to accomplish her task, Alice Paul organized a parade comprised of women to coincide with the inauguration of President Woodrow Wilson. The participating women were attacked with both insults and physical violence. However, the news made headlines and suffrage became a popular topic throughout the nation.”

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