1923 July 21

Alice Paul Drafts Equal Rights Amendment for Women

 

Feminist leader Alice Paul, who had led the militant campaign for women’s suffrage during World War I, on this day drafted and introduced the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) to the Constitution, which would guarantee equal rights to women. She presented the ERA at the celebration of the 75th anniversary of the historic 1848 Seneca Falls Convention in New York. This original version of the ERA was also known as the Lucretia Mott Amendment: “Men and women shall have equal rights throughout the United States and every place subject to its jurisdiction.” Mott had helped organize the original Seneca Falls Convention.

Variations of the ERA amendment were presented to every session of Congress between 1923 and 1970, but never received enough votes to be sent to the states for ratification. Finally, on June 11, 1970, Representative Martha Griffiths (D–Michigan) was able to get it before Congress; the amendment was approved, but fell short of receiving enough affirmative votes in the states to be ratified.

To demand women’s suffrage, Alice Paul began a series of militant protests in Washington, DC that began on March 3, 1913, and then escalated in 1917 to include picketing the White House (August 11, 1917) and a hunger strike in jail after Paul and others were arrested (November 15, 1917). The campaign was instrumental in securing ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment granting women the right to vote on August 18, 1920.

Learn about Alice Paul: Jill Zahniser and Amelia Fry, Alice Paul: Claiming Power (2014)

Read: Christine A. Lunardini, From Equal Suffrage to Equal Rights: Alice Paul and the National Woman’s Party, 1910–1928 (1986)

Visit the U.S. Park Service Women’s Rights National Historical Park in Seneca Falls: http://www.nps.gov/wori/index.htm

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