Division Again in the Mainstream Campaign

Not everyone in the NAWSA agreed that the women’s suffrage movement was moving fast enough, or using the right tactics.

Some women activists were impatient with the pace of change. In 1915, white suffragist Alice Paul was forced to resign from the NAWSA because she advocated using extreme tactics in the fight for suffrage. She formed a rival suffrage group, the Congressional Union, later named the National Woman’s Party.

A Radical Branch is Formed

The National Woman’s Party used the militant activities of the British women’s suffrage movement as their model for action.  

The group’s direct-action, confrontational style — including mass marches, hunger strikes and picketing the White House — horrified the NAWSA, which found their tactics “unladylike.” But their strategies also attracted a younger generation of women to the cause.

World War 1 Shifts the Playing Field

Carrie Catt’s strategy of securing voting rights state by state and Alice Paul’s dramatic protest campaign coincided with President Wilson’s decision to bring the United States into the First World War. War brought new urgency to the women’s suffrage movement. [Link to military and voting page]

The NAWSA supported the war, even though many women suffragists were pacifists. However, they threatened to pull their support of the war if Congress failed to give women the vote.

National Woman's Party Pushes Back

Alice Paul, Lucy Burns and their colleagues in the National Woman's Party were not as diplomatic.

They focused on shaming Wilson and wanted to highlight the hypocrisy of his plan to make “the world safe for democracy" when women could not even vote at home.

With banners showing slogans like, "Mr. President, how long must women wait for liberty?" they held round-the-clock vigils outside the White House, demanding the vote for women.