Night of Terror

The NWP was relentless in their acts of Civil Disobedience peaceful refusal to obey the commands of the government, and their methods led to hundreds of arrests.

Alice Paul and Suffragists are Jailed

In the year 1917 alone, 97 Suffragettes were jailed, including NWP leader Alice Paul.

Paul and many others were sentenced 60 days in the Occoquan workhouse for “obstructing traffic”. Conditions at Occoquan were very poor and the women were severely mistreated, especially the leaders.  

A Brutal Response to Activism

They responded with a hunger strike to send a strong message. They were met with brutality that culminated on the night of November 14 when 30 women were beaten in what’s referred to as the “Night of Terror”:

“Under orders from W. H. Whittaker, superintendent of the Occoquan Workhouse, as many as forty guards with clubs went on a rampage, brutalizing thirty-three jailed suffragists. They beat Lucy Burns, chained her hands to the cell bars above her head, and left her there for the night. They hurled Dora Lewis into a dark cell, smashed her head against an iron bed, and knocked her out cold. Her cellmate Alice Cosu, who believed Mrs. Lewis to be dead, suffered a heart attack. According to affidavits, other women were grabbed, dragged, beaten, choked, slammed, pinched, twisted, and kicked.”

Word got out and after a storm of negative publicity, President Wilson called for the release of all of the suffragist prisoners.