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Campaign for the Federal Amendment

New Jersey women continued to participate in the campaign for a federal suffrage amendment. In 1912, Alice Paul was appointed the leader of the NAWSA Congressional Committee, a national committee working to secure the federal women’s suffrage amendment. On March 3, 1913, Alice Paul and her friend and associate Lucy Burns (1879–1966) staged a spectacular procession of 7,000 suffragists in Washington, D.C. to coincide with the inauguration of former New Jersey governor Woodrow Wilson as president. In Washington, the parade became even more of a media sensation when federal troops were called in due to the hostile reaction of some of the crowds. Conflict also raged within the ranks of the organizers over allowing African-American women to march in the parade. Initially, Alice Paul was concerned about offending the delegations from southern states. Ultimately, fifty black women marched in the Delaware, New York, West Virginia, and Michigan sections. Others marched with their work groups or professional organizations, including female students from Howard University. New Jersey women marched in a section designated for states working for equal suffrage.

In April 1913, Alice Paul and Lucy Burns put together a national organization called the Congressional Union to work exclusively for the passage of a federal amendment. Initially, the work of the Congressional Union and NAWSA’s Congressional Committee was essentially the same. Under their auspices, New Jersey women including Lillian Feickert traveled to Washington, D.C. to present petitions to New Jersey’s U.S. senators advocating a federal amendment. Directly lobbying members of Congress was unprecedented for women at the time. At the end of 1913, Paul and her supporters were ousted from the NAWSA Congressional Committee, and the Congressional Union became an independent organization. Feickert’s position became difficult; she was a member of the Congressional Union but was also the president of NJWSA, which was a branch of NAWSA. Feickert was aware, however, that Alice Paul had a lot of support in New Jersey. In spite of some tensions, Feickert was able to successfully negotiate between Paul’s group and NAWSA, maintaining fairly good relations with both, at least for the moment.


Cartoon, Washington Hike

As a publicity stunt, New York socialite Rosalie Jones led a dozen women heading for the Washington, D.C. suffrage parade in 1913 on a three-week, 200-mile hike from New York to Washington. Weary and bedraggled, the women made a stop in Metuchen, where they spent the night.

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Washington, D.C. Suffrage Parade, 1913

The 1913 Washington, D.C. suffrage parade was anything but orderly. Hostile spectators challenged the marchers and they soon found themselves confronted by a “howling mob.” Many participants were terrified. The police, some of whom were unsympathetic, were overwhelmed. The chaos and subsequent government investigation drew favorable attention to the suffrage movement and made Alice Paul a national figure.

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Alice Paul and the Congressional Union

After the 1913 Washington march, Alice Paul and the Congressional Committee became the most active suffrage group in Washington, D.C. They organized two additional parades, collected 200,000 petitions, raised almost $28,000, and founded a new periodical, the Suffragist, dedicated to passing a federal amendment. Paul established a partially independent organization, the Congressional Union, to support this work. She also organized the December 1913 NAWSA convention. It was at that meeting that Carrie Chapman Catt charged her group with being too ambitious and too independent. When Paul refused to step away from the Congressional Union, NAWSA broke ties with the organization.

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New Jersey Delegation to Washington

Late in 1913, 75 New Jersey women representing the NJWSA and the Women’s Political Union attempted to meet with President Wilson.  When they could not get an appointment, they apparently marched straight into the White House and demanded to see him.