A Woman's Crusade: Alice Paul '05 and Mabel Vernon '06 and the Battle for the Ballot

A Lecture by Mary Walton

Mary Walton

Mary Walton discusses the suffrage movement led by Alice Paul, Class of 1905, and Mabel Vernon, Class of 1906. Introduction by Wendy Chmielewski, George Cooley Curator of the Swarthmore College Peace Collection.

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On Sept. 19, 2013, Peace and Conflict Studies hosted a special event in celebration of the International Day of Peace, 125 years of peace and conflict studies at Swarthmore College, and the start of the College's sesquicentennial. This event invloved a talk by Mary Walton, author of A Woman's Crusade: Alice Paul and the Battle for the Ballot.

A New Jersey Quaker and pioneer in non-violent resistance, Alice Paul, Class of 1905, was the leader of the militant wing of the suffrage movement from 1913 to 1920. Her story was a David-and-Goliath struggle to convince a reluctant Congress and a stubborn president to give women the vote. Paul and her followers were the first people to picket the White House. They were arrested, thrown in jail, brutalized, and force fed when they went on hunger strikes.

In 1913, Mabel Vernon, Class of 1906, gladly gave up teaching to join her college friend and worked full time for the Congressional Union. From that time on, Vernon devoted her life to suffrage and other causes. In 1916, Vernon stood up in a full auditorium and heckled President Woodrow Wilson as he spoke about democracy. Vernon picketed the White House and was among the first suffragists to go to jail.

Walton is the author of four previous works of nonfiction. She was a reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer, where she wrote more than 100 magazine stories as a staff writer for theSunday Inquirer Magazine. Walton has also written for the New York Times, Washingtonian, Washington Monthly, and the American Journalism Review. After graduating from Harvard University and a turn at social work and community organizing, Walton began her journalism career in 1969 as a reporter for the Charleston (WV) Gazette.