Feminist

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Paul endured these indignities and more. She was held for a time in the psychiatric ward of St. Elizabeth’s Hospital in Washington for allegedly having an unhealthy obsession with Woodrow Wilson. The women in prison smuggled out on scraps of paper the details of how they were being treated, and the reaction of a horrified nation finally shamed the President and Congress into acting. The passage of the Nineteenth Amendment was the greatest expansion of the vote in a single day the world had seen. Yet Paul has never gotten the recognition she deserves. Some of the failure to honor her stems from the strain of racism that appeared in the suffrage movement. The early suffragists were abolitionists, but the imperative of winning the votes of Southern legislators led to painful compromises. Paul’s order that black women march at the back of that glorious parade she organized to protest Wilson’s inauguration left a stain on her legacy that has never been expunged.