Alice Paul becomes involved in the British suffrage movement in 1908 while she is studying in Britain. There she meets Lucy Burns who is also studying in Europe and is involved with British suffrage. Paul returns to the US in 1910 to complete her PhD and joins the National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA) in 1912. After frustration with not obtaining a Federal Woman’s Suffrage Amendment, most of NAWSA’s attention has shifted to securing voting rights on a state-by-state basis. However, Alice Paul leads the small Congressional Committee of NAWSA, which is focused on passage of the Susan B. Anthony Amendment.
In 1913, Alice Paul and Lucy Burns, along with others, form the Congressional Union for Woman Suffrage, which evolves into the National Woman’s Party. The National Woman’s Party concentrates exclusively on adding the Susan B. Anthony Amendment to the Constitution. Paul and Burns employ some of the radical tactics they learned from the suffragists in Britain. They campaign against the political party in power on the premise that delays in suffrage are the responsibility of the party in power. And, only when faced with defeat, would the political party be cajoled into promoting suffrage.
As World War I rages in Europe, President Woodrow Wilson, a Democrat, campaigns for re-election in 1916 with the slogan, “He kept us out of war.” The National Woman's Party campaigns against him with the slogan, “He kept us out of suffrage.”