Alice Paul - Forced Feeding

Mistreated at the D.C. Jail (some accounts say the Occoquan Workhouse, although it is not clear whether she was in both places), Alice Paul also participates in a hunger strike.  Prison handlers feed her, against her will, with a tube which they force into her mouth. 

On November 15, 1917 - now known as "The Night of Terror" - Lucy Burns (who had resumed her hunger strike to protest how Alice was being treated) is beaten.  Her hands are cuffed above her head, in her cell. 

Other women, like Lucy Branham, protest on the streets - asking the federal government to treat Alice Paul fairly.  For her efforts, Branham is also sent to Occoquan.

After these events, forced feedings of the hunger-striking women are particularly brutal.  The Library of Congress tells us more:

Jailed again when protesting the treatment of the imprisoned Alice Paul, Burns joined Paul and others in another round of Occoquan hunger strikes.

Burns was in Occoquan for what became known as the “Night of Terror” on November 15, 1917, during which she was beaten and her arms were handcuffed above her head in her cell.  Particularly brutal force-feeding soon followed.

From inside the prison, Rose Winslow is writing notes on scraps of paper.  One of those smuggled-out notes says this:

I was getting frantic because you seemed to think Alice was with me in the hospital.  She was in the psychopathic ward.  The same doctor feeds us both, and told me.  Don't let them tell you we take this well.  Miss Paul vomits much.  I do, too, except when I'm not nervous, as I have been every time against my will... 

We think of the coming feeding all day.  It is horrible.  (Rose Winslow, quoted by Doris Stevens in Jailed for Freedom, page 190.)

The cruelty motivated the activists to work even harder, after they were released.

See, also:

Alice Paul - Chairman of the Congressional Committee

Alice Paul and Lucy Burns - Building the Base

Suffragette Parade - March 13, 1913

Success and Resistance - Alice Paul Keeps Fighting

Breaking Ranks within the Women's Movement

Lucy Burns - Let's Picket the White House

Lucy Burns and Alice Paul - Advocates for Women

Lucy Burns - Imprisoned at the Occoquan Workhouse

Alice Paul - Occoquan Workhouse

Victory - The 19th Amendment is Ratified

Media Credits

Clip from "Iron-Jawed Angels" (2004), an HBO film about suffragettes fighting for a constitutional amendment, giving American women the right to vote. 

Clips online, courtesy HBO and YouTube.  All copyrights/ownership rights belong to HBO.  Provided here as "fair use" for educational purposes and to acquaint new viewers with the program.


Katja von Garnier

Len Amato
Lydia Dean Pilcher
Robin Forman
Paula Weinstein

Sally Robinson
Eugenia Bostwick-Singer
Raymond Singer
Jennifer Friedes


Hilary Swank - Alice Paul
Frances O'Connor - Lucy Burns
Molly Parker - Emily Leighton (a fictional character portrayed as a senator's wife)
Laura Fraser - Doris Stevens
Lois Smith - Rev. Dr. Anna Howard Shaw
Vera Farmiga - Ruza Wenclawska (also known as Rose Winslow)
Brooke Smith - Mabel Vernon
Patrick Dempsey - Ben Weissman (a fictional character)
Julia Ormond - Inez Milholland
Adilah Barnes - Ida Wells-Barnett
Anjelica Huston - Carrie Chapman Catt

Reinhold Heil
Johnny Klimek

Robbie Greenberg

Hans Funck

HBO Films

Release date:
February 15, 2004

Running time:
125 minutes

Quoted passages from an article by Sheridan Harvey, online at the Library of Congress - American Memory - web site.

For more details about this period of American history, as women struggled for the right to vote, see this American Memory story (in PDF format) from the Library of Congress.


To cite this story (For MLA citation guidance see easybib or OWL ):

"Alice Paul - Forced Feeding" AwesomeStories.com. Oct 07, 2013. Jun 05, 2020.
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