In 1917 members of the radical National Woman’s Party stood outside the White House every day carrying signs with questions such as “How Long Must Women Wait for Liberty?”
After the United States entered World War I in May 1917, they used their signs to point out the contradiction in fighting to protect democracy abroad but refusing to give women full democracy at home.
Some male bystanders thought the signs were unpatriotic and attacked the women; in the end, the women, not the men, were arrested.
About 100 suffragists were sent to jail, where several, including Alice Paul, went on hunger strikes to protest their arrests and had to be force-fed.
All of this made front-page news, and the public was shocked at the women’s rough treatment. The women were then quickly released.
A federal court later admitted that they had done nothing illegal and should not have been arrested.
In 1916, when President Woodrow Wilson was addressing Congress, he suddenly paused as some NWP women held up a large banner asking, “Mr. President, what will you do for woman suffrage?”