Professor Alice Reagan tells the story behind women suffragists’ incarceration at the Occoquan Workhouse. In this virtual public event hosted by AHS in December 2020, Professor Reagan put the event into historical context of the confrontation between Alice Paul’s National Woman’s Party and the Woodrow Wilson administration. Beginning in 1913, Paul and her supporters started to hold the Wilson-led Democratic Party responsible for the lack of progress in the passage of the 19th Amendment. The women began picketing the White House in January 1917 and their banners caused increased friction with the government–particularly after the US entered WWI in April. Despite arrests and prison terms, the women refused to stop picketing. This led to the infamous Night of Terror, when the women were beaten and harassed. The negative publicity from this incident was one of the things that pushed Wilson toward support for the woman’s suffrage amendment.
Associate Professor Alice Reagan has been teaching American history at Northern Virginia Community College since 1989. She is a specialist in 19th century southern history and the Civil War. She has a B.A. in History and Political Science from the University at Albany an earned a Masters in history at North Carolina State University. She has received several awards for her teaching and community service. She has written 2 books, including one on Atlanta carpetbagger Hannibal I. Kimball. In her spare time, she is a docent and consultant at the Lucy Burns Museum at the Workhouse Arts Center.