Lucy Burns was an American suffragist and women's rights advocate. She was a passionate activist abroad in the United Kingdom as well as in the United States. Burns was a close friend of Alice Paul, and together they ultimately formed the National Woman's Party.
Alice Paul announced a radical new plan for 1916—she wanted organize a woman’s political party. Burns adamantly supported this plan and on June 5, 6, and 7, 1916 at the Blackstone Theater in Chicago, delegates and female voters met to organize the National Woman's Party (NWP). While they were opposed by more conservative suffragists who advocated less militant tactics, Burns and Paul were committed to direct action in fighting for women's rights and particularly their right to vote. NAWSA leaders thought the tactics of the National Woman’s Party were futile and would alienate Democrats that were sympathetic to suffrage. Membership in the NWP was limited to only enfranchised women, and their sole goal was promoting a federal amendment for woman’s suffrage.
Burns played a large role in the National Woman’s Party. She worked in virtually every aspect of the organization at one time or another. Specifically, she was a chief organizer, lobby head, newspaper editor, suffrage educator, teacher, orator, architect of the banner campaign, rallying force, and symbol of the NWP. In Burns 'suffrage schools', she taught women how to conduct automobile campaigns, lobby, and work with the press. She was savvy with working with the media and supplied two hundred news correspondents with frequent news bulletins.
The National Woman's Party led dozens of women to picket the White House in Washington, D.C. beginning in 1916. A bi-partisan organization, it directed its attacks at the office of the President of the United States, in this case, Woodrow Wilson. Burns also opposed World War I, seeing it as a war led by powerful men that resulted in young men being drafted and giving their lives with little free will. Throughout her career with the National Woman’s Party, Burns was known to have a bitter sense of injustice and become angry because of the actions of the President or apathetic Americans.