2016 April 12

Sewall-Belmont House, Center of Women’s Rights Activity in Washington, Designated National Monument


The Sewall-Belmont House, which was the center of women’s rights activity in Washington, DC in the middle decades of the twentieth century, was on this day designated a National Monument.

The National Woman’s Party, organized and led by Alice Paul, purchased the house at 144 Constitution Avenue in 1929.

President Barack Obama issued a Proclamation on this day to make the designation. In 1974 the Secretary of the Interior designated the house a National Historic Landmark, and later that year Congress passed legislation making it a National Historic Site, under the jurisdiction of the National Park Service.

Alice Paul organized and led a militant campaign in support of a women’s suffrage amendment to the Constitution. The highlights of the campaign include: meeting with President Woodrow Wilson in the White House (March 17, 1913); picketing the White House (January 10, 1917); and Alice Paul being arrested for picketing the White House (October 20, 1917).

After the ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment granting women the right to vote (August 18, 1920), Alice Paul turned her attention to full equal rights for women, and on July 21, 1923, at Seneca Falls, New York, she introduced the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) to the Constitution, which would guarantee equality to women. The ERA, however, was never ratified.

Visit the Sewall-Belmont House and Museum: http://www.sewallbelmont.org/hours-admission/

Read Paul’s biography: Mary Walton, A Woman’s Crusade: Alice Paul and the Battle for the Ballot (2010)

Read Paul’s Oral History interview: http://content.cdlib.org/ark:/13030/kt6f59n89c/


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