Calling it a “centerpiece for the struggle for equality,” President Barack Obama designated the Sewall-Belmont House in Washington DC a National Monument on Tuesday, April 12, 2016. The present Sewall-Belmont House has been home to the National Woman’s Party since 1929, and houses an incredibly rich collection of scrapbooks, artifacts, banners, books, political cartoons, photographs, and organizational records documenting the history of women’s struggle for political equality.
The house is named for the original owner, Robert Sewall, who built it around 1800, then rebuilt it in 1820, and Long Island’s own suffragist Alva Vanderbilt Belmont. In 1921 Alva provided $146,000.00 to purchase a house in Washington DC to house the National Woman’s Party. That house was razed in 1927 to make way for the new Supreme Court Building and the Sewall house was purchased with the proceeds. Suffrage leader Alice Paul moved into the house in 1929 and lived and worked there until the mid 1970s, leading lobbying efforts on hundreds of pieces of legislation promoting equal rights for all.
President Obama’s remarks were moving: “I want young girls and boys to come here, 10, 20, 100 years from now to know that women fought for equality, it was not just given to them.” He also wants future generations to “be astonished to learn that there was ever a time when a woman had never sat in the Oval office.”
The Sewall-Belmont House, now the Belmont-Paul Women’s Equality National Monument, is a treasure trove of suffrage artifacts. I have been there many times, and never tire of visiting. For further information, visit their website:http://sewallbelmont.org.
For President Obama’s remarks visit:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JJpV9c2CKRk.