Dear President Obama,
One hundred years ago, a single woman could not reserve and stay in a Washington D.C. hotel. Without a male (husband, father, brother or adult son) she would tarnish the hotel’s reputation. Funny to think, it was not about her reputation. And so wealthy ladies, often widows, would buy homes for those single women who had a mission that required long stays in the nation’s capital. The audacious, conspicuous, driven widow, Alva Belmont bought the Sewall House at 144 Constitution Avenue for the National Women’s Party in 1929. Certainly President Woodrow Wilson knew those ladies all too well as they upstaged both his first and second inaugurations. Led by Miss Alice Paul, the very first march on the White House made history, March 3, 1913. Just over 7 years later, the 19th Amendment was ratified, as Tennessee Representative Harry Burn did as his mother said, thus passing ratification by one vote.
As you can surmise this history is my greatest love, the nation’s lost treasure and deserves to be lifted, protected and celebrated. The Sewall-Belmont House and Museum is the epicenter of Women’s suffrage, women claiming power and women being full participants in the advancement of the United States. The Sewall-Belmont House and Museum is the single destination to celebrate the National Woman’s Party and see the most robust collection of suffrage and equal rights artifacts showcasing the history of the women’s rights movement in the United States.
Finally, let me share one more story with you. When I go to a museum, I always ask at the desk, please point me to your exhibits or art by women. The Louvre had 3. The Musee D’orsay had zero. The Museum of Modern Art in NYC had 23. I could not resist asking in the American History Smithsonian. The docent told me that were 2; the display of First Ladies inaugural dresses and Julia Child’s kitchen. Not Stanton & Anthony. Not Betsy Ross or Rosie the Riveter. Not Jeannette Rankin or Shirley Chisholm. Not NOW or DAR or women in the Armed Forces. What would our daughters and granddaughters take from this? Ball gowns and cooking seem to be their choices. Nothing new there.
I wish I didn’t have to ask, however, the preservation of women’s history is still thought to be an option. So please accept my request to shine a lasting beacon and grant permanent security on this favorite place of mine. Designating the Sewall-Belmont House as a national monument will contribute to the National Park Service’s women’s history initiatives and preserve a significant and historic symbol of freedom and equality.
You are so very fortunate to have the authority under the Antiquities Act to preserve the Sewall-Belmont House & Museum as a National Park System site.
Honestly, how can you resist? Sign it for me too.
In your service,