President Obama Makes National Woman’s Party Headquarters a National Monument

Illustration for article titled President Obama Makes National Woman’s Party Headquarters a National Monument

Today President Obama designated the Sewall-Belmont House—the historic Capitol Hill mansion where suffragette Alice Paul wrote the Equal Rights Amendment—a national monument.


Renamed today the Belmont-Paul Women’s Equality National Monument, the home and museum, which maintains a sizable archival collection about American women’s suffrage, became the headquarters of the National Woman’s Party in 1929. It served as a residence for party leaders Paul and Alva Belmont, as well as a work and meeting space for the party.

Obama’s decision to designate the home a national monument comes on Equal Pay Day and with a broader presidential proclamation that honors the work of both Belmont and Paul. “The political strategies and tactics of Alice Paul and the NWP became a blueprint for civil rights organizations and activities throughout the 20th century,” the White House declaration says. “Today, the House tells the story of a century of courageous activism by American women.” Paul was, perhaps, one of the suffrage movement’s most radical organizers; she was imprisoned for seven months in 1917 and, after a lengthy hunger strike, was force-fed raw eggs. She was also among the suffragettes who were beaten and brutalized in a Virginia workhouse during the “Night of Terror” on November 14, 1917.

The Belmont-Paul Women’s Equality National Monument will become part of the National Park System, an effort that dates back to the 1970s. In a post on Medium, the White House wrote:

“By honoring the history and accomplishments of the movement for women’s equality, today’s designation will build on this effort towards a more inclusive National Park System and tell the story of women’s fight for equality for generations to come.”

The home, which will be the ninth site in the Park System devoted to women’s history, will continue to serve as both museum and library dedicated to exploring the history of women’s suffrage and “solidifying the legacy of the equal right’s movement.”

This is the second woman-focused monument that President Obama has designated. In 2013, he added the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad National Monument in Maryland to the Park System.


Image via Getty.


Rando Calrissian