Featuring a mansard roof, but lacking a particular style, the red brick house at the corner of Constitution and 2nd Avenue NE, just a short walk from the Capitol and Union Station, has been largely ignored by architectural historians.
To ignore the history made inside would be a huge mistake.
We’re talking the Sewall-Belmont House and Museum, which Roberta and me visited yesterday. A National Historic Landmark, it is one of the premier women’s history sites in the country, and pays tribute to U.S. women's suffrage and the equal-rights movements.
Our guide was knowledgeable and friendly. She first showed us what amounts to a women’s suffrage hall of fame, with portraits and busts of the pioneers and stalwarts in the field.
Other rooms have historical placards and period pieces. Most fascinating to me was the “Deadly Political Index.” The National Woman’s Party came up with a way to help them in their lobbying of Congress. They created a congressional card index system that gave background on each member. Information equaled power.
Ever since the Seneca Falls Convention in 1848, women fought long and hard against a society that was very reluctant to even lend an ear to their cause. But with their marches, protests, publications, hunger strikes and campaigns of mass propaganda, they brought about the vote for their right to vote on August 26, 1920.
Mothers pay attention to this next part. If Tennessee voted for the amendment, it would pass. Their first two tallies were tied at 48. On the third ballot, Harry Burn changed his mind and voted for the amendment. The difference?
His mother had written him a note -- “Vote for the Suffrage and don’t keep them in doubt. Lots of love.”