Alexander: Hermitage Hotel Designation As National Historic Landmark Will Help Students Learn About Women’s Suffrage Movement

Posted on July 28, 2020

 

  

“For middle school and high school students in America, U.S. history remains their worst subject. As a country, we must do better so that our children grow up learning what it means to be an American. I can’t think of a better way to encourage our children to learn more about the women’s suffrage movement than understanding the history of what happened at the historic Hermitage Hotel.” – Senator Lamar Alexander  

 

WASHINGTON, D.C., July 28, 2020 – United States Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) today said that designating Nashville’s Hermitage Hotel as the Trump Administration’s first National Historic Landmark is “a fitting tribute to Tennessee’s decisive role in giving women the right to vote.”

“The Trump Administration’s decision to designate this National Historic Landmark cements the hotel’s legacy as one of the most prominent sites in the suffrage movement,” Alexander said. “In the summer of 1920, the Hermitage Hotel was movement headquarters as suffragists persuaded legislators to make Tennessee the 36th and final state to ratify the 19th Amendment to the Constitution, securing the right of women to vote nationwide.”

Alexander joined U.S. Secretary of the Interior, David Bernhardt, and Senator Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) for a signing ceremony in Washington today. 

Alexander continued, “Congress has made it a priority to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment. Bipartisan resolutions have been passed, and a bill was signed into law directing the Treasury to mint coins in commemoration of the centennial. It is a fitting tribute to also memorialize the Hermitage Hotel’s role with this important designation. I hope this designation will increase public awareness and appreciation for the history of the women’s suffrage movement.”

Alexander concluded, “For middle school and high school students in America, U.S. history remains their worst subject. As a country, we must do better so that our children grow up learning what it means to be an American. I can’t think of a better way to encourage our children to learn more about the women’s suffrage movement than understanding the history of what happened at the historic Hermitage Hotel.”

“The Hermitage Hotel played a pivotal role in our Nation’s fight to secure the right of women to vote through the passage of the 19th Amendment,” said U.S. Secretary of the Interior David L. Bernhardt. “I thank Senator Blackburn and Senator Alexander for their leadership in emphasizing the importance the Hermitage Hotel has as a National Historic Landmark.”

Alexander and Blackburn wrote a letter earlier this year to Interior Secretary David Bernhardt encouraging the administration to consider the Hermitage Hotel’s application to become a National Historic Landmark. The National Park Service Advisory Board voted on July 1st to recommend the hotel be added to the National Historic Landmark list.

Background on the Hermitage Hotel

By August of 1920, 35 of the 36 necessary states had ratified the 19th Amendment. On August 9, 1920, the governor of Tennessee called a special session of the General Assembly to consider the amendment. The Hermitage Hotel served as the headquarters for journalists and politicians, as well as pro-suffrage and anti-suffrage activists from around the state and the nation who descended on Nashville during special session. 

Ms. Carrie Chapman Catt, one of the leaders of the pro-suffrage movement, stayed in the hotel for five weeks while she strategized how to persuade members of the General Assembly to vote for ratification. The hotel is the singular, non-governmental building that served as the most prominent site of the crowning achievement of the suffrage movement, securing the right of women to vote nationwide. 

On August 18, 1920, Tennessee became the 36th state to ratify the amendment. With Tennessee’s ratification, the 19th Amendment ensured that the right to vote could not be denied based on sex.

The Hermitage Hotel is listed in the United State National Register of Historic Places.

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