The “Votes For Women” Teapot
By Barb Wetzel
When friends come to visit and we share tea and treats, I like to serve tea in a teapot from my collection. A recent addition is the “Votes for Women” teapot, a gift from my daughter’s family, Christmas 2019. Just in time for the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment!
I inaugurated the teapot in early February, when my friend Cheryl visited on a damp winter day.
“Oh, the Votes for Women teapot!”
Cheryl almost didn’t seem surprised to see it, perhaps because she knows I’m active in LWV. Then she explained what she learned on a recent trip to Washington, D.C.
Cheryl and her friends visited the Belmont-Paul House, which is unit of the National Park System. The historic home was dedicated by President Obama and renamed the Belmont-Paul Women’s Equality National Monument. (See the NPS website at: https://www.nps.gov/bepa) The home was purchased by Alva Vanderbilt Belmont to be used as headquarters for the National Women’s Party. She and Alice Paul, along with thousands of other women in Great Britain, other European countries and the USA, had been pushing for women’s rights. In the USA the aim was an amendment to the US Constitution, giving women voting rights. This effort was launched in 1848 at the Seneca Falls, N.Y., convention by Lucretia Mott, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony and other leaders in women’s suffrage.
A socialite in Washington, D.C., Alva Belmont entertained and invited congressmen (in those days only men) and other influential people to her home. Her goal was to influence them to write legislation supportive of women. She enjoyed discussions on political issues. Apparently, some guests did not and told Belmont so.
“We enjoy your parties, Alva, but give us a break from politics.” Her solution was to commission a set of dinner china decorated with the slogan, “Votes for Women.” Her guests were made well aware of her position!
That is how the souvenir teapot came to be, and appropriate for sale in the Alcott House gift shop.
The National Park Service has an interactive virtual tour of the house. Go to: https://www.nps.gov/articles/belmont-paul-virtual-tour.htm
The Belmont-Paul house has its own history. This website delineates that and the development of National American Woman Suffrage Association (N.A.W.S.A.), which became the League of Women Voters after the passage of 19th Amendment. Go to: https://npsgallery.nps.gov/NRHP/GetAsset/NHLS/72001432_text