The highlight of this month’s new stamps is the new stamp for Tule Lake National Monument. The Tule Lake Japanese Internment Camp had been a part of World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument ever since President George W. Bush established that monument in 2008, but it became a stand-alone unit of the National Park System with the passage of the Dingell Act earlier this year. This month, it finally got its own Passport Cancellation. Tule Lake is now the third of the ten Japanese relocation centers established during World War II to become a Unit of the National Park System, the others being Mazanar National Historic Site in California and Minidoka National Historic Site in Idaho (with an outlying unit in Washington State.) Honouliuli National Historic Site in Hawaii was also used for Japanese Internment, but it was not an official relocation center, and its largest population consisted of Prisoners of War.
Tule Lake is notable because despite being the second relocation center to open, just two and a half weeks after Manzanar opened, Tule Lake went on to become:
the largest relocation center, with more than 18,000 internees at peak population on Christmas Day, 1944;
the last relocation center to peak in population, with the 9 other relocation centers peaking in population in 1942 or 1943;
the longest-open relocation center, at 1,394 days; and
the last relocation center to close, with the last resident not departing until March 20, 1946, some seven months after the war had ended.
The addition of Tule Lake National Monument as a stand-alone national park is yet another reminder that the National Park System includes not just the triumphs of American history, but also those moments when our country painfully failed to live up to our founding ideals and was responsible for grave injustice.
The Fort Vancouver National Historic Site, in Washington and Oregon, primarily interprets the story not of a military installation, but instead of an important Hudson’s Bay Company fur trading outpost in Vancouver, Washington, just across the Columbia River from Portland. The first fort was established in 1825 before being relocated in 1829. The park features a reconstruction of the original fort, which burned to the ground in 1866.
This national park site is also responsible, however, for administering the Vancouver National Historic Reserve, which is something of a historic preservation district immediately adjacent to the Park. Although not a unit of the National Park System, the Vancouver National Historic Reserve preserves the Vancouver Barracks. The current structures in the Barracks mostly date to the early 20th Century, but the origins of the Barracks date back to U.S. Army’s Camp Vancouver. Camp Vancouver was established in 1849 to provide order for settlers arriving on the Oregon Trail, and was intentionally placed adjacent to the Hudson Bay Company’s installation for that reason. The Pearson Air Museum is actually part of the National Historic Reserve, not the National Historic Site. The area that became Pearson Field actually dates back to aviation’s first decade when it was an aircraft demonstration area and manufacturing center. It was formally established as an air field in the early 1920’s. The Pearson Air Museum commemorates the aviation history of this location, including how the first aircraft to circumnavigate the world landed here in 1924.
The Port Byron Canal Heritage Park is located directly off the New York State Thruway in central New York. The Park features an old canal lock from an 1854 enlargement, a restored 1894 tavern, and a new visitor center that was just built in 2016. The visitor center is particularly notable for including a model of a canal lock that was displayed at the 1893 Columbian Exposition / World’s Fair in Chicago. This new addition gives the Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor 31 active cancellation locations, from Albany to Buffalo.
The Tutwiler Quilters stamp is the 29th cancellation for the Mississippi Delta National Heritage Area in northeast Mississippi. 20 of those are generic stamps for the various counties or localities in the Heritage Area, so this is only the 9th destination-specific cancellation for the heritage area. This stamp has an interesting story behind it. In 1987, Sister Maureen Delaney, a Catholic nun, moved from California to Tutwiler, MIssissippi to join the Tutwiler Clinic. The clinic had been founded four years earlier by the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary to serve one of the poorest counties in the Delta. Soon after arriving, Sister Delaney met Mary Sue Robertson, who sewed quilt tops by hand in her home, and was part of the strong quilt-making tradition in the African-American community there. Sister Delaney recognized that the high-quality quilts produced in this tradition had untapped value that could be used to empower the women in this community. She brought together expert quilters and sewers, along with younger women who could learn from those with more experience, and carry on the quilt-making tradition. Although Mary Sue Robertson would die just two years later, her experience with Sister Maureen Delaney led directly to the establishment of the Tutwiler Quilters, along with the Tutwiler Community Education Center. One of Mary Sue Robertson’s quilts still hangs in the Tutwiler Community Education Center, and the Tutwiler Quilters still sell a variety of quilts and other creations. These
The Nez Perce National Historical Park interprets the culture and history of the Nez Perce Tribe of American Indians, and includes a total of 38 sites across four states – although only three of them current have separate cancellations. The Nez Perce National Historic Trail* commemorates the route taken by a large band of Nez Perce Indians under the leadership of Chief Joseph in their attempt to flee to Canada in order to escape a U.S. Cavalry unit with orders to force them on to a reservation. The trail begins in eastern Oregon and ends at the Bear Paw Battlefield unit of Nez Perce National Historical Park in north-central Montana. Like Tule Lake National Monument, the Nez Perce National Historic Trail tell the story of a darker period in U.S. History of the government forcibly expelling pepople from their homes.
The main visitor center for both the park and the trail is located in Spalding, Idaho in the center of Idaho’s panhandle. The town of Lapwai is the next town to the south of Spalding, and is the seat of government of the Nez Perce Tribe. The town of Spalding is named after Henry Spalding, who was a missionary to the Nez Perce. The addition of the new stamps reading “Lapwai, ID” adds a stamp with a name in the Nez Perce Tribe’s own language for the park and trail dedicated to their history and culture. The Nez Perce National Historical Park includes numerous sites in the area relating to the cultural traditions and history of the Nez Perce Tribe. The visitor center also includes a stamp for the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail, commemorating the important encounter the explorers had with the Nez Perce on their journey across the Rocky Mountains.
Saratoga National Historical Park commemorates the 1777 turning-point battle of the American Revolutionary War. The battle defeated British General John Burgoyne’s planned three-pronged attack to re-take what is now New York State and divide the colonies. The Saratoga Monument is located in the town of Victory, New York and is open seasonally for self-guided climbs to the top. You can also find the restored home of American General Philip Schuyler in nearby Schuylerville, also open seasonally.
The Rodgers Tavern is located in Perryville, at the top of the Chesapeake Bay, and just across the Susquehanna River from Havre de Grace, Maryland – which is a Passport cancellation site of its own. The British burned Havre de Grace as well as the nearby Principio Iron Furnace during the War of 1812 in May 1813 – a year and a half before the famed Battle of Fort McHenry in Baltimore. The Star-Spangled Banner National Historic Trail links together many sites associated with British activity in the Chesapeake Bay during the War of 1812, as well as marking the actual route of attack for British troops on their way to Baltimore for the fateful engagement there.
The Rodgers Tavern was originally built in the late 1600’s and was known as the “ferry house” for its association with a ferry across the Susquehanna River to Havre de Grace, Maryland. George Washington was a frequent guest at the tavern on his travels between Virginia and Philadelphia and points north. This includes stopping there with the Comte de Rochambeau on his way to the final engagement of the Revolutionary War in Yorktown, Virginia – a journey commemorated by the Washington-Rochambeau Revolutionary Route National Historic Trail.
Cover Photo: The Saratoga Monument in Victory, NY. Photo from 2007.
Note: the original release of stamps for May 2019 included a cancellation for Nez Perce National Historic Trail | Lapwai, ID. Prior to the publication of this post, however, the list was corrected to reflect that this was a stamp for the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail. This post reflects the corrected list.
Abraham Lincoln National Heritage Area | Charleston, IL
Oil Region National Heritage Area |
Oil City, PA
Drake Well Museum
Pumping Jack Museum
DeBence Antique Music World
National Aviation Heritage Area | WACO Air Museum
El Camino Real de Tierra Adentro National Historic Trail | Albuquerque Museum, NM
North Country National Scenic Trail | Jay Cooke State Park, MN
Oregon National Historic Trail |
Homestead NM of America, NE
McLoughlin House, OR
Harry S Truman NHS, MO
Pony Express National Historic Trail |
B. F. Hastings Building, CA
Fort Sedgwick Museum, CO
Pony Express National Museum
Old Sacramento Visitor Center, CA
Santa Fe National Historic Trail | Bent’s Old Fort NHS, CO
Trail of Tears National Historic Trial |
Great Smoky Mountains NP – Oconoaluftee, NC
Great Smoky Mountains NP – Sugarlands, TN
Hidden Springs, Shawnee NF, IL
Mississippi Bluffs, Shawnee NF, IL
Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail | St. Mary’s County Museum Division, MD
Star-Spangled Banner National Historic Trail | St. Mary’s County Museum Division, MD
Underground Railroad Freedom Network | St. Mary’s County Museum Division, MD
As I get caught up, I am going to combine two months of stamps from last winter.
The Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area straddles the border between Pennsylvania and New Jersey, and provides a relatively close National Park experience for millions of residents in the New York and Pennsylvania metro areas, as well as millions more residents of eastern Pennsylvania and central New Jersey. The park has historically had six cancellation locations, and this months listings simply represent a “reboot” of the same six cancellation locations, with a consistent lexicon for each location on the bottoms of the new stamps.
More interesting are the new stamps for Everglades National Park. This park already has six cancellation locations, including one at each of this massive national park’s five visitor centers. The sixth is for the Nike Missile Site, which was added in January 2016. The three new additions this month are for each of the three authorized airboat tour operators within Everglades National Park. So getting a complete set of Passport cancellations for this Park will now require visiting each of the three authorized airboat concessionaires. I’m trying to think of a parallel for placing Passport cancellations at multiple concessionaires, but I think that this may be a first.
Hawaii Volcanoes National Park has been much in the news lately for the ongoing volcanic eruption that closed most of the park for several months in 2018. The Kahuku Unit, however, is an outlying area of the park, away from the main crater of Kilauea. It is one of the only parts of the park that was able to remain open during the eruption event.
A highlight of this group of stamps are the first five stamps for the Oil Region National Heritage Area, which previously did not have any passport cancellation locations. The headquarters of the Oil Region Alliance are located in Oil City, PA, along with the Venango Museum of Art, Science, and Industry. The Drake Well Museum, the fist commercially-successful oil well, is just to the north in the town of Titusville, Pennsylvania. The Pumping Jack Museum, dedicated to the symbol of oil wells everywhere, can be found in the town of Emlemton, Pennsylvania. Finally, the DeBence Antique Music World is a museum dedicated to antique mechanical musical instruments in the town of Franklin.
The National Aviation Heritage Area has had a number of unofficial passport cancellations for its “Wil-bear Wright Passport Program” (a special program specific to the National Heritage Area) for a number of years, but the new stamp for the WACO Air Museum in Troy, Ohio is its first official Passport to Your National Parks cancellation. The museum is dedicated to the history of the historic WACO Air Company; for a time it was the largest manufacturer of civil aircraft in the country during the early days in the history of aviation.
Chesapeake Bay Gateways Network | Jefferson Patterson Park & Museum
Star-Spangled Banner National Historic Trail | Jefferson Patterson Park & Museum
Underground Railroad Freedom Network | Jefferson Patterson Park & Museum
Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument |
Lewis & Clark National Historic Trail | National Frontier Trails Museum, MO
Schuykill River Valley National Heritage Area |
The list of new stamps was fairly short over these two months, so I’m combining November and December for 2017 together into a single post.
Three new stamps were issued for the Jefferson Patterson Park and Museum in southern Maryland, which previously has had a Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail stamp since September 2015. Jefferson Patterson Park preserves the Point Farm Estate, which was donated the state of Maryland by philanthropist Mary Marvin Breckenridge Patterson in 1983. She made the donation in honor of her late husband, Jefferson Patterson, a former U.S. ambassador to Uruguay, and the son of the founder of the National Cash Register company.
One of the highlights of Jefferson Patterson Park is a reconstruction of an Indian Village on the property, of the sort that might have been encountered by John Smith on one of his voyages of exploration up the Chesapeake Bay in 1609. The park is also the site of the 1813 naval engagement known as the Battle of St. Leonard’s Creek, which was fought in the Patuxent River directly offshore the property. In addition to visitor services, the park is the site of ongoing archaeological research, and has exhibits related to the science of archaeology. This month’s additions give this park a total of four cancellation stamps.
Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument in New Mexico is one of the most-remote national parks in the contiguous United States, located some 100 miles from the nearest national parks and some 35 miles from the nearest town. The first new stamp simply reflects a change in the main post office servicing the park, which formerly was Silver City, New Mexico, but now is Mimbres, New Mexico. The Cliff Dwellings themselves were built around the year 1275 and are located at more than a mile above sea level. To reach them, visitors have to drive about two miles from the Visitor Center to the trailhead, and then hike a one mile loop trail. The second stamp is the first one to be located at the National Park Service’s trailhead contact station.
Finally, the Schuykill River Valley National Heritage Area includes a corridor from where the Schuykill River meets the Delaware River in Philadelphia out to Pottstown, Pennsylvania. The two stamps this month are replacements for previously existing stamps, and reflect a change in branding for the partner association that manages the Heritage Area. The association has rebranded itself as Schuylkill River Greenways, Inc. and the new stamps read Schuylkill River Greenways NHA on top – although the legal name of the Heritage Area, Schuylkill River Valley National Heritage Area, remains the same. Both of these stamps are located at the Heritage Area’s Headquarters Offices in Pottstown, Pennsylvania. This Heritage Area has three other cancellations, located at Hopewell Furnace National Historic Site, Valley Forge National Historical Park, and Independence National Historical Park; all of which retain stamps with the original branding.
On April 12, 2016, President Obama used his authority under the Antiquities Act to establish the Belmont-Paul Women’s Equality National Monument in the Capitol Hill neighborhood of Washington, DC. The Sewall-Belmont House has actually received funding and technical assistance from the National Park Service dating back to 1974, making it an Affiliated Area of the National Park System. However, since it has remained in private hands, it has not officially been counted as a Unit of the National Park System until now.
In picking this compound name, President Obama chose to eschew going with the “law firm” name for this new park of Sewall-Belmont-Paul National Monument. Instead, the name Sewall was dropped in favor of adding the name of famous feminist and suffragette Alice Paul.
The name Sewall comes from Robert Sewall, who had the house constructed on Capitol Hill around 1800. Historical records indicate that the Sewall family only actually occupied the house for a short time, instead renting out to numerous officials and dignitaries. Among its many residents were Albert Gallatin, Thomas Jefferson’s Secretary of the Treasury, who arranged the financing for the Louisiana Purchase and the subsequent Lewis & Clark expedition. Gallatin’s home estate in western Pennsylvania is now Friendship Hill National Historic Site.
Nonetheless, the house over time came to be known as the Sewall House. Although it cannot be verified, tradition has long held that during the British attack on Washington in the War of 1812 (now commemorated by the Star-Spangled Banner National Historic Trail) shots were fired at the British troops from the Sewall House, leading the British to set the Sewall House on fire. If this indeed happened, it was noteworthy as while the British burned the government buildings in Washington, they actually took care to spare civilian buildings, which they viewed as belonging to once and future British subjects.
The name Belmont refers to Alva Vanderbilt Belmont, the wealthy philanthropist and feminist who bankrolled the National Woman’s Party’s acquisition of the Sewall House. Alva Erskine Smith was born into a wealthy family in Mobile, Alabama and her first husband was William Kissam Vanderbilt; grandson of Cornelius Vanderbilt, and the brother of Frederick William Vanderbilt. (Frederick William was responsible for building the Hyde Park, New York estate that is now Vanderbilt Mansion National Historic Site.) Alva divorced her husband in March 1895, and then married Oliver Hazard Perry Belmont less than one year later in January 1896. (Oliver Belmont was the grandnephew of the famous Oliver Hazard Perry, the hero of the Battle of Lake Erie in the War of 1812, and commemorated by the Perry’s Victory International Peace Memorial in Put-in-Bay, Ohio.) Oliver Belmont’s sudden death in 1908 seems to have directly lead to Alva Belmont actively devoting herself to the cause of women’s suffrage.
The name Paul, of course, refers to Alice Paul. Alice Paul has rightly earned fame as the dynamo of the women’s suffrage movement in the United States. She recognized that the cause of women’s suffrage, which had languished for more than 100 years in this country could be brought to fruition through a relentless campaign of agitation and political action. She also recognized that she was just the person with the fame and charisma to rally a movement to do just that.
Frustrated by the pace of change, in 1913 Alice Paul, along with another woman, Lucy Burns, separated from the National American Woman Suffrage Association (N.A.W.S.A.) to form their own organization solely dedicated to a Constitutional Amendment for women’s suffrage. Shortly thereafter, Alva Belmont merged her own women’s suffrage organization into the new group, and in 1916 the new group was renamed as the National Woman’s Party. Just four years later the National Woman’s Party would secure its greatest success with the passage of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution.
Around one decade later, when the National Woman’s Party needed a new headquarters, Alva Belmont was able to purchase the old Sewall House on Capitol Hill for that purpose. Located just a few blocks from the Capitol, it was a prime location from which the National Woman’s Party could engage in their principal work of lobbying Congress to advance their cause of an Equal Rights Amendment to the Constitution. At the time, the National Woman’s Party officially renamed the Sewall House as the “Alva Belmont House,” but it appears that the long-standing Sewall House name was not so easily dropped out of common use, and the name Sewall-Belmont House came into popular usage instead. Now, of course, the property will become known as the Belmont-Paul Women’s Equality National Monument, and I suspect that this name change will be a bit more successful than the last, what with the branding power of the National Park Service behind it.
Many historians date the beginning of the organized women’s suffrage movement in the United States to the Seneca Falls Convention of July 1848. Looking at the history of the early women’s suffrage movement, its immediately apparent how women’s suffrage was a natural outgrowth of the anti-slavery abolition movement and also out of the religious traditions of the Quakers. The Quakers have long been an anti-clerical movement within Christianity, originating in 17th Century England. The Quakers believed in the “priesthood of all believers,” and did not typically have a formal religious hierarchy. By the 19th Century, these beliefs were evolving within Quakerism to include a more radical equality of all people, including men and women. Not surprisingly, many of the early leaders of the women’s suffrage movement were shaped in their beliefs by the Quakers.
Today, the National Park Service’s Women’s Rights National Historical Park includes the site of the Wesleyan Methodist Chapel where the Convention was held, as well as the homes of the Hunt Family and the M’Clintock Family, who were both Quakers, and the home of Elizabeth Cady Stanton, who was not. Word of the Convention was initially spread both among progressive Quakers, and among the networks of activists in the abolition of slavery movement. These networks included Frederick Douglass from nearby Rochester, New York, who was a friend of Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and who published word of the Convention in his North Star newspaper.
The Convention would last for two days, women-only on the first day, with men joining on the second day. At the end of the second day, the Convention adopted the Declaration of Sentiments, which became the seminal document of the women’s rights movement. It is notable for its comprehensive assessment of the inequalities between women and men of that day, and is now engraved in stone at Women’s Rights NHP in Seneca Falls. Although the first goal of the women’s rights movement would become the right to vote, from the beginning there was a broader articulation of civil and social rights – such as the right to own property, the right to higher education, and the right to become a “teacher of theology, medicine, or law.” All of these things, however, would take many years.
Following Seneca Falls, the women’s rights movement would receive a further boost in 1851 when Susan B. Anthony was introduced to Elizabeth Cady Stanton. Since Susan B. Anthony would never marry, the absence of family commitments allowed her to spend more time travelling and organizing on behalf of the women’s suffrage movement. Anthony would become perhaps the most-famous women’s rights campaigner in the country, and the women’s suffrage amendment to the Constitution would become informally known as the “Anthony Amendment.” With the addition of Belmont-Paul National Monument to the National Park System, Susan B. Anthony now clearly holds the distinction of being the most-significant figure in the women’s rights movements who is not yet commemorated in the National Park System.
Despite Anthony joining the cause, however, success would not be the reward for this first generation of activists. Following the Civil War, the women’s rights movement would split over the question of supporting the 15th Amendment, which gave the right to vote to all men, including African-Americans, but not to women. Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton ultimately decided to oppose the 15th Amendment on those grounds, leading to a split and the forming of rival organizations. That lack of unity may not have been decisive in the failure to secure women’s suffrage in the 19th Century, but it certainly didn’t help.
The leaders of the movement would continue actively working for the women’s right to vote for some 50 more years, all of them into old age, but to no avail. Lucretia Mott, a Philadelphia Quaker who played a leading role in drafting the Declaration of Sentiments would die in 1880 at the age of 87. In 1887, a women’s suffrage amendment would finally receive a vote in the U.S. Senate, but was defeated by a vote of 16 in favor to 34 against. Elizabeth Cady Stanton would die in 1902 at the age of 86. Susan B. Anthony would die in 1906, also at the age of 86.
Not surprisingly, historians cite the period of 1896 to 1910 as the nadir of the women’s suffrage movement as the heroes of the Seneca Falls generation began to fade away and it was unclear as to whom would succeed them. The organizations they founded, like the N.A.W.S.A. would continue, but they were under-funded and the cause of a Federal Constitutional Amendment had largely been abandoned in favor of pursuing women’s suffrage on a state-by-state basis.
Enter a young Quaker woman from Mount Laurel, New Jersey named Alice Paul. The year after Susan B. Anthony’s death, in 1907, Alice Paul would set out to Great Britain at the age of 21 to continue her education with postgraduate study at the London School of Economics and to join the women’s suffrage movement in that country. It was in Britain that Paul would have what she called her “conversion experience” and where she would join the militant wing the British women’s suffrage movement. It was in Britain that she met famed British activist Emmeline Pankhurst, and is also where she met fellow American Lucy Burns, which whom she would form a life-long partnership. It was also in Britain that she would be convinced that women’s suffrage would not be achieved by persuasion alone, but that the cause would require more forceful demonstrations.
Indeed, she would live this out in Britain, ultimately being arrested several times for civil disobedience. Once arrested, a frequent tactic of the suffragists, Paul included, was to begin a hunger strike, in hopes of securing a shortened sentence. However, after a particularly boisterous protest in late 1909, one in which Paul and other suffragists smashed windows, the stakes were significantly raised. In this instance, the British authorities responded to the hunger strike by holding down Paul and force-feeding her through a tube. The experience was so traumatic for Paul that she literally had to be carried out of the jail once her sentence was over.
A few months later, in January 1910, Alice Paul returned to the United States after three years in Britain. By this time Alice Paul was a suffragist celebrity in the United States. Moreover, she returned to the United States convinced that the goal of the women’s suffrage movement must be a Federal Constitutional Amendment, and that passage of this Amendment would require employing the same tactics of the militant suffragists on the other side of the Atlantic. By the end of 1912, she had completed her PhD at the University of Pennsylvania and had secured authorization from the N.A.W.S.A. to set up shop in Washington to begin lobbying activities for a Constitutional Amendment.
Once she arrived in Washington, she immediately set to work organizing confrontations in support of women’s suffrage and re-energizing the women’s movement through her charisma and her flair for the dramatic. Some of the brilliant protests she organized included a “March on the White House” the night before Woodrow Wilson’s inaugural parade in 1913, and the staging of “Silent Sentinels” in continuous peaceful protest outside the Wilson White House. The Sentinels would maintain a small fire in an urn, in which they would burn copies of any Woodrow Wilson speech referring to “freedom” or to “liberty.” These attempts to embarrass Woodrow Wilson were in keeping with Alice Paul’s grand strategy that all Democrats must be held responsible for the failure to pass the women’s suffrage amendment, since they were the party in power at the time. Alice Paul’s application of this opposition to all Democrats in the 1914 elections led to her break with the avowedly non-partisan N.A.W.S.A. and the founding of the National Woman’s Party, in 1916.
Now in charge of her own organization, Alice Paul only accelerated her campaign from there, leading to more civil disobedience and more arrests, both by herself and by the many supporters she inspired to join her. At one point, after many National Woman’s Party members were arrested after another protest, she specifically sought out arrest to join them, and was given a seven month sentence. In protest of the terrible conditions, she once again began a hunger strike, and this time she was force-fed raw eggs through a tube before ultimately being released.
However, soon the tide turned. In April 1917, the United States entered the First World War. The next January, Woodrow Wilson called for passage of the women’s suffrage amendment, quote, “as an urgent war measure.” The House of Representatives passed the amendment shortly thereafter. The Senate would finally follow suit more than one year later, passing it in June 1919 on its third attempt, sending the amendment to the States for ratification. The amendment was added to the Constitution upon ratification by Tennessee in August 1920, just in time for women across the U.S. to vote in the 1920 Presidential election. After 70 years of struggle, the women’s rights movement had achieved its most-important victory, and its hard to describe the role of Alice Paul as being anything less than central to this achievement.
With the 19th Amendment added to the Constitution, the question then became “what next?” In this interview, Alice Paul relates that her National Woman’s Party was heavily in debt from the long campaign. In the months immediately following ratification, the National Woman’s Party would basically shut down, the headquarters would be closed, and all efforts would be devoted to fundraising in order to pay off the debts. Meanwhile, the N.A.W.S.A., having accomplished its mission, would reorganize itself into the League of Women Voters, which we know to this day.
Reading about Alice Paul, however, you kind of get the sense that she would never really be happy unless she was engaged in campaign to make a difference. Having spent more than a decade of her life agitating for women’s suffrage, its hard to envision her retiring to a quiet life somewhere. So its not at all surprising that in 1921, when Alice Paul convened a meeting of National Woman’s Party to decide whether the continue, the decision was a resounding “yes.” Just as when Alice Paul first returned to the United States from Great Britain with the conviction that the top priority should be a Federal Constitutional Amendment, the new goal would also be a Constitutional Amendment. Two years later, in 1923, Alice Paul and others would return to Seneca Falls for the 75th Anniversary of the Declaration of Sentiments and to propose a new amendment to the Constitution establishing full equality for women. After some revisions in future years, it would become what we know today as the Equal Rights Amendment. The simple text of Article 1 of the ERA read:
“Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.”
The campaign to secure passage of the ERA would consume the rest of Alice Paul’s life.
In 1972, Congress finally passed the ERA and submitted it to the States, with a deadline of 6 years for ratification. Alice Paul would die in 1977 at the age of 92 with the ERA just two States shy of ratification. Unfortunately for the ERA, no further ratifications would come by the 1979 deadline, and instead, some States would actually rescind their ratification. There was a half-hearted attempt to try and extend the deadline for three years to 1982, but by then it was clear that the momentum for the ERA, and indeed the dynamo behind so much of the women’s movement, had been lost. The extended deadline also expired with no additional ratifications, and the ERA was defeated.
Just as the 15th Amendment had split the women’s movement in 1869 by extending the right to vote to African-Americans, but not to women, the ERA, which was modeled on the language of the 15th Amendment, also split the women’s movement. From the beginning in the 1920’s, many in the women’s movement expressed concern that the ERA would take away special privileges enjoyed by women, such as special protection under labor laws and laws regarding alimony. In later years, other objections would be raised including that some of the consequences of the ERA would include taking away the exemption of women from the draft, prohibiting maternity leave policies, and ending “dependent wife benefits” under Social Security. Another objection raised in the 1970’s was that an ERA prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sex would also require the government to extend recognition of marriage to same-sex couples, since marriage was defined at that time based on opposite-sex couples. Ironically, the Belmont-Paul National Monument in Alice Paul’s honor was established less than a year after the Supreme Court decided that the Constitution required that anyways – even without passage of the ERA.
It is unfortunate, but understandable, that the lasting legacy to Alice Paul in the National Park System will be associated with the unsuccessful ERA effort, rather than her brilliant campaign and greatest triumph. After passage of the 19th Amendment in 1920, the rebooted National Women’s Party found a new headquarters in 1921 in a building called the Old Brick Capitol. When that building was ultimately condemned in 1929 under eminent domain to make way for the Supreme Court Building, Alice Paul’s old friend, Alva Belmont, stepped in with the funding to secure the old Sewall House as a new headquarters. Alice Paul would lead the campaign for the ERA from this building for nearly 50 years.
The National Woman’s Party would continue to lobby for the ERA for more than a decade. In 1997, the National Woman’s Party decided to cease its lobbying efforts and to focus on preservation and education. Even though the building will now be managed as part of the National Park System, the National Woman’s Party will remain an active partner at the site, including managing their extensive collection of historical artifacts associated with the campaign for the ERA, the life of Alice Paul, and the women’s suffrage movement. With its new designation as part of the National Park System, many more visitors to Washington, DC will encounter the story of this extraordinary leader, and will remember the legacy of how through sheer determination and charismatic inspiration Alice Paul changed the course of history.
Boston Harbor Islands National Recreation Area preserves almost all of the off-shore islands in Boston Harbor, including a few that are now connected to the mainland. The stamp for Little Brewster Island is the fifth active stamp for this park. It joins a stamp for “Boston, MA” on the mainland at Long Wharf in dowtown Boston, as well as stamps for Georges Island, Peddocks Island, and Spectacle Island. The 34 islands that comprise this park include a mix of natural scenery, historic resources related to 19th century harbor defenses, and outstanding recreational opportunities. Little Brewster Island is the most-distant of the four islands with stamps, located some 8 miles from downtown Boston.
(As a side note, it should be noted that Boston Harbor Islands NRA previously had a stamp for the Gateway Pavillion information center in downtown Boston, but that stamp has not been available since 2013. Meanwhile, according to the Park map there are Ranger Stations on at least four other islands, so this park may yet add additional stamps in the months and years to come.)
Olympic National Park is one of the true gems of the U.S. National Park System, located on Washington State’s Olympic Peninsula. This stamp for the concessionarie at the Sol Duc Hot Springs Resort is one of 14 cancellations available around this large national park. The Sol Duc Hot Springs Resort is located in the temperate forests on the northern side of the park in the valley of the Sol Duc River.
The new stamps for North Manitou Island at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore makes for five cancellations at this national park located on the shores of Lake Michigan in the western part of Michigan’s Lower Peninsula. Three of those stamps are on the mainland, and now there is a stamp for both South Manitou Island and North Manitou Island located off-shore in Lake Michigan.
The Juan Bautista de Anza National Historic Trail connects sites in Arizona and California along the route taken by de Anza in 1776 to establish the settlement of San Francisco. Fort Ord National Monument was established by President Obama in 2012 on the former site of the military base of the same name on Monterey Bay. Thus, this month marks the first two stamps in the Passport Program to be located in the world-famous scenic destination of Monterey, California. The Big Break Regional Park preserves some of the land on the San Joaquin River Delta at the base of San Francisco Bay.
The Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail marks Smith’s voyages of exploration in the Chesapeake Bay from 1607-1609. This month, stamps appear to have been added for just about every Virginia State Park located on the Chesapeake Bay. In addition, Chickahominy Riverfront Park is a local park located in James City County, Virginia. Henricus Historical Park commemorates a famous #2 – it recreates the second successful English settlement in the New World. It was established 80 miles up the James River in 1611 by settlers departing from Jamestown. Mathews County Virginia has a Visitor and Information Center for its network of water trails to explore. Reedville, Virginia is located at the end of Virginia’s Northern Neck, on the Chesapeake Bay. Its Fisherman’s Museum is also a stamping location for the Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail. Vienna, Maryland is the launching point for the Nanticoke River Water Trail, which runs along the Nanticoke River all the way into southern Delaware.
The Thomas Stone National Historic Site is also an outright national park, located in the small town of Port Tobacco in southern Maryland. It preserves the home of one of Maryland’s signers of the Declaration of Independence. It probably would not have made it in to the National Park System on its own, but for the fact that the house was damaged by fire in 1977, and designation as a national park site the next year was about the only way to save it from the wrecking ball. The new stamps for the Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail and Star-Spangled Banner National Historic Trail both replace existing stamps that were already at the site, reflecing both the site’s scenic location on the Potomac River and on the route of the British invasion of Maryland during the War of 1812. This site also had a generic stamp listing all the states of the Washington-Rochambeau Revolutionary Route National Historic Trail, but this its first stamp specific to the site itself. This trail marks the route of American General George Washington and the French General Jean-Baptiste de Rochambeau from Newport, Rhode Island to Yorktown, Virginia at the end of the Revolutionary War. The Chesapeake Bay Gateways Network and the Underground Railroad: Network to Freedom are two National Park Service partnership programs, reflecting this park’s location on the Chesapeake Bay Watershed and as a former plantation were slaves lived, worked, and occasionally, escaped to freedom.
The National Park Travelers Club is a social Club that provides networking for Passport stamp collectors. They now have nine passport stamps that will be available at their member-meetups, one stamp for each Passport region.