WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Senators Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) and Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) were joined by U.S. Secretary of the Interior David L. Bernhardt for a ceremony to designate the Hermitage Hotel in Nashville as a National Historic Landmark. Susan Combs, chair of the Women’s Suffrage Centennial Commission and Assistant Secretary for Policy, Management and Budget for the Department of the Interior, was also present.
“We’d be hard-pressed to identify a more critical landmark in the fight for suffrage than the Hermitage Hotel in Nashville,” Senator Blackburn said. “Suffragists and anti-suffragists alike called the hotel their headquarters when activists, journalists, and politicians descended on Nashville for the special session of the General Assembly in August of 1920. In the hundredth year of women’s suffrage, it is my great pleasure to join Secretary Bernhardt and Senator Alexander in celebrating the history of the Hermitage Hotel with its designation as a Historic Landmark.”
“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 Secretary Bernhardt. “I thank Senator Blackburn and Senator Alexander for their leadership in emphasizing the importance the Hermitage Hotel has as a National Historic Landmark.”
“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,” Senator 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. I hope this designation will increase public awareness and appreciation for the history of the women’s suffrage movement.”
In the summer of 1920, the nationwide effort to secure voting rights for women narrowed to Tennessee as the last state needed to ratify the 19th Amendment. Local, state and national figures in suffrage, politics, industry and media converged on the Hermitage Hotel that served as the headquarters of both the pro- and anti-suffrage forces as they lobbied state legislators. Carrie Chapman Catt, president of the National American Woman Suffrage Association, stayed at the Hermitage Hotel for nearly six weeks, guiding the strategy and tactics to win the final vote in the state legislature.
When Tennessee became the “Perfect 36th” state to ratify the 19th Amendment on Aug. 18, 1920, the achievement fulfilled more than 70 years of tireless efforts by suffragists to enfranchise American women under the U. S. Constitution.
This August, Senators Blackburn and Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) are leading their female Senate colleagues in a project with the Smithsonian Institution to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Nineteenth Amendment. The Senators’ essays on the anniversary will be featured as part of the National Museum of American History’s “Creating Icons: How We Remember Woman Suffrage” exhibition.
As a result of Senator Blackburn’s bipartisan legislation, this summer the U.S. Mint is creating a commemorative coin to honor 100 years of women’s suffrage.