Remember suffrage at the National Constitution Center

Published 12:00 am Sunday, August 29, 2010

A mere 89 years ago, women had no constitutionally guaranteed right to vote in elections.

In January of 1918, President Woodrow Wilson announced that he was supporting a new amendment to the US Constitution that would give women the right to vote.

The House of Representatives passed the amendment but it failed in the Senate after a series of delays. The National Woman’s Party began a campaign to oust members of Congress who voted against the Amendment -with great success.

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The following year, both Houses of Congress were overwhelmingly pro-suffrage. On May 21, 1919 the House of Representatives passed the amendment by a vote of 304 to 89 and in June the Senate passed it by a margin of 56 to 24. After ratification by the States the Nineteenth Amendment was certified on Aug. 26, 1920.

Speaking of the US Constitution, an excellent place to visit is the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia. This venue opened July 4, 2003 on Philadelphia’s redesigned Independence Mall.

The stunning, modern National Constitution Center is the first museum in the world devoted to the US Constitution. It tells the story of its history and its relevance in the daily lives of Americans.

The 160,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art facility, designed by Pei Cobb Freed & Partners in angular glass, steel and limestone has departments of history, education, and outreach, all using a blend of the most exciting and attention-grabbing technological tools, to offer something for everyone, from scholars to casual visitors.

While same-day tickets are usually available, it’s a good idea to buy tickets in advance and arrive 20 minutes early for the timed theater shows that welcome visitors twice each hour.

As you stroll north from the Independence Visitor Center you’ll cross Arch Street and a broad walkway to the gleaming white stone entrance of the Constitution Center.

You are greeted with those three magic words, “We the People”. A 15- to 17-minute multimedia show with an inspiring live actor and 360-degree movie screen explains the Constitution’s early history.

From there, visitors learn how the Constitution affects the functioning of government. You can take your own Presidential Oath of Office, explore a national family tree, try on a Supreme Court robe, and check out the Bill of Rights.

Signers Hall has bronze, life-size figures of the 39 men who signed the Constitution and the three who dissented.

A special exhibit, “Art of the American Soldier”, debuts Sept. 24, 2010 and runs through Jan. 10, 2011.

This display has been created by the National Constitution Center in conjunction with the US Army Center of Military History and the National Museum of the United States Army.

I’ve been told that this exhibition unveils powerful works of art created by American soldiers in the line of duty. Drawn from the Army’s rarely seen collection of over 15,000 paintings and sketches, the exhibition showcases the artistic response of soldiers from World War I through the present day.

This unprecedented celebration of their creative spirit presents unforgettable images in a never before seen collection offering intimate and first hand insight into the soldier experience.

Within two block of the National Constitution Center are two more American icons: the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall. You should plan on spending at least half a day here on Independence Mall.

You do not need a ticket to see the Liberty Bell but for entry into Independence Hall you must have a Free timed ticket.

This can be picked up on the morning of your visit at the Independence Visitor Center at Sixth and Market Street, Philadelphia. You have the greatest choice of entry times if you arrive when they open at 8:30 a.m.

On some days they book up quickly so get there early!

The best times to see the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall are in the early morning 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. and late afternoon 3 p.m. to 5 p.m.

Once you have secured your tickets to Independence Hall at the Visitor Center, access the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall through security located on 6th Street between Market and Chestnut Streets.

Sightseeing and touring can sure work up an appetite and a thirst so stroll a few blocks from Independence Mall over to the City Tavern, a traditional 18th century public house.

Local lore has it that when John Adams arrived in Philadelphia in August of 1774 to attend the First Continental Congress he was greeted by leading citizens and immediately taken to this tavern he would call “the most genteel tavern in America.” The tavern Adams referred to is the City Tavern.

A trip back to Philly is on my must visit list! Maybe I’ll try to package it around the time that Ohio University travels to Philadelphia to play Temple University in football. Go Bobcats…Bleed Green!

Does your group or organization need a speaker? The Travel Professor is available! Just contact him at 740.550.9540 or