On 9th July 1948, five women met for a tea party in Waterloo, and it marked the start of a revolution. These women sat in their cozy romantic tearooms and openly discussed their political views. Their passionate discussion sessions turned the casual tea-party affair into the
Seneca Falls Convention. Hence, one can easily say that the first convention on women’s empowerment began with tea.
Back in the late 1940s, American women were not allowed to vote, and they expressed their political views behind closed doors. Nevertheless, these women took inspiration from socialism, liberation, equality, and fraternity and demanded equal political representation.
After many debates and discussions, around 68 women and 32 men signed a declaration. This document highlighted women’s grievances and outlined the agenda of the first women’s rights movement.
American Women’s Suffrage Movement: a Brief History
The women’s suffrage movement in America began in the mid-19th century. This movement had a long set of goals, but its leaders decided to focus on “women’s rights to vote”. It all began with the 1848 Seneca Falls Convention, followed by a number of states campaigns, petition signing, and courtroom battles.
American women in this period were supposed to be composed within a room and had no voice of their own. However, the “tea party” changed the course of history. It gave these women a voice to express themselves and provided them with a new political exposure. Although this movement was yet to succeed, it encouraged many early women pioneers in Congress.
Americans acknowledge the suffrage movement as a “national movement”. But the suffragists from the United States and other parts of the world communicated and collaborated as well.
There are sources of letters shared between them, discussing strategies and words of encouragement. Thus this agenda of women’s vote eventually turned into a global goal.
Tea Room vs Coffee House
A “coffee house” was a place for men to meet and discuss various topics, ranging from politics, business, and arts. In comparison to it, there were no “tea rooms”, although it was a more popular choice of beverage over coffee. Tea was still kept behind the doors representing women’s fate during the early 1950s.
As women were kept inside a room, they developed the idea of a tea room. Previously they had no right to run any businesses that might interfere with the coffee houses. However, years later, with the economic growth, the government allowed them to open or rent places for business. As tea was a socially acceptable commercial product, women chose it for business.
In the late 19th century, some hotels started to offer tea services in tea rooms. And in the early 20th century, tea dances became very popular. So gradually, the tea rooms became somewhat equal to a coffee house. However, intimate tea parties were more popular in the States.
The Tea Party
Invitations for tea were a very lavish and prestigious affair for the elites. Jane Hunt was the hostess of one such tea party that pioneered the women’s revolution.
It was this party that helped women to discuss various issues with their political rights. The impact of the discussion was such that within two days, the first announcement of the convention was made. This was then followed by a long session of convincing people to stand for women’s right to vote.
This was when women’s empowerment was a vague concept in society. However, around 200 men and women came forward to write history. In 1848 the suffragists began their organized revolt that demanded: “women’s rights to vote”. For the next few decades, leaders continued to struggle and continued their protests.
The United States granted Susan B. Anthony Amendment resolved this issue and guaranteed American women the right to vote on 21st May 1919. Its 19th amendment was approved and added to the US constitution in 1920.
Now, in the modern-day age, tea still plays a significant role in representing sophistication, strong beliefs, and innovative minds.