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Belva Lockwood, pioneer in the field of law, and second woman candidate for President.
We continue our series of Presidential candidates with Belva Lockwood, the woman who many regard as the first “legitimate” female nominee for the office. You be the judge; certainly, her age and employment history are a contrast to Victoria Woodhull, (covered here), whose earlier campaign, in 1872, was tainted by scandal (and marred by not meeting the age requirement of 35).
This woman had it all together, but it hadn’t come easily!
Belva Bennett Lockwood was born in 1830 on a farm in upstate NY. She paid for and arranged her own education, but family pressure drove her to marriage rather than college.
Being widowed at 22 changed the course of her life; teaching, college, law school, and finally the groundbreaking milestone of being the first woman to argue cases before the Supreme Court.
Belva was not only a pioneer herself, but sponsored other trailblazers to the Court..
Then, in 1884, Belva Lockwood ran as the Equal Rights party’s candidate for President. She was no fool; the Presidency was a long shot, but the impact on society would be undeniable. She took the inevitable backlash in stride, saying that being featured in a political cartoon was an accomplishment in itself.
You have to be famous in the first place to be mocked in the national media!
A halfhearted attempt at the office in 1888 ended her quest for elected office, but her reputation was such that several Presidents, many educational institutions, and the Nobel Peace Prize Committee all relied on her advice.
Her portrait in the National Portrait Gallery.
Belva’s example had been an inspiration for women to move into a sphere that had been denied them. (A convention of female lawyers she chaired in 1893 had over 200 attendees.)
Belva Lockwood died in 1917, having forged a path of education, advocacy, and determination for generations to follow.
When asked if there would ever be a woman President, Belva said:
If a woman demonstrates that she is fitted to be president, she will someday occupy the White House. It will be entirely on her own merits, however. No movement will place her there simply because she is a woman. It will come if she proves herself fit for the position.
Listen to the audio for her life in detail!
Here are the books Beckett recommended:
“Ballots For Belva” by Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen
“Belva Lockwood: The Woman Who Would be President” by Jill Norgren
The closing song is “Keep on the Path” by The Mystery Body.