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On This Day In History: Belva Lockwood

In 1884 Belva Lockwood was putting the final touches on her campaign for president under the Equal Rights Party. To celebrate her role in paving the way for Hillary Clinton (love her or hate her having a women run for president is pretty cool), we thought we would excerpt Belva’s biography from The Oxford Companion to American Law edited by Kermit L. Hall. We found this excerpt by searching Oxford Reference Online.  Keep shooting for the moon ladies!

Lockwood, Belva Ann (born Royalton, N.Y., 24 October 1830; died Washington, D.C., 19 May 1917). She graduated from Genesee College (later Syracuse University) in 1857 and began a career teaching, moving to Washington, D.C. in 1866 where she founded her own school. Two years later she married Ezekiel Lockwood, who took over the school. Belva then turned to the study of law, enrolling at National University Law School in 1871 after being refused admission to the law schools at Columbian College (now George Washington University), Georgetown University, and Howard University. She graduated in 1873 and was admitted to the bar, but was refused, based on the custom of the time, an opportunity to speak before the U.S. Supreme Court.

Lockwood became a proponent of women’s rights. After being denied admission to the Supreme Court in 1876, she successfully lobbied Congress to pass legislation that resulted in her becoming, in March 1879, the first women to be admitted to practice before the Court.

In 1884 and 1888 she ran unsuccessfully for president on the National Equal Rights Party ticket, but played an active role in politics throughout her life. Lockwood was instrumental in persuading Congress to add amendments to the statehood bills for Oklahoma, New Mexico, and Arizona that granted women in those states the vote. She also pursued a vigorous legal practice. Her most important case resulted in the Cherokee Nation receiving $5 million in damages from the U.S. government for encroaching on tribal territory.

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