A Woman to Know: Belva Lockwood

I do not believe in sex distinction in literature, law, politics, or trade — or that modesty and virtue are more becoming to women than to me, but wish we had more of it everywhere. — Belva

(image via Library of Congress)

Before Hillary, there was Belva.

Really no one can describe Belva's legacy better than Megan Neary, a major Lockwood fan girl and women's history all-star:

Belva Lockwood was an American lawyer, reformer, and a member of countless national and international women's rights, suffrage, and peace organizations. She was also the second woman ever to run for president of the United States.

Before running for president, Lockwood developed an extensive political pedigree. In 1879 she drafted the law that permitted women to practice before the U.S. Supreme Court. She also became the first woman lawyer to take advantage of that new law. She would probably be aghast to know that women and men of the 21st century aren't always paid the same money for the same work. She was the person responsible for ensuring that Congress approved a bill that demanded women and men in the employ of the federal government would receive equal pay.

In 1884 and in 1888 Lockwood was the candidate of the Equal Rights party for the presidency of the United States. Her bids for president brought massive national attention in the press to her women's rights and world peace activism, as well as giving heart to the women's movement that was so desperate to get women the right to vote.

Although she lost handily both times, her defeat did not keep her from enacting change for women in the U.S. and around the world. She lived a long and active life, and continued to advocate for women's rights until the day she died. As a member of the American Woman's Republic, Lockwood undertook a journey to the 1913 International Woman's Suffrage Association (IWSA) Congress in Budapest, Hungary — at the age of 84.


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