Foreword by U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg
In Belva Lockwood: The Woman Who Would Be President, prize-winning legal historian Jill Norgren recounts, for the first time, the life story of one of the nineteenth century’s most surprising and accomplished advocates for women’s rights. As Norgren shows, Lockwood was fearless in confronting the male establishment, commanding the attention of presidents, members of Congress, influential writers, and everyday Americans. Obscured for too long in the historical shadow of her longtime colleague, Susan B. Anthony, Lockwood steps into the limelight at last in this engaging new biography.
Born on a farm in upstate New York in 1830, Lockwood married young and reluctantly became a farmer’s wife. After her husband's premature death, however, she earned a college degree, became a teacher, and moved to Washington, DC with plans to become an attorney-an occupation all but closed to women. Not only did she become one of the first female attorneys in the U.S., but in 1879 became the first woman ever allowed to practice at the bar of the Supreme Court.
In 1884 Lockwood continued her trailblazing ways as the first woman to run a full campaign for the U.S. Presidency. She ran for President again in 1888. Although her candidacies were unsuccessful (as she knew they would be), Lockwood demonstrated that women could compete with men in the political arena. After these campaigns she worked tirelessly on behalf of the Universal Peace Union, hoping, until her death in 1917, that she, or the organization, would win the Nobel Peace Prize.
Belva Lockwood deserves to be far better known. As Norgren notes, it is likely that Lockwood would be widely recognized today as a feminist pioneer if most of her personal papers had not been destroyed after her death. Fortunately for readers, Norgren shares much of her subject’s tenacity and she has ensured Lockwood’s rightful place in history with this meticulously researched and beautifully written book.