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About Belva A Lockwood (Bennett)
From humble beginnings, Belva Lockwood (born 1830) forged an inspirational career that spanned decades in the nation’s capital. At a time when the Union was gripped by the reactionary conservatism that followed the the Civil War, she fought hard for the liberalization of social policy and exercisable civil rights for women.
After struggling for years against the white, male-dominated social structure, she became one of the first female attorneys in the United States. When the US Supreme Court refused to allow her to argue cases in front of them, she lobbied Congress to enact laws allowing women to enter professional fields. After the successful passage of this legislation, she became the first woman admitted to the Supreme Court bar, opening the door for generations of brilliant young professional women to follow.
In 1884 and 1888, in a move that angered her longtime friend and social ally, Susan B. Anthony, Lockwood ran for President of the United States. Though her campaign was the subject of much ridicule in the newspapers, she pushed women’s issues into the limelight, and gained thousands of supporters across the nation.
Despite a brilliant mind, and a career dedicated toward the expansion of women’s civil liberties, Belva Lockwood never saw universal suffrage in the United States. She died on May 19th, 1917, three years before the 19th Amendment to the Constitution granted women the right to vote.
Belva Lockwood was inducted into the National Women's Hall of Fame in 1983