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Lockwood belva Anne.jpg

Lockwood, Belva Anne. 16" x 20". 2016. Collection of the artist. Montreal, Canada.

An educator, attorney, and suffragist, Belva Ann Lockwood was a proponent of early feminist thought and world peace and was the second woman to run for President. She was an extraordinary and determined American who broke revolutionary ground throughout her lifetime. Lockwood taught formally in institutions, but also practically in the socio-political world through her radical feminist activism in society, law, and politics. She challenged educational institutions, the United States Supreme Court, the Constitution, and the global patriarchal condition to champion the rights of all unrepresented groups. 


Impact on Education

Widowed at twenty-two with an infant daughter, Lockwood decided to seek higher education, a path that was both unorthodox and mostly unavailable for women during her time. Persevering for years through the discrimination in college preparatory schools, through the struggle for university admission, and for access to equal education, Lockwood earned a Bachelor of Science in 1857 and in 1873 a Bachelor of Laws from the National University Law School. Lockwood was a pioneer of Suffrage and the Women’s Liberation Movement who fought for women’s legal representation and their place in the court of law. Her experiences battling gender discrimination in educational institutions prompted her first political missions for educational reform. Susan B. Anthony was a large influence on Lockwood’s philosophy and on the unprecedented bills she passed.

Belva Ann Lockwood (1830 – 1917)

Many of these bills established women’s right to learn, to practice, and to profit equally from their skills. She also developed and taught at coeducational schools, where women and men had equal access to curricula and where women had the opportunity to prepare for more than a domestic life alone.

Legal Reforms and Presidential Campaign

Battles in the professional world led Lockwood to focus on women’s rights to practice law and to equalize pay for women in federal employment. Lockwood authored numerous essays, articles, and bills on gender equality. But her work was not simply ideological. Against all norms and permissions, Lockwood enacted the reforms she sought to implement nationally and universally.

With the support of political notables such as John Montgomery Glover, Benjamin Butler, Aaron Sargent, and George Hoar, Lockwood successfully petitioned Congress to rule that “no other woman otherwise qualified shall be debarred from practice before any United States Court on account of sex or coverture.” Thus the Lockwood Bill was created to relieve the legal obstructions impeding women. In the years after setting this legislative precedent, she enacted several others by becoming the first woman sworn into the United States Supreme Court and into the United States Court of Claims and the first to argue a case before the Supreme Court. Syracuse University awarded Lockwood a Doctor of Laws honoris causa in 1909. In 1902, she won the Cherokee a staggering $1,11,1284.70 plus 5% interest from the time of the treaty’s implementation. 


She is also notable for her success in representing the Eastern Cherokee against the United States government regarding outstanding payment for land succession. In 1902, she won the Cherokee a staggering $1,11,1284.70 plus 5% interest from the time of the treaty’s implementation. Underlying Lockwood’s feminist concerns was an aspiration for world peace. She was involved in many peace coalitions and brought to Congress the first bill recommending an international arbitration court. 

Because of her pioneering, her relentless determination for world peace, and her dedication to moving marginalized communities into places of equal social and legal standing, Lockwood was nominated to run for President in 1884. Lockwood ran under the Equal Rights Party in two consecutive elections and was the second woman in America on a presidential election ballot. 


Lockwood is remembered for forging a path of hope for women and others marginalized in American society and Law, and for her efforts to extend hopefulness worldwide. Lockwood left a legacy of courage and unrelenting certainty, which remains important to us in the face of gender and racial issues still pervasive today.

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