Good morning and Happy Third of March!
We’re delving right into Women’s History Month, so we’ll start with today’s historic anniversary.
Belva Ann Bennett Lockwood was the first female lawyer to present a case before the U.S. Supreme Court. That happened in 1879.
It was an arduous journey for Bennett, who graduated what is now George Washington Law School with honors but was denied the law degree. Steaming mad, Belva wrote to then-president Ulysses S. Grant. While she did not hear back personally from him, her law degree was subsequently delivered to her. That did not mean clients flocked to her. One judge told her she would never be taken seriously as a women, and her presence in the courtroom would be distracting to men. Another judge even said God himself said women were inferior to men. Apparently, God and this judge discussed this over a beer.
Belva was a staunch advocate for women’s rights and proper education for girls. What that means, is, as a former teacher, she learned that girls were taught mostly how to keep house. A few electives on how to teach were tossed in for the promising students. Belva opened a coed school, unheard of in these times, where girls were given equal access as boys to courses in math, history, civics, literature, foreign languages and physical education.
Get this, Belva is the second woman to run for President of the United States. (Victoria Woodhull was first, and we’re excited to post about her soon, very juicy stuff.) That’s something, especially considering women were not even allowed to vote in 1884 or 1888, the two elections she sought to clench. She was a candidate of the National Equal Rights Party, which her male counterparts dubbed “The Petticoat Rule.”
Well, we know how that ends. Oh, wait, The U.S.P.S. did recognize Belva with a first class postage stamp in 1986. It’s worth 17 cents.
Belva has much to proud about and we have so much to celebrate.
Enjoy this anniversary of another milestone for women’s rights.