Belva Ann Bennett Mcnall Lockwood (1830-1917)


Belva Ann Bennett McNall Lockwood, lawyer, pacifist, and feminist, made history as the woman who won the right for women lawyers to practice before the Supreme Court. She herself became the first woman lawyer to practice before the Supreme Court, founded the national Equal Rights Party and was its candidate for president in 1884 and 1888, and won a precedent-setting legal case for the Cherokee Indian tribe based on their treaty rights with the United States government (1906).

Born in New York, she married Uriah McNall and had a daughter, but was widowed soon after. She moved to Washington, began one of the earliest private coeducational schools, married again, and was widowed 11 years later. Earning a law degree from National University Law School, she lobbied Congress for a law admitting women to practice before the Supreme Court, and became the first to do so. A founder of Washington’s first suffrage group, the Universal Franchise Association, she also participated in National Woman Suffrage Association conventions. She was a peace activist, an early member of the Universal Peace Union, joined the peace work of the International Council of Women and advocated world arbitration.

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Works Cited:


  • Lockwood, Belva A. “How I Ran for the Presidency,” National Magazine. Vol. XVII, No. 6, (March 1903), 728, 733.
  • Lockwood, Belva Ann. "My Efforts to Become a Lawyer," Lippincott's Magazine (February 1888).
  • Norgren, Jill.  Belva Lockwood:  The Woman Who Would be President. New York: NYU Press, 2007.
  • Norgren, Jill. Equal Rights Crusader: Belva Lockwood (Minneapolis, MN: Twenty-first Century/Lerner Books, 2009) (for young adult readers).

  • Reprinted from NWHM Cyber Exhibit "Rights for Women"
    Author Kristina Gupta
  • PHOTO: Belva Ann Bennett McNall Lockwood, Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division (LC-DIG-cwpbh-04374)