While the 1872 Presidential run of Victoria Woodhull may not have gotten much traction (Her campaign was mostly symbolic.), the 1884 run of Belva Ann Lockwood and Marietta Stow consisted of a full campaign which enabled them to get their party, the National Equal Rights Party, on official ballots.
Lockwood is best remembered as the first woman lawyer to argue a case before the Supreme Court (Kaiser v. Stickney*). She studied at National University Law School (later merged with Columbian University, who originally refused to admit her because she was a woman. Columbian would later become George Washington University). She completed her coursework in 1873, but was refused a diploma because several male students objected. Ulysses S. Grant, the presiding U.S. President and former head of the school, intervened and she got her diploma and admittance to the D.C. Bar Association.
Lockwood’s Presidential campaigns (She also ran again in 1888.) usually aren’t covered in history books--not even in Flexnor’s “Century of Struggle.” When she ran for President many suffrage organizations lost respect for her and she had disagreed with the NWSA (Stanton/Anthony group) on a number of issues; the rift was never healed. Her running mate Marietta Stow is also poorly remembered. Stow was the founder of the journal “Women’s Herald of Industry,” ran for governor of California in 1882, and was active in the suffrage movement.
Both Lockwood and Stow realized that their campaign had little chance of winning. It was about proving a point and getting the suffrage issue more attention from the major parties. There was a tight race with the Republican and Democratic nominees sticking to only politically safe topics and away from social issues.
Her party platform addressed not just women’s suffrage. It stood for universal suffrage including citizenship for Native Americans, pensions for soldiers, family law reform, temperance, and dismantling the tribal reservation system. She accused the two major parties of having had the same platforms for the last twenty years; the Republicans only pushing for protective tariffs and the Democrats only wanting free trade. (Historic 1884 versions of major parties).
Some suffragists, like Abigail Scott Duniway, were very critical of the campaign, feeling that it was done for self-serving publicity and made the suffrage movement seem silly. Snarky criticisms of candidates was as popular then as it is today. She was called “Old Lady Lockwood” and newspapers made fun of her habit of riding an adult tricycle as transportation around D.C. (Cars weren’t invented yet so bicycles and tricycles were all the rage.) Overall, the press treated her more as a quirky political novelty than a serious candidate.
Lockwood and Stow managed to get about 4000 votes. Lockwood claimed voter fraud and challenged that votes for her were thrown out. Nothing came of the voter fraud allegations.
In 1888 Lockwood ran again with Charles Stewart Wells as running mate. This time she was no longer a novelty and got less publicity and votes than the last time. This second campaign also distanced her relationship with both the NWSA and AWSA. The second campaign was more of an embarrassment for the main suffrage leaders. Lockwood was ignored in their records.
Lockwood continued to practice law and give lectures until she died in 1917. She even gave a speech at the 1893 World’s Columbian Expo in Chicago. Lockwood is best noted for the Supreme Court Case: United States v. Cherokee Nation when she won $5 million dollar settlement in 1906 for the Cherokee people, the highest settlement for any tribal nation up to that time.
*What was Kaiser v. Stickney? Well, it was difficult to find out. It was a case where Lockwood and her co-counsel Mike L. Woods had to argue that a married woman’s signature alone was not valid enough under the current property laws in order to sign off on a trust-deed to be used as collateral for securing a bank loan. Lockwood only spoke for 20 minutes and defended her client to the best of her legal ability. She was arguing according to the letter of the current law, not whether the law was fair--which is exactly what a lawyer is supposed to do. They lost anyway. Perhaps there’s not much information about the case itself because the case was local and not historically significant, but it might also be because one of the first female lawyers had to argue against a woman’s ability to get a loan without her husband’s signature. History is messy.
This week’s song pick:
“Follow Your Arrow” by Kacey Musgraves https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kQ8xqyoZXCc
Episode 35 Sources