Before Hillary, there was Belva

Woman making American Flag

Before Hillary Clinton, there was Belva Lockwood

Belva Ann Bennett McNall Lockwood, 1830– 1917, was a feminist, pacifist, suffragist, educator, lecturer, civil rights advocate, lawyer, the first woman to be admitted to practice in the U S Supreme Court, and a candidate for president of the United States in 1884 and again in 1888.

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“Like Shakespeare’s Portia, Lockwood used wit, ingenuity, and sheer force of will to unsettle society’s conceptions of women as weak in body and mind. But Portia, to accomplish her mission, impersonated a man before revealing who she was. Lockwood, in contrast, used no disguise in tackling the prevailing notion that women and lawyering, no less politics, do not mix. Not only did she become the first woman admitted to the Bar of the Supreme Court, she ran twice for the office of President of the United States.”–Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, January 24, 2008.

Here is her platform for the 1884 campaign:

[Democratic Platform Committee take note. While some of these planks are not applicable to our contemporary situation, some are and the intent of the whole platform worthy of emulation. Any questions, ask Bernie!]

1. We pledge ourselves, if elected to power, so far as in us lies to do equal and exact justice to every class of our citizens, without distinction of color, sex, or nationality.

2. We shall recommend that the laws of the several states be so amended that women will be recognized as voters, and their property-rights made equal with that of the male population, to the end that they may become self-supporting rather than a dependent class.

3. It will be our earnest endeavor to revive the now lagging industries of the country by encouraging and strengthening our commercial relations with other countries, especially with the Central and South American States, whose wealth of productions are now largely diverted to England and other European countries, for lack of well-established steamship lines and railroad communications between these countries and our own; encourage exports by an effort to create a demand for our home productions; and to this end we deem that a moderate tariff-sufficient to protect the laboring classes, but not so high as to keep our goods out of the market-as most likely to conserve the best interests of our whole people. That is to say, we shall avoid as much as possible a high protective tariff on the one hand, and free trade on the other. We shall also endeavor, by all laudable means, to increase the wages of laboring man and women. Our protective system will be most earnestly exerted to protect the commonwealth of the country from venality and corruption in high places.

4. It will be our earnest effort to see that the solemn contract made with the soldiers of the country on enlistment into the United States service-viz.: that if disabled therein they should be pensioned-strictly carried out; and that without unnecessary expense and delay to them; and a re-enactment of the Arrears Act.

5. We shall discountenance by every legal means the liquor traffic, because its tendency is to demoralize the youth of the land, to lower the standard of morality among the people; and we do not believe that the revenue derived from it would feed and clothe the paupers that it makes, and the money expended on its account in the courts, workhouses, and prisons.

6. We believe that the only solution of the Indian question is, to break up all of their small principalities and chieftainships, that have ever presented the anomaly of small kingdoms scattered through a republic, and ever liable to break out in some unexpected locality, and which have been hitherto maintained at such great expense to the government, and treat the Indian like a rational human being, as we have the Negro– make him a citizen, amenable to the laws, and let him manage his own private affairs.

7. That it is but just that every protection granted to citizens of the United States by birth should also be secured to the citizens of the United States by adoption.

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8. We shall continue gradually to pay the public debt and to refund the balance, but not in such manner as to curtail the circulating medium of the country, so as to embarrass trade; but pledge ourselves that every dollar shall be paid in good time.

9. We oppose monopoly, the tendency of which is to make the rich richer, and the poor poorer, as opposed to the genius and welfare of republican institutions.

10. We shall endeavor to aid in every laudable way the work of educating the masses of the people, not only in book knowledge, but in physical, moral, and social culture, in such a manner as will tend to elevate the standard of American manhood and womanhood-that the individual may receive the highest possible development.

11. We recommend a uniform system of laws for the several states as desirable, as far as practicable; and especially the laws relating to the descent of property, marriage and divorce, and the limitation of contracts.

12. We will endeavor to maintain the peaceable relations which now exist between the various sections of our vast country, and strive to enter into a compact of peace with the other American as well as the European nations, in order that the peace which we now enjoy may become perpetual. We believe that war is a relic of barbarism belonging to the past, and should only be resorted to in the direst extremity.

13. That the dangers of a solid South or a solid North shall be averted by a strict regard to the interests of every section of the country, a fair distribution of public offices, and such a distribution of the public funds, for the increase of the facilities of inter-commercial relations, as will restore the South to her former industrial prestige, develop the exhaustless resources of the West, foster the iron, coal, and woolen interests of the Middle States, and revive the manufactures of the East.

14. We shall foster evil service, believing that a true civil service reform, honestly and candidly administered, will lift us out of the imputation of having become a nation of office seekers, and have a tendency to develop in candidates for office an earnest desire to make themselves worthy and capable of performing the duties of the office that they desire to fill; and, in order to make the reform a permanent one, recommend that it be engrafted into the Constitution of the United States.

15. It will be the policy of the Equal Rights party to see that the residue of the public domain is parceled out to actual settlers only, that the honest yeomanry of the land, and especially those who have fought to preserve it, shall enjoy its benefits.

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