Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Madam President?

As we begin another interminable election season, the talk has once again begun to heat up about the electability of a female candidate and the possibility - Gasp! - of having a woman be President. (Food for thought: Pakistan elected a female leader 20 years ago). So what better time to read a biography of the first female presidential candidate. Nope, sorry, not Hilary. Our new biography is about Belva Lockwood, who became the first woman to run a full presidential campaign in 1884. Perhaps, if women had been allowed to vote, she might have come in second. Belva Lockwood: the woman who would be President, by Jill Norgren, tells a very interesting story. Originally a farmer's wife from upstate New York, Lockwood was widowed at an early age. Being a firm believer in female equality and the potential of women, she went to college and became a teacher. She eventually went on to become one of the first female attorneys in the United States, and in 1879 she broke another important barrier: she was the first female attorney to argue a case before the Supreme Court (Kaiser v. Stickney). How fitting that the foreword to this book be written by U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg. So if you're looking for some background information or interesting factoids for your next informal debate about female presidents, or if you're interested in learning more about an important - but overlooked - figure in women's history, then try out Norgren's book.

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