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History

bridgeThe historic ruins mentioned above are a little known part of national history.  The ruins of the homestead that lie within Royalton Ravine Park are where Belva Lockwood was born; the first woman ever admitted to practice law before the Supreme Court and the first woman to ever run for President of the United States. Ms. Lockwood was born in Royalton in 1830.  She attended Genesee College, which later merged with Syracuse University, and upon graduation, at age 27, she was appointed principal of the former Lockport Union School District.

Later on, at age 38, she attended what is now known as George Washington University Law  School.  Upon the completion of her course studies, she and the other women were not permitted to participate in the graduation ceremonies and were denied their diplomas.  Ms. Lockwood appealed to President Ulysses S. Grant by letter and within one month’s time, she received a diploma signed by the President and was admitted to the Washington D.C. Supreme Court Bar.  Five years later, after much hard work, Belva Lockwood was the first woman to practice law before the United States Supreme Court and be admitted to the bar of the United States Court of Claims.

Ms. Lockwood believed wholeheartedly in equal rights and shared political opinions and kept company with well known Women’s Rights activists like Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton.  Belva Lockwood is officially recognized by the Smithsonian as the first woman to ever run for President. In 1884 and 1888, Ms. Lockwood was nominated for the Office of President of the United States by the Equal Rights Party and chose Marietta Stow as her running mate.  She was, of course, unsuccessful and suffered much criticism during her campaigns from both men and women.  In her later years, Ms. Lockwood’s specialty in equal rights claims against the government led her to pursue and win the largest payment awarded to a Native American Tribe for land taken by the U.S. Government.

Belva Lockwood also pursued a career in international law and diplomacy.  In the late 1880’s she was actively involved in the Universal Peace Union and attended International Peace Congresses in Paris, London, and Milan as well as one in Rome at the age of 81.  She served as secretary of the Washington office of the International Peace Bureau, which she helped to establish in Switzerland.  In 1896, Ms. Lockwood was appointed by the U.S. Government as delegate to the Congress of Charities and Corrections held in Geneva, Switzerland and at the age of 83, she went to Budapest, Hungary as dean of twenty ambassadors to the Women’s Convention.  She also served on the nominating committee for the Nobel Peace Prize.

 

Belva Lockwood was honored in a historic “Women of Distinction” exhibit in the Legislative Office Building in Albany and her portrait hangs in the National Gallery in Washington, D.C.