Her Hat Was in the Ring!

U.S.Women Who Ran for Political Office Before 1920

Cartoons and images of Belva A. Lockwood

Belva Ann Lockwood, an attorney in Washington, D.C., was the first woman to run a full, national campaign for the presidency. She announced her candidacy in 1884 after the two major parties again refused to endorse suffrage for American woman. She ran with Marietta Stow, a California women’s rights activist and newspaper publisher. Lockwood argued that women should run for political office to demonstrate their competence and interest in politics. She also wished to demonstrate the irony of women’s position: that the law permitted women to be political candidates although, under the law, most women in the United States were not permitted to vote.

Lockwood campaigned across the country and organized electoral tickets in several states. Many journalists wrote about her campaign and, like the male candidates, she was the subject of numerous political cartoons. She polled fewer than 5000 votes but succeeded in making the point that women cared about politics and public policy. In 1888 Lockwood again accepted the presidential nomination of the Equal Rights Party but this time ran a smaller campaign that attracted less public attention.

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Belva Lockwood, circa 1880s,
about the time of her presidential campaigns

Lockwood was a favorite target of cartoonists and satirists during her presidential campaigns in 1884 and 1888. Pictured here, Lockwood and Benjamin Butler appear as Punch and Judy. Lockwood, the "unsexed" "strong-minded woman" is dressed in a parody of a short bloomer skirt, topped with a "masculine" waistcoat and tailed jacket, all connecting her with the movement for women's rights.
Puck, September 17, 1884
Library of Congress
Library of Congress

Cartoon commenting on national politics in 1886, with a "Women's Rights" Toboggan in the upper middle of the image. From Judge, January 30, 1886.
For a larger version of this image click here

From the private collection of Jill Norgren and Wendy E. Chmielewski

Detail of the "Women's Rights" toboggan with Elizabeth Cady Stanton,
Susan B. Anthony, Belva Lockwood, and the 1884 Prohibition Party presidential candidate John P. St. John. By placing Stanton, Anthony, and Lockwood together. the cartoonist demonstates ignorance of the nuances of woman's movement politics. By 1886, Lockwood and Anthony, especially, were at odds over the direction and strategies for women's rights.

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