Ballots for Belva by Sudipta Bardham-Quallen Book Review

Ballots for Belva: The True Story of a Woman's Race for Presidency by Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen
Illustrations by Courtney A. Martin
Publisher: Harry N. Abrams
Release Date: September 1, 2008

In 1884, when men were the only people allowed to vote in national elections, Belva Lockwood took a bold but legal step: She ran for president! Women did not have the same rights as men, but Belva went on undeterred—and she got votes! Her run for office was based on experience and merit: Unlike many women of the time, she went to college, then to law school, and even argued cases before the Supreme Court. Though her campaign was difficult, Belva never wavered in her commitment to equality, earning the respect of many fellow citizens. 

Although I typically only review new books, I recently snatched this one up because of one of my reader's email suggestions. Can I tell you how angry I am with my history curriculum as a child? Or myself for that matter. How did I not know about this? Why did no one tell me that another woman had tried to run for president before? Why did this not come up when Hilary Clinton was in the chute for possible candidacy? How is this not considered important? Not only that, but this book is great at showing how our electoral college and voting process works. 

My view of women in history, the one painted by the history books, was purely male-centric. I was aware that there were spitfire women out there, but they were often labeled as extremists or outsiders. People voted for Belva! And not just one or two people, either. This must have been a huge deal in 1884, before women were even allowed to vote. Poor Belva. Her whole life was dedicated to pushing the boundaries on women's rights, yet I can't remember ever hearing about her. Never. Until I read this book, I didn't even know such a person existed, which is the wonder and magic of a book, although it makes me sad that I didn't know this important piece of history. 

Thank you, dear reader for pointing the way to this great book.