MYRA BRADWELL: First Woman Lawyer by Elizabeth Wheaton

MYRA BRADWELL: First Woman Lawyer

Email this review


In the Notable Americans series, a biography about America's first woman lawyer and a first book by Wheaton. Despite passing the Illinois bar exam in 1869 with honors, Bradweil found her application for a license to practice law unanimously denied ""on the grounds of the 'disability imposed by [her] married condition.' "" Under the law of coverture, a married couple at the time was one person in law, meaning that the ""legal existence of the woman was suspended during the marriage."" But as a child of abolitionists, Bradwell had learned to take unpopular stands and spent the rest of her life arguing for women's rights and other causes. She and her husband founded the Chicago Legal News, a weekly legal paper informing lawyers about newly enacted legislation and court cases. Wheaton also chronicles the efforts of Bradwell's supportive husband, who secretly began a letter-writing campaign on her behalf as she was dying from cancer; he persuaded the Supreme Court of Illinois in 1890 and the US Supreme Court in 1892 to grant his wife a license as an attorney, made retroactive until 1869. Wheaton's discussion of Bradwell's crusade to release Mary Todd Lincoln from an insane asylum disrupts the focus of this otherwise robust biography; readers will be heartened by this legal pioneer and her tireless efforts.

Pub Date: Jan. 4th, 1997
Page count: 96pp
Publisher: Morgan Reynolds