Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Attorney & general: Little sister's big day

Kate Stoneman became the first female lawyer in New York
 Twenty years after the Civil War, George Stoneman was the governor of California. Meanwhile, back in New York where the general was raised, his little sister Kate was making her own mark in the Statehouse.
 That’s why the Albany Law School celebrates March 27 as Kate Stoneman Day. Catharine “Kate” Stoneman was a longtime teacher who, in 1885, became the first woman to pass the bar exam in New York. Then she was banned by a three-judge panel who ruled that there “no precedent … and no necessity” for women to practice law—not unless the state legislature voted otherwise.
Kate Stoneman immediately proved her legal skills by personally marshalling a bill through the legislature and convincing the governor to sign it, making it legal for women to practice law. On May 22, 1886, at age 45 she became the first woman admitted to the New York bar, and 12 years later she became the first female to officially graduate from the Albany Law School.
 Gen. Stoneman’s relationships with his sisters reveal a softer side of the hard-driving Yankee, whose troops terrorized parts of the Carolinas and Virginia during the closing days of the Civil War.