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for Holton, Tabitha Ann, 1854-1886
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In 1872, the United States Supreme Court ruled that women did not have a constitutional right to join a profession, especially law. That decision was better left to the states. Tabitha Holton of Guilford County was a well-educated young woman, fluent in three languages, and knowledgeable of the law. In 1878, she took the bar examination before the North Carolina Supreme Court and passed, making North Carolina the sixth state and first Southern state to admit women to practice law.
North Carolina’s first woman lawyer, Tabitha Ann Holton (1854-1886) , struggled to be admitted to the state bar exams. This article recounts her life and perseverance in becoming a lawyer.