Hello, hello, hello! Welcome to SK where we highlight Victoria Claflin Woodhull, born this day in 1838.
Victoria is no longer a household name, but back in our day, she generated so much press (think Lindsay Lohan) that her name mixed with scandal were unavoidable.
We should not be so hard on Victoria. She had high aspirations for being a poor girl from Ohio, married at 14 to a drunk disguised as a physician. Two children later – one special needs – Victoria divorced him, unheard of at the time, and became a full-time working mother, making a small fortune as an alternative healer.
Victoria is the first woman to officially run for President of the United States. Yes, Victoria ran on the Equal Rights ticket for the 1872 presidential elections. Frederick Douglass, abolitionist extraordinaire, was her running mate, though he would not acknowledge it.
It is no spoiler alert to say that Victoria was not Victorious that term. Her platform of equal employment, legal and voting rights for all – meaning women and racial minorities as well as the white men, did not rally voters. Nor did free love, the right to a divorce and the right to bear children outside of marriage and without government approval. Next time.
Incumbent Ulysses S. Grant remained in the Oval Office another term. In fact, Victoria was never considered a serious candidate. Plus, she did not vote. Not only because she was a woman and did not have the right, and was 34 and not the minimum age of 35 to run for POTUS, but also because she was in jail when ballots were cast.
Victoria and her sister Tennessee (Vicky’s middle name was California, btw) were the first women to open a brokerage firm on Wall Street, which is pretty amazing in itself. With their lucrative profits, the savvy sisters began a newspaper “Woodhull and Claflin.”
Besides advocating free love, sexual education, short skirts and divorce, Victoria devoted a few pages, just weeks before the presidential election, to expose the good Reverend Henry Ward Beecher as an adulterer.
The story resulted in four arrests: Victoria, her 2nd husband Col. Blood and her sister Alaska, we mean Tennessee, were charged with publishing an obscene newspaper. The reverend was charged with adultery.
The trial on aduletry, whose following rivaled only OJ’s, ended with a hung jury. The newspaper charges were dismissed.
Fair to say that Victoria was a century ahead of the populist and electoral votes. All her issues are either taken for granted by voters and candidates now, or remain dicey topics. Think abortion rights.
Victoria did not fall into the abyss before marrying yet a third time. She is remembered in a musical, “Onward Victoria,” and an opera, “Mrs. President,” Alliances for sexual freedom and other rights are named for her. Victoria was also elected posthumously into the National Women’s Hall of Fame.
So, it appears that Victoria was indeed Victorious.
Thanks for tuning in! Lots of love, LMA
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