Feature: Victoria Woodhull

Written by: Emily Vargo


Today we all have the right to vote and the right to run for a political office no matter what our race or gender is. Now think back to 1872. The only people who could vote or run for office were white men. However, it was the first time ever that a woman ran for President of the United States. This woman was named, Victoria Woodhull.

On September 23, 1838, Woodhall was born in Homer, Ohio. She was the seventh of ten siblings. Her father was a con man and not a very good guy. He abused and sexually assaulted Woodhull during her childhood. Woodhull was very intelligent growing up but only had three years of formal education. When Woodhull was 14 she met Canning Woodhull who was 28 years old. They divorced years later and she remarried Colonel James Harvey Blood. However, she kept Woodhull as her last name.

In 1870 Woodhull opened a brokerage firm on Wall Street with her sister, Tennessee Celeste, making them the first female stockbrokers. On May 14, 1870, Woodhull and her sister founded a newspaper called “The Woodhull and Clafin’s Weekly”.

The main purpose of the newspapers was to support Woodhull for her run for president. For the next six years, they published main topics about feminism. During this time anything that dealt with feminism was very taboo but they didn’t care. They wanted to share their thoughts with everyone and try to seek change.

On April 2, 1870, Woodhull sent a letter to the editor of the New York Herald announcing her run for the candidacy of the United States of America. Then the Equal Rights Party nominated Woodhull for The president of The United States of America on May 10, 1872.

On June 6, 1872, Woodhull’s nomination was ratified at the convention which makes her the first-ever female candidate to run for The President of the United States of America.

Woodhull’s Vice President candidate was Frederick Douglass. This however brought much controversy at the time most people wanted different races to be separated. Woodhull was very open about her beliefs in free love. While running for president she received a multitude of attacks in the media about supporting free love.

Woodhull decided to write an article about the double standards a Reverend was committing but it ended up backfiring on her. The day the article was published Woodhull, her husband, and her sister were arrested due to the content of the article. This all happened in November a couple of days before the election. It was later known that the arrest was made to stop Woodhull from voting in the election. The arrest led to Woodhull not receiving any electoral votes.

Woodhull tried a couple of times, later on, to run for president but she struggled with receiving nominations. Even though Woodhull never became president she carved out a huge path for women by showing the country that women could do more than just be a housewife.

Woodhull’s life was filled with a great amount of controversy but she refused to conform to the expected stereotype for women in the late 1800’s. She paved the way for future women to make their own mark in history.

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