Victoria Claflin Woodhull

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Victoria Claflin Woodhull, most known for being the first female to run for President of the United States, was born on September 23, 1838 in Homer, Ohio.[1]

She married Canning Woodhull at age fifteen[2] and had two children. Eventually, she divorced him before leaving Ohio with her sister, Tennessee Celeste Claflin. The two sisters traveled in a roadshow, and Woodhull was well-known for her skill as a psychic medium. Later, they, alongside Woodhull’s long-term partner Colonel James Blood, moved to New York and befriended millionaire Cornelius Vanderbilt, among other wealthy and notable Americans.[3] Together, the two sisters opened a brokerage firm on Wall Street to help Woodhull run for president.[4] Both Claflin and Woodhull become the first female stockbrokers in the world. [5]

In New York, Woodhull became a recognized radical activist for women’s rights and social issues very quickly. She and her sister founded the magazine Woodhull’s and Claflin’s Weekly to cover “radical views on women’s rights and social reform.”[6] The women advocated for legalized prostitution, abortion, reforming society to end the double moral standard for women, and many other issues. Woodhull was the first woman to appear before Congress on the women’s right to vote. [7]

In 1827, Woodhull organized the Equal Rights Party; this party supported her run for president with her running mate, Frederick Douglass.[8] After multiple controversies and run-ins with the church, Woodhull was eventually brought down for being too radical. Her nicknames included “Mrs. Satan” and “the terrible Siren.”[9] However, it was speculated that at one point, she was “the most talked of woman in the United States.” [10]

In 1877, Woodhull left the U.S. and moved to England. There, she married banker John B. Martin. Woodhull continued her activist work in the U.K.; she wrote four books and published The Humanitarian, a magazine, for nine years. [11] Woodhull is known to have returned to Homer, Ohio once in her lifetime. Woodhull died on June 10, 1927 in the United Kingdom.

S.F.

References

  1. Melton, J. Gordon. Religious Leaders of America, 1st ed., s.v. “Victoria Claflin Woodhull.” Michigan: Gale Group, 1991.
  2. Miller, Brian. “Obscure suffragist gets her due in local display.” Newark Advocate, April 10, 1997.
  3. Hartroft, P. , C. Lederer, and N. Kohser. “Way Ahead of her Time,” The Licking County Historical Society, Winter 1992, 1-5.
  4. Miller, Brian. “Obscure suffragist gets her due in local display,” Newark Advocate, April 10, 1997.
  5. Hayes, Handley. “Homer Native Becomes an American Legend.” The Licking Countian Vol. 1, no. 12. Section A.
  6. Melton, J. Gordon. Religious Leaders of America, 1st ed., s.v. “Victoria Claflin Woodhull.” Michigan: Gale Group, 1991.
  7. Miller, Brian. “Obscure suffragist gets her due in local display,” Newark Advocate, April 10, 1997.
  8. Melton, J. Gordon. Religious Leaders of America, 1st ed., s.v. “Victoria Claflin Woodhull.” Michigan: Gale Group, 1991.
  9. “Historical also-rans make claims to fame,” Newark Advocate, March 16, 1991.
  10. Hartroft, P. , C. Lederer, and N. Kohser. “Way Ahead of her Time,” The Licking County Historical Society, Winter 1992, 1-5.
  11. McKay, Bob. “The Sirens of Homer,” Ohio Magazine, August 1984.