Feb 242010

Victoria Woodhull

Wow what a story!  What a life!  What a shame!  That no one knows who she is. She was…. the FIRST WOMAN TO RUN FOR PRESIDENT.  Yes, in 1872, this often-married thirty-four-year-old mother of two (one with special needs) who eloped at the age of fifteen – ran (against Ulysses S. Grant) for president. Victoria Claflin Woodhull pulled her self out of poverty and up by her bra straps. Gorgeous, charismatic and smart, she spent her life bent on improving it, through education and association with smart powerful men – like Cornelius Vanderbilt, and women – like Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony who left her out of the history books for being so controversial.  She cut her performing chops early on, traveling around with her completely crazy, perennially poor, religiously fanatical family, staging medicine and fortune telling shows – she was a spiritualist and a magnetic healer – which inadvertently prepared her for a life in politics.  A true maverick, with so many firsts, including being the first woman to address the Senate Judiciary Committee demanding the right to vote, the first female to have her own stock brokerage firm on Wall Street (with her sister) which made enough money to fund her own newspaper in which she wrote about all her little pet projects such as women’s rights, free love, and legalized prostitution which is what she called marriage.  Mrs. Satan, The Prostitute Who Ran For President and The Scandalous Victoria Woodhull, as she was known, spent election day – and many other days – in jail, for publishing a story about Henry Ward Beecher – the most famous preacher (and hypocrite) of the day who was having an with a married parishioner in what became the biggest scandal and trial of the century.

Victoria Woodhull attempting to vote

Victoria Woodhull depicted as "Mrs. Satan"