Victoria Woodhull: First Woman Presidential Candidate
“I am a prophetess, I am an evangel, I am a Savior, if you could but see it; but I, too, come not to bring peace but a sword.” – Victoria Woodhull
In 1984, Geraldine Ferraro became the first woman Vice-Presidential candidate on the Democratic ticket, was heralded as a political trailblazer.
More than 50 years before American women even had the right to vote – another pioneering woman made a bid to become America’s first female President. On May 10, 1872, Victoria Woodhull was nominated for President by the Equal Rights Party at the Apollo Hall in New York City. She nominated abolitionist and former slave, Frederick Douglass as her running mate. Douglass was in Paris at the time and never acknowledged the nomination.
Victoria Woodhull was a fascinating woman, way ahead of her time. She was an advocate not only of women’s suffrage but of legalized prostitution, equality in marriage, and free love, by which she meant a commitment untrammeled by governmental regulations. She ran for president four times and generally lived a life unimagined by most women (and men) of her day. She is described as electrifying, larger than life, and flamboyant. As a clairvoyant, Commodore Cornelius Vanderbilt consulted with her.
If you spliced the genes of Hillary Clinton, Madonna, Heidi Fleiss and Margaret Thatcher, you might have someone like Victoria Woodhull. – Atlanta Journal & Constitution
Victoria Woodhull burst onto the stage with America s most radical reformers, reoriented their movements, and was gone. People listened to her. A congressional committee reported on her interpretation of the Fourteenth and Fifteenth amendments. She was the first woman to run for president of the United States and the first presidential candidate to spend election day in jail. Harriet Beecher Stowe and Catherine Beecher used their cultural leverage to label her a tramp. Anthony Comstock declared war on her for distributing obscene materials. She almost brought an end to Henry Ward Beecher s career. America’s Victoria is a biography of this enigmatic figure in American history, the daughter of a swindling father and a spiritualist mother, who remade herself several times to become a Wall Street broker, a radical reformer, and, with her third husband, a British lady of the manor. The story is told by a narrator, several commentators, and readings from Woodhull s speeches and contemporary documents. –The American Journal of History
Knowing about Victoria Woodhull inspires women to be daring, outrageous and creative.” – Gloria Steinem
Victoria Woodhull Notables
- Victoria Woodhull and her sister Tennessee became the first women – “the Bewitching Brokers” of Wall Street.
- Victoria Woodhull was the first woman to address the House Judiciary Committee.
- Victoria Woodhull was the first to publish “the Communist Manifesto,” by Karl Marx.
- In May 1872 Victoria Woodhull was nominated as the presidential candidate of the Equal Rights Party.
- Victoria Woodhull invited Frederick Douglass to be her running mate.
- On election day, Woodhull was arrested and charged under the Comstock Act for sending obscene literature through the mail.
- Born in September 1838, Victoria died in 1927.
America’s Victoria, Remembering Victoria Woodhull
Produced and Directed by Victoria lynn Weston – AMERICA’S VICTORIA is a wonderful chronicle of the life of one of the most important and unrecognized women in US history. Although she was a radical suffragist, she refused to restrict her Presidential campaign to the issue of women’s suffrage.
Instead, she advocated a single sexual standard for men and women, legalization of prostitution and reform of marriage. AMERICA’S VICTORIA combines rare archival images, Woodhull’s own words (ready by KATE CAPSHAW), and illuminating interviews with contemporary feminist, GLORIA STEINEM to present a fascinating portrait of this remarkably brave woman.