Lead a Country
BORN: September 23, 1838
DIED: June 9, 1927
Victoria Woodhull was born in 1838 and by 1872-at 34 years old-became the first woman to run for president in the United States. This was 48 years before women were nationally given the right to vote
although she could not even vote for herself, she hazarded a path on which no woman before her had ever dared to tread.
Victoria had other firsts. She became the first woman to operate a brokerage firm on Wall Street and testify before a congressional committee. She also started a newspaper and penned many of the articles. Her feminist opinions were considered extreme and not well received.
"I am a free lover. I have inalienable, constitutional and natural right to love whom I may, to love as long or as short a period as I can; to change that love every day if I please."
She also started the Equal Rights Party in the early 1870’s and became their nominee for president in 1872. She ran on the platform of women’s rights. This included demands for a shorter, 8-hour work day and the right to choose a vocational career in order to give women financial freedom from relying only on men.
"A woman’s ability to earn money is better protection against the tyranny and brutality of men than her ability to vote."
Although she did have some support, her ideas were mostly rejected. She was publicly attacked by both the male-centric status quo and the Victorian suffragettes that saw her outspoken opinions on traditional gender norms to be vulgar and low class.
"I shall not change my course because those who assume to be better than I, deserve it."
On November 2, 1872, three days before Election Day, Victoria and her sister published opinions of the well known adultery committed by respected minister Henry Ward Beecher.
Beecher had attacked her from the pulpit, criticizing her views on sex and marriage. She had counter attacked by printing her opposition to what she termed “sexual slavery” which she defined as the double standard of allowing married men to be unfaithful, but stigmatizing and ostracizing married women for the same behavior.
"I am not charging him with immorality-I applaud his enlightened views. I am charging him with hypocrisy."
She and her sister were arrested for publishing profanity by using the word “virginity” in this article. Victoria’s reputation underwent a major beating in the press, labeling her an “impudent witch” and a “vile jailbird.”
"I’d rather be free in Hell than in chains in America. "
She never much cared for rules or regulations of a fame that she considered had the odds unfairly and grossly rigged against women. She was determined and fearless in her demands that women have an equal place in our country and was her authentic self in saying so.
Victoria Woodhull was a SmartGirl!