Distinguished Women of Past and Present


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Victoria Claflin Woodhull

From: United Kingdom, United States: New York, Ohio
Fields: Business and Finance, Government and Politics, Human Rights, Journalism and Broadcasting
Woodhull, Victoria Claflin (1838-1927), American radical and feminist, the first woman to run for the U.S. presidency. Woodhull was born September 23, 1838, in Homer, Ohio. Her parents ran a traveling medicine show in which she and her sister, Tennessee Claflin, practiced spiritual healing. At the age of 15 Victoria married Canning Woodhull; however, the two sisters continued their spiritualist activities, first in the Midwest and, after 1868, in New York City, where they attracted the support of railroad magnate Cornelius Vanderbilt. With Vanderbilt's help they established their own brokerage firm in 1870. In collaboration with Victoria's lover, Colonel James H. Blood, and a socialist reformer named Stephen Andrews, they started a newspaper called Woodhull and Claflin's Weekly (1870-76), using it to advocate free love, equal rights for women, and a variety of other causes. In 1871 they became leaders of the New York section of Karl Marx's International Workingmen's Association, and Victoria argued the case for woman suffrage before the judiciary committee of the U.S. House of Representatives. In May 1872 Woodhull was nominated for the U.S. presidency by the Equal Rights party, an offshoot of Susan B. Anthony's National American Woman Suffrage Association. In November of the same year, she and her sister were indicted for sending obscene material through the mails after they printed an accusation of adultery against prominent clergyman Henry Ward Beecher. Although they were acquitted, their public career was over. In 1877 the sisters went to England, where both married wealthy businessmen (Victoria had divorced Woodhull in 1864) and where they lived for the rest of their lives.

"Woodhull, Victoria Claflin" Microsoft® Encarta.
Copyright© 1995 Microsoft Corporation.


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