Victoria Woodhull

10 Things You Should Know About This American First

In 1872, women were not allowed to vote. But that didn't stop activist, businesswoman and spiritualist Victoria Woodhull from running for president. She nominated Frederic Douglass, a former slave, as her running mate.
Hulton Archive/Getty Images
Victoria Woodhull View Larger >
  1. In 1872, Victoria Woodhull was the first woman to run for President of the United States. There was no law against female candidates, but it would be half a century before U.S. women officially earned the right to vote.
  2. Victoria was said to have the gift of "second sight." Her first job was as a very successful "magnetic healer."
  3. Victoria once said: "Woman's ability to earn money is better protection against the tyranny and brutality of men than her ability to vote."
  4. Victoria and her sister, Tennessee, made a fortune as the first female Wall Street Brokers. Some in the press hailed them as "The Queens of Finance" and "The Bewitching Brokers." Others accused them of being prostitutes.
  5. Victoria and her sister also published their own paper. They called for votes for women, and other controversial topics such as sex education, short skirts, spiritualism, and vegetarianism.
  6. Victoria's paper printed the first English translation of Karl Marx's The Communist Manifesto.
  7. Victoria married, unhappily at age 15. At a time when one divorce could ruin a woman's reputation, Victoria divorced and married two more times.
  8. Victoria shockingly promoted the doctrine of "free love." She believed that men and women should be held to the same standards of sexual fidelity -- or infidelity.
  9. Victoria never got the chance to try to vote for herself. She spent election night in jail. She had been arrested on the charge of sending "obscene material" through the mail. The "material" in question was a scandalous issue of her paper that accused a famous preacher of adultery.
  10. Victoria and her sister moved to England in 1877, where they remained for the rest of their lives. Victoria died in 1927, finally living to see American women earn the right to vote.

Donate Online »

Explore By Topic