Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Victoria Woodhull

There were quite a number of women who made their mark on history in the 19th and early 20th century. Victoria Woodhull was one of those "gutsy" women.

Born in September, 1838 in Homer, Ohio and was one of nine children. At the age of ten she began believing that she experienced "visions" and she began believing that she possessed spirits. In 1853, at the age of 16 years, she married a Cincinnati patient medicine salesman, Dr. Canning Woodhull, who used her persuasive talents to sale the "Elixir of Life." In 1854 she gave birth to a son, Byron and in 1861 a daughter, Zula Maud.

Eleven years later and after building an immunity to the benefits of the "Elixir" she divorced Woodhull and married James Blood and moved back to New York City where her "talents" were discovered by financier Cornelius Vanderbilt. With his backing Vitoria and her sister founded the journal Woodhull and Chaflin's Weekly. The journal advocated a single morality, which Victoria boastfully practiced, and free love. In 1869 she used stock tips from Vanderbuilt and made a fortune during the Stock Market Crash. In that same year she attended the National Flemale Suffrage Convention.

The journal gave Victoria a base of operations in which she could catapult herself into the national political arena. In 1872 she was nominated as a presidential candidate by the Equal Rights Party, making her the first woman in history to be nominated to the highest office in the land. Of course, in 1872, women could not vote for her, even if they had wanted to, and so her vote tally in the election was so pitiful that it wasn't even recorded.

Her defeat at the polls only served to whet her appetite for doing battle. She exposed Reverend Henry Ward Beecher and Luther Challis for practicing free love and was later arrested, jailed and then later acquitted of charges. In 1877 she divorced Blood and departed for England where she married an English Banker, John Biddulph Martin. In 1895 she started the Humanitarian Newspaper and was actively involved in the Continental and Isle liberal society. Up until her death in 1927 she occasionally returned to New York to continue her battle against male chauvinism and to inspire women's rights.

Copyright M. A. Webb, 2005. All Rights Reserved.

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