Recognized by some as the first woman to run for president of the United States, Victoria Woodhull lead a life full of firsts. Along with her younger sister Tennessee Claflin, the pair were the first female stockbrokers in the United States and was the first women to own and operate a weekly newspaper.
The Early Life of Victoria Woodhull
Born in Ohio in 1838, Victoria’s family had fallen on hard times. Her father was a con artist, arsonist and snake oil salesman who often took Victoria and Tennessee on the road to act as spiritual mediums and prostitutes. While his daughters did the work he forced them into, Victoria’s father robbed the customers.
By the time Victoria was 15, she was engaged to Dr. Canning Woodhull, who many believe actually knew nothing of medicine. He probably didn’t have to, though. At that time, it was legal to practice medicine without a license or education. Canning, who was 13 years older than Victoria, would eventually show his true colors as a womanizer and an alcoholic.
Freethinker and Free Love Advocate
Together, Victoria and Woodhull had two children: Byron, who had a learning disability, and Zulu Maude. Victoria and Canning split when Victoria was pregnant with her daughter.
It was probably during this relationship that Victoria began to support free love, as her marriage to Canning was less than ideal. Eventually, Victoria would become one of the leading proponents of free love, divorce and women’s rights of her time.
Continue reading about Victoria Woodhull and her road to the nomination for the presidency of the United States.