Ohio’s female presidential candidate

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VICTORIA WOODHULL

1838 – 1927

Victoria Claflin Woodhull, born in Homer, Ohio, was Ohio’s most colorful presidential candidate.

One of the most notorious women of the Victorian Age, she earned the nickname “Mrs. Satan,” promoted by a Thomas Nast cartoon in Harper’s Weekly.

She was the first female stockbroker in America.

She and her sister, Tennessee Claflin, founded Woodhull, Claflin & Company, backed by financier Cornelius Vanderbilt. In 1870, the sisters started publishing Woodhull and Claflin’s Weekly, a newspaper espousing free love, women’s rights, and other causes.

Susan B. too timid. Woodhull had ties with mainstream women’s rights groups led by Elizabeth Stanton and Susan B. Anthony, but she found them to be too timid. In May of 1872, the newly formed Equal Rights Party convened in New York City and nominated Victoria Woodhull to run for president. They chose Frederick Douglass as her running mate, but he declined the offer.

Woodhull could not appear on an official ballot because she was only 34 – one year shy of the age required to run for president. Interestingly, there was nothing that prohibited women from running for office even though they could not vote.

Election Day in jail. During the campaign, Woodhull’s newspaper published an account of the adulterous affair of Rev. Henry Ward Beecher, precipitating one of the juiciest scandals of the Gilded Age. She was jailed for mailing obscene literature – the published accounts of the affair – and spent Election Day in jail.

Victoria Woodhull received very few votes, and her political career faded. She lost her political forum when her newspaper failed in 1876. The following year she and her sister moved to England where they married wealthy businessmen and led conventional lives.

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