Thursday, September 23, 2010

Victoria Woodhull: A Woman Ahead of Her Times

Okay, so maybe her 1872 Presidential campaign was a stunt; if it was, at least it was one which got the whole country talking about the important issues of the day. At the height of the Gilded Age she (along with contemporaries Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Harriet Beecher Stowe and Vice Presidential running mate Frederick Douglass) put issues of social justice and civil liberties at the front-and-centre of American life through the work of the Equal Rights Party.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketVictoria Woodhull was a remarkable woman in an age of remarkable women. Faith-healer, stock-broker, suffragist... Curiously enough, she is largely forgotten today, when any single part of her resume ought to have made her a legend.

By advocating for divorce, universal suffrage, racial integration, and free love she not only raised the ire of men but ran the risk of becoming a prophet into the bargain. She was even in favour of short skirts for women, which in those days was the cherry on top of an outrage sundae.

Not all of the era's potentates, however, despised her; Cornelius Vanderbilt, for one, was a fan, as was George Francis Train. She was similarly fond of men, marrying a total of three times.

Born on this day in 1838, in 1877 Victoria Woodhull moved to England (which didn't stop her from attempting to secure Presidential nominations in 1884 and 1892). There she married her third husband and continued to write; and it was there she died, in June 1927, aged 89.
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