Queer Places:
Tewkesbury Abbey Tewkesbury, Tewkesbury Borough, Gloucestershire, England

Victoria Woodhull by Mathew Brady c1870.pngVictoria Claflin Woodhull, later Victoria Woodhull Martin (September 23, 1838 – June 9, 1927) was the first woman US presidential candidate in 1872.

She was an American leader of the women's suffrage movement. While many historians and authors agree that Woodhull was the first woman to run for the presidency, some disagree with classifying it as a true candidacy because she was younger than the constitutionally mandated age of 35 (Woodhull's 35th birthday was in September 1873, seven months after the March inauguration). However, election coverage by contemporary newspapers does not suggest age was a significant issue; this may, however, be due to the fact that few took the candidacy seriously. An activist for women's rights and labor reforms, Woodhull was also an advocate of "free love", by which she meant the freedom to marry, divorce and bear children without social restriction or government interference.[2] "They cannot roll back the rising tide of reform," she often said. "The world moves."[3] Woodhull twice went from rags to riches, her first fortune being made on the road as a magnetic healer[4] before she joined the spiritualist movement in the 1870s.[5] Authorship of many of her articles is disputed (many of her speeches on these topics were collaborations between Woodhull, her backers, and her second husband, Colonel James Blood[6]). However, despite her ethical problems, her role as a representative of these movements was powerful. Together with her sister, Tennessee Claflin, she was the first woman to operate a brokerage firm on Wall Street, making a second, and more reputable fortune.[7] They were among the first women to found a newspaper in the United States, Woodhull & Claflin's Weekly, which began publication in 1870.[8] Woodhull was politically active in the early 1870s when she was nominated as the first woman candidate for the United States presidency. Woodhull was the candidate in 1872 from the Equal Rights Party, supporting women's suffrage and equal rights; her running mate was abolitionist leader Frederick Douglass. A check on her activities occurred when she was arrested on obscenity charges a few days before the election. Her paper had published an account of the alleged adulterous affair between the prominent minister Henry Ward Beecher and Elizabeth Richards Tilton which had rather more detail than was considered proper at the time. However, it all added to the sensational coverage of her candidacy.[9]

A cenotaph at Tewkesbury Abby commemorates the woman who "devoted herself unsparingly to all that could promote the great cause of Anglo-American friendship." She was cremated, her ashes scattered near New Haven, Sussex, England.


Victoria Woodhull, c. 1860s


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