May 10th 1872: Victoria Woodhull nominated for President

On this day in 1872, Victoria Woodhull became the first woman to be nominated for the Presidency of the United States. Born to a poor family in Ohio in 1838, she married at age 15, but later divorced her loutish husband and married a colonel. After moving to New York, Victoria and her sister Tennessee - with whom she had worked as a clairvoyant - established the first woman-run stock brokerage company and created a radical weekly publication. In the magazine, the sisters articulated their vision for social reform embracing female suffrage, birth control rights, and ‘free love’. Their journal also advocated workers’ rights, calling for the 8 hour work day and graduated income tax, and publishing the first English translation of Karl Marx’s The Communist Manifesto. Victoria became such a prominent figure that she was invited to testify before Congress on female suffrage. In 1872, despite women being barred from voting, Woodhull was nominated as the presidential candidate of the Equal Rights Party; she selected famed black abolitionist Frederick Douglass as her running mate. Woodhull’s radical rhetoric alarmed moderate elements of the feminist and reform movements, limiting her electoral appeal. The 1872 campaign - between incumbent Republican Ulysses S. Grant and Democrat Horace Greeley -  quickly became acrimonious, and Woodhull’s opponents accused her of adultery. On election day, after retaliating against her critics and publishing accusations of adultery against them, she was in prison for distributing ‘obscene’ literature. Woodhull also did not appear on the ballot, as she was one year under the Constitutionally required age of 35, and won a minute percentage of the vote. Hounded by law enforcement and critics, Woodhull moved to England in 1877, where she continued her activism until her death in 1927. With a major American party poised to nominate a woman for president, it is fitting to remember Victoria Woodhull’s historic campaign.

“I come before you to declare that my sex are entitled to the inalienable right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”

anonymous asked:

Have you read Jeff greenfields the people's choice. I'm struggling through it :( like if the president does before the electoral college meets are the electors still bound?

If the candidate dies before the Electoral College meets, are the Electors bound to vote for the deceased candidate? Is that what you meant to ask?

No, they are not. This has actually happened! In 1872, Horace Greeley, who was trying to keep President Ulysses S. Grant from winning a second term, died on November 29, 1872 – after Election Day (November 5, 1872) but prior to the meeting of Presidential Electors. Greeley had won six states and was expected to win 66 Electoral votes, but since he died, the Electors cast their votes for various candidates: Thomas A. Hendricks received 42 votes; B. Gratz Brown, who had been Greeley’s running mate on the ticket, received 18 votes; Charles J. Jenkins received 2 votes; and David Davis received 1 vote. Interestingly, there were 3 Presidential Electors who decided to honor the voter’s choice and cast their votes for Horace Greeley anyway, but Congress refused to count those 3 Electoral votes because since Greeley was dead, he was Constitutionally ineligible to serve as President.


In 1872, Victoria Woodhull became the first woman to run for President of the United States with Frederick Douglass as her running mate for Vice President. Though the campaign by the Equal Rights Party did not make a huge impact, Woodhull made her mark on history as an advocate for women’s rights, labor reform and free love - the right to marry, divorce and bear children without any interference from the government.

Notably, just two years prior in 1870, Woodhull and her sister Tennie C. Claflin became the first women to open their own brokerage firm, and the very same year, they became the first women to publish their own newspaper, Woodhull and Claflin’s Weekly. The sisters were not afraid to shy away from controversial issues of the time, tackling women’s suffrage, sex education, short skirts, vegetarianism and licensed prostitution from an often feminist angle.

Just days before the 1872 election, Woodhull and her sister were arrested by US Federal Marshals, due to an article in which she shed light on an alleged affair between Elizabeth Tilton and Reverend Henry Ward Beecher. The latter was a prominent minister in New York who openly opposed Woodhull’s free love philosophy in his sermons, and in publishing the article, Woodhull intended to shed light on sexual double-standards between men and women. 

Woodhull divorced her second husband in 1876 and moved to England shortly after, where she met her third husband John Biddulph Martin. She would attempt and fail to gain presidential nominations in both 1884 and 1892, and soon after her second attempt, she began to publish a magazine entitled The Humanitarian with the help of her daughter Zula Woodhull. She continued production for nine years until her husband’s death in 1901, when she retired to the country in Bredon’s Norton. She remained there until her death in 1927.