|Lived:||September 23, 1838—June 9, 1927 (aged 88)|
|Career:||Lawyer, leader of the U.S. woman's suffrage movement|
|Party:||Equal Rights Party|
Victoria Claflin Woodhull was an activist and a leader of the U.S. woman's suffrage movement, and the first female candidate for president of the United States as the nominee for the Equal Rights Party in 1872.
Woodhull was born September 23, 1838 in Homer, Ohio. In 1953, at age 15, she married Canning Woodhull and subsequently had two children. Because husband was an alcoholic, Woodhull often worked outside the home to support the family. She divorced her husband and married Colonel James Harvey Blood in 1866. Possibly because of her experience with her first husband, Woodhull was an advocate of free love—the freedom to marry, divorce and bear children without government interference.
Woodhull and her sister, Tennessee (Tennie) Claflin, were the first women to operate a brokerage firm on Wall Street when they opened Woodhull, Claflin & Company in 1870. They also were among the first women to found a newspaper, Woodhull & Claflin's Weekly, which was in publication from 1870 to 1876. The paper published articles on feminism as well as articles advocating sex education, free love, women's suffrage, short skirts, spiritualism, vegetarianism, and licensed prostitution. The paper is also known for printing the first English version of Karl Marx's "Communist Manifesto," in 1871.
In 1871, Woodhull testified before the House Judiciary Committee, arguing that because the 14th and 15th Amendments guaranteed the protection of that right for all citizens, women already had the right to vote. Suffrage leaders postponed the opening of the 1871 National Woman Suffrage Association's third annual convention in Washington to attend the committee hearing. Though some leading suffragists disagreed with her tactics, many saw Woodhull as a new champion for their cause and she became a leader in the movement.
In 1872, Woodhull was the nominee for president of the United States for the Equal Rights Party. Former slave and abolitionist leader Frederick Douglass was nominated for vice president, but did not acknowledge the nomination. Woodhull did not receive any electoral votes, and there is conflicting evidence about popular votes. Because Woodhull was too young to legally run for president, some historians question whether her candidacy should be classified as a true candidacy.
In 1876, Woodhull divorced her second husband. In 1877, she moved to England. There, she met John Biddulph Martin, who became her third husband in 1883. With her daughter, Zula Woodhull, she published the magazine The Humanitarian from 1892 until the death of her husband in 1901.
Woodhull passed away on June 9, 1927 in England.