Notorious

Long before Clinton became 1st woman nominee, Victoria Woodhull clinched her own presidential nomination

Reuters

This November may mark the first time in U.S. history a woman from a major political party will be on the ballot for president, but it’s not the first time a woman has made an extraordinary run for the office and been nominated by a party. In 1872, Victoria Woodhull, a suffragette known as “Notorious Victoria” was nominated by the Equal Rights Party to run against incumbent president General Ulysses S. Grant and his Democratic challenger Horace Greeley. Woodhull had risen to fame a year earlier when she delivered a speech to the House Judiciary Committee in which she said that women deserved equal rights, including the right to vote and threatened that if Congress failed to grant those rights women would have to rise up and govern themselves.

“Women are the equals of men before the law, and are equal in all their rights,” she said. “If Congress refuse to listen and to grant what women ask, there is but one course left to pursue. What is there left for women to do but to become the mothers of the future government?”

Congress disagreed with Woodhull, and so she ran for president the following year. A stockbroker who was opposed to organized religion, a fan of Marx, and an opponent of abortion, Woodhull ran on a platform of workers’ rights, equal pay, universal healthcare, an end to marriage, and prison reform.

Woodhull was criticized in the press for being unorthodox and for her penchant for short skirts (to the ankle), but continued her campaign until November 2, 1872, three days before the election, when she was arrested and charged with sending obscene publications through the mail for a stack of newspapers she and her sister produced with articles praising her candidacy and criticizing her opponents. Days later, Susan B. Anthony would go to the polls and become the first woman to vote for president, making her iconic in women’s rights history. And in jail in New York, Notorious Victoria Woodhull worked out a plea deal, abandoning her run to become the first woman president.

Read the full story at The Guardian.

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