Female Success Story – Victoria Woodhull

Times have changed today and women now have come forward to lead and carry out many different roles which were all once male-dominated. This one particular write-up is about Victoria Woodhull, the first woman, who ran the campaign for the presidential elections in the US.

Born on 23 September 1838, Victoria Claflin Woodhull was seventh among the 10 children. Her family lived a very difficult life and Victoria attended school after she turned 8 and her teachers found her to be intelligent. But not long before she could complete her schooling there she had to flee with her family to Ohio when she was 11.

At the age of 14, she met Canning (Channing) Woodhull, a doctor whom she married in November 1853. She soon learned that he was an alcoholic and had eyes for women. They were divorced in 1864. She had two children then:  Byron and Zulu.

In 1888 when the family moved to New York, Victoria’s sister, Tennessee also moved with her. The sisters, both Victoria and Tennessee became railroad advisors to Cornelius Vanderbilt, a railroad magnate. He is also believed to have provided the sisters with the seed money for their brokerage firm – Woodhull, Claflin & Company. The sisters became famous and were dubbed as “The Queens of finance” and “The Bewitching Brokers”.

Later on, they found the newspaper, Woodhull & Clafin’s Weekly from the profits which they got from the brokerage. The paper was published for 6 years. It was a platform for feminism and several other controversial subjects. The paper also supported Victoria’s bid to run for the presidential campaign during the early days.

Victoria announced the news regarding her candidacy in a letter to the editor of the New York Herald in April 1870. Her platform included topics related to women’s suffering, nationalization of railroads, the welfare of the poor, direct taxation, regulation of monopolies, abolition of the death penalty and eight-hour workday. In May 1872, she organized an Equal Rights party and became its nominee.

But because she was a woman she was unable to vote for herself. Furthermore, she was under the age of 35, which invalidated her candidacy. According to Working Women (1800-1903), “she earned support from trade unionists, women’s suffragists, and socialists, although conservative suffragists rejected her more radical political stance and her defense of ‘free love.” The end result was that her name was not there on every ballot and there are no records on the number which she may have received if she had ever earned some.

Whatever be the end result of her run for the presidential campaign, the most significant point about her is her will to achieve what she wanted. She wanted to make a change in the lives of women, which she undoubtedly achieved by setting an example for all women.

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