What Do Victoria Woodhull and Santa Claus Have in Common?

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Victoria Woodhull, the outspoken and shunned feminist of the 19th century has something in common with Santa Claus– both had their reputations affected by American cartoonist Thomas Nast.

In 1863, Thomas Nast drew a new version of Santa Claus in Harper’s Weekly– a heavy, jovial man with a white beard who lives in the North Pole and this version of Saint Nick has remained part of our worldwide culture. By the 1870s, children were writing letters addressed to Santa Claus of the North Pole.

By the 1870s, Thomas Nast was drawing more cartoons more divisive in nature. Horrified by Victoria Woodhull’s call for the liberalization of marriage and divorce laws, Thomas Nast drew her as “Mrs. Satan.” Her moniker of “Mrs. Satan” followed her everywhere, and there was even a wax statue of “Mrs. Satan” in a temporary museum in New York in 1872– the same year she became the first woman to run for President of the United States.

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