Before Hillary Clinton, before women could vote, there was Victoria Woodhull. Born into poverty, abused by her family, sold into marriage, Victoria became the first female stockbroker, the first woman to testify in front of Congress, and yes, the first woman to run for President. In 1872, Victoria ran as President representing the Equal Rights Party. Her running mate was runaway slave Frederick Douglass. Victoria chose Frederick as her running mate over objections because she wanted to elevate African-Americans and to draw a stark contrast between her and her frenemy Susan B. Anthony.
Yes, you read correctly, Victoria and Susan B. Anthony did not always get along, in fact after a short period of unity they were split into two very fractious groups. Victoria was more liberal than Susan, and wanted to take over the woman’s movement and promote radical actions. Susan, who had sacrificed years of her life to the woman’s movement, believe women would only get the right to vote if they took incremental action and campaigned state by state. Susan Anthony was so disgusted by Victoria that Susan broke the law to vote against Victoria, casting her vote for Republican incumbent Ulysses S. Grant.
Victoria also spent Election night in jail. Under pressure for having espoused “free love”, Victoria pointed out that Henry Ward Beecher was a free lover for he had mistresses in addition to his wife. Once she printed this in a newspaper, it was off to “the Tombs”–the nickname of the New York jail– for her. Nevertheless, she made history as the first woman to run for President and she did it at a time before any of her sex could vote for her. It would be another fifty years before women won the right to vote. Victoria lived to see that day. Susan did not.
To read more of this incredible story, check out The Renegade Queen at: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B018TOPIH8