In 1872, women didn’t have the right to vote in America, but that didn’t stop one from running for president: Victoria Woodhull.
She was a complicated, fascinating figure from American history – but not as well know these days as other women’s rights activists of the late 19th century. Her run for president in 1872 was just the tip of the iceberg. She was a clairvoyant, newspaper publisher, jailbird, stockbroker and proponent of free love. Despite her courage and persistence, Woodhull was viciously attacked by the conservative society in which she lived, a movement which was spear-headed by the powerful and influential preacher Henry Ward Beecher. Woodhull spent Election Day in prison, jailed for revealing Beecher’s secret life, a sex scandal that ignited the public and the press.
Victoria Woodhull is the subject of an opera – Mrs. President, written by composer Victoria Bond and librettist Hilary Bell.